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The Twilight of the Age of Aquarius… VII

Wednesday, April 19th, 2017

In the previous I made reference to Warren Beatty’s self-inflicted embarrassment, which tellingly came after a bit of unfortunately-timed ideological gloat:

I think it could be said that our goal in politics is the same as our goal in art and that’s to get to the truth. So that’s like in the movies that we honor tonight, that not only entertain us and move us, they show us the increasing diversity in our community and our respect for diversity and freedom all over the world.

And pardon my recklessness, but I’m not bashful about concluding:

And yes I’m going to go for the jugular on this: Beatty screwed up the envelope because that is his skill. That’s why his political leanings are so well-represented, statistically, within his chosen profession. If the job has to do with pretending false things are true, liberals are going to dominate it, because if they were more inclined toward acting as if true things were true then they’d be a much better fit for something else. But then, they’d much more likely be conservatives.

What’s that mean, though? Liberals? Conservatives? If I say “liberals are always wrong and conservatives are always right,” and define as “conservative” anyone who makes a good call, and “liberal” anyone who makes a mistake, it’s a feedback loop and therefore, at best, a useless observation to make. Supposedly, “conservative” means to conserve entrenched power structures and “liberal” means to upset them, but there are lots of times where that doesn’t work. Like right now. Really, any time the entrenched power structures are liberal, and the party just voted in that’s rocking the boat and up-ending the apple cart, is conservative. Which happens roughly half the time.

People keep missing it because there’s this perception that you can’t understand conservatism until you understand liberalism, which is supposed to be a change in course, a Bold New Idea — “Hey, what if we stop doing that and start doing this?” If we can figure out what that is, then we can envision conservatism as resistance against whatever it is, and we’ll understand both. It doesn’t work, because liberals won’t tell us what they really want to do. If they did, we’d never vote for them.

No; it’s conservatism we have to understand first. Then we can envision liberalism as the opposite. I have yet to see a definition that works better than mine:

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.

What do I mean by civilization? It is the answer to anarchy, in which brutality is the coin of the realm. With no rules in place, if you have something and I want it, and I’m stronger than you are, it’s mine already. You just might not know it yet. “The blessings that come from having it” are obvious and not-so-obvious. We have a principle of legal ownership, and a sense that that ought to mean something. We have privacy. This creates a fertile ground for, among many other things, creations by innovative minds, of prototypes of inventions that can make life better for the generations arriving later. Definitions that make it possible: Laws. GOOD laws. Another thing I mentioned previously is

Anyone having successfully graduated from about the fourth grade, should be able to tell you why it isn’t going to work to have a law that says “Don’t drive too fast around here.” You have to say 25, or 40, or 65 or 10.

We have citizenship, which is a definition that makes it possible for our government to provide protection. We have marriage, and other associations-by-covenant, such as business partnerships. We have corporations.

Liberals oppose definitions and it isn’t just because they’d lose our support if they defined too much about themselves, although there most certainly is that. “Undefining” things is actually a way of life. It’s a lot like lying; you do a little bit of it, and pretty soon you’re obliged to do a whole lot more of it. It correlates with a desire for instant gratification, because defining things in a meaningful way often takes time. And it correlates with a desire to destroy rather than to create, because creating things is something that requires definition.

Throughout the decades in modern times, we have seen there is exactly one government activity our friends the big-government liberals don’t like. And that’s the military. Now, the military’s mission, as Rush Limbaugh has said a few times, is to “kill people and break things” (some “credit” this to Mike Huckabee). This is true, but that’s how the military carries out its mission, not the ultimate objective. The military’s goal is defense; it is one of preservation. Which, like creation, also requires definition. Lots and lots of it. Ranks, grades, units, billets, chains-of-command…if the military’s goal was just to inflict destruction but not to do so toward any greater purpose, it would be very different. It would flit along with a lot fewer definitions, and liberals would like it just fine.

Now, this differentiation is primarily American, but it works not only in one election cycle after another over here, but also throughout the post-Bastille age of politics. The conservatives seek to conserve, not entrenched power structures that have flourished up until a given moment, but rather the definitions that make civilization possible. The liberal protest that has aroused the greatest sympathy from others, has been something along the lines of “Fine, but those definitions deny me, my family and my peers a way to make a living.” Before the Age of Aquarius, that meant we had to recognize the right to organize and bargain collectively. Liberals were for the “common man,” the “working man,” and they really did mean people who had jobs and worked, building things the rest of us needed. That hasn’t been true for a very long time now. Whereas before they sought to tip the scales in the power struggle between management and labor, what’s been happening lately is they’re more about the intellectuals.

I don’t mean, by that word, “big brain” types. I mean it the way Thomas Sowell has used it.

An occupational category, people whose occupations deal primarily with ideas — writers, academics, and the like…At the core of the notion of an intellectual is the dealer in ideas, as such — not the personal application of ideas — as engineers apply complex scientific principles to create physical structures or mechanisms.

That’s a lot of words. The litmus test I’ve been using to figure out “Is this what Prof. Sowell is describing?” has to do with validation, and clean hands. My operating theory is that when your occupation begins in the realm of ideas, and concludes there as well, so that your ideas are never put to any sort of validating test that would reveal a deficiency — well, the validation work remains to be done. Just like an unpaid bill or something. Whatever you needed to confront today, and didn’t, will be waiting for you tomorrow. The validation was not done, and the “intellectual” probably doesn’t know much. How could he? His hands are clean, and the best-case scenario would be that he makes fortunate guesses.

In the Age of Aquarius, “clean hands” people have ruled. The “working man” has been trickling a bit, here & there, out of the democrat column and into the Republican one. This is our modern divide, whether we realize it or not. We’ve got people with clean hands who give great speeches and wear nice suits and say things into microphones…lots of times, pure nonsense…and then there are people with dirty hands who know from personal experience it can’t work that way. This dividing barrier between “left” and “right” has been re-assembled, along this newer boundary. And that happened because of this schism with defining things. Which the liberals made much worse by weaponizing semantic misunderstandings. They say “education” when they don’t really mean it the way most people would define it; “comprehensive immigration reform” has become a political buzzword, a tell-tale that essentially says nothing meaningful will be done. You’ll notice they never define what they mean by “succeed,” as in, “we want to make sure there’s a chance for everybody to succeed.” They’d like you to think that means putting food in the kitchen cupboard and money in your kids’ college tuition funds. What they really mean by that, is legally living off others whom you’ll never have to meet.

There’s something going on here way down on the psychological level. These intellectuals, who enjoy the luxury of never having to actually validate their ideas, by rights should be suffering from a dearth of confidence resulting from the knowledge that the requisite tests have not been done. What we see of them, however, suggests they’re going through the exact opposite. Time after time after time, we see their ideas are surrounded by weighty authorities, who are cloaked as neutral arbitrators but functioning as energized advocates. The wagons circle around the untested idea, and it benefits from this protection. All too often, that benefit comes in the form of continuing survival in spite of obvious flaws, where a real-life test would tear it asunder.

Woman With IdeaThat’s the first problem with having clean-hands intellectuals run things. The second problem is a bit more complicated. To remain intellectuals, the intellectuals have to keep coming up with new ideas to not-be-tested. There has to be some distance between these ideas and plain old-fashioned horse-sense — the ideas have to have novelty. So to accentuate their own appearance of worth, the intellectuals have to keep sniffing around the periphery of what could be reasonably considered. Their untested-ideas, therefore, end up being wrong more often than right, because if common sense would smile upon the idea, the intellectuals aren’t going to be interested in promoting it. So we get things that are the opposite of the truth, quite regularly. “Actually” ideas. Like: Actually, if you raise the minimum wage, companies will benefit. Or: Actually, the only way we can defeat ISIS is with love. There are many other examples that could be discussed, but these highlight the real problem: For the intellectual to find value in the idea, it has to stray away from common sense, and for the idea to do that, it will typically become the opposite of what’s really true. There is a phrase in journalism to describe this sort of otherworldly appeal. A “man-bites-dog story.” The rationale is that running a dog-bites-man story would be a waste of everybody’s time, including the reader’s. There is “news” value in running something that is contrary to what the reader, as a sentient being experiencing everyday life, would expect. This consideration, all by itself, can justify “news” which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But in the same way, it can all by itself justify the ideas that come from the clean-hands intellectuals who’ve been running things for years now, and that IS a bad thing. A very, very bad thing.

This is not only wrong as a methodology for dealing with reality; it is actually a decent post mortem on how we’ve lost our collective ability to cope with that reality. Reality, by & large as a general rule, follows along with common sense. There are more dog-bites-man stories than man-bites-dog stories. If it went the other way, “common sense” wouldn’t have much use for us and nobody would be using it at all, anywhere. This is why the “intellectuals” are going to be wrong a lot more often than right. It’s why Warren Beatty opened the wrong envelope, you might say. You might also say: unfortunate fluke, he got confused, commotion, age, non-intellectuals make just as many mistakes or just as often — all technically correct. Erm, yeah…but no. Reality is all around us, but understanding it requires dedication. Actors are not dedicated to it, they’re dedicated to something else. The same is true of intellectuals, because of the man-bites-dog thing. Overall, they’re going to be wrong more often than right, because there’s no sense of discipline keeping them right. That is not to say they don’t have discipline. It is to say the discipline is channeled toward servicing other things.

This is all a consequence of elevating feeling above thought. If we’re honest with ourselves, we can admit we have seen a swelling in recent years, of intellectuals plying us with the message of “Hey, I just thought of something no one else has thought of before”…and that this has been way, way oversold. A lot of these “new” ideas, in addition to their failure to turn out to be right in any way, haven’t been new at all. I’m thinking specifically of — again, there are many other examples to be found, we can illustrate the point with just a subset — President Obama saying “we can’t just drill our way to lower gas prices.” This has been a staple throughout Obama’s presidency, this one-note samba of “Good thing you have Me, look what I just figured out.” Eight years is an awfully long time to be saying just one thing. Obviously, it didn’t happen that way because these predictions turned out to be right. (We did, ultimately, drill our way to lower gas prices.) The simplest explanation is that this was a political maneuver. Obama would play the part of the deity descended to the earthly realm to tell us what’s what, disgusting everyone who didn’t need a Savior because they already had one…but He wasn’t going to get their votes anyway, so that’s okay…and delighting His base, who would go on to support other democrats, without bothering to check up on whether his faux deity babbling made any sense. That’s a good explanation, covering everything, including the way politics work. Why change a tactic if the tactic is working? But, it’s also a simple explanation that Obama was simply doing what Obama wanted to do. This business of “Hey, I just thought of something contrary to the way things have been done before!” feels good. As long as it’s validated, it does. But to think like Obama, you have to think like an intellectual, who happens to be a benevolent dictator: “Validation” simply refers to an absence of successive events that would force you to admit you’re wrong about something. That’s a lengthy way of supposing these are people who live in a non-validating world, an echo chamber of pure intellectualism. The ideas never brush up against reality.

If you feel-over-think, in order to solve life’s most pressing problems — you’re going to be “thinking of” man-bites-dog stuff pretty often. Stuff that’s been thought of by no one else, you little genius you…you’ll do it six times before breakfast. Genuine validation isn’t going to happen, because that isn’t part of feeling good. As a general rule, if you think-over-feel you’re usually going to find the idea isn’t worth anything after all, or if it is worth something, someone thought of it already. Not always. To say that’s always the case, is to say there’s no point coming up with any new ideas. We know that’s not right. But, these precious savants who come up with these “Hey, lookit what I invented” little miracles dozens or hundreds of times before even getting out of their pajamas, typically are just showcasing their issues with maturity, rather than coming up with truly useful ideas. It is, at least, overwhelmingly likely. It is all the more likely if they haven’t been working in the field. Since history shows us the new-ideas that are actually worth something are conceived, as we’d expect, by people who’ve been struggling with the problem awhile, first-hand. At least as long as it takes for the problem to become personally annoying and tiresome to them.

That’s not true of the clean-hands people. Their “new ideas” are going to be wrong a lot more often than they’ll ever be right; because dogs bite men more than men bite dogs.

In programming, we see this a lot. It is said that anyone with any experience has been guilty of it, and I hope that’s true because I know I’ve been guilty. I remember years and years ago coming across a blog post I’m wishing like the dickens I bothered to save, written by a programmer who claimed to be very successful, and happened to lean left politically. His point was that his leftward politics had something to do with his success in programming. This made a big impression on me, because it is evidence that there are two worlds out there, and also evidence that political bias possesses a sultry and seductive persuasion that weighs on us all, convinces us that we’re right, and furthermore that there’s no other way to solve a problem than whatever we see in front of us at any given time. Also, that anyone who doesn’t want to do it the same way must be wrong. See, I’ve built some stuff too…I have enjoyed success that comes from my things actually working, occasionally in situations where others tried to get it to work and weren’t able to make it happen. I couldn’t-a done it thinking like a liberal. Now, wherever this essay is, whoever wrote it, the question arises: How can he be so sure that he’s right, while I’m so sure I’m right?

Perhaps the first step toward constructive, creative thought, is to get into one’s “happy place” wherever that happens to be; I’ve got mine, others have theirs. The difference between these two happy-places, would explain everything, but I think it more likely that we simply haven’t defined what “programming” is. We presume everybody doing some of it, is all doing the same thing. I notice whenever people presume that, and make the mistake of continuing to pay attention, there’s some moment of reckoning that comes along later. And, not too much later. I see it even in the little things, like lists of movies for programmers to watch during Easter. Programming, to someone like me, is a subset of engineering. Engineering has to do with reality. No, Inception is not a “programming movie” in my world. But it’s obvious there’s another world out there, and someone living in that world thinks it is one.

The reason clean-hands people run things in the Age of Aquarius, is this elevation of feeling-over-thought. People want to solve problems in ways that make them feel good; this is measurable, in that people are making decisions that elevate this feeling-good-feelings goal above actually solving the problem. In other words, if the only way to solve it is to feel bad, for even just a little while, they’d prefer to leave it unsolved. This is a problem decades in the making. It didn’t happen overnight. It has to do with maturity.

Maturity has multiple definitions. We tend to think of it as the ability to learn. If you’re a fourteen-year-old and you’re displaying all the mannerisms of a seventeen-year-old, you are mature. But that’s not quite it. A newborn fawn stumbling around cutely and comically, lacks maturity because she hasn’t developed familiarity or comfort with her physical form. As time goes on, she may turn out to be a very rapidly-maturing little deer, however one might go about measuring that. But when we say she “lacks maturity” we’re obviously not talking about that. So maturity has a meaning that is concerned with effectiveness and comfort with one’s own self.

You can watch some newer movies, and some older ones, and some yet-older ones, to see we’ve been losing this and at a pretty rapid rate. People aren’t comfortable in their own skins, and part of that is because society has been putting a diminishing value on this quality of being comfortable in your own skin. My favorite example of this — again, there are others, but forming an exhaustive list is out of scope — has been Sean Connery playing James Bond in Dr. No, From Russia With Love and Goldfinger. The actor got the role, I read somewhere, in part because of the way he moved around: “Like a panther walking down the street” or something. He was about 30 to 33, 34 maybe. “Young” actors today are considerably older. And they don’t move that way or conduct themselves that way. You can find your own examples. In a hundred little ways that defy description but are real anyway…they act like little kids. Of course, in 1962 all actors were not Sean Connery. But the point is that the trait was valued, and not just by lusty women who went to see movies. Now it isn’t.

They still make James Bond movies now. Very, very rarely though. And they’re made because they’ve got a built-in audience. That’s a lot different from being the “cash cow” James Bond once was; for cash-cow status, you have to look to comic book superhero movies. That’s another example of maturity slipping out of society’s grip. Another sign: The most famous among these superhero movie franchises is the “X-Men,” but there’s no story to be told there. Not a story that’s good for more than one movie, anyway. “We’re different, we can’t help it, and society won’t accept us.” There’s some tragedy there that is compelling, for a little while. But pity the poor scriptwriter for the eighth, ninth, tenth movie. Watching the final product, you can feel the sense of fatigue setting in and increasing. Perhaps if there was more emphasis on service to something bigger than oneself: “Yes those people about to get squished are part of society and society has caused me pain, by not accepting my mutant eye-beams or wings or whatever; nevertheless, they are strangers, some of them are bound not to be assholes, and so I shall save them.” Maybe some of the X-Men do think such a thing. But I’ve noticed it’s never really part of the story. You’re more likely to find such a final-battle sentiment in an old James Bond movie. X-Men gloss over it, because the “society won’t accept me” message is always in the limelight.

FeminismIt’s a very subtle difference and you have to burn through a few hours of movie-watching to get it. If you’re trying to get something productive done, this could take years. But it’s there. Once you notice it, it’s hard not to see it.

And you see this in a lot of other places too. As our society has lost maturity, it has become much more fond of wallowing in self-pity about “I should be treated differently than the way I’m being treated.” It’s a tragedy in itself because this is a huge waste of time. Strangers are strangers, they’re apt to do just about anything. About a mile from my neighborhood we’ve got a homeless guy, I call him the “Riot Of One” guy, who yells his fool head off at five o’clock most mornings. And stuff like this seems to have become normal. If we’re going to accept that strangers can do just about anything, just so we can cope with the more rugged aspects of us all living together, it is irrational to be losing our composure anytime we see evidence someone is thinking the wrong thing. It is unreasonable to accept the former and reject the latter, since actions are consequences of thought. This is all self-evident, but we seem to have lost sight of it.

I would offer that the kind of maturity that has to do with the ability to learn, is a manifestation of this other kind of maturity that has to do with the feeling of comfort in one’s on skin, the acceptance of self. You have to fully accept that and make your peace with what you are & what you’re doing, before you can accurately assess what bits of it have to be fixed to address future challenges or past failures. First step to self-improvement is the admission: I was wrong, or something is not quite the way it should be. Until you get there, you can identify problems with the best of ’em, but it’s not quite so easy to identify a way to fix them. Overall, you’ll notice people who have not yet acquired maturity, will identify problems in things that are outside of their control.

In fact, that’s what “strikes” are. I was harsh in my description of them last month, and I meant to be:

It’s too late for strikes. We don’t live in an age wherein some demographic or some industry withdraws its services, and at the end of a day or two the rest of us are starving, dehydrated, sick, naked, or up to our armpits in garbage and ready to capitulate. That ship has sailed. There are really only two services people demand on a moment-to-moment basis, and those are electrical power and wireless Internet. All the rest involve some sort of reserve, which won’t be depleted until we’ve managed to find a scapegoat…Strikes are bullshit in the 21st century. You haven’t seen them achieve anything in many decades, and there’s a reason for that. They aren’t effective.

They aren’t effective at — fixing the stated problem, anyway. They’re very effective for building up that feeling of “We’re all in this together.” If we’re going to be honest about it, that’s the real purpose. They are exercises in self-gratification. The Trump administration is going to see lots of them, for as long as there continues to be a Trump administration. That’s because the strikes are there to instill, and preserve, a feeling of dedication that would eventually wane away into nothingness without something to keep it going. THAT is the truth. They’re not there to address anything that’s wrong, because they’re not there to fix anything. People no longer expect strikes to do this.

And the participants won’t admit this, but the reason they don’t really expect anything to change is because they know: No one gives a flying fuck about your conscientious objection, withdrawing this, withholding that, striking, facing the wall, refusing to participate. Our evolving culture has become way too loud and busy for that. Anyone holding their breath until their faces turn blue, will just turn blue. That’s why it’s necessary to block a bridge now & then. It all goes back to loss of maturity.

How we deal with the problems that arise to confront us between crib & crypt, is what separates us, defines us, provides us with a meaningful identity. The problems themselves do not do this. That’s a misconception. This is why the X-Men suck. Life actually has a fairly simple pattern to it, and we all see it whether we’re “mutants” or gay or black or not, whether we’re rich or poor, whether we’re in a lifestyle that’s sustainable or not. We come to realize things cannot remain the way they have been, and a change is necessary. No sorry Obama, this doesn’t happen with the election of You; it happens constantly. We realize we need to make a change, and this is uncomfortable. We reach a cul de sac, and we cannot simply leave it by going back the way we came. We have to do something difficult, like: get our first job; lose weight; give up on a grudge; move an aging parent into an assisted-living facility. Whatever that is, it has to be uncomfortable or else the situation would not exist in the first place. And so life presents us with a necessity of doing something difficult, as a rite of passage from one “normal” life into another.

That’s life in a nutshell. That is what, I maintain, is going on in the dash between your birth year & the year of your demise. It’s all just one big epiphany of “Oh dear, I cannot stand on this ice floe any longer for it is melting, I must leap onto that other one.” Each person going through it is tempted to think he’s the only one, but we’re all doing it. So — we go through the Kübler-Ross model:

1. Denial
2. Anger
3. Bargaining
4. Depression
5. Acceptance

Maturity — the mathematical-ratio kind of maturity, the definition that has to do with speed — is whipping through this without wasting a whole lot of time. It is dangerous for a whole culture of people to lose this. If you’re stuck somewhere in the first four of those five stages, the most intoxicating one is anger. Anger’s fun, and it puts the blame on someone else who isn’t you.

That’s what’s been happening. That’s why there is so much anger. The maturity issue.

This results in a loss of dignity, which is closely related to maturity. Dignity, I think, is also what can fix the problem. Dignity is what makes society go. I’m using the definition of the word that actually works, what people have in mind when they use the word, in a way more precise than what the dictionary says; I’m picking up where that stops:

bearing, conduct, or speech indicative of self-respect or appreciation of the formality or gravity of an occasion or situation.

That’s what has been missing.

Pink Pussy HatI say: Since we’re all spending every living year in this predicament, of realizing things cannot stay the way they have been — life is a dynamic thing — when we speak of “dignity,” what we’re really talking about is getting in front of those. It works at all stages of life, well before the prime and long after. A toddler who whines like a little baby lacks dignity. An aging starlet who dresses half her age and puts her face under the knife, until the plastic surgery is taking away more than it’s adding, is the very picture of indignity. What’s the ideological breakdown between conservatives and liberals, where dignity is concerned? It’s not hard to see the answer. A single “pink-pussy hat” will tell you all you need to know about that.

So conservatives are for dignity, and liberals are opposed to it; this thing that has conservative support and is rejected by liberals, has to do with acknowledging life’s necessary changes and getting in front of them, rather than getting stuck in the second-stage and being angry all the time. Notice that this is all backed up by what we see every day — and it is the POLAR opposite of what we have been told all these years about conservatives, liberals and “change.” With liberals feeding us the narrative, that is. They fancy themselves as being uniquely prepared for and accepting of change — which is a perfect black-and-white film-negative transformation from what’s really true. What’s really true is that liberals think of themselves as adapting to change by being the authors of that change, and when that doesn’t work out for them, they use the Obama “we can’t drill our way to cheaper gas” technique and craft some more narratives.

And, they get angry. They loves them some second-stage squatting. Trouble is, there is no rationale for it. When they try to put one together, it ends up being stunted, stilted and silly. “How dare Donald Trump run for President and win” or something. This is anger that has no reason to be; it is passion that has no place to go. It is, typically, a mere desire that has no other way to be expressed.

This will not be an easy problem to solve. It won’t happen overnight. The problem didn’t appear in the first place that way; it’s been years and years in the making. I’ve noticed, even when people get all the way through to the fifth stage of acceptance and start looking for ways to implement the necessary change, there is a tendency to lose sight of the goal. They get into these quixotic pursuits that don’t accomplish anything, as if the ultimate objective is merely to stay busy. All too often, this shift in objective has something to do with avoiding life itself, whether they’re fully aware of it or not. I guess that stands to reason, since the objective envisioned with clarity, without the cloudiness of anger, ego, or scope creep, is simply to navigate the chapters of life. I had one Trump-phobe friend of mine, through social media, launch into a monologue that was no doubt strung together beforehand, for other recipients and for other occasions: It’s about principle! Then proceeded to explain principle, as if to someone who had no idea what a principle was…

His favorite example was Sir Thomas More, who refused his consent to King Henry VIII’s divorce from Catherine of Aragon and was eventually beheaded for his position. I view this as an object lesson in how one should dialogue when one is in a dialogue, and resist the temptation to monologue, for the question that was immediately confronting this individual had to do with intended outcome, and how his “I shall never vote for him” stance would feed into that. Ah, perhaps he didn’t realize it. But Thomas More is not a good example to be used when one is faced with that question. What did More’s sacrifice actually do? Sure, it was principled…but, it turned out to be merely the first in a long series of martyrdoms that would be endured by both Catholics and Protestants, throughout Europe, for the next two centuries.

Our conversation lost its levity when I posed a question that was, perhaps, too insightful. Maybe the right thing to do would’ve been to save it for other occasions, and merely let my friend stew in his juices; there’s a saying about leading a horse to water but not making him drink. My question is: If you’re not doing it to make yourself happy, and you’re not doing it to make things better, then why are you doing it? We are living in undignified times, because a lot of people feel very sure about what they’re doing but they aren’t able to answer that question.

“I’m doing it for principles,” all too often, is merely a cop-out. All too often it is invoked when the speaker is opting not to do something. Hasn’t worked his way through the five stages, stuck on anger or denial, losing his dignity. And that’s what has been happening in the Age of Aquarius. It was started with a war protest; a very self-righteous one, popular, forceful — not even wrong. A lot of people had sympathy with it, and for good reason. But the primer that detonated the charge, was young people coming of age; facing a path of difficulty between them, and the necessary change of becoming an adult. Their pathway was much, much more difficult than most. And there was injustice. So for “principles” — no plan, just don’t-wanna-do-it principles — they kicked off an abnegation of dignity. And until now, that has never really stopped. It has been a nice, long, leisurely fifty-year stretch of abnegating societal dignity. And because of that, we have wrinkled old hippies walking around, quite literally living their teenage years, into their seventies and beyond. They don’t realize that’s what they’re doing, not consciously anyway. It’s sad to see.

The Twilight of the Age of Aquarius… VI

Saturday, April 8th, 2017

Every now & then if you take the time to skim over a crackpot right-wing blog, like this one for example which no one ever reads anyway…you’ll see someone make an interesting point about this thing we today call “liberalism.” That point being that there is necessarily a lengthy and complicated history behind it. It did not — never could have — become what it is overnight. And some of this was deliberately planned. You’ll see a lot of these conservative bloggers offer up some action items from the Communist Manifesto, like free public education and a progressive income tax. But the conscientious reader who seeks to reconcile this with life experience will notice a glaring contradiction, when contemplating those times in the recent past in which liberalism suffered from setbacks, electoral & otherwise. For example, in 1980, 1994, 2010 and 2016. Liberalism has rebounded from these setbacks, which is really an amazing achievement when you think about it; and it didn’t do it by tapping into the intellectual wellspring that is a static aged document written by a dead white guy. For strategy, it learned from experience like we all try to do. That would have to mean there was a learner somewhere, and it would suggest this intellectual force was capable of shrugging off negative emotion, overcoming disappointment, adjusting & adapting, picking oneself up off the ground & dusting oneself off before trying again — all these personal virtues, that precede success, liberalism itself is so keen on not encouraging in others.

