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“It’s Masculinity to the Rescue”

Saturday, August 17th, 2019

Anybody else noticing this about the #MeToo thing? Not about the thing itself; about the quote-unquote “men.”

Harvey Weinstein. Matt Lauer. Garrison Keillor, Kevin Spacey. Al Franken. Woody Allen. Ben Affleck. James Franco. Bill Clinton. Bill Cosby. Neil deGrasse Tyson. Les Moonves. R. Kelly. Louis CK. Bryan Singer. Cuba Gooding Jr. Jeffrey Epstein.

They’re not all complete wimps. Affleck did a great job bulking up as Batman and I’m sure he could bench press more than me on very his worst day. But like all the rest, he doesn’t quite carry himself as a complete man. None of these are exactly cigar-smoking, steak-and-potato-eating men, right? Not a single one among them has built any kind of public profile that’s proudly masculine…a great many in this list have built a profile that is the opposite. The most macho out of the whole lot display their masculinity only in muted tones. A great many, and I mean a GREAT many, as in a bone crushing majority, have been out-and-proud left-wing liberals. More than just liberal; wispy, chestless, slouching, “in touch with my feminine side,” sweater-wearing, Live-With-Regis-And-Whoever-Watching…

Not quite so much lipstick-and-earring-wearing. But they don’t speak in a man’s natural baritone. Lauer, who had a push button to lock the door in his office, is the primary example: Just like any predator in nature’s wild who has survived by scoring his share of good meals, he’s gone on years and years and years putting out this air of “gelded, woke and safe.” Turns out that was two-thirds true.

There is this residual controversy about #MeToo vis a vis does it involve overreach, has it been going too far. It’s the wrong question to ask. The right question to ask is something like “Well what TF does this have to do with masculinity at all?” The profile of the predator has emerged, solidified, crystallized, and anybody who takes the time to inspect can see that the predator is not masculine. It is what we should have expected to see from he very beginning. Manly men don’t do these things.

Instead, the predator has taken the form we should expect the predator to take if he wants to catch prey. He looks more like Alan Alda than John Wayne. Just like the deep sea (female) Anglerfish with the forehead-protruding light lure, they give off all the right vibes of the woke, undeveloped not-quite-male man. So they can draw in the woke, wounded, incomplete women and girls who’ve made up their minds that the real-men are the real problem.

Masculinity is Not for Women to DefineBut when we take the time to look at real-world events and digest for ourselves what really happened, we see they have it perfectly backwards, as wounded-incomplete people often have it:

In every story of bloodshed and mayhem, it’s the same. Tales of selfless male heroism and chivalry emerge in the face of mortal danger.

These are men who rush toward danger, risking their lives and even dying in the noble cause of protecting women and children.
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Call it the chivalry instinct, it is what inspires men to run toward danger to protect the weak.

This is the noble side of masculinity that we once would perpetuate in folklore and stories passed down from father to son about what it means to be a real man.

But in the new era of “toxic masculinity,” young men are taught to ignore their heroic instincts and learn to be weak. They are instructed always to be on guard against the monster within.
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Evolutionary psychologists have found that women instinctively desire a mate who can protect her and their offspring. “Modern women” look for “ancestral cues of a man’s fighting ability,” in the words of a 2017 study in the Proceedings of the Royal Society.

This is the very masculinity that is being damned as the toxic seed of the patriarchy. Courage and derring-do is the essence of maleness and is what has allowed western civilization to prosper.

This is a deep concept that affects many of our most pressing and attention-grabbing issues, and affects how we think about them: Is strength, in & of itself, sufficiently attached to the process of brutalization that we should call it out as a threat — even in the face of mounting evidence that the real harm is done by the obsequiously weak? Is it right that we associate mass shootings with having a gun, when in order to do so, we have to ignore the millions upon millions of skilled, practiced and dedicated law-abiding gun owners who don’t hurt anybody? Should we associate having a large amount of money, with being responsible for economic injury against those who have much less, when in order to imagine this we have to weave together elaborate fiction about cheating, embezzlement and other shenanigans we haven’t seen take place?

If we answer in the affirmative, we built a society in which no one is allowed to remain the way they are unless they’re either weak and oppressed, or aligning themselves politically with the weak and oppressed — systematically attacking those who have made themselves rugged and strong. Such a society must ultimately nosedive into the dirt, like a lawn dart, because it encourages no ambition in its young except an ambition toward nothingness.

The dirty little truth is that there’s no contradiction here. Young men don’t have to look for ways to build themselves up into good strong men while “be[ing] on guard against the monster within.” It’s more a matter of fixating on the right priorities. Thinking about outcome, ignoring concerns over mannerisms, foibles, “triggering” microaggressions…worry instead about cause and effect, like grown-ups have to do. That’s what a real man does.

And that goes for real women, too.

Do Not Leave Politics Out Of It

Wednesday, August 7th, 2019

Politics is what’s changed.

I’m seeing so many people with good intentions say something along the lines of “When I was a kid everyone had guns, but nobody shot anybody. So we need to have a calm, rational discussion about what’s changed, and LEAVE POLITICS OUT OF IT.” Oh, I get what they mean and I understand what they’re trying to avoid. Trump haters say it’s all Trump’s fault, Trump’s fans say it’s all the fault of the Left Wing, so nothing gets solved.

So how come when I hear these calm, rational discussions started that way, I tend to tune out, confident that nothing’s going to get solved there, either?

MonstersThese shooters have many things in common with each other, but the one thing that really stands out is isolation. They went to school, they put a little bit of effort into blending in, they learned the hard way that you have to be accepted, acceptance wasn’t coming their way. So rather than self-improve they gradually gave up on the whole process.