How’s this work? Is it hypocrisy? An elite cadre of intellectually rugged and disciplined planners who seek to influence much larger numbers of commoners, and in so doing bring out behavior in commoners completely antithetical to what is exercised by those elites as they seek this influence? Partly, yes; I’ve written before of the scheming elites and the ignorant commons. I still maintain that driving a wedge between these two halves is the key to their defeat. But that’s only a small part of it.

Toddler RulesLiberalism is political by nature but its origins are not there. It is a failure of normal personal maturity, a product of stunted growth. When we are born, we all have the faults we notice liberals have, and this is by design. When we want something and don’t have it, we holler and make it someone else’s problem. A little while later when we enter toddler-hood, we become acquainted with the concept of ownership, and at that tender age see it only as a tool we can use for our own benefit, rather than as a building block of civilization that relies on mutual respect. This part of ownership, that constrains our ambitions out of respect for the other person’s equivalent natural rights, comes later as we grow out of this toddler stage. Well, liberals are simply people who have never done this. They grew out of toddler-hood in body only.

Really, liberalism doesn’t even belong in politics, when you think about it. Since politics is concerned with the definition and refinement of public codes and policies that have influence on our lives & fortunes; and liberalism, as we find it today, is the empowerment of people who reject responsibility for this. Reagan made this point articulately during his first inaugural: “…[I]f no one among us is capable of governing himself, then who among us has the capacity to govern someone else?” This raises a question: Why is liberalism political? This contradiction is not a trifling or obscure one. It’s right in our faces, every day. We see it during casual meetings with friends and relatives…like, Thanksgiving. Here’s your smarmy liberal niece or nephew, sitting across the table from you with some Cliff’s Notes about how to deal with that nasty Republican Uncle — you — spouting off with some different ideas. Should be a mind-expanding experience, for one of you or the other, maybe both. Let’s face it, inhabiting a vacuum chamber is a natural and comfortable thing for everybody, and stepping outside of it should be healthy. Problem is, there aren’t any ideas! Just some cherry-picked statistics and zingers that are supposed to convince third-parties watching the confrontation, not you, and “vote for Hillary Clinton!” What little actual idea there is in there, if there is any at all, amounts to: After she wins, everything should work out more-or-less okay, and look how enthused I am about it. That’s it. After the goodies and the free Internet and other various num nums, they don’t really want anything at all. The prize under the eyes — if we’re going to evaluate it and characterize it honestly — is just the feeling of winning.

So we’re dealing with a weed, whose leafy bits intrude into politics while the roots are somewhere else. It snakes along, grows, migrating from personal deficiencies into the public policy for a specific reason. And this gets into a rather fascinating group dynamic, centered around this feeling-of-winning trophy. You see it every now and then, when reason cannot sustain their proposals, even in appearance — when they’re presented with a conservative argument that they logically can’t answer. “If we’re going to address the difficulty involved in raising a family on minimum wage simply by hiking it up to $15, why not go for $30?” That’s just one example, although there are a few others. We know liberalism is about toddler-rules and the feeling of winning, not about coming up with good ideas about public policy, because if the conversation was an exchange of these ideas and the challenges that invigorate them — that would settle the matter right then & there. Of course that isn’t what happens. What happens is a lot of posturing, as in “You still haven’t said what this single-mom with 4 kids earning $9.50 an hour at McDonald’s is supposed to DO.” Or, false accusations of “strawman argument,” as in “No one has suggested thirty, we’re talking about fifteen, please stick to the subject.” Or, some more tear-jerking about the plight of the poor, or some kind of rant. In short, they’ll discuss ideas and logic and common-sense and cause-and-effect, for exactly as long as a toddler respects the concept of ownership — as long as it benefits them. Then they’ll abandon that exercise and go somewhere else, like emotion. It’s not at all unlike you driving down the road and seeing an obstruction in your lane when it’s too late to stop. You escape-left or escape-right. That’s what they’re doing with your logical rhetorical question, escaping, since stopping is out of the question.

What happens with this vine-weed because of this, is the fascinating part. It behaves like a sentient organism unto itself. The individuals who are a part of it seek to do nothing but avoid embarrassment and offer up to bystanders this suggestive illusion that they’ve won an argument, but by acting on this motivation, they contribute to this group-construct a sort of self-preservation instinct. They will do whatever must be done to avoid losing, or looking like they’re losing; so the combined force will do whatever must be done in order to survive. This is what it’s doing in politics in the first place. It has no other business there. It has intruded into politics because it cannot allow itself to be killed, or to wither & die like it should; and it cannot sit still or stay the same size, it has to be growing all the time. If you’re old like me you might remember when liberals said “think globally, act locally.” If they really meant that, there’d be a lot less conflict. Truth is, if you take that saying literally you’ve described the essence of conservatism: Be aware of problems, do whatever you can about them, respect the choices of others even when they don’t agree with you, and sometimes there’s nothing you can do about their dumb choices and stupid should hurt. A lot of what is required to make society go, has to do with taking those feelings and emotions and putting them in a box — not every decision has to be made about feelings, and not every feeling has to be put into actions or words.

Now, after these personal deficiencies snake along and these grown-up toddlers intrude into the realm of politics where they don’t belong, they have to keep moving and keep winning. They don’t accept defeat. We still have a Russia conspiracy-theory, right? Because they can’t admit they lost the election last year simply because they nominated the inferior candidate. Because of that intransigence, they’ve been transforming society one day at a time, even when public opinion has been aligned against them. This insistence on victory at the expense of all other things has had a weaponizing effect on our agencies and on our institutions. We just saw the spectacle of the Internal Revenue Service targeting groups associated with the Tea Party to deny them tax-exempt status, which raises the ever-disturbing “How long has this been going on?” question. And we saw the FBI let Hillary off the hook when she was clearly guilty. This is part of an ongoing trend in which, if the normal and dispassionate execution of our laws would impose some sort of damaging effect on the prospects of the democrat party to win this office or that one, we can expect some weighty arbitrating authority to step in and stop it from happening. Last time I recall it being this naked and in-your-face, was when the Supreme Court of New Jersey ruled that Frank Lautenberg could run in the 2002 elections. And here was me thinking laws meant things. Turns out, if ballots are about to be printed without a democrat name upon them — that all goes out the window, at least in NJ.

Liberals in their quest for everlasting victory, which is really nothing more than a toddler’s peevishness against the horror of ever being told “no,” have weaponized justice, academia, and the arts. They have perverted comedy. Today, it’s de rigueur to see evidence of punchlines, or “jokes,” that aren’t even loosely connected with anything funny and you have to wonder if society will lose track, in a few years, of what comedy is supposed to be. Some of this is honest and accidental. A fat-joke made at Chris Christie’s expense for example; show it to a focus group of liberals, it’ll be clear that this isn’t actual comedy since there’s nothing funny about it, but the increased prospect of winning causes an endorphin rush. With the toddler’s muddled distinction of thought vs. feeling the crowd will find it “hilarious.” Thus it is with all of them. I recall quite clearly the several liberal acquaintances who so strongly recommended I start watching Boston Legal because it does such a great job of giving “a fair hearing to both sides.” We-ell, no not so much. The liberal and the conservative were both quirky and funny. But, the liberal was brilliant in ways the conservative was not. Which would’ve been fine by itself, but this was the entire point of their various interactions and the “comedy” that ensued. The liberal didn’t oppose the conservative — there was no point to it. The conservative made himself look like a complete buffoon all by himself. I’m sure to the entrenched B.L. fan this is a quibbling distinction. But if it worked exactly the same way with the roles reversed, the show would not have aired.

And that’s the best-case example, the “fair hearing to both sides” show. The rest of teevee has gotten so much worse, and we’ve become accustomed to it. “Funny” is whatever makes liberals feel good. It doesn’t have to actually be funny. And after they’re done dealing with reality, ready to burn the many-hours block scrolling through channels on the idiot box before bedtime, imagining liberalism to have the right answers makes liberals feel very, very good, so good they can’t distinguish the rush from an actually funny joke. One has to wonder what’s been going on in reality to make them hunger so.

So while society has been sleeping in the Age of Aquarius, our agencies have been weaponized to the benefit of liberals; ditto for justice, something called “science” that doesn’t work according to scientific principles, our institutions of higher learning, and comedy. To this we can add the arrested development problem that has given liberalism, as we know it today, cause to exist in the first place. This last one has been a natural process since people who grew out of toddler-hood in body only, feel right at home around other people who grew out of toddler-hood in body only. The problem is contagious, although it doesn’t have much effect on people who have matured already. But for those who haven’t done so, proximity to another can arouse a feeling of confidence that was not there before. This is the condition of our liberals who ensconce themselves in a group environment with the like-minded: Seldom correct, but never in doubt. Well…this is a disaster. As I said earlier, we all begin life as liberals. We have to mature out of it. Fact is, lack of confidence is the first step to this maturity. We don’t reconsider our premises and rationalizations, until something has happened to inspire us to do this. And the way that works is by breaking down our confidence in what life-experience is about to counsel us to reject. Immature people hanging around immature people, stops this from happening in a lot of ways.

Sexy JudgeThe most primitive way this happens is through this this cult-like worship of the choice. “It’s so-and-so’s choice, s/he has made this choice and we all have to respect it.” We hear that a lot from a variety of different corners, both in & outside of politics. I notice very seldom do we ever hear anything like “I guarantee this choice won’t have an effect on anybody else.” Nope, not even. To the contrary, much of the policy change proposed by the liberal flank pushes us toward a societal mold, in which everything anybody does has some effect on everybody else. It’s supposed to be how we show we care, or something. Oh okay…so this person is going to make a “choice” that will affect me, and I don’t have a shot at being a decent person unless I step back and keep myself out of it. Am I ranting about abortion, here? Ah, not necessarily. The pattern has grown much bigger than that. It’s an over-arching trend, covering all sorts of issues. Maybe all of ’em. It is their guiding theme. It’s also a perfectly simple explanation of why civilized society can’t function with their kind in charge. Also, it’s proof that they’re not at at all about “equality,” not even close, since while you and I are supposed to defrock ourselves of any tincture of influence on this person’s “choice,” liberal activists (or anybody who’s sympathetic with them) are free to bully and intimidate with their assorted virtue signaling devices, their Oscar ceremony speeches, their “awareness” campaigns, and their “protests.” The fact is, liberals love “choices” as long as the choices are made the way the liberals want them made. They aren’t really fans of choice at all.

Grown-ups don’t actually make these “choices,” anyway. Not very often. Last choice I made was…ah now I remember, I was fixing my wife & myself some ice cream. I found some chocolate and butterscotch chips in the cupboard, and chose, for my bowl, to put in just a tiny amount of both. That’s a choice. A matter of taste. “I like this flavor better than that other flavor.” Grown-ups decide they’re going to go to the gym to burn the calories after they’ve had the ice cream. Or, stay home from the gym because maybe they’re feeling like they worked out too much and need more of a rest. Or, to cut the lawn this afternoon so they’ll have it out of the way tomorrow. Decisions involve some sort of reckoning with eventual consequences. Choices do not. Some people are fortunate enough to live a life full of choices but that don’t involve any actual decisions anywhere. That’s as good a definition as any, of arrested development: A scarcity of “Gosh, if I do this this’ll happen, but if I don’t do it that’ll happen” avoidance-avoidance-conflict predicaments. A dearth of genuine responsibility. Choosing every waking minute of every day, without any actual deciding.

It’s a distinction that may be lost even on those who really are adults, who have to make some actual decisions. It’s impossible for anyone to truly grasp it if they never have to make any. To them, “choices” may look like decisions. All too often, we see the choices do have consequences after all, nevermind whether these were anticipated when the decider got to the decision-point. A lot of choice-makers, even when instructed by life that there were consequences involved and they should have decided, like adults, rather than choosing like children — still won’t grasp it. A lack of intelligence is not the problem. The problem is one of perspective. Just as a man on a flat-bottom ferry leaving the dock, may have to look out the window two, three, more times than that just to achieve conscious understanding that it’s the vessel that’s moving, not the dock. In the same way, it takes some perspective to realize decisions have consequences, that there is a connection between one’s present circumstances and the “choices” one made in the past. Like: present poverty, many kids, little marketable skill. This all too often leads to a “What am I gonna do?” mindset that makes it hard to understand how one charted one’s own course, back when one thought one was merely making a “choice.” Even if such a chooser is surrounded by people mentioning it. But way too many of these choosers are not so surrounded; they’re surrounded by people who say the opposite, that someone else should do something. Enablers.

And this is how liberals “choose” truth.

To them, it’s simply a matter of preference, like chocolate ice cream over vanilla. Is this not obvious now? We’ve been seeing it for months — “NO EVIDENCE Obama spied on Trump” means one thing, “NO EVIDENCE Russia swayed the elections” means an entirely different thing, with the former meaning “nothing to see here” and the latter meaning “we’ve got to keep looking.” The looking gets done; ensuing events suggest very strongly, if not out-and-out prove the former is true whereas the latter is a myth. Liberals keep choosing their favorite truth, like Cherry Coke over Diet.

We pretend this is not the case, for some reason. I don’t know what. Maybe we as a society are inclined to act a lot like the New Jersey Supreme Court, figuring that if the rules say & truth says & cause-and-effect say something must happen, and we anticipate it will inflict heavy damage on the liberal ideology, something or someone must intervene and keep it from happening. It’s odd we should extend such sympathies to something that has done such grave harm to so many people. It’s like our own brand of Stockholm Syndrome. But reality churns away, regardless of who pays attention to it or why they’re ignoring it. Thinking like a liberal has a direct effect on one’s life experiences. It affects one’s vocation. This is not to say all liberals end up impoverished, by any means. Some are quite wealthy. And, there are some conservatives who are very poor. But liberalism certainly does affect what you can do. It has a way of inviting people to choose their own truth one day…and, the next day, requiring them to choose one truth over another. Not at all unlike the spider inviting the fly into his parlor.

We see it as soon as we open our minds to the possibility, as anyone with any life experience eventually must. There are certain jobs in which one cannot go around “choosing reality” like flipping the channel on a teevee. Dam builder, bridge builder, building builder. Railroad track layer. After all, when the pickup truck heads out over the dam or the bridge, or when people start walking around in the building, or the train goes over the tracks — the structure will hold, or it won’t. Wishes, hopes, enthusiasm, aren’t going to have anything to do with it at all. Sewage pipe cleaner, farmer, butcher, baker, candlestick-maker. Here & there, now & then, you might find one or two people holding these jobs who supported Bernie Sanders. That doesn’t change the fact: You can’t get these jobs done thinking that way. You can feel enthused about something, you can dread this or hope for that, but sooner or later you have to invite reality to step in and have its say.

There are other jobs dominated by liberals, because they are friendly to the liberal mindset. Psychology is a good example of this. It parades around presenting itself as some sort of “science,” and in some isolated scenarios it does use the scientific method. But overall, as a general rule, it doesn’t. So much of its experimentation is non-reproducible, isn’t supposed to be reproducible. One important symposium, and all of its premises are up-ended as one faction prevails over another, and the heavy-hitters in attendance disperse afterwards, to push out all sorts of written instruction to their inferiors throughout the field about what to think. The other obvious example is: Acting. We saw this with a spectacle of self-humiliation that was so cutting, so keen, so ruthless, as to elicit sympathetic wincing even from those who were never particularly fond of Warren Beatty. Who, right before his historic screw-up opening the wrong envelope at the Oscars, unfortunately thought it might be fitting to say:

I think it could be said that our goal in politics is the same as our goal in art and that’s to get to the truth. So that’s like in the movies that we honor tonight, that not only entertain us and move us, they show us the increasing diversity in our community and our respect for diversity and freedom all over the world.

This utterance, juxtaposed as it is right before the debacle that still has the world talking, helps to highlight the overall point, which is: No, these things you call “arts” do not exist for getting to the truth. They get to falsity. If you’re an actor, your job is to pretend. The job is to behave around things that are false, as if they are true. And yes I’m going to go for the jugular on this: Beatty screwed up the envelope because that is his skill. That’s why his political leanings are so well-represented, statistically, within his chosen profession. If the job has to do with pretending false things are true, liberals are going to dominate it, because if they were more inclined toward acting as if true things were true then they’d be a much better fit for something else. But then, they’d much more likely be conservatives. But nobody should’ve been waiting for Warren Beatty to say “La La Land!” before mistrusting him. The giveaway was in this thing about “freedom all over the world.” NEVER trust a liberal who talks about freedom.

BeattyWell, never trust ’em at any time. But especially not when they talk about that. These are the people who just got done addressing the “All these people don’t have health insurance” problem, by imposing a fine on whoever can’t afford it. Freedom? They don’t know the meaning of the word and they don’t care to learn anything about it.

And our society has been pandering to them, for decades. During which time, “freedom” is just one of many words that have lost meaning for us. It’s as if liberals, en masse, are approaching the rest of us on a regular basis with a proposal of “Hey, from now on let’s all just pretend this word here means the opposite of what it really means, okay?” And the response of society-at-large to this bit of silliness, which ought to be “Are you out of your gourd?” instead has been more like “Whatever, as long as it doesn’t get in the way of watching ‘Kardashian’ reruns.” So it’s important not to be too hard on liberals. Even with all the time they’ve taken, they couldn’t have accomplished it without a lot of help from everyone else.

Where we really took a wrong turn, though, was when we agreed to their fuzzy-line phony snow-globe-reality precepts with the word “law.” For generations, centuries even, this word has carried with it the implication of objective definition. That has the second-most-important aspect to this word, behind “don’t break it.” Anyone having successfully graduated from about the fourth grade, should be able to tell you why it isn’t going to work to have a law that says “Don’t drive too fast around here.” You have to say 25, or 40, or 65 or 10. Up until recently this was always just assumed. If it’s worth the time & trouble to write down a law, it’s worth it to write down what it is. How do I know if & when I’m breaking it? For those who really do believe the word “freedom” is meaningful, in other words people who aren’t Warren Beatty, this is a prerequisite. Freedom means, “a nation of laws and not men” as the saying goes. If you come close to breaking the law, and the entire community hates you and wants to see you gone, but you didn’t cross the line then you’re safe. Also, if everyone loves you and wants to be your best pal, but the evidence shows you’re clearly guilty…then, Mister Popular, you have to face the consequences. That’s what real freedom is. Lines are drawn, and guilt & innocence are determined based on who did what, and what the evidence says. Not based on who likes who, or who owes who a favor.

Liberals make a good show of not carrying it that far, by according special privileges to groups, not to people. If their position was one of “Everyone has to keep it down to 55 miles around here except Frank, because we like Frank” — then the game would be over before it started. That would be indefensible, even in liberal-land. (“Let’s let Hillary get away with it” comes close…but they also relied on a twisty-turn social-media-driven propaganda campaign of “Hillary did nothing wrong,” so they weren’t relying completely on the fact that their fortunes were all tied up in her for the moment and nobody else would’ve gotten away with it; although anyone with a brain who looked at the matter for even a minute or more, understood that was the situation.) The arguments liberals make are not held to this level of accountability, mostly because the arguments liberals make, by & large, aren’t concerned with individual rights or privileges. Liberals don’t believe in them. They believe in group rights & privileges. Now when you think on it with some discipline, you eventually realize “People in this group should have a special entitlement to break the law” is no more reasonable than “Frank should have a special entitlement to break the law.” Both statements are equally absurd and unworkable, for the same reason. But, again: We have not been thinking with diligence about this. We have spent the last several decades, inadvertently, through carelessness not maliciousness, helping the liberals destroy our society by passively buying into their nonsense. They couldn’t have made it as far as they have, without our help.

The first concession wasn’t to liberals at all, but to potheads. Smoking pot is illegal! Yeah, but no. It’s one of those laws that aren’t really laws, you know? Everybody does it. That’s what really got us going down this slippery slope. And the problem wasn’t with people who wanted to go activist, and repeal the laws against smoking pot. That’s the honest way to go about it. If there’s a law on the books and you don’t like it, you work to get the law changed. The problem we should have recognized was with the popular notion that these laws were stupid…not real laws…the people passing them, enforcing them, calling their local police department to get them enforced, are a bunch of squares. “It’s my body and I have the right to decide what to do with it” — that’s a perfectly valid argument. The way it works is, we chew that one over, get into that rational exchange of ideas, with points & counterpoints, what everybody says they want to do. At the end of it, we decide collectively what the law is going to be and then we live by it. That’s not what these fuzzy-line activists did. They got all stompy-foot and “my rights, darn it!” with the law on the books, and insisted those particular laws shouldn’t count for anything. And, got a lot of other people to agree with them. Only enough to make lots of noise, though. Not to actually get the law changed.

Now we have to put up with that nonsense with illegal immigration. It’s really quite astonishing, or would be to anyone who was frozen back in the day & thawed out only just now, how incredibly brazen our liberals are about it. They want to change the law, so that their chosen oppressed-downtrodden of the moment, “no longer have to live in the shadows,” they say. Well there’s a way to do that. We could repeal any & all immigration restrictions, at all levels, and just have open borders. Well, they’re not going to suggest such a thing. Because it would lose. So instead, they’re following along with what the potheads did, with their latest nonsense about “There’s no way a person can be illegal” and the like. Uh, there sure as hell is. You can be a criminal, as in, someone who has committed a crime. You can be illegal by virtue of what space you’re occupying at any given time…as in, You’re Not Supposed To Be Here, like a schoolboy exploring a new path home and wandering across a property line. Illegal aliens are both of those things. I’m not hating on them, it’s just a fact. That’s the way the law worked before liberals got hold of it. Fifty five miles an hour, you’re either breaking the law or you aren’t.

It goes the other way too. If you go by what we’ve had the big brass balls to put down in writing, you are ALLOWED to do certain things — in fact, guaranteed the right to do them — that the “cool kids” have decided, according to their phantom unwritten laws, should earn you some sort of mid-course correction. References to Judeo-Christian deities outside of church, are prominent in that list, as I was reminded a few weeks ago by way of the c++ Boost mailing list:

> > In Christ,
> > Sxxxxx Wxxxxxxx
> >
>
> IMHO the boost mailing list should be free of political and/or religious
> expressions. Maybe nobody else minds, but I do mind (I’m happy to
> elaborate, if required). Sxxxxx, please refrain from expressing your
> personal beliefs in every mail you send to a mailing list dealing with
> boost and c++ and limit the contents to those 2 subjects.

We’ve had that discussion before, multiple times.. And actually I think I started the first one of those. Just chill 🙂 It’s not that important. And think of it on par with the sig lines some people use. And just be happy it’s not a 50 line totally irrelevant and un-enforceable legal disclaimer. Now those are something to get upset about 😉

It’s nice to see common sense prevail now & then. But it isn’t it interesting, this written inflection of swagger people can put on about it. It’s almost like they think they’re doing something to make life better for others, when all they’re doing is bitching. Which, when you think about the subject of the bitching, really comes down to a complaint about exactly this, nothing more and nothing less: A reminder that there are people around who believe differently. Isn’t that something? I was just talking about words being re-defined to mean their opposites. I guess “tolerance” has come to be one of those words, at least where God and Jesus are involved.

It’s not just the unwritten-crime of capitalizing the ‘H’ in He & His, though. “Not Okay” has taken its place as the modern, millennial-kids’ version of “There ought to be a law” that might’ve been uttered so carelessly by their grandparents. It is sufficiently lacking in testicular vigor, since “ought to be a law” at least suggests a campaign to get something on the books. Or, abandon the pursuit in mid-stride, or characterize it as hyperbole; either way, be definite. The modern variant, on the other hand, seeks to establish a new prohibition that rides the ether. It seeks influence without accountability, and therefore tries for making a new rule without doing any of that bothersome rule-making.

Nivea, thanks to such social-networking ectoplasm-based activism, was recently forced to take down an ad that drew a connection between the color white, and “purity” (via Moonbattery, via Pirate’s Cove). And of course there is the mess that took place this week with Kendall Jenner and the Pepsi ad:

There’s so much wrong with this, and yet at the same time, it isn’t really wrong. If anyone asked me what the problem was with the ad, in MY opinion, my honest answer is “It’s obsequious and stupid.” But that isn’t really the right answer. You can tell when you skim over another upload, where comments are allowed, like over here. What’s unjust about it is that everyone who was involved in producing the ad is surely not having a lot of fun with work right now…they should’ve known better, darn it! But it’s a disproportionate response. They’re being punished because they lay in wait like a starving jaguar stalking its prey, and saw some potential profit in the hip, trendy protest thing right now. They’re supposed to do that. Alright, so it is disgusting and there have to be better ways to make a living…eh, maybe it is fitting after all.

That’s not really the point. The point is that we’re lately deciding what’s “allowed” and what’s not allowed, without any actual authority, just mob rule. And the mob rule isn’t even as rational or just as an actual mob, which is a low baseline; they’re deciding it based on “likes” on social media. This did-it-go-viral Oracle goes thumbs-up or thumbs-down. And where it conflicts with the actual written law, with the viral-Oracle saying okay and the written law saying no-can-do, or vice-versa, we have a new pretender-legal-universe being born.

And then we have a sort of vicious cycle. The law-duality creates conflict, the conflict creates protests…someone makes a “Makes You Feel Alive” tone-deaf, dumb ad about the protests, then we have protests about the dumb ad. So my larger overall point is, society can’t function this way. It can’t function with these “Schroedinger’s Cat Laws” that are entirely ineffectual, and at the same time, fully in force. Things have to be absolutely legal, in every sense (even if they aren’t appreciated) or else they have to be illegal in every sense. To start these virtual-middle-school, social-media “Hey that’s not okay” campaigns about things that are legal, drives toward exactly the same unhappy situation as a social-media “Let that bad guy go” campaign to exonerate people who are actually guilty of a crime: Everything is illegal, therefore nothing is. And that’s a place we really can’t go. We can’t afford it. We might think we can, but we can’t. That’s a true loss of freedom. Once things go that far, we toil away under all the heavy obligations of civilized society, while enjoying none of its benefits, enduring all of the exigencies of anarchy.

We are currently raising a generation of airheads who are ready for such a perfect citadel of misery (H/T American Digest):

My students are know-nothings. They are exceedingly nice, pleasant, trustworthy, mostly honest, well-intentioned, and utterly decent. But their brains are largely empty, devoid of any substantial knowledge that might be the fruits of an education in an inheritance and a gift of a previous generation. They are the culmination of western civilization, a civilization that has forgotten nearly everything about itself, and as a result, has achieved near-perfect indifference to its own culture…ask them some basic questions about the civilization they will be inheriting, and be prepared for averted eyes and somewhat panicked looks. Who fought in the Peloponnesian War? Who taught Plato, and whom did Plato teach?
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It is not their “fault” for pervasive ignorance of western and American history, civilization, politics, art and literature. They have learned exactly what we have asked of them — to be like mayflies, alive by happenstance in a fleeting present.

Our students’ ignorance is not a failing of the educational system — it is its crowning achievement. Efforts by several generations of philosophers and reformers and public policy experts — whom our students (and most of us) know nothing about — have combined to produce a generation of know-nothings. The pervasive ignorance of our students is not a mere accident or unfortunate but correctible outcome, if only we hire better teachers or tweak the reading lists in high school. It is the consequence of a civilizational commitment to civilizational suicide. The end of history for our students signals the End of History for the West.