Which I did, too. And there was anger over it. But I’m one of the crusty old farts who had access to guns pretty much everywhere, and I never shot anyone. How many my age can say all that? Lots. Probably most of us.

But back in my day, “You are to be shunned” was an experimental thing. Let’s see if we can end racism through social stigma! Bigotry has no place here! Well that was then. Nowadays this is the one tool in the box. Look around, it is for the most part the only way anybody argues anything. There are exceptions. There are people who make the case, support their arguments, let the idea succeed or fail on its merits…they don’t exist on The Left. The Left likes to think they do this, because they throw deceptive, cherry-picked statistics at people, they throw links to Snopes at people. And they call these “facts.” But they’re not arguing their case with facts.

What they do is label as “hate” anything they don’t like, and then “boldly” pronounce that hate “has no home here” and “is not welcome here.” They exclude constantly, even if the situation is risible, when they don’t have the influence to exclude anybody at all. It is their Golden Hammer.

What do you think that’s like for a little kid growing up, going to school, not knowing how to deal with it?

Ah, but there must be evil there, you say. Freeberg you never shot anybody. True. Well, why’s that? Why did I never shoot anybody? Why do we not kill each other? Is it because I was afraid of going to jail? Maybe, but before that there was respect for human life. There was the acknowledgment that once someone is born and breathing and walking around among us, it isn’t my place to take a life away, there’s something bigger and more important than me at work here. Uh…what’s The Left been doing to promote that?

Don’t stop talking politics. Both sides are not equally “at fault” with what’s changed, and politics is what’s changed. Politics shows — all too clearly — that whatever capacity we once had to discuss things and find common ground, using our disparate perspectives to work toward a common goal, this seems to have slipped out of our grasp. These awful events are merely a horrible extension of this. As far as the mental health aspect of it goes…it’s really all of us who have the mental health problem. Yeah, a lot of these kids are on psychotropic drugs. Well why did our society see fit to put so many kids on those drugs? Is it really because they needed the drugs, or because the rest of us can’t deal with conflict?

Stop excluding people and stop de-valuing human life. Stop replacing camaraderie and sense of community with “self esteem.” They’re not the same thing. There are consequences to this mistake.

Fork in the Road

Friday, July 26th, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If PDJT Were From Somalia…

Friday, July 19th, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why are they here?

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

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

They would waste no time in doing it.

Wouldn’t skip a beat.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Speaker Amplified Too Much, Put Out of Commission

Wednesday, July 17th, 2019

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

This was weird:

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

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

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

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

Then things got weirder:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Feelz Over Realz

Tuesday, July 16th, 2019

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

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

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

It’s not even part of the story!

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

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

They could be learning how to help others.

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

Their Problem with Experience

Sunday, July 14th, 2019

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

It’s got to do with the introduction.

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

That used to be the divide.

Things are changing though.

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

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

But then a funny thing happens.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Don’t Have to Remember

Saturday, July 13th, 2019

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

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

But then.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That’s a disaster.

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

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

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

“Lady Ghostbusters” Rule

Saturday, July 13th, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rapinoe Rule

Friday, July 12th, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Rian Rule

Saturday, July 6th, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And the answers were:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That was then, this is now.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now having said all that…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It is the “Rian Rule.”

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

Patterns

Sunday, June 30th, 2019

In my youth, I bored quickly of this show because I was a spoiled Star Wars kid. The special effects are cheesy and dumb, by design, and it’s really supposed to be more about characters and relationships. Now I’m in my second-half-century on the planet and this appeals to me more. Having finished off the first season, this is all new ground for me.

I was surprised yet again because I read the synopsis for Season 3 Episode 3 and I thought…NO…you’re breaking it. Someone on the writing staff doesn’t understand the character of Pam, the low-drama, take-it-all-in-stride, the adult in the room. They built an episode where she does the annoying high-drama thing, “It’s either me or the [blank] and I’m outta here” thing…or so I thought. Hey it’s the early eighties, everyone was obliged to do this. Girlfriend says, Fine go on your adventure, your last bank heist, explode the laser beam satellite and save the world…I won’t be here when you get back.

This annoys me, especially given the era. We were being re-programmed to think of women as equals. And the first, last, and only thing they were having these newly-empowered female characters do was lay down the law — no world-saving when I’m in the picture. Get used to mediocrity, sucker. Now help me unfold the teevee trays, and turn the teevee set to Love Boat while I go get your bowl of prunes.

I mean, couldn’t feminism hide what it was trying to do to us for a few years?

But this episode is not that. Well it is…but you end up sympathizing with Pam, and it isn’t because the writers are manipulating you into it. She’s right. Ralph and Bill are wrong. You see it isn’t the donning of the red suit and the galivanting off on the latest sting of derring-do that’s got her piqued. It’s the pattern. It’s the fact that things have settled into being this way, every instance of normalcy is treated like it’s an exception but it’s all baloney. Bill says jump, Ralph says how high, and this is the way things are always going to be. She’s coming to a decision about whether she can deal with this over the long term and deciding it logically.

Can’t fault a girl for that.

And here we come to one of the more fascinating things about people. I have noticed this thing with patterns is a sensitive issue; people who live in patterns, don’t want to admit they live in patterns, and they don’t like having it pointed out to them. But sooner or later the subject has to come up and see the light of day. I’ve often said, in a few places, that whenever I notice patterns of things people get annoyed with me…oops, there I just did it yet again. But it’s true. People settle into a rut, and when it involves a lack of consideration for others, to just put a stop to things by cutting them loose without saying anything seems almost like cruelty.