During my lifetime, lamentation over student ignorance has been sounded by the likes of E.D. Hirsch, Allan Bloom, Mark Bauerlein and Jay Leno, among many others. But these lamentations have been leavened with the hope that appeal to our and their better angels might reverse the trend. E.D. Hirsch even worked up a self-help curriculum, a do-it yourself guide on how to become culturally literate, imbued with the can-do American spirit that cultural defenestration could be reversed by a good reading list in the appendix. Broadly missing is sufficient appreciation that this ignorance is the intended consequence of our educational system, a sign of its robust health and success.

This generation is primed to overlook some very basic rules of thinking, I’ve noticed. The either-or propositions I’ve spelled out above, about laws and so forth — not only elude them, but I’ve noticed a lot of them who fancy themselves as hardy thinkers are immune to these obvious truisms. They deride this as “binary thinking,” and say that like it’s some kind of bad thing. This has been going on awhile. I recall a dozen years ago, John Kerry was running his presidential campaign on “nuance,” talking at length about the evils of “black and white thinking.” Well…the problem is, some thinking really is binary. When you’re talking about directions, East and West really are opposites. Aristotle had a rule about this, called the “law of the excluded middle.”

I have noticed there is a generational tendency to get away from this, by nonchalantly shifting the focus of the conversation away from directions, and toward points. East and West may be opposites, but it is a FACT that my house is East of Arden Fair Mall, and yet at the same time, it is West of Folsom Dam. This has the appearance, at least to the casual observer, of making a logical argument. And it actually does that, too, if the point being refuted is “It’s one or the other, with no third proposition between them.” My house, in this example, is direct evidence that this is not the case. But the snowflake kids lose track of the fact that what’s being discussed are directions, not points. Naming my house as an example might find a point between East and West, but it does not make East and West the same thing.

These soft, unwritten “laws,” both the finer ones that state-without-stating what is allowed vs. what is expressly prohibited — and, the larger, broader ones that say every direction is equal to its opposite because we’ve been able to find points in between, that actors “find truth” Warren Beatty style, and that choosing is equal to deciding because there’s no such thing as a consequence — directly affect how society works, how we all behave. And there’s a certain inertia to them. I touched on this briefly in the previous chapter as I inspected the problem posed by, and then suffered by, the dear “Auntie Mabel” who won’t take responsibility for her own outbursts, thus obliging everyone else in proximity to do it for her:

Those who surround her, fear the conflict more than she does. They may think they have the coveted ‘conflict resolution skills,” but these often amount to little or nothing more than figuring what Auntie Mabel wants, and giving it to her. Once that’s done, the message is relayed to the crazy old Auntie that, for whatever other tools she’s lacking to get what she wants, she can always cause conflict. And that will usually work.

So she uses this — there are no other tools available. And she gets what she wants — everyone else fears conflict, she doesn’t. Why should she?

And she gets what she wants.

Other people see her getting what she wants. She evolves into a sort of weird authority figure. And then…a role model. Now you’ve got a real problem.

You can’t solve problems like this by taking each person aside and telling them “Don’t cave in to Mabel’s outbursts like that.” Or, “do this, don’t do that.” The hitch in the giddy-up is not with people disobeying you; your lack of authority is not what keeps your solution from being effective. We know this from Genesis 6:

6:5The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. 6:6The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled. 6:7So the Lord said, “I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created — and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground — for I regret that I have made them.” 6:8But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.
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6:11Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence. 6:12God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways. 6:13So God said to Noah, “I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth. 6:14So make yourself an ark of cypress wood…

It is clear, from this, that human behavior was the problem. But also that the animals were planned, collateral damage. Most importantly, though, that human behavior can be assessed, and adjudicated, in the aggregate (“wickedness of the human race…”). The point is that there’s a group-think, that society overall has a behavioral pattern that is greater than the sum of its parts. Now, people who read the Bible literally cry foul at this, protesting that God is omniscient and omnipotent, therefore there should have been no problem. If He doesn’t want humans to behave a certain way, just make them stop! What’s the problem?

But any software developer who’s worked on a large-scale problem will get it right away. The issue is technical debt:

Technical debt is a concept in programming that reflects the extra development work that arises when code that is easy to implement in the short run is used instead of applying the best overall solution.

Technical debt is commonly associated with extreme programming, especially in the context of refactoring. That is, it implies that restructuring existing code (refactoring) is required as part of the development process. Under this line of thinking refactoring is not only a result of poorly written code, but is also done based on an evolving understanding of a problem and the best way to solve that problem.

Technical debt, like real debt, can spiral out of control. Worst-case scenario, the system owners have to make the decision to stop throwing good money after bad, and start from scratch. There can be a lot of back-and-forth over this, with some good points made on both sides, before such a decision is made. And when the decision is made to cut the losses, it’s gut-wrenching (6:6, “…his heart was deeply troubled.”).

It’s an interesting question to ponder, whether the “reboot” would have been equally effective with some other guy chosen in Noah’s place. Genesis 6:9 introduces him as “a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, [who] walked faithfully with God.” We traditionally assume he was unique in this way within the antediluvian world, since he and his family were the only ones saved. Seems a logical conclusion to make. but then again it’s obvious the problem to be solved was with cultural group-behavior, not with individual behavior. It was surely manifested by way of evil individual deeds (“…and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time…”) but that cannot have been the originating point. This was a deluge that would obliterate every living thing outside the wooden vessel, including the blameless animals. Any mortal men who had tired of the declining group dynamic in tandem with the Lord’s fatigue with it, and resolved to live in solitude as mountain men, therefore innocent of this indictment — like the animals, they would have fallen into the “sucks to be you” category. So there was something very large being addressed here, bigger than the transgressions of any one man.

People being assholes, was just just a symptom of the underlying problem. They were being that way because they’d built a culture that required this behavior, made it obligatory. They’d become a whole race of Auntie Mabels. The situation was as unsustainable as it was unacceptable. God power-cycled the box because there simply wasn’t any alternative. It wasn’t like DC rebooting Superman or Marvel rebooting Spider Man…”don’t be surprised when we come back in five years and hit the button again.”

And it wasn’t a matter of pure blood-line. After the flood, with all of us descended from Noah, there’s still something wrong with us. We Christians believe Christ solved the whole thing by giving us everlasting life; but, that was a gift. It was mercy. We didn’t deserve it, and He didn’t make us deserving of it. And here I return to the software development paradigm. If you’re a Christian, you believe there was a monumental screw-up at the very beginning with that apple, a behavior so contrary to the original intent of the design that it required a re-drafting of the requirements document. And then the entire system had to be rebooted when the technical debt exceeded all sustainable levels. And then someone had to make a great sacrifice to wipe the slate clean of any “sin,” and provide safeguards against any future incorrect behavior; then, sometime in the future, we have “Judgment” at which time the whole thing will be retired, with some components, hopefully, being salvaged after the prior experience has validated they’re giving the correct outputs.

That’s the story of the Judeo-Christian religion, and it is also the story of every sufficiently complex automated computer system.

None of this is complicated. Who among us has never had a best friend, someone who would make their moms say “the two of you by yourselves are just fine, but when you get together…” Haven’t we all heard that? People make other people act like jackasses. It’s been true from the very beginning.

First thing people do when they “think” in groups, is stop thinking. It happens first with this conflict between decisions vs. choices; consequences are disregarded, the very concept of responsibility is ignored, a proclamation of one’s momentary preferences is thought to be sufficient by the person making those preferences known. It’s all completely casual, back in the mode of “Grandpa’s taking me to an ice cream shop and I’m going to pick a flavor!” The next thing that happens right after that, is feeling is made equivalent to thinking. At this stage, rational thought dies because there’s no longer any reason for it. People stop being Architects and start being Medicators, stop thinking about cause-and-effect, opting to re-direct this energy toward safeguarding their own emotional state. They start to act like a real drug-addicted medicator, chasing the next high. It becomes all about how one feels in the moment. This gets back to that most famous of the great quotes by Prof. Thomas Sowell:

The problem isn’t that Johnny can’t read. The problem isn’t even that Johnny can’t think. The problem is that Johnny doesn’t know what thinking is; he confuses it with feeling.

Bingo. Can you imagine an entire world of people who can’t think because they don’t know what thinking is, they confuse it with feeling? Would you wipe out that world with a flood, if you were God? Well…His actions certainly become more understandable, right? I mean, with no one among them to guide them, teach them the beginnings of how to think, what hope would such a species ever have? The difference between such people, and an infestation of termites in your house, is…? And how could they ever become better than what you see in the moment. It gets back to technical debt. At some point you have to admit the experiment has jumped the shark.

LaddersNo, this doesn’t make God Hitler. And, it doesn’t make Hitler God. Hitler played at being God; that’s what made him an evil man. People who nurse their grudges against the Judeo-Christian religion, often point back to the story of the flood as a testimonial of God, should He exist at all, being some kind of genocidal maniac. They seem to miss the point that God created humanity in the first place. With that act, there is not only an allowance for wholesale destruction if the circumstances require it, but also something of an obligation. The point that is being missed is just how evil humans can be, once they make the decision to invest all their “thinking” in the group dynamic. Again: This isn’t that complicated. Anybody who’s been a parent, or a teacher, and seen first-hand how “thinking” can work in an immature mind, should get jiggy with it. Frying up ants with a magnifying glass on a sunny day, is just barely scratching the surface. Kids are humans, and humans, once they’ve chosen to abandon rational thought for some term of time, can be just awful.

Almost like a draftsman’s mechanical pencil gliding along the straight edge of a T-square, people will stick to a predictable course once they’ve chosen to elevate the emotions of the group dynamic above their individual lock on reason and logic. They will choose destruction over creation and preservation, every time. They will flock to a paradigm of “We get it done together, or else we don’t get it done at all.” This is required. Obligatory. After all: How does it make you feel if something has to get done, the other fellow manages to do it, and you don’t? Pretty bad, right? Now…how does it make you feel if everyone’s counting on it getting done, and nobody gets it done? Not as bad…if we’re going to be honest about it. Oh yes there is suffering that wouldn’t occur in the other scenario. But, you don’t feel as bad. So elevating thinking over feeling will lead to this, and every time: Don’t do it, even if people are counting on it. Because maybe there will be starvation and maybe there will even be death, but I won’t feel bad.

That’s the credo. The REAL one. I’m sure someone might not like it, but that’s an honest evaluation, backed up by history, of how feeling-over-thinking works. Venezuela proves that, right?

But, you don’t need Venezuela to prove anything. You can tell this is the wrong path by way of its own test for success: feelings. Much like the over-indulged man-child who manages to bully his single-mom into bringing him sandwiches, cookies and soda to his room while he spends the day trolling conservative blogs. Twenty-four-seven, all of this energy is sunk into making him feel good and, at the end of it, how does he feel? Ah…the story has become a monotone, and then an orchestra of monotones. Generalization, usually hazardous, becomes uncommonly safe here. He thinks “LOL” is an adequate rebuttal, only because he’s forced to think so, he can’t formulate anything better. He has a bellyfull of Oreos or gummy worms or something and may never shit right again. The average teenage single-mom who has to drop out of high school in the ninth grade, has a more impressive resume than he does if she’s got anything vaguely resembling a work ethic, so his job prospects stink on ice and he knows he has only himself to blame for this. He’s got a face full of acne, is as pale as copier paper, would look grossly out-of-place on a hiking trail, which isn’t a problem because he hasn’t got the lung capacity to ever see one, wouldn’t recognize the sun in the sky. And he’s so full of resentments he can’t even think straight, most pointedly toward the woman who’s been bringing him drinks in his little cave, and the husband to whom she’s married who is not his dad but has been resentfully paying all the bills and making even this miserable existence possible. In short, he feels lower than whale dirt. And why shouldn’t he? He isn’t doing anything to help anyone.

That’s a modern, and widespread, social problem we have — males being raised in a society that frowns upon male-ness. There’s no place for that energy to go. As a consequence, there is much suffering — and not all of it done by males. But I believe we covered that already.

What is worthy of comment here, is the ultimate consequence of this elevation of feeling over thought. Feelings are of paramount importance; and, paradoxically, they are the first casualty. This a good acid-test of when you’re executing a bad plan, when it declares something to be the primary goal, and right out of the gate it makes collateral damage out of that very thing.

GollumPeople who value feeling over thought commonly engage in, or suffer from, depending on your point of view — oikophobia. N-O-T-E this is not “fear of pigs,” there is nothing porcine about this word, there is no “N” between the “I” and the “K.” Oikophobia is, or could be thought-of as, the polar opposite of xenophobia which is an irrational fear of what’s alien. Oikophobia is the irrational fear of “the house,” or what’s familiar; if it has reached critical levels, it is fear of one’s own self. The term comes to us from Victorian times in jolly old England, back when it started to get hip & fashionable to go off and explore the Dark Continent of Africa. In those days it was thought to be synonymous with “Wanderlust.” We could think of it as an impulse, along the lines of “I’ve got to get out of this place.” How it relates to the metaphor of the copier-paper-skin Gollum-teenager living in his mom’s basement, is just obvious.

Hollywood — Mr. Beatty’s “La La Land” — has been playing to this psychological malady, by playing up the Humans Are Bastards trope. If you’ve been paying attention to movies lately, I’m sure you’ve noticed it’s been appearing a lot more often than it used to appear. That’s self-loathing on display, and it is reflective of our evolving culture in the moment. It is the ladders in the cartoon, above, sawed in half. It is the spirit of “We do it together, or we don’t do it at all.” The plague that is visited, in this month and year, upon poor Venezuela.

The next thing that happens is the glorification of instant gratification over delayed gratification. People can’t wait anymore; they have limited attention spans. Why would they not? Feeling is elevated above thought, and having to wait for things doesn’t make you feel very good. So people want to be gratified instantly — which makes them into agents of destruction. Because destruction is quicker, and more fun to watch too. It’s instant and there’s no planning involved. Like Spock said in Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan: “As a matter of cosmic history, it has always been easier to destroy than to create.”

After that comes the valuation of security over opportunity. And this is why society cannot last long with the feeling-over-thought priority system in place. It comes back to decisions versus choices: Decisions fulfill thoughts, choices gratify feelings. Opportunity does very little to gratify feelings, although these are what make society go. They are what allow us to function. Security certainly does seem valuable to you when you don’t have any of it; but the people who thrive on it, always wanting more of it, usually are up to something and it isn’t good. If you’re doing something in your everyday life to help other people, you probably aren’t going to require too much security anyway, you’ll be making your own.

The Twilight of the Age of Aquarius… V

Sunday, March 26th, 2017

A gentleman at work, from Pakistan, was bewildered by the events reported from “Day Without a Woman.” Taking a broader view of the protests leading up to it, and likely sputtering along afterward, he asked in a jocular sort of way if the United States is heading toward a new reality in which every single day is a “day of” something, with constant protesting by someone or another. Now I have to wonder, what am I supposed to say to that? Joking or not, he isn’t wrong…

Shrug it off, I guess. “Yep, it does seem like we’re headed in that direction.” And, it does. This leads off into a rather titillating train of thought. What makes it so?

My answer: It has to do with the much-talked-about, but oh so little-practiced, conflict resolution skills. In my time on earth I’ve read and heard much advice about this, most of it unsolicited. What I’ve learned in all that time boils down to just three basic things:

1. Pissing people off on purpose doesn’t resolve conflict. Neither does ridiculing them, mocking them, marginalizing them, condescending to them…
2. Putting people on notice that it is exceptionally quick & easy to get you pissed off & bent out of shape, also doesn’t resolve conflict. Neither does that time-honored tactic I have taken to call, “I surely must be the best-informed among the two of us in this exchange, for behold, see how incredibly hard it is to tell me anything.”
3. The above two items, against my reasonable expectations, are somehow privileged knowledge. We have a metric fuck-ton of people walking around among us, who can dress themselves, drive cars, hold jobs, etc….but demonstrate zero knowledge about them.

Ah, but this is dishonest, isn’t it. The true source of the problem is not ignorance, but apathy. The original ballad of the Age of Aquarius sang of:

Hippie ChickHarmony and understanding
Sympathy and trust abounding
No more falsehoods or derisions
Golden living dreams of visions…
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peace will guide the planets
And love will steer the stars…

What a steaming load! This age that is coming to an end now, I hope, has been marked by — protests. Front to back, stem to stern, lock stock & barrel. Protest after protest after protest, and that’s a euphemism. Show me something your local teevee news is calling a “protest,” a five-spot says I can show you a riot. A ten-spot, if they call it a “peaceful protest.”

What better example to offer than the Day Without A Woman referenced above?

On March 8, 2017, women in the United States will be presented with an opportunity. A worldwide strike has been called…They will not cook breakfast, lunch, or dinner. They will not clean, watch children, buy groceries, drive carpool, fold clothes, wash dishes, or have sex…They will not work the assembly line or the phones, take your order or ring you up. They will skip shifts at hospitals, universities, and labs. They will not send emails or schedule appointments, braid hair, paint fingernails, or wax groins. They will wear red, march in the streets, block bridges and roads
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Strikes are by nature about value. To withdraw your participation in work, even for a day, is to ask others to consider the value of that work. How long can they go without it? When they lose a day of your labor, what do they lose? [emphasis mine]

It’s embarrassing just to read it. I’m guessing it was thought important to have someone on-hand to check spelling and grammar, but no one thought about sanity. Women are to withdraw their services and the rest of us are to think about how miserable we are without them and how badly we want them back again — while we sit in traffic, with a bunch of women on the bridge just ahead of us, blocking it. Should I even burn off the time & space explaining the contradiction? It seems obvious. You don’t get to make your salient point with a grand exit, charging out of the room and slamming the door behind you, leaving your abandoned audience to sit in quiet contemplation of the misery that awaits them without you — and then barge back in to throw plates & glassware against the wall. Everyone gets only one grand exit.

Still unclear? Imagine yourself sitting on the edge of a bed threading a needle, or making a sandwich, or soldering an old-fashioned circuit board, or building a Jenga tower. As you repeatedly fail with this maneuver or that one, do you start to yearn wistfully for the complementary services of the four-year-old sugared-up little shit who’s jumping up and down on the bed? Or are you more likely restraining yourself from defenestrating the little bastard? “Day without a hyperactive idiot jumping on the bed knocking over my Jenga tower” comes off looking like an appealing invitation, not a threat.

But, why should I worry about how women look blocking a bridge in front of me, stupidly expecting me to sit in quiet contemplation of my lonely life without their sexual favors. The protest is in the past. What’s not in the past is: Somewhere, they’ve got them some event-planners who are stupid, insane, or both. Most likely, these ogres are alarmingly tin-eared and self-centered. They couldn’t see the problem coming. And they’re still running things, at least, within their own sorry movements.

That’s the next thing I want to see die. We’ve survived the worst of this sorry, misbegotten Age of Aquarius, but it’s not over yet. There are still some ambient rays at twilight. There is much to fix.

These riots we see at the twilight, aren’t too different from what we saw at the dawning. These are people who want things, should be able to present a rational argument about how the common benefit of all is inextricably linked to the fulfillment of these wishes. But since they’re blocking bridges, the link either isn’t there, or they lack the intellectual capacity to present such an argument. (The cognitive dissonance required to perceive a benefit to interfering with traffic, on a day where you’re supposed to show how utterly and completely society relies on your continuing presence to continue functioning, would tend to suggest the latter of those two but it could be both.) So now…as they did back in the 1960’s when it started…they “protest” as a substitute for the presentation of this rational argument. They express their wishes, and if that doesn’t yield instant satisfaction, they lather rinse & repeat. Express the same wishes more emphatically. They are a repairman failing to achieve the desired effect of the repair, and having only one tool available to proceed with any further repairs.

Summarizing: They blocked traffic because withdrawing wasn’t enough. We can get along without cranky, nagging, unpleasant and unskilled liberal women just fine. And they knew it.

What they were trying to do, was not to do at all, but to be. It’s too late for strikes. We don’t live in an age wherein some demographic or some industry withdraws its services, and at the end of a day or two the rest of us are starving, dehydrated, sick, naked, or up to our armpits in garbage and ready to capitulate. That ship has sailed. There are really only two services people demand on a moment-to-moment basis, and those are electrical power and wireless Internet. All the rest involve some sort of reserve, which won’t be depleted until we’ve managed to find a scapegoat. “No bread or toilet paper at my local grocery store! Must be Republicans!” For all practical purposes, that means the reserves last forever, because the strike isn’t going to work if we find a believable scapegoat…and we, as a society, excel at doing that. Right or wrong, this perception is going to take all the horsepower out of the strike. Strikes are bullshit in the 21st century. You haven’t seen them achieve anything in many decades, and there’s a reason for that. They aren’t effective.

They hold an allure for the people who organize them and participate in them. All of their value is tied up in this; they are a medium of self-gratification.

The organizers, as I said, aren’t doing anything and aren’t trying to do anything. They’re trying to be. What they’re trying to be, is your Crazy Auntie Mabel…an idiom we have used occasionally around these parts

“Crazy Auntie Mabel” is an alcoholic who’s prone to temper tantrums, cannot take responsibility for her own impulse control, so everybody else has to do it for her…walk on eggshells, don’t say the wrong thing. And above all, make sure and call each other out for saying something to tick off Mabel! “Whaddya think you’re doing??”

Such a silly narrative!! And yet…it seems everyone with some working gray matter and a little bit of experience on this globe, can relate. Everyone who has an extended family, has one of these. Here & there, now & then, someone who’s said something relatively — no pun intended — innocuous, has to explain themselves. A.M. just busted my Gibson guitar and gutted my cat, WHAT DID YOU SAY TO HER?? She has outbursts, and those end up being everybody else’s problem. And responsibility.

I spoke earlier of conflict resolution, and how sometimes those who have the loudest opinions about it know the least of it. Or, are the least motivated to demonstrate that they do know anything. Where there’s an Auntie Mabel, there is a dysfunctional grouping enabling her. If she were not enabled, she wouldn’t last. So Mabel creates the dysfunctional family, or the dysfunctional family creates Mabel. It really doesn’t matter which one it is. But she starts out as a mere irritant…doesn’t remain one for very long. Those who surround her, fear the conflict more than she does. They may think they have the coveted ‘conflict resolution skills,” but these often amount to little or nothing more than figuring what Auntie Mabel wants, and giving it to her. Once that’s done, the message is relayed to the crazy old Auntie that, for whatever other tools she’s lacking to get what she wants, she can always cause conflict. And that will usually work.

So she uses this — there are no other tools available. And she gets what she wants — everyone else fears conflict, she doesn’t. Why should she?

And she gets what she wants.

Other people see her getting what she wants. She evolves into a sort of weird authority figure. And then…a role model. Now you’ve got a real problem.

This is where we are with the protests in Anno Domini Twenty Seventeen. Trump won the election. Nothing else has worked for the malcontents. They are protesting, rioting, call it whatever you want to call it, because nothing else has worked for them. So if they throw a few plates against the wall, maybe some among us will cave in and give them what they want.

If it works, it works. If it doesn’t work, there’s one thing left to do, and that’s to break more plates. And so we find ourselves arguing about more things. Your “real” Auntie Mabel will bring up that time you did, or said, such-and-such a thing…and you’ll be like “Huhwha?? I haven’t thought about that in seventeen years, WTF?” On the national stage, similarly, we find ourselves arguing about…well, you name it. Russians. Grabbing pussies. Wiretapping. Global warming. Big Bird. Hiring hookers to pee on the bed. Small hands. Big hair.

This didn’t happen overnight. It’s something that’s been developing throughout the decades…and, not that many decades. Go back a few generations, and this was not a thing. Reasoned debate was reasoned debate. It might have had a few silly things sprinkled in now & then, but you didn’t have huffiness for its own sake. If people behaved like spoiled brats, they at least had the decency to expect to be treated that way. Today, unfortunately, we have become slowly accustomed to a departure from that.

In the late 1990s I was reading Anatomy of the Spirit, a then recent bestseller by Caroline Myss.

Myss described having lunch with a woman named Mary. A man approached Mary and asked her if she were free to do a favor for him on June 8th. No, Mary replied, I absolutely cannot do anything on June 8th because June 8th is my incest survivors’ meeting and we never let each other down! They have suffered so much already! I would never betray incest survivors!

Myss was flabbergasted. Mary could have simply said “Yes” or “No.”

What might help us to bring about the final extinction of this Age of Aquarius, is to figure out what makes Crazy Old Auntie Mabel tick. She’s really just a geriatric child, who’s reached the edge of her grave site without having acquired the minimal maturity needed to resolve conflicts in any mutually satisfactory way, either by leading in a reconciliation effort or by merely participating in one. She’s like the little kid who never learned to play a board game. Hasn’t got the patience. “Wait your turn” is a complete non-starter, let alone, “Yes he gets to advance to Go and collect $200, even though he was clear back on Reading R.R.” Such things are constantly up for appeal, because paroxysms of outrage are her stock in trade, her communication device.

TriggeredThis leads, over time, to the creation of a world-view the rest of us would do well to inspect. It is a fascinating construct a more stable mind could never create deliberately, at least, not so nimbly. It’s a snow-globe, a fish-tank of sorts, with nothing outside it. So busy is Auntie Mabel with reacting to whatever is inside the perimeter, she knows of nothing on the outside. Hasn’t got the time. And this effect is enhanced by her inventory of tools at her command that she can use to express her disfavor, which is ever-expanding in assortment even though each tool in the set adheres to a common theme. But the most frequently deployed is the Expunge Tool, the Begone-With-You tool, the “stop paying attention at you” tool. She’s responsible for hermetically sealing her own environment. What exists over the horizon, out of sight, might as well not exist at all. It’s not all a politically-left thing. Auntie-Mabels who become politically active out of a concern that we’re losing our “sense of community,” are particularly vulnerable to this.

This is what the protesters are doing with their “day without” stuff. Screw you guys, we’re going home…of course, then they have to disrupt traffic, so that isn’t where they were going…

This is both an effect, and a (sustaining) cause, of the “not responsible for my behavior” thing. Mabel imagines that she, like all the rest of us, maintains a reputation formed by the perception of others of her actions, good & bad. But like the sculptor making a horse by chiseling away all parts of a block that don’t look like one, she hones this reputation by getting rid of anybody who doesn’t form the correct opinion. They go out to the cornfield. Thus, she is, and simultaneously is not, responsible for what she does.

Auntie Mabel’s understanding of money is particularly bizarre. There’s a tendency for her to take on parasitic traits, since it’s hard to be productive when you’ve never really learned how to deal with other people with their different opinions and different priorities. If you do know an Auntie Mabel, and you probably do, better-than-even odds she’s being materially supported in some way by someone else. Money, to her, is like gas in the tank, with someone else responsible for filling: You’re just about out of it, which is a pain in the ass; you might be running out of it soon, in which case maybe it’s time to show a little bit of foresight and start worrying about it early — maybe. Or, you’re not going to run out of it anytime soon. One of those three things, all the time. But there are never more than thirteen gallons or so. The cash card is never going to reach zero, the credit card has no limit, so from where does the money come? Who knows, who cares. The needle approaching “E” is just another crisis that can be used to stoke some emotion and create some conflict, there’s no cause, no effect, no planning necessary. She may find out, now & then, about other people who have more. It’s nothing more than an occasion to create more conflict. There is no means on earth by which those other people might have acquired the money honestly, of course, so they must be crooks.

The utterly irreconcilable contradiction that is at the core of her being, the defining trait that makes her what she is, is that she lives to “win” arguments — nothing else really motivates her — but she cannot stoop so low as to do any actual arguing. Just wants to skip forward to the fun part, where she says what other people have to do, and those other people go do it. You often see her peddling such non-argument arguments as “Who are you to say,” and “I refuse to discuss.” And yet she thrives on conflict for conflict’s sake. If you really want to set her off toot-sweet, just start inspecting any one of a number of things people inspect when they argue honestly, when they don’t think the details of what makes life go, are somehow beneath them. A little bit of “Yes but if it worked that way, we might expect to see X…” Or maybe some of “Yes but by that logic, whenever A we would have to conclude B.” Or: What’s the epistemology? How come it is you think you know, what you think you know?

Kaboom! Triggered!

We have that word now, because we’re all Auntie Mabel. The current generation has discovered, en masse, that in some settings there are a lot of advantages involved in being Auntie Mabel, and not too many readily noticeable downsides. Our institutions of higher learning might not like to admit it, in fact expend boundless reserves of energy to assert the opposite, but they do much to encourage life in a hermetically sealed snow-globe. And, “winning” arguments without doing any actual arguing? What’s not to like? Well…familiarity breeds contempt, and even in chic, happening places like Urban Dictionary one quickly discovers the love of sarcasm exceeds the fondness for generic lefty hipster nonsense. You see this with the top voted definition calling it “The mating call of a landwhale as it submerges from the patriarchy.” The sarcasm continues to ooze for a bit…until you get to Page 2; the first post of which puts together the siren song of Crazy Auntie Mabel far better than I ever could.

Okay, kiddos. Enough of this ‘landwhale’ bullshit. I’m about to tell you what REAL triggering is.

To be ‘triggered’ is NOT to be offended by something. It’s actually quite different from that. To be triggered is to have a certain stimulus, be it a word, a place, a person etc, set off (or trigger) a memory linking back to a traumatic point in your life (i.e. rape, a local terrorist attack, or any sort of horrible event), resulting in negative effects like anxiety attacks (and that’s just one of the many things that can come from being triggered. Trust me, it can get so much worse). It is NOT something to be treated lightly.

I’ll conclude this with a rundown of tips for if you ever come across someone who can be triggered.

1: Do not make fun of them. Triggering is a serious issue which should be treated with care and respect.
2: Do not start calling them things like ‘SJW’ or ‘Landwhale’ or whatever other bullshit you might associate with triggering. It has nothing to do with that.
3: Do not, I repeat, do NOT (I repeat again, FUCKING DO NOT) attempt to trigger them. You should already know this, but I’m saying it anyway. DON’T TRY TO TRIGGER PEOPLE, YOU FUCKING ASSHOLE. Don’t even consider it. You can do some serious damage to a person’s mental state if you do. You keep that in fucking mind.

Now, I’d appreciate some upvotes so we can get this ACTUAL definition of triggering to be the top definition, so no one has to see that disgustingly mean ‘landwhale’ definition again.

Do not, I repeat, do not FUCKING DO NOT attempt to trigger them you fucking asshole. The mask is ripped away. I rest my case; it’s a device for people who want to win the argument without doing any actual arguing. “I want it done like this, so don’t do it that other way or else consider me triggered. And don’t do that you fucking asshole.” Might as well be the anthem of our times.

Well…that’s not the end of the story though, is it. Since Auntie Mabel is typically unproductive, it very often emerges we have to do things she doesn’t like in order to produce things; we have to do something “that other way” in order to get anything done. It really isn’t hard at all to come up with an example or two. Burning fossil fuels to send a freight or passenger vehicle along a road, will suffice. Sometimes, to attend to our practical purpose for existing on this plane, we have to wait for Auntie Mabel to make her grand exit, slamming the door behind her, and then attend to business with her out of the way. We have to take advantage of her limited world-view, of the glass in her snow-globe. We have to wait for the toddler to cry himself to sleep so we can go back to threading the needle. Hey, it works so well! If Auntie Mabel doesn’t have something directly in her line-of-sight, it won’t exist to her. The whole thing becomes a non-issue. Enforced day-to-day by a rigid code of silence. “What did you do to piss off Mabel” quickly morphs into “What are you going to do to make sure Mabel never finds out about it.”

The net effect of this is: Auntie Mabel ends up being the one ostracizing herself, when she thinks she’s ostracizing everyone else. It’s a really sad thing. People talk about the “Uncle in the attic” that no one ever acknowledges in any way, whose presence you dread at Christmas parties and so forth. Well, she’s him. Crazy Auntie Mabel, up in the attic, all alone…where she belongs.

Day Without a Woman? Every day is a day without these kinds of women…if you want to get anything done.

The Twilight of the Age of Aquarius… IV

Sunday, March 5th, 2017

It would be most tragic if a casual reader caught sight of my post immediately previous, in which I lament what has been happening over the last several decades to womanhood, and concluded from this that I think manhood during this same stretch of time has been doing wonderfully. The truth is I don’t think that. Or, reviewed the arc of similarly-titled posts overall and concluded I’m entirely confident about where things go from here on, under President Trump, who’s going to make everything fine & dandy, no need for anyone to worry about anything. I don’t think that either. I know there are people out there who rush to conclude this about their fellow countrymen, that these fellows have been fully assuaged, believing with Trump in charge everything is on auto-pilot. The target that is in their sites, is anybody with an opinion to share who doesn’t buy wholesale into every kooky Trump-conspiracy theory they & their compatriots have thought about peddling. Some of those theories are kookier than others, so it logically follows that their target is any & all rationally-thinking Americans. That’s an error.

They’ve been eager to point to the historical enshrinement of manly personalities into the position of the next iron-fisted dictator, most famously pointed-out in F. A. Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom (for those who are too rushed to read the whole thing, you can catch the video summary here, reproduced from a cartoon series that appeared in Look magazine, 1945). This is an entirely valid concern. The problem is not one of validity, but of relevance. I have yet to meet the Trump supporter who pushes the idea that, with The Donald in charge, we can all stop worrying. If I am to be listed among them, my own viewpoint is: Heck ya, we should be worried about The Road To Serfdom under this new guy; we should have been worried about it under that other guy; we should have been worried about it under the guy who came before him, and the guy who came before him — we should maintain, and act on, a concern about this all of the time.

And I’ll go much further: It is Trump’s critics, not his fans, who are guilty of condensing complex public policy issues down into overly simplified perceptions and prejudices about gender roles. It is only normal for them to do so, because they have become acclimated to it.

No one with a name or reputation worth defending, is going to put that name or reputation under a written statement to the effect of “get rid of all masculine traits, and all society’s problems will be solved.” But, that is the sentiment being acted-upon when we see institutions of higher learning prattle on with their foolish nonsense about “toxic masculinity.” In the world that has become unnaturally familiar to us in the recent past, we can’t deliberate the distinction between these two things, because the acid test would be whether the designers of toxic-masculinity curricula would be willing to trash something that is exclusively masculine, and at the same time, undeniably good. And in merely composing such a question, you see, I’ve already lost ’em. Their culture will not acknowledge any such thing, for it’s written into the leading pages of their catechism that females can do anything males can do — at least, all of the good stuff. It’s a “soap bubble” catechism, retaining whatever structural integrity it has by way of tolerating no breaches in the perimeter. They’ll refuse to entertain any discussion of good thing men can do that women can’t do. Their stated rationale for this refusal is in identifying some woman, somewhere, who’s shown herself capable of doing whatever the good thing is, that anyone cares to name…and yes, somewhere there always will be one. But the real reason for refusing to discuss it in an honest dialogue, is they can’t afford to do so. Once you acknowledge males are innately superior at doing something, no matter what it is, even the silly stuff like playing video games, you leave the door open to the dangerously natural: Gender roles. You tacitly acknowledge that they’re a real thing, and perhaps our perfect Utopian destiny is not waiting for us beyond the point in the pathway ahead where we discard them. Maybe they’re not just garbage to be cast over the shoulder as we march confidently and progressively onward. Maybe they’re something we should keep. Maybe gender roles are even something we should, dare I say it — cherish.

So with two or three generations ticking by, society guided by a “get rid of masculinity and everything will be fine” credo that no one’s willing to say out loud, even as anyone with some authority to wield makes weighty decisions based on it, over time we have accepted the War On Boys as normal. It starts with public K-12 education, in which “boys are treated like defective girls” (0:29).

We’ve become accustomed to masculinity itself being undefined. It’s treated as a mental illness in the school-age boys, something in need of medication. Later on, we routinely see it undefined further, by way of defining opposites. We haven’t long to wait at all before someone says, with a residue of irony that diminishes asymptotically across time, “a REAL man…” and then what comes next is something a real man wouldn’t actually do. The one that appears most often is “isn’t afraid to get in touch with his feelings,” which means something stupid, like crying during a movie. Nope. Common sense provides the correct answer here, as it usually does, real men don’t actually do that. Or: cheerfully holds his wife’s purse while she hits the can at the shopping mall. Nope again. A man may love his wife, but standing there like an idiot holding a purse, with no idea of when the ordeal is over, is not living the American dream. Hate to break it to those who needed to see it, I’m sure it comes as a shock. The science is settled.

This stuff we today call “liberalism” achieved victory after victory during this time, by selling itself to the non-liberals first. To salt-of-the-earth types who respect God, and the people who share their communities with them, the types who most strongly resemble the grandparents, aunts and uncles who have earned your respect. People with actual brains, and consciences, who are way too good for what the liberals were selling them. How did liberalism manage to make inroads on this slice of Americana? Well, the obvious answer is “by lying about what it really is,” but it’s more complicated than that, and the war on boys is an apt example of this. If liberalism had been subject to truth-in-advertising restrictions, it would have had to recruit new “soldiers” into this war by saying: We want to create a climate of fear. We want men and boys to be afraid, very afraid. We want males to be teetering on the brink, forever, of losing whatever positions they have in academe, in their professions outside of it, and in society in general — or, to have lost those positions already. That is how we want to re-define what it means to be a man: There are men who have already lost it all, and there are men who haven’t but are afraid it’ll happen any minute. We want men to see what it’s like.

Had they sold it that way, it would’ve been truthful. But they wouldn’t have sold much.

The recruiters were far craftier than that. They attacked the decency angle. How do you get a decent, wholesome mother of sons, to support something that will put her sons’ future in jeopardy, all day every day, forever? When she has three, four, five or more sons she loves more than anything? How do you do that. The answer is, you make it about behavior. Enter: The so-called “objectification” of women.

Esquire UK editor Alex Bilmes got in some hot water this week when, on a panel about feminism’s conflicts with advertising, he admitted that his magazine objectifies women. As The Guardian writes,

“The women we feature in the magazine are ornamental,” he said, speaking at the Advertising Week Europe conference in London on Tuesday. “I could lie to you if you want and say we are interested in their brains as well. We are not. They are objectified.”

Objectifying WomenHe went on to compare pictures of women to pictures of “cool cars,” which is to say that the models are presented to men as trophies and objects for use, instead of people. The comment has churned up outrage, but really, we should be happy that Bilmes was being, to use his own words, “more honest.” Nearly everyone is or has been complicit with sexism on some level, but almost no one admits it. Seeing someone admit outright that his magazine deliberately objectifies female models is refreshing. Bilmes even used the word objectified correctly, to mean “reducing to an object,” rather than simply looking at with lust.

That’s Amanda Marcotte being charitable. But, if you follow her link back to her own article, you find she shouldn’t have done this, for she makes a point about the stop-female-objectification movement that is more against it than for it:

Objectification is reducing someone to an object, but unfortunately it’s all too often used to mean “crossing some invisible line from being attractive to being too sexy,” whatever that means.

Her point is at least definable, even though she doesn’t want to define it: Men are to bear all of the responsibility for everything. Can this be rationally denied? A man who looks at a woman can certainly do it impolitely, but it is undeniable that he lacks the power to “reduc[e her] to an object.” This is a metaphor for something else. As we go looking for that something else, we find a kaleidoscope mish-mash of lists of tell-tale signs as this social-justice warrior and that one scramble over one another, each to lend their own contribution to these newer layers of revised definition; but the one common facet to it all is making the object of objectification feel like she’s this “object,” and nothing more.

That’s why it’s all bullshit. If men are to be made responsible for the feelings of women they’ve never met, to whom they have no connection whatsoever other than that woman existing within the physical frustum of their gaze — well, they would have to be responsible for everything else too. And the woman would have to be responsible for nothing. Reminds me of the old joke about the redneck kid in the park, enjoying a nice, long, rude gaze at the temptress walking by, who chooses to confront him and demand “What do you think you’re looking at??” “What yer showin’ me,” came the unabashed reply, without skipping a beat…

Ah, that’s not polite at all. But it’s quite correct.

What’s incorrect, is that males who stare at Beyoncé exactly the same way other guys stare at someone else, are somehow innocent of a transgression of which the others are guilty, because of Beyoncé’s intentions. But that’s part of what has been lost. What a masterful move. The kindly old salt-of-the-earth mother-of-sons will fall for it every time, too, since it can be so naturally presented as instructions to your boys not to stare. What concerned mother can ever pass up a chance to refine her male progeny into behaving more like little gentlemen?

The big lie here is that it ever had anything to do with that. This was about the women who were not receiving these stares. It was “If you won’t steal a glance at me, you aren’t allowed to steal one at anybody else either.” It was Rush Limbaugh’s Undeniable Truth of Life #24.

But, good luck telling that to anyone at the time. It would have been construed as paranoid, by just about everyone, for anyone to portray this as an attack on maleness. Nevertheless, with the gift of hindsight, if we’re honest, we can acknowledge that’s exactly what it was. There’s guilt, with no crime, after all. And no one within the targeted demographic is innocent! Not even America’s First Holy President, believe it or not.

President Obama has apologized to California’s Attorney General Kamala Harris after praising her looks during remarks at a fundraiser this week, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Friday.

“They are old friends and good friends, and he did not want in any way to diminish the attorney general’s professional accomplishments and her capabilities,” Carney said during his daily briefing. “He fully recognizes the challenge women continue to face in the workplace and that they should not be judged based on appearance.”

Obama made the call to Harris, a potential gubernatorial candidate, Thursday night after returning to Washington from a fundraising visit to California.

At an event to benefit the Democratic National Committee earlier in the day, Obama said Harris is “brilliant and she is dedicated and she is tough,” adding that “she also happens to be, by far, the best looking attorney general in the country.”

Did Barack Obama ever apologize for His prior behavior, since stepping out into the public view a decade-or-so ago, about anything else? Just one other thing? Can’t recall.

Okay so we have: Noticing something visually appealing about a woman — sorry salt-of-the-earth Mom, you were fooled, it’s not about rude staring because President Obama didn’t do that — is tantamount to a denial that the woman has anything positive going for her outside of looks. And that, in turn, is somehow the same as making her feel this way, which leads to objectification. Two equivalences. Both bullshit.

The truth is, there was nothing broken here, nothing in need of fixing. A nice, long, vulgar leer is unbecoming, but there’s nothing by way of social reform needed to fix that. People do things that are unbecoming all the time. Producing a DVD that forces me to watch all the previews is unbecoming. Calling me on the phone on a weeknight for donations, or surveys, is unbecoming. Especially when I’m in the middle of throwing a temper tantrum about a DVD produced the wrong way.

Staring may not be something that would earn your silver-haired saintly momma’s approval, but it’s also not rape. Sorry, it’s just not:

This website has seen many students, faculty members, and administrators – especially in “higher education” – say some pretty dumb and hateful things about men and boys, often with the general support or acquiescence of the academic community. It has happened so much that it is increasingly hard to top the moral contortions and blind hatred they have pushed out over the years, like an unregulated megacorporation spilling toxic waste into the public drinking water.

But this case is pushing it. Straight from the Goshen College website, on a page titled “What men can do to stop rape”:

“Don’t allow psychological rape or commit it yourself. Psychological rape consists of verbal harassment, whistles, kissing noises, heavy breathing, sly comments or stares. These are all assaults on any woman’s sense of well-being.”

That’s it, men. It’s time to come to terms with our Patriarchal Privilege™. We actually are all rapists. We just never knew it until Goshen College told us.

Of course, under this definition most (if not all) women would be rapists as well. But as Feminists & Friends have told us in the past, since rape is all about The Patriarchy™ men cannot be raped anyway.

The link no longer points to a page that actually says that. That’s the thing about this “stare rape” fantasy, it’s like a mess of cockroaches. Light hits them, they scatter. That’s another tip-off, for those who need it, that there’s something wrong with this.

Fact is, it’s natural. Men are interested in women, and women are interested in men. When you hear someone complain about that, you’re almost certainly hearing someone who wouldn’t exist if it were not true.

To the extent that the complaint is about insufficiently refined behavior, look to modern liberalism and modern feminism as the original causes. Society has provided ways to deal with these “problems,” and those preventative measures were among the first things targeted by the progressives once they found their way into unprecedented levels of power. We used to call it “role modeling,” and then the newly empowered proggies, again acting on contrived new rules they would never put together word-for-word, with an actual name or reputation underneath, came up with this new load: Who needs role models?

And is it really the case that children learn about gender primarily by observing and copying behaviour in others, as shallow ‘social learning’ theories imply? In practice, academic approaches to gender development have moved on, placing much greater emphasis on the ways in which children’s understandings of masculinity and femininity are actively shaped by diverse and changing social contexts.

The evidence that boys growing up without fathers are necessarily harmed is also unconvincing. Reviews of research on fatherhood over years suggest there is very little about the gender of the parent that appears distinctly important. Indeed, they reveal instead common factors in positive father and mother involvement or care.

Of course boys, and girls, benefit from the presence in their lives of positive, involved fathers. But it is difficult to single out fathers as making a unique contribution. Conversely, focussing on the need for a ‘male role model’ downplays the important contribution of women. Far from ‘feminising’ boys, there is evidence that mothers, grandmothers, and female siblings and friends have a significant positive impact on their development.

It is important too to ask what kind of male involvement is healthy for boys. Some boys and young men suffer not from an absence of male role models, but from an excess of limiting and destructive models. We shouldn’t therefore assume that any male role model is better than none. [emphasis mine]

This is the kind of thin rationalization that has become commonplace and accepted, in our society, in the recent past. “I can’t find anything fathers bring to the table here…certainly, nothing I could learn to appreciate.” Again we are gifted with the wisdom of hindsight. We should have been viewing such highbrow screeds as what they really are. Not essays of enlightenment from someone who can see something eluding everyone else, but rather, confessions of ignorance from someone who can’t see something everyone else can; specifically, anything good about males. When it’s taken into the tall grass of defending no-role-models as “at least not as bad as something else”…that’s pretty far gone. Lots of things aren’t as bad as something else, after all. Enslaving women is not as bad as something else.

But, we do need role modeling for boys. Without it, we are lost. No need to argue about it, we have experienced it, as a society, first-hand. How lost did we get? Well, someone has to ask the question…Captain Capitalism asked it, and did a pretty fair job of asking it.

Are There ANY Masculine Millennial Male Role Models???

I noticed something a bit odd.

Tom Cruise and Mark Wahlberg are the two main guys heading up the two main action movies in play right now. Cruise is over 50 and Wahlberg is over 40.

Where the heck are the Millennial male action heroes???

So when I tweeted this out, an Agent in the Field returned this. The top 40 or so actors under 35. And bar Captain American and Thor (both actors are Chris I believe), the rest of them a[re] pussies for god’s sake! Seriously, look at those limp-wristed, pansified girly men. Christ, the original Hans and Franz in SNL were more manly than this lot!!!!

Oh well. Millennial girls worship at the altar of feminism. I guess they got their dream come true with the men of this generation.

There’s something I’ve been noticing as well, which could explain what The Captain had been noticing. We’ve been getting punch-drunk on the spectacle of women yelling at men and the men not being able to talk back. Kinda gets back to the subject of previous post. I recall this surreal joint-press-conference being done by then-current President Obama and former President Bill Clinton, in which Obama seemed to abdicate. They both made a big deal about wrapping things up and meeting the schedule expectations of their respective shrewish wives…very telling. Seems there’s a constituency out there demanding this. Can’t get enough of the sight, or at least the idea, of a PWSHNSSMWWTF talking down to her man.

It is, perhaps, not an exaggeration to say that somewhere along the line, that’s become what masculinity is. Standing there & taking it while your wife, girlfriend, female at work, playground duty teacher, or some other female is talking down to you. And I find it rather telling: It starts with a desire to teach boys not to behave too lasciviously toward the fairer sex, to act more like gentlemen. What a laudable goal. And it ends with the ultimate extrovert holding court where he has no business doing any such thing; the modern-male ideal among those who seek to dismantle masculinity, without admitting that’s what they want to do. Bill Freakin’ Clinton. Who certainly does have his fan base; but would any among them want their sons to turn out like this? To treat women the way Bill Clinton treats women?

Honey RiderThe real tragedy is that there was no culture-conflict necessary here. If you look at it from a high level, thinking only about the essentials, most people are not involved in any disagreement about what we want. There should be a balance. Before all this shit came down, really, we had it already. James Bond, in Dr. No, supposedly the prime example of male symbolism that required reforming, first serious interaction he ever has with a female: He acknowledges Honey Rider’s presence, does not treat her as merely an object (although, arguably, the producers of the movie do), makes a promise to her that he will not steal her shells, and when her boat is filled with bullet holes promises to buy her another. And then he spends the next forty-five minutes solid dishing out to her one instruction after another after another…supposedly highlighting the need for the oncoming feminist movement. Which arrived. But did not achieve the necessary balance, of men knowing what to do, and at the same time respecting a woman’s presence, dignity, wishes, etc.

No, it didn’t provide a balance that was missing, it took one away that was there already. It replaced this delicate balance with an absolute. We can’t find male action movie role models, because male characters can’t figure out for themselves what to do & just do it anymore. That would be a remnant of patriarchy!!

The Captain has noticed a deficit, because you can’t make an “action movie” this way. Action movies, in the classic James Bond era, worked because they were at least somewhat connected to what might happen in real life. The protagonist was physically local to his challenges, and he decided what to do about them. Nowadays, a lot of these decisions have to be checked: Does the female approve? One trick that has become popular in recent years it to use the “bluetooth headset,” connecting the protagonist to a “roomful of computer nerds” who let him know what secret panel is behind what wall. And, tell him what to do next. When to duck. It looks snazzy, but it also serves the purpose of fulfilling the “action movie” fantasy of lazy, couch-entwined females: The female, safely insulated from the physical danger, tells the male what to do, and then he does it. All the vital elements of the story are told. Except for one thing: A man actually making decisions.

This is dysfunctional, because in addition to failing the test of realism in telling an action story in video form, it fails the test of fantasy as well. What level of desire do women have, for a man who is constantly asking what to do next, until all the decisions made are entirely reflective of his female overseer’s priorities, and not at all of his own? Any man with any experience dating women at all, knows the answer. Chicks hate that. Feminists won’t permit us to talk about it openly, but women have a primal revulsion against that. There are few things that get a woman aggravated faster, than when she asks something like “Where should we go eat?” or “What color should we use to wallpaper this bedroom” and gets back an answer from her stud, some variation of “Oh, I dunno…whatever you wanna do.” This actually annoys the average women more keenly than any so-called “objectification” ever can, and a hell of a lot faster. It denies her the man’s sense of identity. And evolution has built her to seek this out in a man. She doesn’t want a certain color of wallpaper, she wants his color of wallpaper, some sign that she’s making this house a home with that guy, and not some other guy. It’s why all the cultures around the world, the advanced and the not-so-much, that never had any contact with each other, use both Christian names and surnames. And, in almost all cases, inherit those surnames from the father. The actions of the individual reflect, well or poorly, on the name he’s given as an individual, and also on the family crest. Each name is an unfinished book, and these deeds are written into those books. That’s how it works. Humans, at a biological level, expect it to work this way.

Now when you have The Flash and Green Arrow sidestepping the meaningful masculine act of making decisions as the action-hero physically confronting the danger, leaving it to their distant, protected, bluetooth-connected strong-willed female computer nerds to tell them what to do next, what this does is remove the need for a male role model. How is a man to conduct himself? Well the question answers itself, now; there are no decisions to be made, just listen to the female voice on your ear bud and do what she tells you to do. But what about ethics and moral reasoning? Leave it to majority rule; decide however it seems society wants you to decide. Listen to the Loud Crowd. And, the job is done. No need to think for yourself.

There’s no use resisting it, anyway. You Will Be Made To Care.

In recent years, we’ve seen how the real crime isn’t conservative intellectual or ideological dissent but conservative emotional dissent. Mozilla’s Brendan Eich being pelted from his job, the perfidious treason of the wedding-cake bakers, the assaults on Hobby Lobby and Chick-fil-A, the bonfires of asininity lit every day on college campuses: These have so much less to do with an ideological argument and more to do with the new unwritten and unspoken fatwah: “You will be made to care.”

Making “emotional dissent” a crime, is necessary. A compass can only be used as a compass if it has one needle. And since liberals cannot defend the direction toward which their compass needle points with facts, logic and common sense, they have to be particularly touchy when it comes to contrary needles pointing in different directions. To make it seem reasonable that the human male is entirely lacking in purpose, they have to make it look to the casual observer like it’s always been that way.

I was reminded of this a few years back when Severian and I were targeted for retaliation by, of all people, award-winning Science Fiction author John Scalzi and his Internet-admiring pals…

Morgan quotes me, John Scalzi quotes Morgan, hilarity ensues.

Skimming through that thread is a clinic in point-missing. Or a classic illustration of Larry Correia’s first rule of internet arguing: Skim until offended. Since Morgan mentioned “pulling his man card” in the third sentence….

For the record, the following are NOT the point of that post, or my original post, or the Vox Popoli post which inspired it all.

– Ha ha, Scalzi is a weak weakling that’s weak.
– Masculinity comes in card form.
– Manhood is defined by one’s bench press.

All of that is just projection. The point is larger and simpler: It takes a tremendous amount of effort to maintain a worldview like Scalzi’s.

He claims his daughter out-lifts him. Which means one of two things must be true:

1. He’s actually been in the gym recently, such that he can make an accurate head-to-head comparison with his daughter; or
2. He hasn’t, in which case he’s just making that comparison up.

If it’s the former, he could hardly fail to notice that the average man is stronger than the average woman, and it’s not even particularly close. Even assuming Miss Scalzi is in the top 1%, female strength-wise, and trains like a demon; and that Mr. Scalzi is in the bottom 1% of male physique (or has a degenerative musculoskeletal condition or something) and has never lifted a weight in his life, he can’t have failed to notice that most of the girls are over by the little plastic jazzercise weights while the guys are throwing plates around. Maybe his girl out-lifts him, but the average girl is nowhere near the average guy, and five minutes in the gym is all it takes to see it.

In case you’re wondering about that “masculinity comes in card form” thing, I’m pretty sure it’s a reference to Scalzi’s tweet about me, which is buried behind one of those several links:

“Somehow, ‘revoking the Man Card’ doesn’t seem adequate for this.” — Dude who apparently keeps his manhood in a card.