But pattern driven people are firecrackers. “I notice whenever you put up Facebook posts with pictures of your food in fancy locales, within a few days you need some gas money from me until payday.” Boom. There’s no tactful way to put it. It’s too much truth.

This episode was put together very tastefully. The whole sequence of events is told from Ralph’s point of view, with him being the primary sympathetic character. In the end, it’s all about Pam’s feelings though — and how do you do that? The easy way would be for her to look down upon Ralph’s efforts to put together a decent vacation for her, like an angry and offended goddess, with a total lack of appreciation. And in the beginning they kind of did that, but in the end the message was driven home loud and clear: The relationship is on the ropes not because of just any one event. That’s what high-drama liberal chicks in Seattle do. “Ooh! I thought you were going to do this and you did that! You’re a promise-breaker!” Drama drama drama…yawn…no, that’s not Pam.

In the end, she just needed to be shown a little bit more consideration from Ralph, the pattern-guy. I’m sure if there was a way he could go on with his suit-life with the pattern dislodged, or merely disrupted, he would have done it. But, she saw that, and also saw there was no way, things would have to be like this for the sake of other people, and she could live with it after all. It’s Lois Lane‘s never-ending problem.

In real life, though, such alienating patterns are not the unavoidable side-effect of having superpowers. They are, all too often, signs of something not quite right. A boxcar that’s not quite fully lined up on the tracks. Blown deadlines, no-showing, “Sorry there’s been a change in plans”…it means there are others involved, a micro-community of sorts having been formed, with the less stable people exerting control, consciously or otherwise, over the stable people when the pecking order should, by rights, work the other way around. Such patterns can be left undisturbed. But when that happens, there’s a circle of trust that shrinks just a little bit, and someone who used to be on the inside of it ends up on the outside.

It’s far kinder to people to point out the pattern and allow the fireworks to commence, with the attitude of “If there’s gotta be bloodbath then let’s get it behind us.”

People are complicated. That’s why relationships are complicated. Third floor of a building isn’t gonna be any less rickety than the second.

Their Smirking Smugness

Saturday, June 29th, 2019

The whole point of the book I’m writing is that I, like millions of others, want to see liberalism go away but of course that arouses a question — what parts of it? Not the people themselves. If I wanted actual people to go away then I’d be a liberal myself, and I’m not. I can’t be one because I don’t hate people that much.

I think Wednesday and Thursday night we all became a little bit better equipped to answer questions of this sort.

Ackshyually GuyI think after they figured out they can use politics to put material resources under their control, the next summit of annoyance they achieved was this insufferable “I will win” thing. Providence is on our side, time is on our side, our opponents are on the wrong side of history, the wrong side of something called “facts”…WE HAVE YOUR CHILDREN

What they’re trying to replace is “God is on our side.” But they can’t bring themselves to use the capital G. And so a certain secular smirking smugness has crept into these substitutions of theirs. I know something you don’t know…I have done my googling and my snopesing…I have “facts”…and so they have become “actually” people. Actually, two and two DO make five, but if you need to have it explained to you then I’m way too busy to do it, you’ll just have to be left behind. It must be so. I’m so smug! And look how much anger I have. What’s what we saw in the debates. Seldom correct, never in doubt.

The very picture of someone you don’t want running anything.

They can’t even keep track of their own message. Two and two make five, and “you didn’t build that,” because I and a select few others have elite access to some nugget of game-changing information that eludes you…or…two and two make five because if I can convince 51 percent then nothing else is going to matter. Which is it? I don’t know and you don’t know because they don’t know. They don’t know because they don’t care.

Oh look at that, they want to do away with the Electoral College and lower the voting age to 16, but of course they do. Maybe the rest of us will support them in these efforts…if, and only if, we don’t have enough of the smirking smugness and we want more of it.

Former President Jimmy Carter added himself to the growing list of these smug, smirking, annoying actually-people, with his glib remark that President Trump actually didn’t win the election. Oh but of course he didn’t.

In my time I have annoyed people in a lot of different ways, mostly due to my immaturity. I owe a tremendous debt to Carter because, at least, I haven’t annoyed people THAT way. He kept me from becoming a liberal. At age 13 I could see what was wrong with these people and what they were trying to do. I can never thank the man enough.

Liberalism and Fear

Sunday, June 23rd, 2019

The dumbest propaganda move The Left ever made, might have been to ascribe the motives of their opposition to fear. If you’ve ever argued with them about one of their silly changes they want to make for any length of time, or watched someone else do it, you’ve heard it:

You’re afraid! Scaredy-cat white males afraid of big tall black guys being on the same airplane flight or something…

I think whoever popularized The Left going that route, might very well have been a right-wing infiltrator. It’s a horrible, horrible idea for them. If I were a left-winger, the last thing in the world I’d want to do is get the whole audience thinking about, What would my priorities be if fear had no effect on them?

The answer to the question is, we’d act like conservatives. Some nanny-state do-gooder would approach us about voluntarily surrendering some of our rights, or our privileges, or our firearms “for the greater good” — and we’d tell ’em to shove it. It’s a beautiful dialogue that practically writes itself, and it would play out over and over again:

“It’s just that, ten years ago, there was this guy who had a gun just like yours, and he went to this crowded restaurant and did these awful things…”

“Well then take it up with him. Now fuck off.”

Fear would be acquiescing to such nonsense.

Here’s what they don’t get: Having, and using, the capacity to noodle out consequences to actions is not fear. If the liberal thinks it’s a great idea to wheel a baby stroller with a baby in it up to the brink of a cliff and then give a it a mighty shove — and let’s face it, a lot of their proposals are just like this — it’s not “fear” to understand that this results in a dead baby, and on those grounds oppose the idea. When James Bond figures out he’s got to blow up the orbiting laser satellite before it fries some major city and kills tens of millions of strangers he’ll never meet, and does his predicted transformation from martini-guzzling whore-fornicating nihilist assassin into altruistic white-knight who’s going to save the day because he suddenly cares about people — until the next movie — is he being fearful? That’s not fear, that’s concern for others, the one attribute all real heroes have in common with each other.

Liberalism is the Population Bomb ideology. It is the ideology of “Now that I’m here on the planet, resources are scarce, so fuck everybody else I’ve got mine.” It lives for today and retains no real hope for the future.

It is the ideology of a rat on a sinking ship.

It IS fear.

F*cking With People

Saturday, June 15th, 2019

Rant: I do not believe in conspiracies but I do believe in common incentives and I believe some of these are hidden. These could be fairly called “conspiracies” because they achieve the same effect although they do not involve the collusion that should be necessary to qualify for the term.

There is a conspiracy to fuck with people.

Show me a hundred people who want a “climate surcharge” and I can show you a hundred people who want higher taxes. Show me a hundred people who want higher taxes and I’ll show you a hundred who want the climate surcharge. If things were on the up-and-up it wouldn’t be that way, because higher taxes are not good for the environment. Also, every dollar you spend on higher taxes leaves a dollar less available for surcharges, and vice versa. Furthermore, I would not be able to show you a hundred people who, by their own private conduct, do good things for the environment. On average, their “climate skeptic” dissenters would be kinder to the environment. So these are not people who want to preserve a livable climate; they are people who just want to make it more expensive to live.

California has water rationing during droughts, which makes some sense. We keep the rationing in place when there is flooding, which doesn’t make sense. Unless you accept the conspiracy to fuck with people. With regard to the environment, I have also noticed there is a “toilet paper rule” in effect: The cheap, rough toilet paper that chaps your ass will never be found to be bad for the environment. Only the cushy, comfortable, popular things are harmful. Environmentalism is not in conflict with things that really hurt the environment, but it’s in everlastingly conflict with us, and the things we prefer. And the measures that “protect” the environment seem to be chosen not on the basis of their potency for protecting their environment, but on the basis of their profile…which means their inconvenience. I mean seriously, what does the “straw ban” do? We got a much better benefit for the environment when the lumber companies began voluntarily planting trees on a 1-for-1 basis whenever they clear-cut a forest. But that did not get in the face of the average taxpayer/homeowner, inconvenience him, annoy him, obstruct him, nor did it justify the coercive police power of the state. So the straw ban is a model for future efforts, and the 1-for-1 sapling planting is not. That’s hosed.

We are indoctrinated from childhood to accept this. Our third-grade teachers told us “Because one of you did X, none of the rest of you will be allowed to do Y” and “If I make one exception, I’ll have to make a thousand.” We are conditioned to accept encroachments on our liberties and detriments against our standard of living based on the actions, or the neglect, of people we will never meet. In adulthood, we see persons of influence take advantage of this. “Things the way they are right now, with what’s going on lately, whenever you do a [blank] you’re going to have to get/do [blank] [instead].”

It has become the siren song of our times.

And we have allowed it to be this way.

But it’s never too late to reverse course.

The Glory of Error

Thursday, May 30th, 2019

I never made a mistake in my life. I thought I did once, but I was wrong.

Charles M. Schulz

By the time I started this blog, I’d already had a long time to figure out you can “win” an argument on the Internet and then you can be right about something — those are two different things. It’s easy to forget this, but it’s important to keep in mind because both of these require strategy and effort. And this is not effort applied in a common direction. They are, in fact, opposed. Winning an argument on the Internet depends a great deal on dispensing retorts that are bite-sized, and often inaccurate, so as to hold the attention of any bystanders. Really being right often involves an accumulation of complexity, just like a program or script, as the answer evolves to soundly address a sprawling collection of disconnected but relevant factors. During which time, how much fun it is for someone else to watch you, is not a matter under consideration. Being “Internet-right” means being fun to watch, and being really-right often requires being boring to watch.

If your answer is getting better by way of evolving, it’s going to have to absorb some body-blows so you know what to change. That’s how it works. And so around the time I started this blog I began to notice how easy it was to Internet-win arguments with a certain type of personality, the better-than-you, every-hair-in-place guy who took the time to triple-check his grammar and spelling so that he could tut-tut you about “George Washington actually never said that” or “Prepositions are actually okay to end sentences with.” You know this type yourself, probably. You’ve met him: The “actually-guy.”

I can Internet-win arguments with these types in just a few choice words: “I make ten or more mistakes every morning before you punks even think about getting out of bed.” Interestingly, any other time I theorized about the happenings in their own lives I would earn a predictable rebuke of “you don’t know that about me,” no matter how innocuous or safe the assumption. I was always wrong on these, or at least potentially wrong, which was just as damning. But here I was acting as if I knew what time they woke up in the morning, and opining on it rather rudely, and I never received such a correction. Not once. That’s because it was in their nature to see this as an admission of defeat, and they were showing off for their friends who no doubt saw it the same way. So one of my idle pursuits was winning arguments on the Internet with these punks and their friends, and being the only one present who could see it was a win. Rather like hitting a hole-in-one playing golf by yourself.

It didn’t bore me as much as it should have. I found this fascinating.

And perhaps that was right, in fact maybe I should have found it even more fascinating. If you were a thirteen-year-old punk arguing with me on the Internet back in 2004, let’s see…that would make you the same age as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez now. Crowder has a rule about her “only mock AOC when she truly deserves it, but let the little stuff go.” I like that rule. It makes a lot of sense.