I didn’t comment further on this at the time…but, there is a question that arises sort of naturally out of this. Where else does one keep one’s manhood? I’ve got my own answer, and a card is not it. What’s Scalzi’s? It’s necessary to know, in order to get his little jibe.

And his answer, I’m left to conclude, likely is not the same as mine…

Spot the debased beta. This won’t be a difficult test. Regular beta males aren’t always immediately discernible, but debased betas stick out like a White person in Germany.

Our case study today is John Scalzi, a quisling male emblematic of so much that has gone haywire with White American men (and their beards).

Debased BetaExhibit A: This is Scalzi’s Christmas card. He signed off on it. He approved of it. This is how he wants the world to see him.

Is this the Self-Shiv of the Week? I see two brutish women and one screeching little girl. Merry sexual inversion, everyone!

Nature abhors a T vacuum, and Scalzi, having surrendered his T to the devil for the nice life in a 98% White town, guarantees that his defensive back megawife and daughter take up the T slack. And so here they are, wife and daughter doing a man’s job and smirking like a cocky self-assured chad respectively, while the nominal male (scalzied) clasps his hands together and shrieks with delight off to the sidelines as the real men get to work.
:
The debased beta is a creature of the modern dystopian West. His kind was vanishingly rare before THEE CURRENT EPOCH, because any males in such craven, open revolt against their masculinity were bullied into social seclusion and ignored by women with anything on the ball. (Or they successfully transmogrified their effeminacy into a strength by becoming the charming dandy lover to loveless housewives.) But now they effloresce all across America’s fruitcup plains, glorified by the media, championed by disingenuous feminists, and medicated into an epicene stupor by Femme Pharma, corn, and porn.
:
The handicap principle I mentioned above is a factor, but only applies to betas who don’t routinely and excessively neuter themselves, thus retaining some of the tactical value of the counter-signal. Scalzi is not one of these betas; his self-abasement is thorough, habitual, and nauseatingly ostentatious.

Another facet of the DB personality is the love for wallowing in powerlessness, reveling in weakness. This self-abnegating stance harkens the sacrifices of hermit monks or early Christian proselytizers, but the real impetus for it is the classic fear of success psychology. A lot of emasculated betaboys in Scalzi’s position don’t want to act more manly because they secretly fear improved manhood will lead them to abandon their fat wives. Affecting an air of servitude and prostration and doofusness reinforces the comfort bubble that debased betas prefer to ensconce themselves within, precluding any possibility of betterment and temptation to vice.
:
Reading Scalzi is like bathing in a vat of menstrual blood and having pure estrogen injected straight into the scrotum. One must exit Scalzi’s world through a decontamination chamber of red meat and range shooting. His sickness can’t be allowed to spread to vulnerable men. His dildology worldview is a disfigured anti-reality that will yield like buttery goodness to the shiv every time, because nothing substantial underlies it. And the Chateau will flay him, over and over, until his ugliness of mind and spirit perishes from the earth.

Somewhere, Severian was marveling at the profile difference at work here. He and I are, relatively, nobodies; I’m actually going on thirteen years now saying over and over again, “nobody reads this blog” and it’s become a catchphrase of sorts. Scalzi is famous and successful. He has no reason to deign to talk to us. And yet, he went right into this “must have the last word in everything” mode, time and time again. Which made for more posts about his strange debased-beta relationship, and still more. Maybe that’s all part of the plan. Maybe he’ll chime in, in response to this, as well. Who knows? Virtue-signalers never go half-way. They’re like the Energizer Bunnies of Internet packets.

But that just makes it all the more remarkable that the original question remains unanswered: What purpose, in their world, do men have? Biology itself is waiting on an answer. Lots of things have been eliminated; men aren’t supposed to decide things, aren’t supposed to lend their identities to anything, definitely can’t tell a woman what to do. They can squeal like little girls when their wives push calendar years off the edge of cliffs, but you know, real-little-girls can do that. So who needs men? And for what?

Bottom line is, yes something is changing here. The new Trump administration is making people feel very uncomfortable in a lot of ways, and discomfort can feel unnatural sometimes. But as Trump’s predecessor often pointed out, people can be very frightened of change, this doesn’t necessarily mean the change is a bad thing.

Maybe what’s been going on, is people have become accustomed to decisions not being made, save for the decisions that are mostly expected. There’s been a slippage of standards here. The extraordinary decisions that are hailed as revolutionary and courageous, if you look at them closely you see…there’s really no courage here. It’s not “revolutionary,” quite so much as upside-down and inside-out. Direction-less and lost, getting things backwards. The “guidance” on allowing transsexuals into the girls’ restroom (warning, video behind like auto-plays), that’s a perfect example.

A back-to-basics is overdue. Were things so bad before? Back then, a woman could show pride in being a woman, and at the same time, have some respect for men. Men could do the same; if they were proud of being men, they could still respect women. And they could make decisions. Go so far as to say what must be done — if they knew the answer. And this was not pilloried as some kind of assault on women. There was no “How Dare He??” after Indiana Jones said “I’ll make it up as I go along.” To be sure, there must have been some troubles…someone must have said something that caused offense…something to put us in the soup in the first place. But the big take-away from all this is, it’s better to do something and screw it up, even to the point of offending people, than to just scuttle along, not doing anything except squealing like a little girl with your hands squished together, for sake of not offending anybody. And then offending someone anyway. And then having to tweet about them on the Internet so you can have the last word…and pretend up is down and down is up, men are women and women are men, etc. Too much complication. There’s a lot more time and energy left over to be used for productive things, if we just see things as they really are and act accordingly. And, ya know, do stuff instead of coming up with excuses not to do stuff.

The Twilight of the Age of Aquarius… III

Sunday, February 26th, 2017

This is easily the most fascinating story of the week. The Hill, by way of Hot Air:

Crazy Old AuntieSenate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) is dismissing the GOP’s efforts to make Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) the face of the Democratic Party.

“It’s not going to work,” Schumer said of the strategy, according to Politico.
:
…Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) said that the notion that Warren is the face of the Democratic Party is “ridiculous, especially when you look at voting records and where we’ve been.”

“They need a boogeyman, and they’re trying to turn Elizabeth into a boogeyman,” she said. “And I think maybe what they should worry about more is actually doing America’s work.”
Other Democrats also dismissed the strategy.

But Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas), a former chairman of the NRSC, said he thinks Warren could be a liability.

“In the states that Trump won that Democrats are running in, I can’t imagine that she helps them. I think she hurts them,” he said.

It’s kinda funny because these politicians, and other outspoken types, are trying to give the impression they’ve got the final word. Since it’s the voters who get to decide that, these amount to nothing more than predictions, and we know from last year’s events how much value to place on those…

Actually it’s funny for another reason. The democrats are scrambling to get the word out to people what opinions they should have, that this is never gonna work, that Warren “has her own brand. And I think I have my own brand…” according to one democrat quoted in the Politico story. She’s not the face of the democrat party.

Whereas, ThinkProgress was, just weeks ago, selling tee shirts and buttons to cash in on Sen. Warren’s…? Something. Not courage. “Outspokenness” might fit, if Warren had something constructive to say. “Not stopping talking” wouldn’t fit either, because she eventually did stop, once she was forced to do so and had no other choice. Her…immaturity and childishness?

Overbearing femaleThis treatment of uncivilized behavior as if it’s something desirable, just because it happens to be coming from females, is another part of this decades-long shift in our cultural milieu that I’m happy to see reversed; happy to see it die. So Elizabeth Warren has stopped being an emblem of where the democrats want to go, and that’s according to democrats. Good. That would have to mean she’s stopped being a lodestar of female behavior. That’s a change that should’ve happened long ago, back before we ever heard about her. Real women don’t act like this.

I’ve never understood this fascination with the specter of the sinister, authoritarian, unpleasant scolding female. Oh, I think I do get the basics of it: People, boys especially, have long been conditioned to defer to the petulant female if she displays the correct mannerisms. Perhaps it’s a product of evolution, and it’s certainly something inspired on the elementary school playground. We see it later on right before some really bad decisions get made. A female who finds herself supporting the wrong argument, and lacks the wisdom to self-correct, breaks out what you might call the nuclear-option of “I’m an aggravated female, and I’m about to get even more aggravated so you better do what I say.” Hey, if something has worked before, you keep using it until experience teaches you it’s time to stop using it, and the scolding seacow has yet to have that experience. I suppose we’d all do the same thing in her situation…ugly a thought as that is.

Funny, innit? We’ve been told all this time men run everything…but there was no revolution that led to this custom of females “pulling rank.” We haven’t been upsetting any tradition acting out that ritual. We’ve been following it; we do it because that’s the way it’s always been.

Well, you’ll notice from the tee shirt site that TP claims to be sold out of the product, and I don’t doubt it. This is, or at least has been, a national crisis — large numbers of people laboring under the mistaken belief that this is how things are supposed to be. That a woman’s place is to scold, and to keep talking even when she has nothing of substance to say, if only just to be unpleasant and give people headaches with her audible nonsense. Who likes this? Someone does. Or has.

It’s a terrible thing we’ve been doing to young girls. This, too, gets a jump-start way back, in elementary school. The female who is perhaps concealing her own confidence crisis, maybe struggling with body issues, discovers she’s thought by her teachers to be a “strong leader” when she simply snaps at people. And so a long arc of behavioral self-modification begins. This is awful. It borders on an actual crime. Public school often has the same effect on a “bossy” girl, that Tequila has on the over-served, except the person imbibing to excess is guilty of making an informed choice. Both practitioners then misspend long portions of their limited time upon the planet, hours in the case of the Tequila drinker, years in the case of the bossy girl — thinking everyone wants to hear everything they’ve got to say, that all their commentary is brilliant, that all their jokes are funny. No one is helped by this.

So we have a generation of teachers, who think they’ve managed to accomplish their virtue signaling, by feeding some atta-girls to the bossy-girls with manufactured self-confidence and double chins. This has given us a younger generation of females who, as they went through their formative years essentially discovering who they’re supposed to be, settled on the idea that their purpose in life is to give other people headaches. Over the decades, we have come to accept this as normal. You know, there’s really no excuse for this. The pathway to maturity could have been corrected at any time. A teacher might have taken aside one of these BITs, or Bitches In Training, and shared with them the observation that their obnoxious mannerism and overbearing voice failed to convince the opposition this time, so let’s look into the structure of an argument, learn some new things about how to persuade. This would have capitalized on what went wrong, and course-corrected toward the vision of wise, informed, clear-thinking female leadership. Well, if it was done, it wasn’t done often enough was it? Because today we have Elizabeth Warren.

TermagantWho has, certainly, been the symbol of democrats and what they want to do. Schumer, Heitkamp, et al know this. They’re making deceptive arguments, arguments crafted for consumption by an audience that knows some but remembers nothing. People who look at it through a straw.

And it’s not just Senator Warren. Patty Murray, Kamala Harris, Sheila Jackson Lee, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Maxine Waters…

Celebrities: Oprah Winfrey, “Queen Bey,” most of the women on The View, all sorts of female “comediennes” making vulgar “jokes” that aren’t funny about their own intimate body parts. This is one of those things where you see how society’s going off in the wrong direction, how many people are being hurt by the errant decisions being made, only after a cultural fad has worn thin. Some of us have been in the “right” place, or more accurately the opportune place, for this to have worn thin on us from the very beginning. Now, I guess, is the time where others are just starting to get it: Being an obnoxious, overbearing jerk is not a desirable quality in a man, so the same thing in a woman…right. Now you get it. It’s no more helpful than that, and NEVER should have been any more appealing. To anybody.

See, our first instincts are to ignore people who are unpleasant by choice. This is correct. Overall, you’re going to find they’re being that way because they don’t have your interests at heart, and in fact, aren’t the least bit shy about showing it. And, they’re putting a lot of weight on how they say something, because they themselves know they haven’t got much of substance to say. They are wounded, incomplete people and the right way to treat them is to help them grow out of it, try to repair the wound, fill in what’s missing, if that’s possible. And if it isn’t possible, then the next best thing is to ignore them.

Don’t marry them. Good Lord no. And don’t elect them. What, are you on crack or something? But it’s been so popular up until now. Glad to see the change.

The Twilight of the Age of Aquarius… II

Thursday, February 9th, 2017

It’s a good time to put some diligent, scrutinizing thought into a subject we’ve revisited often in these pages, namely what the heck is/was this stuff described in today’s day & age with the word “liberalism.” It’s not a simple question. And no, we can’t rely on the textbooks. In this era of the Trump administration honeymoon, liberals are more-or-less identical to the textbook definition of conservative. They respond to incentives, material & otherwise, to cling to the last vestiges of a power structure that has outlived both its usefulness to us, and, God willing, its own naturally sustained life span. This is a subtly different question from what exactly was the Obama era, a challenge I imposed on myself soon after the elections.

I lately came across a graphic I think captures it rather nicely…

Pictured is the California State Senate President Pro Tem, who had some interesting things to say a few days ago about illegal immigration and why we’re obliged to put up with it and pretend it isn’t happening. He seemed to be confessing to a great number of his relatives being in the country illegally, with his full knowledge and maybe even with his full support. We can debate the propriety of that elsewhere, but the fixation of the instant is the other aspect of the image: While all this is going on, our friends the liberals are passing all sorts of very questionable gun control laws and those are to be taken heart-attack seriously, by everyone, everywhere. And all of the time. Law-of-the-land, and all that.

This inconsistency supports some of the primary ingredients I’ve gleaned from the modern-liberal stew over the years: Maturity problems; a failure or unwillingness to define things; the elevation of emotion above reason in critical decision-making. The first of those three refers to — let’s just go ahead and admit it — poor parenting. Liberals, and centrists who are seriously considering becoming liberals, simply weren’t parented the right way and they didn’t learn the virtue of delayed gratification. We see them “protesting,” which more often than not means rioting, because they want something. Just like with a wild animal, that’s all there is. What they want, what they have already, and the difference between those two. That’s on their minds. Nothing else. They want illegal immigration to be legal, or at least, unrestricted; they want guns to be illegal, or more to the point, gone. Having control over only a part of the question of what becomes a law and what does not, they’re left deciding autocratically from one moment to the next what laws should count, and what ones should not. Just like your spoiled rotten and borderline-retarded cousin deciding moment to moment when it’s okay for players’ tokens to collect $200 for passing Go. Wait, that’s no exaggeration, is it? Failure to accept the results of a presidential election are a THREAT TO OUR DEMOCRACY…until, whoops, it turns out Trump won and Hillary’s fans are the ones who have to accept defeat. Time to riot. Say hello to your spoiled retarded cousin…

It’s said that any derogatory observation made against liberals can be fairly made against at least one conservative, somewhere, and I’m sure that applies here. At least, at first blush. Mr. De Léon’s counterpart on the conservative side would be someone who thinks the new gun laws are stupid, and these would not be hard to find, but that’s not good enough. We’d need to go further and find someone who’s willing to break these laws…and, I suppose, be proud of doing so. This would thin the field somewhat, but I’m sure we can fill the bill. Even after that, though, differences remain. These differences help to illustrate what exactly a liberal is, and why it’s so important to the country that we make sure their best days are in the rear view mirror.

This conservative who regards the duly ratified gun control law as a waste of his time and stupid, and decides to play pick-and-choose about which laws he’s going to bother to follow — it isn’t quite the same attitude as the Sanctuary City liberal. Is it? The disrespect for the rule of law is not quite so pure. In fact, if we look into it we’re likely to find there’s no disrespect for the rule of law at all. We’re far more apt to find a considered sequencing in effect. Something rather like a motorist stuck behind a red light in the backwoods at 2:30 in the morning, that remains bright cherry red minute after minute, with no other traffic around, eventually deciding to run it to make a red-eye flight. Here in the Golden State, a lot of these “common sense regulations” directly contradict the effective use of a sidearm for home defense. So what you should expect to find, is someone who fancied themselves to be put in the position of choosing between the safety of his family, and the law. And came to a conscious decision that the whole point of the law is to protect the innocent, therefore a law that puts the innocent in jeopardy is an unjust law.

This is not the same as your no-borders liberal who simply selects against the law he doesn’t like, as a child would select against vanilla ice cream because he prefers chocolate. Conservatism is occasionally clarified as the “law and order” ideology, but this is an oversimplification. It’s more like this: We have laws to preserve civilization. Conservatism itself, also, is there to preserve civilization, as I said before:

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.

These people we today call “liberals” have not had a new idea in, depending on your specific topical focus, between a half- and a full-century or more. And it is they who are clinging with bloody fingertips to a receding entrenched legacy power structure. But they remain revolutionaries, and the one thing that unites all sorts of revolutionary movements is this idea of creating a whole new kind of civilization by way of destroying the civilization they find today. They are destroyers. Somewhere, in the middle of that short, straight, slippery pathway between reasonable open-minded moderate and ideologically crystallized liberal, there is some moment of embrace of the impulse of destruction. Perhaps it’s that inability to come to terms with delayed gratification. One nice thing about destruction is that it’s quick and easy.

But there’s more to it than that. I remember a year ago I paid a gardener to dig up the hump in my front yard and level the whole spread, so I could repeat the year-plus of backbreaking labor from the year before on the plain dirt that remained, work which was now nullified. We do this in software development a lot, certainly more often than we’d like. We put a stop to good money being thrown in after bad. “Everything on top of & therefore after this level down here, has been a waste, we are only just now admitting it. Let us dismantle down to this level, and repeat all the blood sweat & tears invested above & after that moment, so we can get it done right.” So I guess twenty layers of evolved civilization must be like twenty digits of an irrational number computed after the decimal point; mess up the third-or-fourth position, everything you did afterward is garbage. The choice that confronts you at Position 20, today, is anguish or more anguish. Admit to this unpalatable thought sooner, you waste less energy. In its own way, it makes a lot of sense.

But the liberal does not seek to conserve expenses or labor by admitting to historical mistakes more quickly. Oh no. Not even close.

The liberal who chooses to break our immigration laws, is distinguished from the conservative who chooses to break our gun control laws, by the lack of any sense of trade-off. The conservative believes in civilization, which means among other things protecting the innocent from those who would do them harm, by way of negligence or malicious intent. Civilization has, unfortunately, embraced a bad law. So just like me paying good money to have a huge ugly hump, along with the fruits of my year of wasted labor, carted off in a truck…and just like the mathematician who has to swallow his pride and re-compute the sixteen digits after the fourth one all over again…he sacrifices.

The liberal doesn’t sacrifice. Whether his identification of these surface garbage-layers constitutes sound reasoning, or is an empty rationalization, or anything in between — he tolerates no sacrifice in arguing for their destruction. This flensing serves his ultimate goal, even though it’s only a fractional approach. It diminishes that which the liberal seeks diminish, which is civilization as we have defined it up to this point.

They really aren’t liberals at all. They aren’t “progressives,” either. They’re destroyers, plain and simple. They were destroyers back in the early days after JFK’s assassination when they found new acceptance and power on our national stage…they are destroyers in this very moment, as I type this sentence. Every single minute in between, they have been destroyers. Whether they’ve realized it or not.

The Twilight of the Age of Aquarius…

Monday, January 30th, 2017

Andrew Klavan is wondering something

Mainstream news journalists — by which I mean that collection of Democrats employed by large corporations to push the sort of big government that prevents small corporations from competing with them — have been breathlessly speculating that the recent “Women’s Marches” around the country may be the beginning of a movement. The marches, funded in part by anti-American globalist billionaire George Soros, called forth such headlines as “Cathartic Moment or Enduring Movement” and “Women’s March Activists… Seek To Build a Movement.”

No one knows the future, of course, but I can’t help wondering if the marches, large as they were, were not rather the end of a movement, a fond farewell to an amalgam of obsolete leftist causes that either never had a reason to exist in the first place or have lost whatever reason they might once have had.

The Left, has we have come to know it, has been not quite so much a movement as a tired retread narrative. Should be easy to capture it by now, let me give it a shot. Let’s see…Young, idealistic and energetic revolutionaries are rebelling against the reality that an entrenched aristocracy consisting of rich old people and clergy are hoarding all of the wealth and the power for themselves. The egalitarian future boldly confronts the stagnated & halcyon past, and prevails. Along the way, we’re all called upon to embrace certain irreconcilable contradictions, like: We’re all going to be a lot better off when limited resources are redirected to enrich people who don’t even value material things. And, these young idealistic crusaders are ably represented by increasingly geriatric has-been hippies who haven’t had a single new idea amongst the whole lot of ’em in the better part of a century. And, the economy runs much moar-better when there are higher taxes. We’ve got to become a more color-blind society, and the best way to do that is to pay close attention to color when we think about hiring, promoting, contracting with & educating people.

It’s all a bunch of gelatinous nonsense, held together by the bitter tendrils of resentment. At its core, are the notions that unproductive people should be able to pull rank on the people who actually produce things, and tell them how to do their producing. And, the premiere asset of any sovereign nation is its tax code, which should be based on resentment and hate. If you happen to be rich, you must have stolen it. Unless you happen to be one of the rich people who lean left. And then you’re wonderful.

Another trademark of a dying movement is moral hyperbole geared toward keeping obsolete grudges and complaints alive. There is no one in prison in America for being black. People go to prison for committing violent crimes. The fact that blacks commit a disproportionate number of those crimes may be explained in any number of ways, but it’s pure fantasy to claim (as Barack Obama so often did) that systemic, institutional racism continues to exist.

Yes…nobody is actually succeeding or failing anywhere, the differences in standard of living must all have something to do with discrimination. Unless those differences happen to be pointed the right way.

Ask not why the left is dying. Ask instead why it’s taken so long. This reflects poorly on us all…those who sustained it, those who merely tolerated it…we are all stained.

I’m glad you’re dead, you vicious bastard…

Really Going to Miss This Old House

Sunday, January 29th, 2017

So I guess we get to vote on CalExit in 2019. I plan to vote “Not only Yes, but Hell Yes,” even though it would mean we have to move. Yes, I hope California secedes and furthermore I hope it builds its own wall.

We’ll just have to order up the U-Haul and beat feat to Texas, or South Carolina, or whoever will have us. And our guns. And has some coastline. Before that giant door slams shut.

I expect I’ll be able to take Mrs. Freeberg with me, so I’m going to miss this house most of all. I like the half-bath adjoined to the garage, what I’ve taken to calling the “gurgling intestines bathroom” or the “OMG OMG I don’t think I’m gonna make it” bathroom. Nice feature. And I really appreciate how I can peel the socks off my feet on the living room couch, wad them up in a ball, wind up like a pitcher and chuck them up to the 2nd-floor balcony. This is cool too, but I’m sure we can find houses with the same thing out in Texas.

CalExitThis is the wall, greater & grander and maybe even more-badly-needed than President Trump’s wall at the Mexican border. This is the wall that divides conservatives from liberals. We just happen to be on the wrong physical side of it, for now. This is the wall that might very well prevent another civil war. Do I exaggerate? Then tell me, what is the alternative.

As someone else very astutely noted somewhere, liberals have no interest in elections in this day & age — just look at their reaction to the one we just had.

They have to run “everything”…but, they’re incurious dimbulbs, by & large, way too preoccupied with their virtue-signaling to take the time to define “everything.” You know anyone like this in your extended family? Every family seems to have one character like this. Sticking their nose into something that’s none of their concern, starting fights, but as long as they don’t find out about it it’s all good…so everyone else starts to keep secrets from them, because over time it’s been learned by all that that’s the solution. Just put Crazy Auntie Mabel in a snow-globe, of sorts, let her think the world is tinier than it really is. That, too, is an apt description of today’s liberals. If they find out little kids are being taken to church on Sunday mornings somewhere, they’ll start fights and they’ll get into that pit-bull mode of “This argument’s not over until it’s over the way I like it to be over.” But first, they have to find out about it. So we put them in little jars, shrink their little worlds, keep them from finding out about too much, and it’s all good.

They can have their smaller version of “everything.” With a big high wall built around it. I’ve been calling for this for years and years.

And the rest of the union can have presidential elections every four years after that…with 55 fewer electoral votes going to the “Fuck you I want my num nums” party.

If California is its own country, President Trump would be trespassing upon it with that particular section of the wall. California would be within its rights to tear down that part of it, to declare itself a sort of “sanctuary nation.” They can see how well that works out for them, and really show the rest of us how it’s done. With their vast abundance of cheap underclass “legal but illegal but not really” labor…square mile after square mile of fertile farmland…NO FUCKING WATER oh oops, did I type that out loud?

Update: So…if it’s true what I’m hearing, that our friends the granola-eating Moccasin-wearing CalExit-backing liberals have no interest in a good-sized chunk of the state, and just want their cherished parts that don’t interest us real Americans anyway…then maybe we can work it like this and not have to leave our home…

Clicky to embiggen.

I learned from dealing with one of my exes, that whoever takes the trouble to come up with definitions first can usually sway the deal, and without even starting an argument over it. Play your cards right, you can fool the other side into thinking it’s their idea. So — we should, no question, see to it Angel Island is on our side. Ditto for Hooters in Dublin, since I like the way the place is managed. The libs can have Berkeley, and Stockton too. For the rest of the line-drawing, up to the state of Nevada, we can just follow Highway 4.

We get the wine, they get the whine. Everybody’s happy. Except for the thing with San Diego. I noticed San Diego is loaded up with crazy-hot, but not-crazy, female persons…if you can believe that. They do exist. That’s just the thing, though, I’m married to one of the hot-but-not-crazy ones, so I’ve got no use for gorgeous San Diego girls.

And this way we get to keep the house. The Missus has a lot of time & trouble invested in our wind chimes.

Will the Last Person Leaving the Human Race…

Sunday, January 29th, 2017

…please shut off the lights on your way…

Makers of ‘mindblowing’ sex robot with virtual vagina swamped with orders

Warning – graphic content : Randy men can’t get enough of innovate VirtuaDolls sex aid – prompting the firm behind it to make an astonishing admission

The manufacturers of a pioneering video game controller that doubles as a virtual reality male sex toy have pulled it off the market after being swamped by demand.

VirtuaDolls is a system which allows hi-tech heavy breathers to strap on a VR helmet, sleep with simulated women and be pleasured by a device which responds to on-screen eroticism.

This could, for instance, allow gamers to watch a cyber-siren twerking whilst the silicon sex toy pulsates in time with her every gyration.

So many men rushed to pre-order this device on the crowdfunding site Indiegogo that its designers were forced to “put the project on hold”.

…uff da. Nothing to add…

!Inclusive

Sunday, January 29th, 2017

So I saw Gerard put this up on Facebook; I was waiting on him to actually blogify it so I could give him proper credit. But if it takes him some reasonable fraction of the time to do that that it’s taken me lately, that’s going to be quite a wait, and the insanity highlighted is just too “good”:

The Outdoor Industry Has Too Many White Dudes

But that’s finally starting to change — and these five CEOs, writers, and activists are helping to lead the charge

More Diverse OutdoorsThe outdoor world has a diversity problem. Few places is this fact more evident than at the biannual industry trade show Outdoor Retailer in Salt Lake City. Almost everybody on the floor looked like me — a white dude from Oregon — right down to the flannel shirt and trucker cap. Thankfully, lots of people in this industry are trying to change that. I talked to five of them at last week’s show to find out what they’re doing to make this corner of the world broader and more inclusive.