This is a generational affliction. It isn’t all just AOC. The kids can’t tell Internet-right apart from being-really-right, they think it’s all the same thing. It’s like the point to life is to reach your coffin without ever having been wrong about anything, and you’re never wrong about anything unless you admit to it.

So if I had been AOC and I had asked my millions of followers WTF that growling thing in the sink is, only to find out garbage disposals have been around for eons, I’d laugh at myself. Like an “OMG you guys what planet have I been living on?”…It’s okay not to know what something is. It’s a little tone deaf to use that ignorance, innocent or not, to then try and leverage that ignorance, innocent or not, into a rallying cry to push an agenda: bigotry, economic exploitation, and climate denial. Remember, AOC considers herself a leader. Leader’s make mistakes.

Actually, an apostrophe in this context indicates possession not plurality…oh wait. I think I see what the writer did their.

Look, I know of some people who go the other way: So fervently do they believe the future belongs to “strong people capable of admitting their own mistakes,” that they go looking for mistakes to make so they can make a big show of admitting they made one. And when the moment comes you can see how fake it all looks, how it has the feel of being rehearsed. Which it likely was. So there’s a delicate balance here. You should learn as much as possible from your mistakes, but you should apply your energies toward doing as well as you possibly can. This requires a little bit of thought. Because if you only learn from your mistakes, but you’re trying not to make them, doesn’t that translate into trying not to learn anything?

Well no. You set up test environments. You practice playing your musical instrument in private. You remove the weight from your potential mistakes. You test the triggering mechanism on the nuclear missile with the payload removed.

Millennials get a bad rap and much of it is undeserved, you can see by watching certain splendid individual examples within their set. But across the entire set as a whole, I’m sad to say the reputation has been earned. All those years of participation trophies and “you’re just so special” and “that was a real good thing you did” have created this sense that right-vs.-wrong is a purely societal construct, and if you ever think you made any mistakes you should a) refuse to ever admit to them and b) disabuse yourself of that notion toot-sweet, even if you see iron-clad proof that you made the wrong call. It’s just your self-esteem taking a beating sweetie, now brush it off and strut around like a pigeon on a chessboard the way you were taught.

See, that’s wrong. You might say it is the ultimate error. If we’re right all the time, even just “Internet-right,” we don’t correct anything and therefore we don’t improve. We don’t do our learning when we win.

This affects billion dollar endeavors. I see Rian Johnson does a lot of “pushing back,” especially on Twitter, against anybody who “doesn’t get” The Last Jedi and sees errors within. I don’t begrudge the man for standing up for his work. And perhaps there’s been something going down here that has escaped my notice…but it’s rather amazing that this has been his reaction all of the time, with every little bit of criticism, this Millennial attitude of “I’m right, you’re wrong, you only have a problem because you don’t get something, I know something you don’t know.” TLJ, as myself and others have noted, isn’t really that complicated of a movie and it doesn’t have that complicated of a message hidden within. It’s loaded up with mistakes just like any other movie. Once you admit to that, you could admit that some of these mistakes were significant and affected the overall quality.

Johnson, along with the others involved in the production, cannot even admit the “Leia floating in space” scene was a mistake. This is a huge red flag, an indicator that the wrong people were in charge. Artists and entertainers should be able to absorb and channel criticism. It’s part of the job description.

And politicians? Doubly so, when they fancy themselves capable of drawing up the set of rules that are supposed to guide the new command-economy they want to create. Ms. Ocasio-Cortez has lately taken a bizarre turn with “I’m both joking and not joking at the same time” with regard to the only-have-twelve-years thing. Now, I’m not entirely sure how alarmed I should be about this. She is, after all, the leading symbol of a major political party; in the years ahead she will only get closer to the median age of our most impactful congresspeople, while her more moderate rivals are forced to retire. And if I’m reading this right, her understanding of right vs. wrong has been so damaged by the Internet that she’s entirely lost her sense of dialectics. She, along with her constituents, may never have had it. The mindset she represents is one that says none of this stuff means anything at all, there is no world to save within twelve years, they’re all abstractions, there is only winning arguments on the Internet and that is the only reality.

I could be wrong! Hope so.

If I’m not, this is going to get worse before it gets better.

Let’s Grind Up Some Puppies

Saturday, May 25th, 2019

American politics explained:

Let’s say I set up shop in the middle of a populated town where everyone can see me, in broad daylight, with a pickup truck towing a gas-powered meat grinder and a basket full of newborn puppies. I crank up the machine and, without saying a word, begin tossing one squirming yelping creature after another, into the metal chute, as blood and guts spew forward. Everyone in attendance is horrified. “Morgan is grinding up puppies!,” they say. And they’re right. I’m doing this terrible thing, everyone can see me doing it, they talk about it for days and weeks afterward and there’s no confusion at all about who did what, or what a terrible thing it is.

But let’s add this twist.

I tow my meat grinder to another little town and set up shop with a new litter of puppies. This time, as the machine revs into high gear I yell at the top of my lungs “Bob is grinding up puppies!” I repeat this litany over and over again while I throw the puppies in the meat grinder. From the crowd, a guy named Bob emerges, understandably perplexed. “What the?? YOU are the one grinding up puppies, not me! Everyone can see it! You’re not even trying to hide it!”

The “poli” in “politics” represents the people. It is impossible to truly understand politics if you do not make the effort to understand people. And a strange thing happens here. The crowd, nauseated by this continuing spray of puppy guts, blames both me AND Bob. And…neither one of us. The cry goes forth “You’re both a couple of jerks, grinding up puppies! Each one of you is saying the other one is doing it, and we don’t care anymore, this is disgusting! A pox on both your houses!”

And disperse. To go watch The Kardashians.

In the first town, someone might have actually tried to stop me. In this one, they’re less concerned about the puppies and more concerned about their own social status. They just condemn, verbally, and then beat a hasty retreat away from the whole nasty affair. Suddenly those Kardashian reruns look appealing, and no one cares about the puppies.

So in politics, before you start doing things everyone knows are bad things, make sure you falsely accuse your political opponents of doing it first, then you can get away with it. People don’t remember what was done. They remember what was said. And when each side is accusing the other, they’d rather watch Kardashians.

That’s why democrats say Republicans disbelieve science, wreck the economy, waste money on useless wars, look down with contempt on poor people, ruin public education, divert precious resources on dumb useless investigations, create constitutional crises, abuse offices, discriminate…always accuse the other side of doing what you’re doing.

Then you can do a lot more of it. That’s how politics works because that’s how people work.

Crippling Debt

Sunday, May 19th, 2019

We need to talk about the concept of crippling debt.

One of the reasons socialism is growing in popularity right now is that a lot of young people feel the same way I felt when I was their age. They have hopes and dreams they think they can build on, possibly to the betterment of all the rest of us. Like I had, and still have. And they have a load of debt, like I had back then. Today I have debts but I’ve learned to live within my means, and make it manageable.

I’ve learned some other things. I’ve learned debt isn’t always bad. You have to make good decisions about it, and if debt really is unmanageable then that usually means you haven’t been doing that. Of course there are exceptions. Unfortunate things happen. But even then you still have options. You may have to make a major course change in life, and that’s okay. That’s learning. But one way or another, it’s best not to look at your existing debts as “crippling,” but more like a task you have to get done. Can you achieve these hopes and dreams before you get your debts paid? Maybe! Maybe not. But that is okay too.

But the most important thing I’ve learned is: If I don’t have the ingenuity to take care of my debts — if I’m not bigger than they are — then I don’t have what it takes to realize these hopes and dreams that are going to make life better for everyone else.

That’s dark, so let’s turn it around: If I have what it takes to realizes these hopes and dreams and make life better for everyone else — I can pay my debts. That would be but a first step. And that’s for me, given that I plan to get them all paid before I start on those hopes & dreams in earnest. That’s actually not necessary for everyone. A lot of people do some very fine work while still in debt.

Now this might seem like bold talk, since I have a good reputation and I’m experienced, and my total debt-load compared to my income earning potential is slight. Many young people would be tempted to ignore this, and it’s understandable because their debt load is much higher when compared to their income earning potential. Without paying food rent and utilities, I could put all my income into this red ink for month and months, years maybe, it just seems so hopeless. And so they think: Someone has to take care of that for me! So I can work on my hopes and dreams that will help everybody else.

Well no sweetie, you don’t want that. That’s my message here. After your debts are paid you’re still going to have limited income potential and you’re still going to see things you’ll want to have that are worth more than what you can save up during the term of time in which you want to have them. After the fat guy gets liposuction there’s still going to be food to be eaten. Yes our health care system is a mess right now — due to government intervention — and I have sympathy for people who run into a health crisis that drains their life savings, I really do. But if your hopes and dreams are really good for everyone else, and you really do have what it takes to bring them to fruition, you can pay off your student loan first. Or during.

I’m sure that feels like it’s some kind of smack-down. Back in my younger days when I was foolish, inexperienced, debt-ridden and skinny, I’d have taken it that way if someone else said it. But that’s not what it is. What I mean to say is that debt is a test, an extremely elementary one. It’s a test of your decision-making powers in the past, when you racked up the debt, and your powers of negotiation and resourcefulness today, when you’re trying to do something about it. It is the drawing of the sword from the stone before you can become King. It is the draining of the swamp before you can pour a building foundation into the construction site.

If you’ve got that, then you’ve got this.

If nobody is making the effort to get the word across to the younger generation, we can hardly blame them for not hearing it or reading it or understanding it. When they insist they’ve got all the brightest and best ideas that will finally make the world all perfect, while acting helpless and “triggered” and bemoaning that some magical Fairy Godmother doesn’t come along and clean up their messes for them, they look silly to our generation. But they’re simply channeling the ideas they’ve been given, while we, who can see what’s wrong with all that, have remained silent.

And that is why socialism is gaining inroads right now. It isn’t because people talk about politics too much; it’s because we discuss things too little. It’s because of “If I say something I might get called in by H.R.” or “Politics religion and sports have no place at this dinner table” or “I’m too smart to talk back against left-wing politics, working where I do” or “Stop it already, there’s cheesecake!!” The politicians and pundits who are selling socialism to our young people, who fancy themselves to be crippled by debt, are never interrupted by cheesecake. And so of course the young people don’t know, when someone pays your debts for you there are always strings attached. Of course they don’t know that. It’s not all their fault.

The Birth of Community

Sunday, May 19th, 2019

It happened long before the beginning of recorded history, so we don’t know if it was sons and daughters of Adam and Eve, or a bunch of cavemen still in the throes of evolution from monkeys. But it was undoubtedly profit-driven, motivated by the realization that a group can achieve in breadth & depth something that a lone individual cannot. And that had to be a meal because it could not have been anything else. It must have been meat, because the farmer labors in solitude when he sows and reaps.

So the most able hunters in a village, or in a locale that was later to become a village, pooled their resources together and brought down a mighty beast. They gathered to cook it over a fire, and divide the portions. They ate better and fed their families better than they had before, as a result of previous attempts in solitude, and so they resolved to do the same again and again.