And right away, just like that, he got a troll:

Oh, puleeze. Your base doesn’t give a shit about Outside Magazine. Surely some leftwing scumbag has written a scathing diatribe against the lack of diversity in NASCAR. Dig it up! And if it doesn’t exist, write it yourself! ‘Cause THAT’s what you should be linking to if you want to fan the frenzy!

We-ell…I dunno. Maybe she’s right. If I’m a representative sample of his base, which is something I doubt, but let’s go with that…I don’t give a shit about Outside Magazine. Never heard of it before now.

But, I have, on occasion and only casually compared to some of the other enthusiasts, taken an interest in the actual outdoors. I can’t speak to whether there’s a “diversity problem” or if there is one, what could be causing this. Where I go, there aren’t many people. That’s kind of, you know, the whole point. But I can guarantee you one thing: If there are large swaths of people from some certain ethnic background who choose not to partake, it’s not because the right steps have yet to be taken to make the outdoors “more inclusive.” The outdoors, by definition, are ultimately inclusive. If you want to venture out into ’em, there’s certain self-prep. Not much. I’m not some kind of Chuck Norris type or something by any means. But, you do have to imagine worst-case scenarios and pack gear. Think for yourself.

You have to be a little bit tougher, and more independent, than some precious snowflake who requires an invitation.

Now, those of us who can see the lunacy in these quixotic “make it more inclusive” campaigns, don’t get offended easily, and when we do no one gives a flying fig. (Which might have something to do with why it doesn’t happen much.) But it is offensive, AND amusing, in fairly equal parts, when we see the high-profile sycophants stray into this tall-grass territory of “maybe we can get more of these people and fewer of those people with some sort of P.R. campaign.” In software engineering we see this on a routine basis, with regard to dudes & chicks. The industry is heavily-dude; entire development teams are all-dude, and almost any cross-section you care to demarcate in any way, is overwhelmingly dude-heavy. And so, again, we have initiatives…advertising campaigns…outreach programs. To get the chicks interested. Well like the outdoors, it’s a tough enough activity that an invitation isn’t going to cut it. One has to be inclined.

These activities both involve frustration. Not constant frustration, but enough periodic incidents of frustration that persons of any sex or color who are considering doing it, are going to expect them going in, or else they will end up wishing they did a better job anticipating them. Bottom line is that anyone opting to take a pass, is not to be begrudged for such a decision regardless of their age, sex, skin color or sex preference. If it isn’t for you, you shouldn’t go.

But the Loud Crowd, coffee-creamer-white for the most part, in their “flannel shirt and trucker cap[s],” don’t get it. They think that by making a big deal out of it, once they’re done drawing more attention to themselves, they can corral more black people, like cattle, into the camping world, or more chicks into the software industry. Or maybe not. I think even people who are on their side, or have trouble spotting the silliness, at some point must be considering the possibility that drawing attention is the entire point.

In fact, I hope that is the case. Last thing I want when I’m designing, implementing or testing software, is to contend with someone who had to be cajoled into being there. And I sure as heck don’t want to set up a campsite next to someone who’d been enticed into being there, and received little or nothing by way of actual guidance, or hadn’t done the necessary prep. Just like I don’t want the concept of “inclusive” to be defined by someone who would seriously consider using the headline: “The Outdoor Industry Has Too Many White Dudes.”

“You Better Recycle That, or I’ll Cut You!”

Sunday, January 29th, 2017

Success everywhere. It’s not because Donald Trump is some kind of all-knowing wizard or anything like that, it’s because a transfer of power is taking place and we’ve been needing it to happen for a long time.

I’ve not been one to write overly much about the escalation in arguing nationwide, that is now apparently subsiding. My posts-per-month on this blog are testament to that, and my diminished site traffic is testament to that. Most of it, I think, is stupid. It’s people-programming. “Trump’s just awful, terrible, just awful!” say the people who didn’t have an opinion about Trump one way or the other, a mere two years ago. They’re reacting to the fact that he ran a campaign for President as a Republican, and in so doing got between a democrat politician and what she wanted. Or, they’re reacting to the buzz that was kicked up by democrats as they circled the wagons, protecting their own, making noise, which is what they do. And that’s what these other people do. Buzz starts up about something, they fall in line. I’ve often been tempted to ask, Have you EVER gone against the vocal majority on anything? If the answer is no, and it seems to be that from my point of view, that should get a person started thinking about things…but, that’s not likely to illuminate the discussion much, and if that kind of thinking were ever to be put in motion by something, it probably would’ve happened long before I showed up to pose my provocative question.

I am lately beset upon by, and lately more fixated on, local things…maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe I’m turning into the cranky old guy yelling at kids to stay the hell off his lawn.

Crossing GuardWe have a computer bulletin board on which we can collaborate on things like: Watch out for that nasty pothole, or WTF is wrong with that stupid street light, or What was that funny noise last night?…and the like. Thought it was kinda stupid when I first signed on to it, but it’s turned out to be a really cool thing. A debate has suddenly kicked up about speed bumps. A libertarian-minded gentleman, unfortunately, expressed a quite sensible opinion about our eroding freedoms in a needlessly dramatic way — which is what libertarians do. He posted something about how he considers speed bumps to be a “violation of my right to” move, or something…

The ensuing discussion has unfolded about pro- or con-speed-bumps. Interestingly, the people who love love love speed bumps occasionally claim outvoting-victory at the town council meetings, even though they’re very overwhelmingly outvoted in the forum in which we’re actually discussing it, the one where you have to figure out how to turn on a computer and work a browser. And, I don’t care about any of that. It’s just interesting.

I do note that the “anti-speed-bump” coalition is not, contrary to the perception of their opposition, arguing against the presence of speed bumps. Granted, “I hate speed bumps” sounds like that, and “speed bumps are a violation of my rights” sounds like that…but if anyone takes the time to actually read, which strangely seems to be beneath a lot of people who’ve managed to turn on their computers and work browsers, the objection is against speed bumps installed to enforce a limit of 30 mph…and, by their presence, discourage the vehicles from going anywhere faster than 15 mph. Or less than that.

This is, I think, why the pro-speed-bump crowd is outvoted. But they respond simply by becoming more emphatic. More “have you ever lost a kid to a drag racer,” more exclamation points, more “love” in the “I love love love speed bumps.”

Sacramento, I see, is once again tragically laboring to become more like its bigger stupider brother San Francisco. It’s the same thing going on, traffic is deadly because the motorists drive like idiots. Motorists drive like idiots because they’re aggravated, and they’re aggravated because the roads are designed, and modified, according to the wishes of people who hate motorists. And think emotionally & not logically.

Here is what happens in our neck of the woods. A casual glance at an aerial map will lay out the entire problem beautifully. We have a main arterial running due North, and then one long block away from it to the East we have a backwoods road. It is not twisty or windy, it is a straight shot and it goes on for a couple of miles. You might think, as the main drag becomes more congested and hazardous that a few jackasses will be inclined to split off during the commute hour and abuse the narrower corridor…you’d be right. I’m one of those jackasses. The 30 mph an hour is actually faster than the main drag. I remember thinking when I first moved to the area, I can see how this might be a move tempting to a lot of others besides just me, and I hope that does not happen, or if it does happen I hope people are going to be well behaved about it. I’m sure the homeowners along here are annoyed by this side-traffic already. Well, looks like I was right about that. Wasn’t a tough call. There were speed bumps already. Six of them. Slowing the traffic down from the posted 30 mph, to 15 mph.

This emotional problem-solving, conceals from the people indulging it what they’re really trying to do. Emotionally, they hate cars. What they want to do is install speed bumps that are not quite so much safe, as they are onerous. They want to drive the traffic back out to the main drag. Well…thinking about it logically, we see this can work. It does. On very, very rare occasions — when this side street becomes something like a parking lot. One or two of us jackasses will wait five minutes or more to go one block, get fed up, and split off to go back to where we belong. Traveling that one block West.

At thirty miles an hour? Best Lana Kane from Archer voice I can muster in writing…Nooooooope. And so now I have to wonder about people who live on the East-West streets. What was I saying about motorists driving like idiots because they’re aggravated, from driving on roads built by people who hate them? Those folks have seen their share of it. Ah, come to think of it, I’m one of them. We’re considering a speed bump ourselves, due to one obnoxious fellow on a dirt bike who likes to go 60 or more in the 30 mph zone. If & when it goes in, as I said, I hope it’s a speed bump that has no effect on drivers already going the posted limit. Which means I’m actually on the side OF the people who are pro-speed-bump…there’s no actual disagreement in the thread, if one takes the time to actually read. Sadly, a lot of people don’t. The rest of us become needlessly contentious, because of them. And then they get to say it’s someone else doing it.

Just like national politics. We get to see people becoming the builders of their own misfortunes; and, they don’t see themselves doing it. They’ve managed to find a scapegoat.

In the humor department, at work we have a lady who is very proud of herself for having pulled herself up after she “grew up inna hood.” She should be. The hood to which she’s referring is in West Sacramento which, as one Facebook friend has pointed out, is not all hood…but, the hood parts of it are very, very hood. And have been for a long time. I know West Sac as four miles of not-too-affluent space I have to cross on my bike, to get to the slough, beyond which lies Davis…ultra-liberal, ultra-weird Davis, home of, among other things, the toad tunnel. No, really. There are rumors the TT is, well, a rumor. I used to believe those; they are false, the tunnel is real.

Because of the building of the overpass, animal lovers including Julie Partansky worried about toads being smooshed by cars, because before the overpass, a colony of toads hopped from one side of a dirt lot (which the overpass replaced) to the reservoir at the other end. There was a lot of controversy, and the town decided, as part of the $7 million financing for the project, to allocate funds to build a toad tunnel beneath the Pole Line Road overpass. Wikipedia reports that the tunnel cost $14,000, while the book Northern California Curiosities reports $12,000. The book Weird California claims it was $30,000.

There are also several tunnels rather than just one. The shortest run is in the street opposite Sudwerk‘s parking lot. It does, however, lack any sort of decoration, so it helps if you visit Toad Hollow to get an idea of what you’re looking for. All the tunnels terminate at a fenced, protected wetland area with foreboding signs implying that if you climb over the fence, you will cause hundreds of species to die and make Gaia weep.

It’s a whole different way of thinking out in Davis. Squirrels might fall out of the trees, so we have to put little trampolines under the — you get the idea. The space between Davis and the nearest other populated area, which would be Dixon to the Southwest, and West Sacramento across the sough, creates an isolation factor. And this allows their local culture to flourish. Or germinate. Or putrefy, depending on your point of view…

Well it seems the cloister that is Davis is starting to spill out, across the slough, into the rougher areas of West Sacramento and this is making for a fascinating strain of hybrid teenager. Part yuppie, part hoodlum. And they say weird things, she was noticing…like “You better recycle that, or I’ll cut you!” I think I was having turkey on wheat that day…

It hurts when it gets lodged up your nose.

Destroying the Idea by Taking It Seriously

Saturday, January 14th, 2017

So I was lately wondering if we’re witnessing the demise of epistemology, and a few months ago I was wondering essentially the same thing about critical thinking.

People have neglected considerations of the metaphysical so resolutely and for so long, they think they can make things true by putting it to a vote, and expressing their opinions emphatically.

Critical thinking must be critical. A good example of it would be: You’re at home and you receive a call, in the middle of the day, from very prestigious investment broker telling you about this amazing opportunity, they need the money right away if you want to go for it, be sure and keep it a secret because they only want a few people to have the opportunity…

Non critical thinking would be: They’re so prestigious! Who am I to doubt them? And: How could I get my hands on that amount of money before 5 p.m.? Critical thinking would be: If it’s such a great deal and you only want a few people to know about it, why do you need me? Why even tell me about it? Why not invest in it yourself?

Critical thinking often requires taking an idea seriously when one’s sympathies lie elsewhere. This is something people used to do often. They would attack ideas by taking them seriously. One of the best examples we have of this is something you should’ve already been reading anyway, Marbury vs. Madison, the 1803 Supreme Court decision that established the right of judicial review:

Those, then, who controvert the principle that the Constitution is to be considered in court as a paramount law are reduced to the necessity of maintaining that courts must close their eyes on the Constitution, and see only the law.

This doctrine would subvert the very foundation of all written Constitutions. It would declare that an act which, according to the principles and theory of our government, is entirely void, is yet, in practice, completely obligatory. It would declare that, if the Legislature shall do what is expressly forbidden, such act, notwithstanding the express prohibition, is in reality effectual. It would be giving to the Legislature a practical and real omnipotence with the same breath which professes to restrict their powers within narrow limits. It is prescribing limits, and declaring that those limits may be passed at pleasure.

That it thus reduces to nothing what we have deemed the greatest improvement on political institutions — a written Constitution, would of itself be sufficient, in America where written Constitutions have been viewed with so much reverence, for rejecting the construction. But the peculiar expressions of the Constitution of the United States furnish additional arguments in favour of its rejection.

The judicial power of the United States is extended to all cases arising under the Constitution.

Could it be the intention of those who gave this power to say that, in using it, the Constitution should not be looked into? That a case arising under the Constitution should be decided without examining the instrument under which it arises?

This is too extravagant to be maintained.

Chief Justice Marshall demolishes the opposing argument — that the ordinary statute must reign supreme upon the topic upon which it is narrowly focused, and the Constitution that would ordinarily place a constraint against the necessary authority has no effect — by taking it seriously. He accepts it for the time being, for the sake of argument, then navigates it to see where it leads. “It would be giving to the Legislature a practical and real omnipotence with the same breath which professes to restrict their powers within narrow limits. It is prescribing limits, and declaring that those limits may be passed at pleasure…too extravagant to be maintained.”

My own favorite example is against the idea that our outgoing President has had some beneficial effect on the nation’s economy, that America’s First Holy President “inherited a mess” and “created thousands of jobs.” Taking this seriously, we are beset by a critical question: How? For the sake of our fellow citizens who are still struggling, we must ask what He did to bring such a favorable outcome. It is imperative! His successors must know how to achieve a similar miracle!

It makes as big a mess as you might have expected. One fanboy took on the challenge. In so doing he made the situation worse. Barack Obama fixed our economy by NOT…doing a bunch of stuff His predecessor did. Not torturing terrorists, for example. Eh? Making sure terrorists are comfortable makes the economy more-better? The sweater is already falling apart faster and faster, and all I did was pull one loose thread.

I find this third example most impressive of all: Blogger friend Gerard Van der Leun, former Penthouse editor, dismantles Peegate. Same formula: Take the target argument seriously for the moment…pull on the loose thread, watch the deterioration ensue.

Having lived through that period of Penthouse insanity I thought I had finally seen the last of losers using urination to somehow, someway, claw their way back into the winner’s circle.

Alas, just when I thought I was out, the perverted progressive losers among us pull me back in. It seems they are trying to make the world believe in Trump and “Peegate.”

Really? This seems to be the way Peegate worked:

1) An international business man who has spent decades in the rough and tumble world of real estate development and skyscraper construction and may be presumed to have some sophistication when it comes to wheeling and dealing with governments of all sorts throughout the world travels to

2) Moscow. Not Moscow, Idaho, but Moscow in Russia. That would be Moscow the capital of one of the most paranoid and intrusive governments in the world (Both now and for the 19th and 20th centuries.). It is a society and a government with a long history of…

3) Secret police and the clandestine surveillance of its own citizens and visitors to the extent that the US was digging bugs out of the walls of its own embassy in Moscow for decades. When he gets to Moscow he stays at…

4) The Moscow Ritz-Carlton in the “Presidential Suite.” Since such accommodations are typically only taken by the filthy rich and/or representatives of foreign governments such as, say, presidents. And then this sophisticated and reasonably intelligent billionaire real estate developer…

5) Assumes that such a suite in such a capitol city of such a government has no surveillance equipment at all installed in its rooms, bathrooms, closets, and — most importantly — bedrooms. He then asks the hotel staff to show him…

6) The bed in which Barack Obama and his wife slept in when they were in this same “Presidential Suite.” Upon being show the bed our businessman then…

7) Contacts two high-dollar Russian hookers (who would never, ever, have anything to do with the KGB or other intelligence organs of Russia) and instructs them to…. Wait for it….

8) Urinate on said bed in order to give said businessman some odd sort of thrill and…

9) Said businessman remains utterly positive no agency of the Russian state is running cameras and microphones from every possible angle in the master bedroom in a “Presidential Suite” in a top hotel in the capitol of Russia and…

10) The two damp hookers will never, ever, reveal a word about their golden shower in the Ritz Carleton’s “Presidential Suite.”

While I know that millions of morons are nodding like the drinking bird over the glass in their deep and abiding belief in this overflowing crock, I still find it hard to believe that there are smart people out there that really are this stupid…

Critical thinking is, among other things, reckoning with contradictions. You know you aren’t doing it if someone tells you “The pea is under one of these two shells,” “The pea is not under this shell” and “It isn’t under this shell either”…and your reaction to all this is “Hooray! I learned three things!”

Who Broke Our Epistemology?

Friday, January 13th, 2017

There’s no use crying over the bad results — we, and our precious news-cycle, got punked and good — we may as well acknowledge the obvious. Something is broken; something’s wrong. If the experiment could somehow be repeated a hundred more times, it would’ve turned out the way it did a hundred more times. Whatever makes the President-Elect look bad must be true.

This is right after we all got to watch an aging actress lecture us about the nobility of feeling what other people feel, and in the very same breath completely lose track of how her soapbox rant was coming across to anyone in the country who was not in the immediate vicinity. Without a trace of irony.

It isn’t just a Trump thing. I was listening with half an ear to the confirmation hearings and it made an impression on me that a lot of people in some very high places seem to have fallen into a habit of introducing themselves, or others, in laudatory or in pejorative ways, with some variation of the form “I am / he is / she is / they are a [not-]deplorable person[s], because of my/his/her/their [lack of] belief in [X]…” Where, [X] is something a lot of people might want like the dickens to be acknowledged far & wide as true or false…but, it isn’t really known. The great global-warming swindle is by far the best example, although it’s dirty and contaminated. Proponents of it have succeeded in pushing the idea that we’re debating the insulating properties of carbon dioxide, and in so doing have made “he doesn’t believe in global warming” sound like “he doesn’t believe in the greenhouse effect.” Consequentially, most people with the most adamant opinions about this seem to have forgotten what they themselves are saying: Planet Earth’s ability to sustain life as we know it, for the foreseeable future, is open to question and so we’re going to have to tax & regulate the bejeezus out of ourselves in order to prolong this. That’s the real source of disagreement.

But the issue is not goalpost-moving, so that’s what makes the example dirty. Here’s a clean one: Barack Obama was not born in Kenya. This is almost certainly true; knowing what we know about Stanley Ann Dunham’s whereabouts in 1961, it is logistically very difficult to seriously consider, let alone accept, she birthed a child in Kenya that August. But logistics are not at the forefront of consideration of people who go around saying this. They seek to ridicule and cast dispersions on those who believe that’s what happened — seemingly forgetting that they themselves do not know, and thus aren’t in a position to pass judgment like this. Were they in that delivery room in Honolulu? If not, then why are they using “he’s a birther” as some sort of slanderous intro? Surely, if the target of slander were given to believing spurious things, a better example could be found?

Something has been happening to us, and as usual I suspect if we take the time to self-examine, and the good grace to be honest about what we’re finding as we go along, we’re going to find it’s something that’s been happening for a very long time. It’s tribalism taking the place of the desire to discover what’s really true — what’s really known.

I’m guessing we’ll find out we’ve been doing it to ourselves. Tribalism pulled rank over epistemology when we decided, as a society, we didn’t care to know if a black guy was more likely to rob you or burgle your apartment than a white guy. This was “discrimination,” and it was so evil that in our constant efforts to vanquish it, we didn’t care about what was really true. It’s good that we were so dedicated to seeing to it everyone had an equal opportunity. But I’m noticing it never seems to work out over the long haul when we decide we don’t care what’s true. There always seems to be an unraveling. In this case, a dedication to not caring about who was “more likely” to commit crimes, meant there had to be an accompanying dedication to not caring about statistics; can’t claim that glorious, cleansing apathy with regard to the former, while committing the sin of acquiring & using actual information about the latter. Okay, so we don’t care about crime statistics. That means we can’t care about crime. Also, if you’re smearing people by saying “he thinks black people commit more crimes,” you are obliged, for consistency’s sake, to smear people the same way by saying “he thinks gay people are more likely to molest children.” Again, without reading up on, or giving a fig about, the relevant statistics.

And then you’re obliged to take another step, and another step, and another and another…hey, now that gay people can get married, can they get divorced? Are we allowed to ever think any of them would want to be? Or is that just a straight thing?

There are three factors at work here. One, the “carrot” of positive social reward, as a consequence of thinking the correct things, is more keenly defined. The second, closely aligned with the first, is the “stick” — God only knows what will happen to you if you’re caught thinking the wrong things. The third is where things get messy: It’s the loss of incentive involved acknowledging what’s really true. People like to pretend the last forty years or so have been full of suffering and things have been getting worse and worse, but overall we’ve been heading in the opposite direction. We’ve been living high on the hog, we’re not worried about where our next meal is coming from, and you can tell this by way of a quick profile view of most of us. The truth of the matter is that if we’re wrong about something, we don’t suffer for it, and we know we won’t; we anticipate it. Over the long run, this hurts us.

I think about this every time I go shooting, whether I do well or not. I know I’d be scoring a lot more hits if I were forced to survive on this, as people used to years and years ago. And even then, I suspect they may have been better shots as they reached the end of their ammunition stockpile, compared to when they were just starting in on a fresh supply. There’s something about scarcity that sharpens the mind. It seems we can’t ace anything until we know we’re in a position to lose something.

The Z Man had a very artful way of writing about how this all works, going so far as to argue that diversity hiring is a sign that the employing organization, for whatever reason, just doesn’t care anymore. It’s the same principle: An embiggened margin of error leads to a diminished concern over what’s really true, and invites all sorts of distractions and invitations to contemplate a phony “truth”:

All sorts of silly and ridiculous things are indulged because the margin for error seems endless. You can make up a bunch of silly diversity rules, for example, on the college campus, because little serious work is done on the college campus. Most of what is done is busy work. In the areas where serious work is done, like the hard sciences, you see very little of the PC nonsense we associate with the academy.
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When a company that appears to doing real work hires a powerskirt to bring diversity to the firm, it means the insiders have cashed out and no longer think the firm is a good bet. Yahoo made that clear when they hired Marrisa Mayer to diversify the company. She immediately went berserk and started firing men and turning the place into an estrogen circus. This was possible because the smart money had left and they could afford to indulge in some PC jackassery.

That’s the thing about modern liberalism. Identity politics cannot survive contact with reality. That’s because it is the ultimate luxury item. It can be indulged only where the consequences are of no consequence…

This is why we have that tragic cycle: Bad times create strong men, strong men create good times, good times create weak men and weak men create bad times. What we explore here explains the last three-fourths of that cycle-maxim. The good times create weak men because of this undocking from reality, made possible by the higher standard of living that now will not be lasting too long. People indulge these fetishes when they feel like they can afford to do so. It stops when the cupboard gets bare, but there is a lingering question as to how quickly.

During this undocking, epistemology dies. Those who are unfamiliar with the word will not be well-served by checking the reference material; defining “epistemology” is something that can consume whole pages and chapters. It’s better to take it at a lossy, casual, high level and go by the Cliff’s notes. It is a study of the relationship between belief, truth and knowledge. It is an attempt to answer the question: “How come it is you think you know the things you think you know?”

And that’s what is withering on the vine. Nobody cares — right now. The cupboards are too full. Things are so far gone, that some have lost track of the metaphysical; they’ve forgotten that there even is a truth, failed to keep in mind that regardless of who knows what, who’s telling the truth, who’s lying, Barack Obama was born somewhere. People have neglected considerations of the metaphysical so resolutely and for so long, they think they can make things true by putting it to a vote, and expressing their opinions emphatically.

It’s as if we just got done voting on whether the world’s going to end. And there’s a panic that’s set in because the “no it won’t” side is the one that came out ahead.

People care about social stature. You’d think this might nudge them back toward the classic concern about what’s really true, during times of acute embarrassment, as we saw just take place at the expense of Buzzfeed and CNN. But that will all be forgotten tomorrow.

I’m afraid, based on the way I see people acting, things will have to get much worse before they get better. Well…for that, I’m sure people can just blame the new President Trump, ignoring all the cultural makeover that’s been happening for the eight years previous. Their peers will think very highly of them for this.

Not Nearly Vilified Enough

Tuesday, January 10th, 2017

So at the Golden Globe awards, Meryl Streep gave a speech in which she let it known she doesn’t like Donald Trump, and this went over very well with other actors & actresses in attendance who also do not like Donald Trump. The full transcript is here. It isn’t terribly long, isn’t terribly complicated, and isn’t terribly coherent or terribly accurate.

Nor is it too unusual. We’re often reminded actors and actresses don’t have the same opinions as real people. Is that harsh? Because as near as I can make out, that was Streep’s whole point.

An actor’s only job is to enter the lives of people who are different from us and let you feel what that feels like. And there were many, many, many powerful performances this year that did exactly that, breathtaking, passionate work.

Then…

Meryl StreepOnce when I was standing around on the set one day whining about something, we were going to work through supper, or the long hours or whatever, Tommy Lee Jones said to me, isn’t it such a privilege, Meryl, just to be an actor. Yeah, it is. And we have to remind each other of the privilege and the responsibility of the act of empathy. We should all be very proud of the work Hollywood honors here tonight.

It takes only one intelligent person who never watches any acting, and yet somehow manages to show empathy, to invalidate Streep’s point. No, this is not an actor’s only job, and it isn’t an actor’s job at all, to “enter the lives of people who are different from us and let you feel what that feels like.” That is absurd. And as she demonstrated all too clearly, in the course of attending to that misguided mission, it is necessary to engage in a bit of what might politely be called “nonsense.” Example: Streep made a prolonged reference to the President-Elect ridiculing the handicap of a reporter who has arthrogryposis, an allegation that has been debunked over and over again.

What’s this business with feeling, anyway? Why all this undue weight placed on it? Reminds me of what Prof. Sowell once said,

The problem isn’t that Johnny can’t read. The problem isn’t even that Johnny can’t think. The problem is that Johnny doesn’t know what thinking is; he confuses it with feeling.

This is valuable in that it tells us where Meryl Streep goes wrong. She says things that are not true, and doesn’t seem to realize it, because she doesn’t realize it. She doesn’t know what thinking is.

And it’s valuable because this was — near as I can tell — her entire point, that Hollywood is in a class by itself. That industry, according to her remarks, seems to be headed in the right direction while the rest of us are just bumbling around, bumping into each other and falling down, like Keystone Cops or something I suppose. And what makes them so uniquely right & true? Feeling. Their ability to empathize with others.