The process of allocation must have become an issue very soon, likely within mere moments. The first liberal caveman who didn’t know how to hunt, or didn’t care to expend the effort, proposed that his contribution to the feast would be the knowledge of how to apportion the meat among the various other participants. Those stronger cavemen who brought down the beast then tore him limb from limb…and so, having anticipated this, he didn’t actually say anything, opting instead to keep the thoughts to himself. And probably starved, or survived on the scraps.

But the desire remained — the desire to make one’s living by way of dictating where the energies of better people should go, as a substitute for actual contribution. It was left to churn away, like an underground fire, for thousands and thousands of years before technology would permit it to see the light of day.

It began, near as we can figure, with the Pharaohs. The Divine Right of Kings. The cavemen looked to their chieftain and said “Who am I to question him? He could kick my ass,” and it must have been so, because if anyone could kick the chieftain’s ass then that would be the new chieftain. Whereas the ancient Egyptians said “Who am I to question him? He was chosen by the gods.” The cavemen had the better idea. But the Egyptians had managed to build something on top of community, which was civilization. They had technology. And from the very beginning, humans used technology to ensure the weak and incapable had at least an occasional lottery-ticket shot at ruling over the strong and capable.

The Sumerians came and went, the Babylonians, the Etruscans, the Phoeneicians, the Greeks, the Romans, the Huns, the Britons, the Scots, the Picts, the Moors, the Saxons, the Normans…house of Capet, house of Plantagenet, house of Bourbon, the Yorkists and Lancastrians, the Holy Roman Empire, Throughout it all, technology improved, stripped us of our inertia whenever we realized we need to get going — or, to stop. Technology made us more nimble, sleeker, lighter, enhancing our engine and brake horsepower and thinning down our curb weight so we could respond to unforeseen events with greater agility. Except with regard to one thing: That occasional moment of terrible realization, when it became apparent to all that the man in charge is weak, fickle, his elevator doesn’t go to the top floor. And then the Divine Right of Kings interceded, with the one-note samba of: It doesn’t matter. My Great Seal is upon the parchment upon which you find written the awful, terrible, no good horrible idea. My imprimatur brings with it the full force of law and the police power of the state.

The Renaissance came about in the fourteenth century, but it didn’t really hit its stride until three centuries later when the revolutionaries started decapitating royalty. Before that, there were some brief glimmering rays of hope, with depositions. If the King was a big enough asshole, he could become unpopular, and if he became sufficiently unpopular it would no longer be necessary to poison him in the dark of night, he could be tossed out in broad daylight. In the Middle Ages this was an occasional happenstance, and by the time King James tossed the Great Seal into the River Thames it was becoming an all-the-time thing. In another century or so Louis XVI’s head would fall and the revolutionaries won. But they, too, had imbibed the intoxicating elixir of “I don’t have to be capable and strong, I just have to be in charge.” Their movement was the movement of the mayfly, who looks at our universe in a completely different way because he exists in it for five minutes only. Maximilien Robespierre, like many a revolutionary who came after him, met up with the harsh judgment of his own revolution for the crime of not being sufficiently revolutionary, or not being revolutionary in the correct way. It has become the defining attribute of the leftist: They overthrow an entrenched power structure and become a new power structure, then feed on their own.

Technology, people think, allows us to make the most and best of ourselves. They’re right. It allows us to do that. It is not a bad thing. It isn’t good either. It’s like the gun; what it is used for is entirely up to us. And our default use of technology has been to elevate unfit people to positions of authority, wherein they can make bad decisions that are beyond appeal. It’s a sad commentary that the cavemen, with no technology, no civilization, living by the brutal code of might-makes-right, in some ways had the right idea. “Give me your portion of meat, look at all my bravado, and my strutting self-confidence” would have been met with a proper beat-down. It is the process of evaluation many a so-called “civilized” man would do well to engage: Waitaminnit, no that’s not happening. I’m too good. To interfere with my hopes and dreams, you have to be up here, and you’re down there somewhere. ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ mutherfucker.

Where we really start to take a wrong turn is where we define civilization as this acquiescence, this self-derogation, this spirit of “Well I can see you are weak and incapable and your ideas are wretched, but rules are rules.” That is not what civilization is. Civilization is, as I’ve written elsewhere, a set of protocols that function as bulwarks and hindrances against brutality. It is the opposite of brutality, and brutality is where I get to take all your stuff if I’m stronger than you are. Brutality is not me using my superior might to keep my stuff that is already rightfully mine. It’s a fine distinction but it’s an all-important one. Real civilization has to do with empowering people who have the capability and the desire to advance our causes; phony civilization has to do with empowering people who do not have this capability, or the desire, and would lead us astray.

Our species has built such phony civilizations before. They don’t last. This should surprise no one.

Today we have all sorts of so-called “leaders” filled with the spirit of that first liberal caveman, the poor-hunter, the one whose “contribution” to the feast would have been a bunch of rules about how much each caveman should get — but, had to keep his mouth shut so he live long enough to scavenge the gristle and gizzards from the ground. Technology has made it so they can not only keep talking and living, but also run things. It is a recipe for disaster: People who don’t produce anything, and never have produced anything, telling the producers how and when to do their producing. Technology is neither good nor bad, it didn’t bring us here. It merely made it possible. We did this.

Our starting point was the caveman just beginning to figure out a community campfire is beneficial to all; even the lowly scavenger who contributed nothing and can claim nothing. Anything we’re doing now that falls beneath the dignity of that first community event, should inspire a re-think. Putting the scavenger first ahead of all else just because he’s being bossy, is undignified, and unfortunately technology has made this lack of dignity affordable.