Matt Walsh was not impressed by this, too much…

Actors “enter the lives of people who are different” in order to “let you feel what that feels like,” she said proudly. That brought her to her attack on Donald Trump, which inevitably included attacks on the 60 million people who voted for him. Conjuring an image of rabid dogs, she said that Trump’s bullying made his supporters “show their teeth.” She finished, finally, by lavishing more praise on Hollywood and the press. Hollywood “safeguards the truth,” she swooned, and they all ought to be proud of themselves. They can teach the world to be “empathetic” and “understanding.” “The powerful are using their position to bully others,” Streep warned, but fortunately Hollywood rises above it. And from its position of moral supremacy it acts as society’s guardian angels. The crowd of well-heeled angels roared with approval as Streep left the stage.

It was truly inspiring. At least, that’s what I’m told.

Now, two brief notes on all of this:

1. Whatever you think about the content of the speech, it certainly was not courageous.

You’ll notice that it’s never enough for liberals to simply agree with what someone says or does. It always has to be “brave.” Streep’s speech has been described in those terms by countless liberals on social media, along with many similarly glowing adjectives. It’s absurd, obviously. Whether you agree or disagree with what she said, she still said it in front of the friendliest possible audience. She told a group of people who worship her exactly what they want to hear and already believe. She risked absolutely nothing…
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2. Hollywood is a disgusting cesspool of nihilism, narcissism, and hatred.

Although Streep hilariously painted herself and her fellow multi-millionaire celebrity demigods as victims who are a part of “the most vilified segment of society,” the truth is that they are not nearly vilified enough. If they were vilified to an appropriate degree, people would be showing up at the red carpet to ruin their 80 thousand dollar outfits by pelting them with eggs — not that I would condone such behavior (publicly)…
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Empathy for whom, exactly? An understanding of what? It seems the answer to both questions is “themselves.” Hollywood rarely makes any attempt to reach outside of itself. And putting a gay person in every movie and show doesn’t count. Half of Hollywood is gay, after all. If Hollywood were really all that Meryl Streep cracks it up to be, it would produce shows and films that explore the lives of people who are actually different from themselves. But every time it does, the conclusion it draws is always the same: “These people are freaks and we should laugh at them.”

Seems we have a disagreement! How do we adjudicate it? One has only to envision Hollywood personalities sitting in judgment of this criticism, and speculate on their reaction to it…you needn’t go out on a limb too much. Right? They’d conclude Meryl Streep is right and Matt Walsh is wrong. And how would they know this?

They would feel it.

And that’s the part that really interests me. Time after time after time, if you round up a randomly-selected sample group from among the A-list actors and actresses, you’ll find the group overwhelmingly leans left, in one political decision after another. And they’re going to lean left because of their feeeeeelings. Meryl Streep is correct on this. And if you create a similar sample group out of most other professions…most other professions, not all other professions, just most…that sample group would offer different opinions. It would certainly be to the political right on these decisions, compared to your Hollywood sample group. Butcher, baker, candlestick-maker…auto mechanic, software engineer, dry cleaner, mattress manufacturer…

See, there is a difference, and the difference comes from the job of being an actor. What Streep got wrong, is what she should’ve gotten right before anything else, where she has abundant experience that the rest of us lack — she erred on identifying what an actor’s job is. It isn’t “to enter the lives of people who are different from us and let you feel what that feels like.” An actor’s job is to pretend. It is to take statements known to be untrue, like “I’m Batman” or “I’m the Captain of a Starship” or “I’m a Jedi Master” — and behave as if they are true. To act. That’s what acting is. That’s the definition, and it works better than Meryl Streep’s. Do these things, and show no empathy, you’re a successful actor. This has been proven over & over again. Dwell on feelings, but fail to do the right pretending, and you fail as an actor. It isn’t about empathy. It’s about pretending untrue things are true. That is the job, and we should find it reassuring when we discover actors disagree with us.

Which we will discover, and often. It is the natural and expected result. The butcher, the baker, the candlestick-maker all succeed by recognizing true things, and behaving as if those true things are true. Like: This is good meat, these are guts. The bread’s baked long enough, the bread hasn’t baked long enough. This candlestick is not flawed, this other one is and I can’t sell it.

When people roll their eyes at puffed-up speeches like Meryl Streep’s, with the dismissal of “shut up and act,” it isn’t always just because they disagree with her. Maybe some of them don’t realize it, but there is an entirely justifiable reason to be saying this. Actors pretend false things are true for a living. Entertainers are, when you get right down to it, clowns. We don’t let clowns actually make important decisions about things, especially on behalf of someone else, whose tethering to reality is much stronger.

Related: Don Surber: What did football ever do to Meryl Streep?

Princess Leia Was Not a Strong Leader

Monday, January 2nd, 2017

Yes, perhaps it’s an opinion I’m better off keeping to myself. Certainly, it’s the minority opinion, and bound to be unpopular. I don’t mean to pick on the girls. This is something that galls me all to pieces, when it’s about male authority figures as well as female authority figures.

LeiaAuthority figures in movies must use their authority, and not just to win arguments. If it’s a story about authority, it is the story of a decision, which means the story must rely on the decision to make it what it is; and the decision has to make for a good story. Vito Corleone told Sollozzo no to going into the drug business, which was an event that caused subsequent, dependent, weightier events. His son Michael met Sollozzo with Captain McCluskey, and decorated the wallpaper with their brains. Indiana Jones went tearing after a Nazi truck convoy on a horse “mak[ing] it up as [he went] along.” Marshal Will Kane stuck around Hadleyville, waiting for the noon train to bring Frank Miller into town. Walter White decided to start cooking meth. King Leonidas decided to head out an intercept Xerxes’ invading army. Dagny Taggart decided to build the John Galt railroad line. Juror #7 voted not to convict.

These were extraordinary decisions. Most of them had antithetical decisions that could have been made, that weren’t made…these were usually the safer options, with lots of powerful, persuasive arguments about how they should have been the ones chosen, like “it’s the law” or “nobody’s done that before!” Those persuasive arguments made a lot of sense. That’s why the extraordinary decision, the one that was actually made, helped create a good story.

Princess Leia, like all Star Wars women (all 3 or 4 of them) didn’t even make beneficial decisions let alone extraordinary ones. Seriously. Go back and make a list of all the decisions women make, and what comes of them. A woman deciding something, for the most part, is a harbinger of disaster. Hey, I didn’t write it, I’m just pointing out the truth here. Last decision Princess Leia made that led to anything good, was “Go get help from Obi-Wan Kenobi.” Last truly extraordinary decision she made, was “into the garbage chute, flyboy!” How’d that go?

Not my intention to sully the memory of the recently departed. But declining standards are always troubling. If Princess Leia’s story was one of veering away from the commonly-accepted, commonsense decision, spotting some subtle clue that tipped off that this would have led to inferior results, or perhaps gotten some innocent people hurt or killed, and saved the day by choosing an alternative while everyone else was doing nothing but expressing doubts; then I’d be all for this hagiography over the latest fictionalized example of good leadership.

That’s not what Princess Leia has been, because that’s not what Star Wars has been. It’s not the story of authority figures in high places making good decisions that save the day. It’s a story of people in low places, down in the trenches, close to the action, saving the day (after the people in charge have made a mess of things).

And Leia has really been nothing more than the less talented half of the Skywalker twins. With an annoying mouth on her. She’s a “role model” to a lot of people because a lot of people think “annoying mouth” is a desirable attribute to be encouraged in young girls growing up into women. Well it’s not. I like that she ticked off the feminists by wearing a skimpy gold bathing suit, and in so doing inspired the “cosplay” costume that is far & away Number One; I like that the feminists are constantly prepping to do battle against this “objectification,” missing the point that she was wearing this while she killed Jabba the Hutt. It helps show that feminists aren’t in favor of female empowerment after all. I like that they constantly and consistently embarrass themselves this way. I like that people have the opportunity to see this is what post-modern feminism really is. I like that we’re so often reminded, it’s the feminists who can’t imagine a woman could be good-looking, and smart, at the same time.

But Leia was the personification of wise, strong female save-the-day leadership, like Steve Jobs was the personification of a nerd who figures out how to build things that work. Both symbols are rather empty, lacking the full weight of truth behind them. Again: Standards. For a vision of strong save-the-day female leadership, the real-life historical figure of Maggie Thatcher is far better.

Bears repeating, this isn’t girl-bashing. If the story is about exceptional decision-making, it has to include one-to-several exceptional decisions.

ThatIsAll.

Update 1/21/17: Via something called Grunge: Looks like I get to take a victory lap.

As far as most fans are concerned, Leia Organa is an absolutely beloved character and always has been. She’s a take-charge, badass woman who rescues others as much as she gets rescued, and doesn’t take crap from anybody. There’s a reason that Leia’s a feminist icon — even when she’s put in a weird gold bikini to be an alien slug’s slave, she ends up choking the actual life out of him.

Thing is, according to no less than Carrie Fisher herself, Leia being a beloved icon from Scene 1 on was not the case. In a 1983 interview with Rolling Stone magazine (the one with possibly the greatest cover of any publication in the galaxy), Fisher revealed that the writers struggled to make Leia easy to relate to. Because she had lost her planet and everyone on it, Fisher said “all she has is a cause” and that for the writers, the “only way they knew to make the character strong was to make her angry.”

Therefore, the same strength that many fans love about Leia left a lot of early fans cold, and Fisher said they thought she was “some kind of space b****.” According to her, Return of the Jedi involved very deliberate reinvention of her character, where she “gets to be more feminine, more supportive, more affectionate.” (This would explain her more pronounced romance with Han, friendship with Ewoks, empathy with Luke, and so on.)

The ironic downside to softening her character, however, is that because these movies were presented as “basically boys’ fantasies,” the filmmakers felt they couldn’t fully feminize Leia without having “her take off her clothes” — hence, the infamous gold bikini was born.

Fisher’s screen presence is always enjoyable because her acting is good, the direction is sound, and the character seems real. But it’s always been an underdeveloped character, rather like a character on NCIS. What’s unique about Princess Leia? She’s not so much a character, as an event within an adventure being had by Luke and Han Solo: They go to rescue the Princess, and she showers them with a lot of verbal grief.

Movies, in general, just haven’t been good for feminism. Chick characters are not developed the same way as dude characters. The task arises to confront script-writers, directors and actresses, “Make this female character into an inspiring feminist icon,” and from all the attempts made, not much success is realized anywhere.

The default answer that’s emerged seems to be something like “Make her so unbearable and obnoxious, nobody would ever want to do anything with her, unless they were forced.” Well, someday they’ll get it right…

The Media was the Biggest Loser

Monday, January 2nd, 2017

Michael Walsh writes in Pajamas Media (by way of Instapundit):

In movies, it’s called the “cheer moment” — that wonderfully satisfying part of the motion picture when the bully/bad guy finally gets his richly deserved comeuppance: Rocky flooring Apollo Creed in the first Rocky; John McClane sending Hans Gruber to hell off a high floor of Nakatomi Plaza. And in 2016, nobody’s demise was cheered more vociferously than the mainstream media’s. But don’t take it from me, take it from a tattered remnant of what was once one of the seven pillars of the MSM (along with the New York Times, the Washington Post, NBC, CBS, ABC, and Time magazine), Newsweek.

GruberRiffing off Ross Douthat’s infamous tweet of Sept. 2015 — “The entire commentariat is going to feel a little silly when Marco Rubio wins every Republican primary” — writer Zach Schonfeld notes:

At best, it’s just a dopey prediction — we’ve all made some of those. At worst, it’s an enduring avatar of the cartoonish arrogance and mass-scale humiliation that overtook the pundit class in 2016. It’s a microcosm of the biggest media trend of the year: total humiliation.

It was not just Douthat. For lots of high-profile media personalities, from Nate Silver to Nick Denton, 2016 dealt an enormous reckoning. Michael Moore made some startling predictions, but few other liberal commentators saw what was happening. Much of the pundit industrial complex spent the calendar year standing athwart history, yelling “It can’t happen here” or “Trump is going to pivot any day now.” Clinton lost. Pundits ate crow, took the L — choose your preferred cliché. One columnist ate his newspaper column, as he had promised to do if Trump became the GOP nominee. Some who got it wrong showed a capacity for self-reflection. Others, like Kevin Drum of Mother Jones, doubled down on their myopic pontificating or continued howling into their social media echo chamber of choice.
Sponsored

It was the year we realized that a lot of Very Important People who get paid a lot of money to know about U.S. politics have little more insight to dispense than the cab drivers they quote in their columns…

It’s a funny thing about narratives. We don’t hear more of them when common sense begins to assert they’re likely to bear fruit. It’s the opposite that is closer to the truth; the loudest ones are the ones that are starting to show some problems. It’s not that people are in a hurry to embarrass themselves. More like, after they’ve emotionally invested themselves in their sandcastle and they can start to see some cracks forming in it, that’s when they start to obsess over it. I think we’re all like that. We work harder at building when we can see the waves are about to crash on it. Believers in the narratives become purveyors of the narratives, and they aren’t purveying it because they believe in it anymore. It’s because they have a need to hear it said a few more times, even if they have to rely on themselves to do it.

They key takeaway is that these amplified narratives, overall, are right less often than a random-chance selection, which has nothing guiding it. With the narrative, the guide is “the more problems you see with it lately, the more often you should yell about it and the louder you should do the yelling.” And, of course, you should up the stakes so everyone can see you’re really serious. It is not logical, but it is often true. We’re dealing with human behavior.

Dave Barry’s Year in Review 2016

Saturday, December 31st, 2016

You knew this one would be a lot better than most…

After all that, the American people, looking for a leader, ended up with a choice between ointment and suppository. The fall campaign was an unending national nightmare, broadcast relentlessly on cable TV. CNN told us over and over that Donald Trump was a colossally ignorant, narcissistic, out-of-control sex-predator buffoon; Fox News countered that Hillary Clinton was a greedy, corrupt, coldly calculating liar of massive ambition and minimal accomplishment. And in our hearts we knew the awful truth: They were both right.

It wasn’t just bad. It was the Worst. Election. Ever.
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And now, finally, it is time for 2016 to go away. But before it does, let’s narrow our eyes down to slits and take one last squinting look back at this hideous monstrosity of a year, starting with…

JANUARY

Seriously though. Now that we’re down to the final few hours of the year, I’m rather befuddled at the lack of humility on the part of those who were so sure Trump would lose. “Difficult to see, always in motion is the future,” Yoda said.

But most of the loudmouths have gone on to predicting — with zero uncertainty about it, it’s a sure thing, yo — all these high crimes & misdemeanors that will be committed by the new administration. Alright, sometimes predictions are not so far-fetched. Maybe. But wait…when did you guys EVER take a moment to admit “Alright, we were wrong about that other thing”? Just that. Nevermind engaging in some disciplined thought about how to channel this mistake into some learning, to make the next round of predictions moar-better.

Nope, nothing-doing. Just once more, into the breach my friends, and here come some more predictions. And the rest of us are bad people or something, if we don’t take it completely seriously, or harbor any doubts.

So many among us are wondering what we did to make the year go the way it did. Well, maybe it’s got something to do with that…this idea that the predictions of tomorrow are just so undeniable and to be taken just so seriously, but those predictions from yesterday that didn’t come to pass, we can just shrug those away. Silly way to behave, silly way to think…

Some New Year’s Resolutions for Liberals

Thursday, December 29th, 2016

Kurt Schlicter says stay the course:

Remember, You Know Best for Us. You should do as much as you can to compel us to comply with your enlightened views. Force innocent bakers to bake cakes just because you can. People love that — especially when you simultaneously discover the moral necessity of allowing employees on a chorus line to opt out of entertaining those you deem unacceptable. Also, try to disarm us even as crime rates have entered a dizzying climb thanks to your cavorting with quasi-terrorist mobs and trashing the police — remember, it’s not the fear of being raped or murdered that inspired us to exercise that musty old Second Amendment, it’s racism!
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Don’t Hide Your Feelings On Social Media. Social media allows you the opportunity to freely express what you really think to a vast audience — use it! Once, you could only say what you really think in little groups at Manhattan cocktail parties or cafés in Los Angeles, or publish it in obscure magazines no normals ever read. Well, now you can tweet your innermost thoughts and have those views go viral! It used to be a secret that you thought we are idiots for having religious beliefs, but not anymore! Your desire to confiscate guns had to be hidden with weasel words in public, but now you are no longer restrained. In fact, you can loudly and publicly wish us harm — we love being told you can’t wait for us to die off so you can take total control of the country.
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Look, you hit a few unexpected bumps in the road in 2016 — I mean, who could have foreseen that nominating someone under FBI investigation might turn out badly? But there’s nothing wrong with what you’re doing — the problem isn’t you. It’s everyone else, especially those stupid, racist, gun nut Jesus people who aren’t bright enough to understand that you are entitled to rule over them. So don’t ever change. Stay the course. Oh gosh, please, please, please, by all means, stay the course.

If This Doesn’t Convince You, Nothing Will

Thursday, December 29th, 2016

From time to time, I notice conflict that rises to the level of personal animosity, starts with a simple disagreement. Supposedly there’s some ratcheting up to do from the point of disagreement, one side or both has to mishandle something terribly. Disagreement, after all, shouldn’t lead to a fight. Should it? Look at these other people handling the same disagreement, who don’t end up in a fight like I do. That, surely, should seal the deal.

But, then I look closer. And I notice the conflict was avoided because discussion was avoided…

Then I listen, perhaps this is a mistake. to what the antagonist is actually saying. The “If you’re not convinced by now you never will be, and there’s no point discussing this with you” tactic upsets the whole applecart. People say stuff like that; over the years I’ve come to realize there’s no way they could mean it. If they’re presenting something that is so persuasive as to guarantee, iron-clad, an on-the-spot conversion of all who question or dissent save from those who are most emotionally entrenched in the opposing view — why then would they interrupt themselves while doing this? That doesn’t make sense at all. Could it really be an agitating experience having to explain your position, when logic and/or the facts are on your side? In what way? How? Why? I can’t relate to that. In fact, the only way I can begin to understand it, putting myself in that position, is maybe if I don’t understand the subject matter as well as I’m pretending to understand it…playing the “fake it ’til you make it” game, hoping not to get caught. Really, “I refuse to discuss this any further” looks like that; doesn’t look like anything else. I wonder if those who bandy it about so freely, would be surprised if they learned that. I suspect maybe not, at least not completely.

I’ve come up with some rules about this. The first is that, as much as we all like to win arguments, before that can happen you have to do some actual arguing. That, there, I think is the genesis of the actual problem. People running around all their lives, thinking they know how to argue, when all they’re doing is going through a ritual of of “me hammer, you nail.” So they wade into these disagreements with some bit of trivia they think empowers them with The Ultimate Weapon, puts them on a footing above everyone else. They’re gonna flip those other opinions like pancakes on a griddle. When it doesn’t happen instantly they get frustrated…maybe that’s a tipoff to the mindset. It isn’t happening instantly? T’heck? Aren’t all things worth doing, instant? Turns out…the other side is expecting (and, gulp, is more prepared for it than we are) an actual discussion! So they form this desire, not all that hard to understand, to play this game of leap-frog…to hop over the icky part, which would expose the gap in their understanding, therefore the possibility they might not have the right opinion. They’re essentially saying “When do we get to the fun part, where I tell everyone what to do & what to think, and they do it.”

Second rule is that you don’t get to play the “If this doesn’t convince you, nothing will” card unless there’s a “this.” Not until there’s a such time as you’ve presented something. A great deal of time, it turns out there isn’t any. What there is, is a focus-group track record. The “this” got presented to other people, and those other people, for whatever reason said “Alright, I’ll go along with that” and these earlier encounters convinced the presenter that he was using a superpower-argument, boy oh boy, this really is the Spear of Destiny, the magic spatula for the griddle. No understanding needed! So along you come to actually question how it all fits together…he’s unprepared to answer this, and that’s somehow all your fault.

I saw a fair amount of this in 2016. And I don’t think it’s me bringing it down on myself, pretty sure a lot of other people saw it too. With the elections over, we’re still seeing it…which is a bit odd. I’m suffering no delusions that 2017 will offer a reprieve from it. Maybe! But I doubt it.

Baby, It’s Cold Outside

Monday, December 26th, 2016

My wife sent this to me, with a perceptible undertone of concern. A classic Christmas song got an update earlier this month and the story has gone, as they say, “viral”…

A couple of snowflakes came up with some new lyrics to “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.”

The ditzy types think this is oh so wonderful, so you can find mentions of these “new lyrics” all over the Internet. Over at Huffington Post, however, they made a dreadful mistake…of allowing comments…like these for example.

When sung properly (by a duo like Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Jordan), it’s clear that nobody’s doing anything to anybody against their will. It’s a young couple observing the niceties of what they obviously see as antiquated patriarchal norms.

She doesn’t want to go outside any more than he wants her to, but society is telling her she must.
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This song ain’t about staying against her will. She wants to stay but in that time it was Taboo. So she’s making “excuses” to stay. Including the “what’s in this drink” line meaning liquor. Guys do your research first before judging[.]
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It’s a song that is entirely about the inherent ambuguity of the human mating ritual and what people do with it, for better or worse. It should be learned from and contemplated, not “fixed”.

It’s also an old song that very few people hear anymore. Perhaps “fixers” like these should focus on the much larger and more culture-impacting array of objectifying, dehumanizing music that fills radio these days. There’s far more appalling to be found in the present day, and it would take more bravery to take it on.

It goes on and on like that. Seems people who are capable of participating in an actual dialog, overwhelmingly, are failing to see the necessity of the “new lyrics” exercise. This is something evident, overall, only to those with the luxury of throwing things to the Internet in monologue-form, without any ensuing discussion possible. Even the NPR article linked above was unexpectedly cool-headed and reserved about this new effort, devoting its final three paragraphs to explaining the other side:

When that song first came out in the 1940s, it was actually seen as empowering for women. Music historian Thomas Riis says the now-controversial lyric, “Say, what’s in this drink?” came across differently in its original context. “Nowadays we see that and we go, ‘Oh, my gosh, this is date rape! He’s putting something in the drink!’ ” he says. But Riis adds that at the time, the phrase was simply about having a drink.

In the 1940s, it could be seen as scandalous for an unmarried woman to be alone, drinking with a man — much less staying the night. So it’s not that the woman in the song doesn’t want to stay — it’s that she doesn’t want to be judged for it. Riis says the song shows a woman debating her options, wondering whether she should risk ruining her reputation by staying the night.

In the end, Riis says, the woman makes a strong statement by making the decision for herself. “In a sense, it’s, ‘I can do what I doggone please. I’m a modern woman,’ ” he says. So, as different as the old and new versions might seem, it might be that they were both about choice all along.

Well, if we’re going to be completely fair about it, we should acknowledge the new songwriters are 22 and 25 years old, and thus missed the point of this 1940’s classic about as much as they should’ve been expected to miss it. Which is all-the-way. But I see two more problems, each closely related to the other.

The first is a problem we see with political correctness often: It exists in a sheltered sphere, free of epistemology or any need of it. There was that incident in Washington, DC awhile ago about the aid who was fired for using the word “niggardly” in a meeting. I’m also reminded of the Fraggle Rock controversy in which a muppet character was thought to have used the word “Jigaboo” when the script says his line is “Gee Gobo, we’re sorry.” Which contains this priceless line from the offended Dad:

My reaction was to keep replaying to see if that’s what I really heard, and that’s what I heard, and that’s what I hear.

The arrogance-on-steroids…just mind-blowing. It doesn’t matter what the character said, it matters what the person heard. This is exactly what they say in sexual harassment classes, right? The intent of the accused is entirely irrelevant, what matters is the perception of the person offended. You know. Right after they say “These new rules are put in place to foster a work environment that is non-threatening and comfortable for everyone.”

This is wrong. The right way to do it is the exact opposite: The perception of the offended Dad rewinding & playing the clip over & over again, is immaterial. What the character said, determines everything, because that’s what was said. Ye gods, it makes me embarrassed even having to type that in someplace where others can read it. So fucking obvious. Well…the young airheads rewriting the lyrics are making the same mistake. The thinking is that the original lyrics could be construed as rapey or something…well…who gives a rat’s ass? Anything & everything can be construed to be anything & everything. Doesn’t mean the person construing is in the right.

The other problem is that granting the early-twenties songwriter lyric-reformers the benefit of any & all doubt about the song as it was originally written — after listening to all of the lyrics, there’s no issue with “consent.” None at all. The chick says “I really should go,” the dude starts plying her with reasons she should stick around, and after listening to him and evaluating it logically, she decides to stay. She decides. See, feminism has been getting away with something here, with this idea that any & all influence a man might have on a woman’s decision, is undue influence. Again: Wrong. Women are people, and people are more intelligent, more wise, make better decisions, when it’s easy to tell them things. Just because he’s saying something and she’s listening, doesn’t mean he’s making the decision for her.

But that’s granting them the benefit of every doubt. Which is wrong, because they misunderstood what the original lyrics meant.

My Hot New Idea

Monday, December 26th, 2016

“Women don’t want to hear what you think,” goes the quote by Bill Cosby. “Women want to hear what they think — in a deeper voice.” I’ve found through some painful professional experiences that it isn’t just women who have this problem, and from this I’ve learned I have to be very careful about where I work. “It works, but it isn’t the solution I envisioned when I posed the problem” is a complaint I’ve found I tend to arouse more often than other engineers. Maybe that means I’m really bad at my job. Then again, I notice I arouse this when it really does work…and the problem is one that’s gone unsolved, after others already took a crack at it. That’s not to say I’m exceptionally clever compared to my colleagues, in fact there’s days where I have to wonder. Sometimes I’m right, sometimes I’m wrong; I’m wrong a lot more often than I’m right. Arguing with liberals on the Internet, I’ve noticed over the years, one thing shuts ’em up quicker than anything else: “I likely make ten or more mistakes every day, before you even think about getting out of bed.” They don’t know what to do with it. They belong to the world of winning-arguments, and if you want to win arguments you’re supposed to avoid ever having made a mistake about anything. You’re supposed to play the game of “I must be infinitely wise and know everything, for look how hard it is to tell me anything.”

The big takeaway, in my mind, is not that I’m gifted or make no mistakes or am exceptionally clever, or anything like that. It’s that the solution to a problem that actually works, very, very often, is something different from what was envisioned by the person who posed the problem. Okay, not very often in general; let’s say, very often among the problems that have already been given a good-faith effort, and remained standing with all previous attempted solutions having failed. This is less a matter of learned experience, than a matter of logic. If all solutions that follow a general structure, let’s call it a general structure of A, have failed, we’re looking then at three possibilities: 1) the problem is unsolvable; 2) we have failed in our effort to implement all possible solutions that follow A; 3) there is a solution that is !A. It only requires a casual contemplation to realize the first two possibilities are exceptionally unlikely.

Telling ManagementSo, yes. The solution that works is not the solution that was envisioned…by the person who only conceived of it, didn’t actually run any tests. That’s why it works, it’s the product of validation. That’s also why it’s different.

But, if you’re working in the wrong place, management doesn’t want to see your solution. They want to see their solution, put together by someone who actually writes code…that actually solves the problem. This can create issues during implementation. It’s not a rare circumstance by any means, in which you’ll make the unpleasant discovery that “it can’t work that way,” and if a solution is to be found that’s actually effective, the paradigm will have to shift. This often heralds a similar issue during presentation to management, which is not always pleased to see the conundrum emerge. A lot of the time, given the choice between a solution that breaks the desired form, vs. leaving the problem unsolved, they’d prefer the latter. It’s become clear to me I’d go much further in being a good fit anywhere & everywhere, if I knew better how to anticipate this. I know I have a handicap there. Just coming up with solutions to the problems? By comparison, that’s a piece of cake.

Well, we’re all like these “I’d rather it stay busted” managers. We have good reason to be. A “Wankel Engine” idea that can solve an unsolvable problem, by operating outside of an established framework, might very well create a hundred new ones. So when you do come up with a new idea, you have to anticipate the resistance. It’s wrong, I think, to ascribe this to narrow-mindedness among the people providing the resistance. You can’t say they’re doing something completely illogical, understandable as it may be; nor can you say they’re doing something logical that defies understanding. What they’re doing is both understandable and logical, even when it rises to the seemingly absurd level of “We’d rather see the problem remain unsolved.” The problem is with the path-forward. Yes, the new idea might be successfully reconciled with the established framework, so the framework can remain standing, retain its integrity, and the problem can be solved. But such an effort requires time and other resources. Maybe, just maybe, the available solutions that follow the orthodox structure haven’t been exhaustively implemented. Maybe it’s not yet time for the dramatically-different new approach…yet.

Maybe “at least it works” is a false observation. Maybe it’s the new idea that hasn’t been tested adequately.

This all fits in to looking ahead to 2017, which I believe is going to be just as perplexing as 2016 was. I have little doubt, because I’m old enough to have lived through it before. We have a new incoming administration that is “conservative” and it’s going to be rolling back, or at least making motions toward rolling back, some of what was done by the outgoing “liberal” administration. The nation at large, whether or not it’s playing the game of “we’d rather it stay broken,” has opted out of the hot new idea. I personally know how that stings, to the people who had the hot new idea, or were making the motions of having a hot new idea. The key point here is that the liberals, while acting out the true meaning of “liberal” ideologically, are acting out the true meaning of “conservative” within our political process. They’re doing everything they can to thwart the mindset of tomorrow, to disrupt the changing of the guard, so they can hang on to the entrenched, orthodox power structure with bloody fingernails. It falls to the conservatives who are faithful to the legacy definition of conservatism — “no-thank-yew to your hot new idea, it’s a bust, let’s go back to the way things were” — to act like liberals within the process, essentially saying “tomorrow belongs to us, yesterday is yours, it’s a done deal, get over it.”

Shouldn't Be Able to Do ThatLiberals are having a tough time with this because they’re not learning what all purveyors of hot new ideas need to learn: To have a hot new idea is to endure resistance. You can’t do the one, without going through the experience of the other. It is logical and it is understandable. It’s also unavoidable. It is, you might say, physics. If a vessel on land, sea or in the air moves at any speed, it will encounter a headwind.

This stuff we lately call “liberalism,” in recent years, has been unfortunately coupled with a diseased sort of thinking we might think of as “snowflake-ism.” We could define this at a very high level as non-acceptance of non-acceptance. “How dare you attack my hot new idea with critical, scrutinizing questions about whether it really works and can be practically implemented. Someone should protect me from you.”

If anyone is entitled to this special status, it isn’t liberalism, it’s conservatism. Established methods, established ideas, established frameworks, are established for a reason. There must have been a point, at one time, involved in getting them established. This is why businesses say to other businesses, “give me a quote,” as opposed to “go right ahead and tell me how much to pay after it’s too late to reconsider anything.” Maybe, just maybe, when all’s said & done and all the tests have been applied, we’ll go with the hot new idea and even modify the existing framework so it can be brought into the fold. But when there are other things already working, that’s a big maybe, and there are many tests. For the hot new idea to fail at least one of them, and get pitched out to the landfill, is not at all unexpected. Purveyors of the hot new idea should be anticipating it, and they’re wrong to act abused when called to answer scrutinizing questions, or to subject the idea to an election they might actually lose. The more things that are already working, the more unreasonable that is, and in America there are still a great many things working. It’s a big country.

Every hot new idea should expect to meet up with disagreement. Oh yes, absolutely, that includes this one.

How Trump Beat the Media

Wednesday, December 21st, 2016

Thank God the election is over. We’ve spent plenty enough time & energy on it. Nevertheless, it is useful to ponder the path forward…the whole reason for us obsessing about it in the first place, after all, is because it matters.

At about the 50-minute mark Newt starts talking about the IYI, the Intellectual Yet Idiot. He should’ve found a way to put this at the beginning.

I was looking it up in my archives, and I came across this: “There’s nothing more frightening than rule by the smart.”

And of course, what geniuses like Rogoff know more than anything is that their great genius gives them the ability to envision a far more perfect world than this imperfect thing we’ve been suffering with so far. Naturally the visions of these geniuses are all variations of the same thing, namely some kind of government program to more closely monitor and/or control the people.

Yes, it’s been playing like a one-note samba since…well, forever really. It probably started playing a whole lot louder with FDR’s “brain trust” but it sure hasn’t subsided much since then. Washington’s got these really smart guys in it, who are going to fix everything, we know this to be true because they have very, very, very impressive resumes…

…that don’t actually have anything on them. Not, that is, anything that has to do with getting actual work done.

Be that as it may, I’m anxious to look past the election, although it’s a cinch that we’ll be arguing back & forth about the 45th President pretty much constantly for the next 48 months at least. After the New Year, I’m bracing for a never-ending drumbeat of “ZOMG!! Did you hear about what he’s done NOW??” Well, if President Trump does something wrong, by all means call him out on it. Just state the case, first, is all I ask.

It’s not reasonable to demand a specific defense, if the attack is not specific. Right?

Quite right. And if the tail end of 2016 has found me exhausted from & unable to tolerate more of anything, it’s the non-specific, incoherent, incongruous, nonsensical, wink-wink-nudge-nudge “let’s see you defend this” attack.

It isn’t just the election. From my Hello Kitty of Blogging account:

People, I notice, have a pronounced tendency to form “logical” conclusions by dismissing any other logical conclusion about the same thing that says something different. The dismissal usually involves mockery, but it can also rely on sarcasm, a bunch of logical fallacies, name-calling, “You’re on the wrong side of history,” et al….

Point is, dismissal is not reasoning. It can be persuasive in an argument. And so, as they win arguments, people get suckered into thinking they’ve reasoned. Then they see they weren’t correct. Actually, the winning of the arguments is a good example of this. “This oughtta convince him/her/them for sure!!” And it doesn’t happen.

“It doesn’t happen” is something we’ve watched take place ALL…YEAR…LONG. I’m not just talking about the election, pretty much done with that now. We would do well to dwell on the lesson. Especially with Christmas, and a new year, coming at us like a freight train with the throttle stuck…

You don’t make a logical argument that “My grandkids will just love this homemade sweater” by sarcastically dismissing the idea that they would prefer socks. It kinda feels like you did, but you didn’t. That’s exactly what’s been happening all year. EVERYBODY knew the election would go one way, and then it went a different way. That’s the way it’s been going down with everything. Think about it. We’ve spent the last year or two, solid, watching established narratives get kneed in the gut…and then the nose, and then the groin, and then in the teeth, and then in the groin again. There’s a quote from Men In Black about this, something about “500 years ago people knew the Earth was flat, fifteen minutes ago you knew there were no aliens, whaddya gonna know tomorrow?”

Almost like a lesson from on high. From someone who must be wistfully wondering…what’s it gonna take??

Found the clip:

What’s happened to us lately? That’s the real question.

I think we’ve collectively developed a real phobia against the future. I say “collectively.” Some of us can look at the future and say what is true about it, “Some parts of this are easy to predict, others not so much. I don’t know what will happen. Every speculation on it is a gamble.” In other words…Let’s See. Let’s-See takes balls, though, and a lot of people are missing this. That is not to say they couldn’t develop the ability if only they made a priority out of it.

Things the way they are, though…they know SO much that is not so. Much of it is about what’s going to happen. Any day now. For absolute sure.

When it doesn’t happen, they can’t say “I was wrong” — can’t even say “I’m surprised.” Surprise seems to have passed out of fashion, but it seems to be more than just fashion. Like I said, above, a genuine phobia.

A good resolution for the general population in 2017 would be to get the hell over it. The future is the future, and the only way to find out what’s going to happen in it, is to wait awhile until it isn’t the future anymore. There is no substitute. That’s not to counsel against trying to speculate, trying to predict, maybe even trying to bet. Nothing wrong with any of these. But a man who is absolutely sure about something that is not a matter of absolute certainty, is not being honest with himself, and when you aren’t honest with yourself it’s impossible to be honest with anyone else.

Lose the Whoopi and the Joy

Sunday, December 11th, 2016

There is no currency to this, it has six years of dust on it…but, Bill O’Reilly’s final appearance on The View is important…

At least, in the form of a 3-minute YouTube clip, it is informative. In the first third, it’s free-speech this, free-speech that…they have the right!! Eleventy!!

Liberals are huge fans of the dictum that defense of speech must be stalwart and it must be sustained, as an all-the-time thing. Defense of speech has nothing, NOTHING whatsoever, to do with approval of the speech content, supposedly. They may disagree with what you say, but they’ll defend to the death your right to say it, as the cliché goes. To the death! Big, powerful, tall words there…to the death. Yikes! Death smarts!

Okay, nobody dispensed the apocryphal Voltaire quote this time around. They just championed the sentiment. They have the right! Nothing else needs to be hashed out there, nothing else needs saying, because they have the right — case closed. But…defend free speech to the death? When it comes to something that really hasn’t got a chance of ever snagging their approval, the freedom to say it hasn’t got their approval either. They can barely make it past the two-minute mark.

This is one of the most dangerous parts of modern liberalism, and that’s really saying something. This cognitive dissonance. Defending a person’s right to say or do something has nothing whatsoever to do with approval of whatever it is…and then, suddenly, these things are inseparable, I can’t sit here and listen to you say that because that would be approval. The mixed message is dangerous.

To define how it’s dangerous it is first necessary to inspect how it’s dishonest, but fortunately that doesn’t take too long. Obviously if there is a connection between “I support your right to say it” and “I approve of what you’re saying,” but it is only to be put in line-of-sight of those interested some of the time, then the connection does exist all of the time whether it is seen or unseen. Just as a cup of wine is poisoned whether you saw the poison go in, or not, or a hole in a cattle fence remains there until it’s fixed, day & night.

What does honest disapproval look like? It looks like Joy and Whoopi storming off the stage at the end of the clip. And, we’re not seeing it in response to the Muslims wanting to build a victory temple right by Ground Zero in Manhattan. They don’t disapprove of that, and that’s the real issue. It isn’t a free speech issue.

This dishonesty makes it possible to reach a nimbleness and agility sliding around the Overton Window, that could not otherwise be reached. This stuff we today call “liberalism” distinguishes itself from all other political ideologies, through this desire to move the Overton Window, and achieve planned, conscious guidance in how & where the window is to be moved.

If the Overton Window is about what is accepted as mainstream thought, and the movement of that window is a change in what’s mainstream over time, then we could think of liberalism as a push to move the window and of conservatism as opposition to this. Perhaps we could tighten up the precision on that perception by saying: Liberalism is “Hey, why can’t this window be moved over here?” or “What might we do, to push this thing that’s not in the window, into it, or push this other thing that is currently in the window, out?” And conservatism would also involve some thought-provoking questions, such as: “What was the rationale for positioning the window where we find it today, and what might we be losing if we succeed in moving it someplace else?”

Usually, the answer to the conservative question is: Conscience.

There is a window of conscience that is loosely connected to this cultural mainstream-thinking Overton Window; and, it cannot move as quickly. So when liberals delight in their ability to surround us, their fellow countrymen, with their chatter and their ability to move the window around as if it’s a big chess piece on a board, they risk undocking it from the window of conscience. This is aptly demonstrated at the beginning of the clip, when O’Reilly talks about it being “inappropriate” to build this victory temple and obviously the concern is about the feelings of the family members of the victims of the 9/11 attack. This is a matter of conscience. It’s still just a matter of feelings, but still. Regard for the feelings of others is an important source of conscience. The lefty plank of the The View hostesses, will have none of it.

Oh okay. So what other matters of conscience will they not consider?

Once you undock the Overton Window from the window of conscience that lies underneath it, there can be difficulty involved in getting it docked again. For examples, look up any totalitarian regime from the twentieth century, in a country that was previously democratic, and there are many of those. Any nation that ran through Hayek’s Road to Serfdom is an adequate example. Pretty soon, you’re trampling on matters of conscience that are not limited to matters of feeling; pretty soon, you’re running roughshod over actual situations. This is where political dissidents get eliminated, where you have gulags and so forth, where relatives vanish in the middle of the night. Because after all, now we’ve moved the Overton Window, it’s important to do something to show the window’s been moved, and now this thing we want to do is within the mainstream thinking because of that recent movement.

As we see when Whoopi and Joy get up and leave the set — it can be a perilously short amount of time before truth is a casualty, before it is pushed out of the window. We’ll defend to the death your right to say it!!…unless what you’re saying is actually useful information, and verifiable as true, and then don’t count on us so much.

Dependent on Somebody Else

Sunday, December 11th, 2016

A great question we’ve been pondering lately; it’s one of those philosophical divisions nobody ever discusses, and yet acts as a primordial wedge that causes many other conflicts.

Are you in any position at all to help someone, when you yourself are dependent on somebody else?

I suggest that nobody anywhere is going to offer an answer anything like “mmmm yeah, maybe, I suppose so” — people who answer in the affirmative are going to go all the way, full-tilt. Many of them will offer the Elizabeth-Warren-like justification that independence is a myth, that we’re all dependent on somebody else whether we realize it or not. Some may go so far as to say we’re all better off when there are more functional handicaps being endured, reasoning that the weaknesses that force us to rely on each other will translate to a strength that comes from the greater community spirit.

And then there are the normal people. The ones who will take the time to actually translate this into a series of events that could play out in real life. You mean like…I lend this guy $100 to buy groceries so he can make it to payday, he turns around and gives $50 to someone else? Erm…no. Not okay. It’s not alright to go on welfare and then take in stray pets. You can’t put your family on food stamps, reasoning that it’s too hard to get work because your pickup truck is busted, and then when you get it running again loan it out to your brother-in-law.

In my opinion, the point to the question is not a yea or a nay. The question itself triggers a thought process. I think many who would take a moment or two to seriously entertain it, might come to a disturbing realization that they once had a vision to attain some level of material independence they haven’t managed to acquire, and somewhere along the line they let go of that vision. And at a simpler level, it could trigger another thought that maybe, as they contribute to this growing busy patchwork of dependent people helping other dependent people, whoever’s helping them should have something to say about it before they go taking in more stray cats.

Another thought about this increasingly complex busy patchwork of material need and pandering: Yes it does have its own system of protocol, but is it fair or accurate to refer to this as some sort of “community spirit”? I would venture to suggest no. The test I would apply would be toward the consensus sentiment toward the fellow at the top of the chain, the prime donor, whose alms help those who help all the others in turn, and is at the receiving end of no such system of transactions. Benefactor to all, beneficiary of none. How does this kaleidoscope of beggars view that individual, or that top layer? If this has anything to do with Christian behavior or community spirit, I would expect to see an attitude of gratitude, or something like it. And yet when I see this play out in real life it’s nothing of the sort. With these additional links inserted in the chain, there’s no personal relationship involved. The opting-in attribute has a tendency to become the first casualty; what would have been a voluntary action based on a rational conclusion reached, as in, “I see in you the drive and the willingness to get yourself out of this temporary hole,” becomes an obligation. This transforms the benefactor from an inspiring figure who is acting on his faith in the person on the receiving end, into a stranger who is merely performing the minimal function to meet the requirement he’s supposed to be meeting anyway. No thanks is given because none should be expected. And because these things are expected of him, that means similar expectations can be imposed on everybody else. Regardless of their situation, therefore regardless of their ability to meet it.

This is not civilization. This is the opposite. It is ducks circling a park bench, turning nasty and mean when the bread is all gone. It is sharks in a feeding frenzy. Zombies around a garden tool shed.

The lesson is: Get your own house in order — THEN help others. That’s my answer, anyway. Others will disagree, I’m sure. That’s a good thing. Let the discussions commence.

Liberals Are Going Nuts, and It’s Beautiful

Wednesday, December 7th, 2016

Kurt Schlichter, Town Hall:

The liberals are truly going nuts, and it’s beautiful. They recently resurrected Nancy Pelosi for another glorious term winnowing away the House Democrat caucus. Pretty soon it’s just going to be her and some guy representing Berkeley who they recruited while he was shouting “Workers of the world unite!” at bored coeds on Telegraph Avenue. You know, if you want to reach out to the kind of hard-working, salt-of-the-earth, normal Americans who voted for the black guy then allegedly refused to vote for the woman because they are racist, you totally want an ancient, rich, snooty, San Francisco leftist and Botox after-picture like the Nanster.
:
Did you know that the president-elect has to get China’s permission to take calls from the heads of other countries? Me neither, but the liberals seem to think so. I’m really confused. We’re supposed to hate the Russians – apparently not because they invaded Ukraine or Syria but because their hacking revealed Democrat corruption – yet we’re supposed to do the organ grinder monkey dance for the commie tyrants in Beijing?

I’m hearing we should put aside party differences and concentrate on the future of the country. That seems to make good sense, but it presumes the two parties share a common vision about this country-future. I’m not sure about this.

Maybe that is what we need to be discussing. Now and then I hear liberals and democrats express concern about the skill level of the next generation of Americans, but that’s usually in terms of calling for more immigration because, heck, native-born Americans aren’t up to the challenge of demanding, technical work…better give up on ’em.

They snort at the idea that they want America’s economy to be made more & more anemic…okay, that’s understandable I guess, if that was my vision I wouldn’t want anybody catching on to it either. Would both sides agree, then, that democrats have an interest in social services being put in greater demand? See, most people don’t want that. Most people want their fellow citizens to be filthy stinking rich. Easier to get jobs that way.

The democrats don’t want that. So why make peace with them? Kick ’em when they’re down, they got it coming.

Yeah, the liberals are going nuts everywhere. In Hollywood, they are continuing their bizarre and inexplicable campaign to foist left-leaning fuglies upon American audiences. The sexy supernova that was Lena Dunham has somehow petered out, American men apparently possessing eyes and, equally importantly, ears. I’m required to be shallow since I live in LA, but there really is this thing called “inner beauty.” One can mock the utter cluelessness that possesses this dumpy strumpet to flaunt her figure as if she was Cindy Crawford, Jr., but what actually makes her ugly is the fact that she is just a horrible person – entitled, abusive, dishonest, narcissistic, snobbish and amazingly dumb.

Ah, not nice. But then again, Ms. Dunham is repeatedly putting herself in the public eye. And she’s being approached to do this…by, someone. This is a big part of the reason why liberals eventually lost. When they want to make themselves stronger, they put things in front of us to show why they should be put back in power, and the things they put in front of us consistently show they should not be. They cannot tell beauty apart from ugliness. It’s as if they think these two are interchangeable.

Seventy-Five Years After Pearl Harbor

Wednesday, December 7th, 2016

So What Are the democrats?

Tuesday, December 6th, 2016

Working families!

From here. There is an old joke within conservative circles that when democrats say “working families” it is 100% untrue, since they’re not really talking about people who are working, and they are not talking about actual families; they mean non-working non-families. Even the staunchest democrat would concede that this class-designation can certainly include persons and groups who don’t qualify in the strictest semantic sense.

Which would have to mean, when House Minority Leader Pelosi says the party is maintaining its “values” and that is what the values are, she’s describing nothing. She says people don’t want a new direction, which is to be expected of an old-guard dignitary, but you would also expect a stronger statement of what the old direction is.

Or would you?

Liberals are, and have been, as I’ve pointed out — undefiners. And, unproducers. Their appeal has been to the young, and they know it. If there’s little new learning over the previous four to eight years, and lots of new young voters making it to the polls, they win. If there is a lot of learning and fewer new voters, it goes more like 2016. This is common knowledge and not difficult to explain. Eventually, as one lives life, the intelligent voter is exposed to enough government inefficiency that putting more aspects of life under public-sector control loses its appeal, but this life-lesson takes a lot of time. Until the lesson sinks in, “I ran out of ice cream last night, we need a Federal Department of Ice Cream” seems to make sense.

Obviously, the democrat party is about promoting leftism. Leftism is destructive by nature, because it isn’t about improving or reforming the existence system so that it “serves the interests of everyone” as they say. It’s about tearing existing civilization apart, and starting over again. Yes, the Federal Department of Ice Cream is part of that, even if some of its supporters don’t consciously realize it. It’s about destroying the present system by overloading it. It’s called Cloward-Piven and there are those who say that if you’re not up on what this is, how it came to be & what it means, you shouldn’t be voting. They may be right.

Another thing we do as we get older is we learn to create new things that weren’t there before; and we learn that in order to do this, we have to manage details. You don’t need to manage details when you wreck things. Creation — and preservation – require attention to detail, and a commitment to delayed gratification. Because of that, the “I want it now” mentality is always going to gravitate toward destructive efforts, because it has nowhere else to go. Breaking things is fun. And you get to see results right away.

We therefore should not have been too surprised to see Whoopi Goldberg refusing to allow anyone to infer that flag-burners hate the country. There’s nothing too remarkable about such a statement, it is merely the cresting of a mountain of un-definition that has been building up for awhile. We have seen, for decades, liberals lecturing us about other liberals — “Just because he [blank] don’t go jumping to the conclusion that he thinks [blank].”

WHOOPI: The military is not the flag. The flag represents a lot of different things to different people.

HAINES: Yes.

WHOOPI: And so you have to keep that in mind because, in fact, that’s what the first amendment is about.

HAINES: Yes.

WHOOPI: The flag does not always represent all of its people. All of its people were not taken care of under our flag, so folks know that —

FARIS: I get it.

WHOOPI: People are angry. They sometimes get angry and they burn the flag. Sometimes they burn the neighborhood, you know.

Goldberg seems entirely unaware that if this were to be taken seriously by someone with real influence, it would entirely defeat the “free speech” argument. Here you are burning a flag, and I’m not allowed to infer you hate the USA because “sometimes [people] get angry” and that’s what they do. What, then, is being said? There’s no longer any coherent answer. Whoopi Goldberg says it’s just something people do when they’re mad, like pounding the table I suppose…well then, what are we to think of a law, or ordinance, against pounding tables? Would that be null & void because it would intrude unconstitutionally on the right to free speech? I think we can all agree it would not. People would be compelled to keep their arms by their sides, or gesture with them but don’t touch anything, and state their position coherently. Free speech would survive just fine at the end of the day.

These are connections you can make only when you begin to think like an adult, after you understand the virtues of defining things, managing details, stating ideas coherently, making decisions by way of reason & not by emotion, and recognizing the most probable effects to emerge from prior cause. Also, of delayed gratification preferred over the immediate. The Left, through the democrat party, maintains an opposition to all these things and not merely because they make it harder to elect democrats. Although they certainly do. Within the Obama era, they successfully kept any sustained discussions about these differences from emerging into the mainstream, kept them confined to kooky right-wing blogs, like this one…which nobody reads anyway. “Obama wants it, so just give it to Him or else we’ll call you a racist” would have been the bumper-sticker slogan of the era. Also, with all meaningful discussions truncated, it was about putting unproductive people in charge of the producers, telling them when to produce, how, and how much.

…Will Never Be President

Sunday, December 4th, 2016

From PJ Media.

Nothing to add. Except one thing, the obvious thing…

…seems we have a lot of people walking around among us, expressing very emphatic opinions about what’s going on and/or what will happen, because being emphatic is about all they know how to do. Even people who have been in the public eye for years and decades. They want to argue, they want to be persuasive, they want to make their points persuasively, but they don’t know how. So they feign absolute, and beyond-absolute, certainty.

There’s got to be a way for me to make some big money off this. Until I figure that out, it’s back to the ol’ grind…

This Headline Sucks

Saturday, December 3rd, 2016

Headlines are hard. Adequate headlines are hard enough, but excellent headlines are beyond my skill level. I’ve written, literally, thousands of them and occasionally one finds the mark, but that’s purely an achievement of good fortune and not method or skill on my part.

Headlines have rules. They have to accurately reflect the subject of what appears below. They have to grab and hold the audience’s attention. And they MUST be brief…or…must they? Brevity, while desirable, is merely a method. The actual objectives are confined to those other two things. You can break established rules and still achieve established objectives…sometimes, even, achieving results superior to what was achieved by those who followed the established rules.

A point which is aptly demonstrated by this:

Yes, Climate Change Is Real — and Skepticism about Its Magnitude is Good Science

Although there is much more to it, our argument can be summed up thus:

• On average, the computer climate models on which alarmists like [Paul] Douglas and [Mitch] Hescox rely predict 2 to 3 times the warming actually observed over the relevant period.
• Over 95% of the models predict more warming than observed, implying that their errors are not random but driven by some kind of bias written into all the models, whether honest mistake or dishonest.
• None of the models predicted the absence of statistically significant increase in global average temperature from early 1997 to late 2015.

This headline caught and held my attention, which is merely the mark of a good headline. Apart from accurately reflecting the subject matter, better than something like “this headline sucks.” What is remarkable is that it did it by breaking all the rules, and spelling out the entire argument, or at least the point where the argument achieves practical complexity by way of its apparent paradox.

Cavemen's FaultI’m biased toward this, of course, because this apparent paradox is something I’ve been pointing out for awhile. I don’t claim to know the tiniest details of climate science, but I can follow arguments, and it’s dishonest to frame the discussion the way the casual observer has become accustomed to seeing it framed. Which is something like: Is climate static, or is it changing? If it’s changing then it must be all our fault and we should tax the bejeezus out of ourselves and give extraordinary new regulatory power to strangers who sit on national and international commissions.

Much more accurate to say: Yes, the climate changes and yes, this change is an effect of…many, many things. Anything that comes in contact with the climate. That’s how physics works. Objects that come in contact with other objects have effects on those objects’ states. And, to what order of magnitude the climate is affected by human activity, is an open question — the whole question. What does the evidence say? Well…that’s where the charlatans start taking over the conversation.

As the article goes on to say,

Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman famously said that the “key to science” is comparing predictions based on your theory with experimental and real-world observations. If the theory disagrees with observation, it’s wrong. The contradiction between observations and model predictions invalidates the models, which means they provide no rational basis for any predictions of future temperature or any policies predicated on them.

As we see with so many other non-disciplines of pop science, you have only to recall the most rudimentary and undemanding criteria of scientific work, to notice that the “science” enthusiasts demanding attention most urgently and obtrusively are operating entirely outside of the method.

The theory we really need to validate, or falsify, is something like this: Yes human activity has an effect on the climate, and the magnitude of this effect is somewhere around the proportion of a hamster fart in a hurricane. Therefore, insofar as shaping public policies to willfully direct what the climate is going to do (to us) over the near future, this is functionally meaningless. Okay, go test that.

A lot of people would like to falsify it. Okay. Construct an experiment that would falsify it, and falsify away.

Fake News

Saturday, December 3rd, 2016

Libs better be careful with those witty invented-pejoratives…

From MrcTV.