You remember that line in Jurassic Park: “…your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn’t stop to think if they should.” This is why I define “Dark Ages” differently from the way most people do. I think we’re still in ’em. We’ll see daylight when we stop turning over the spoils of past triumphs, and the authority to engineer and direct the triumphs in progress, to the people who have nothing to do with making them happen. Between now and then there has to be a learning event, where we come to realize they don’t belong in these positions because they’re not emotionally invested in victory. That the unproductive bossy scavenger, put in a position where he can dictate allocations, won’t care that much about a lean kill because he’ll just allocate the choice cuts for himself. That civilizations don’t have to die, they can fill out a long and healthy lifespan like any other living organism, by self-governing responsibly and well.

What the Hero Does

Sunday, May 19th, 2019

Fiction is valuable for cluing us in on where our culture is and where it’s going, and movies are valuable representatives of fiction. Especially big, expensive productions that demand commitment from companies and executives who must find a way to put their fingers the public’s pulse. They don’t succeed at this every time they commit mass quantities of funds, but when they do it’s worth a second and third look.

I hate to rain on a parade.

In my youth, heroes were like Zorro, the Lone Ranger, The Phantom, Batman. The Scarlet Pimpernel inspired them all. The message was that the triumph of good over evil was more important than atta-boys, so it’s okay if nobody knows who you are when you make things right.

High Noon came out before I was born, and the message there was that right’s right and wrong’s wrong, it doesn’t matter if the people you’re defending are cowards and are undeserving of the protection made possible by your bravery. Good must triumph and evil must give way.

And then James Bond came out, and the message there was that you can be as big and brash and bold as you want to be, and in the darkest hour when all seems lost you just need to look around, there must be something you can do to stop Largo from detonating his nuclear warhead just offshore of Miami. Good must triumph.

And then they repealed the Hays Code and it became okay for villains to profit from being villains, and get away at the end. Still though, movies for little kids got the message across that in the darkest times, there’s always a way to win. Just shoot bullets at the shark and hope you can blow up the air tank in its mouth, if nothing else. Maybe some angels of death will jump out of the Ark of the Covenant and melt the Nazis’ faces, so drag yourself under a truck, stowaway on a submarine from the outside if that’s what you have to do.

And then Spock sacrificed himself so the Enterprise could get away from the Genesis implosion. The message changed to one of: When all seems lost, kill yourself. Seemed like a good idea at the time, it looked like acknowledging the pureness of the sacrifices made by soldiers who threw themselves on top of grenades so their buddies could live. But Spock also had to say “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few…or the one.” Hollywood, which sees nothing wrong with communism, continued to carry on the meme.

The ranks of scriptwriters were bleached of creativity, so throughout the decades they continued nobly sacrificing characters whenever they ran short of ideas, or the adjoining actors wanted too much money. So the message changed to one of “Nevermind if good triumphs over evil or not, find a way to kill yourself.”

While this was all going on, a wedge was being driven between the audience and the hero who scored the touchdown, or killed the bad guy, or blew up the satellite before it flooded London with EMP. The main character didn’t do these heroic things anymore, so the stories stopped being about finding ways to get them done. They slowly morphed into meandering interconnected chains of events, consisting of “And then he did this, and then he did that.” Evil continued to be vanquished, but more as a happy coincidence than as the culmination of events instigated by the hero.

And now it’s come to this: Photography. Lookit! He/She is in costume and looks majestic, and there’s a CGI explosion in the background. He/She is just SO awesome!!

But the audience isn’t supposed to relate to the hero anymore. Superman is all about: We need hope! Uh, no…not in my time, back then Superman was all about: What if you were Clark Kent? If you had the powers to do just about anything, what would you do to make things right? Clark using X-ray vision to peek into the girls’ locker rooms wasn’t even a joke, wasn’t even a fixture of outrage. It wasn’t discussed. There was an understanding that we should want to have superpowers, and if we did have them, we would do good things with them.

So yeah when Captain America swung Mjolnir I thought that was pretty cool, but since it had no effect on the outcome I’m not overwhelmed…just kinda whelmed. Ditto for the Gordian knot of super-females, and the super-lesbian destroying the enormous ship…very, VERY cool visuals. But they weren’t connected to any meaningful events in the story. So Will Kane shooting Frank Miller dead scores more points with me, Martin Brody blowing up the shark scores more points with me, and it’s not because I’m biased against Marvel comic books or hate women or anything like that.

I’m just a crusty old fart who remembers there was something there, that’s gone missing, feeling somewhat sorry for kids of today being deprived of what used to be there. They’re being loaded up with something called “self esteem,” but aren’t being conditioned to see themselves as the superhero, as the agent of good, as the force of righteousness who finds a way vanquish evil and to do right by others even when all seems lost.

Memo For File CCXII

Wednesday, May 15th, 2019

There are, walking around among us, many poor souls who don’t understand how liberating it is to believe things that are plainly true. True, obviously, and irony-free, like two and two make four.

When you believe in things that are true, there is no need to build a perfect environment in which people feel stigmatized for saying anything different. Mother Nature has her own way of stigmatizing people who think two and two are five. So this saves a lot of time. You don’t need to “fight to end” things. You don’t need to hit people with bicycle locks, or yell “Fuck Trump!” when it’s your turn to deliver a speech at the Oscars. You don’t need to put together a “Green New Deal” and then act all hurt and abused when the Senate actually holds a vote on it.

When you believe in true things, nature is on your side. There’s no need to get into a knock-down back-and-forth debate about whether Pi is 3 and a quarter, or something more involved and precise than that. You can simply say: Measure the diameter and circumference of a coffee can, and get back to me on that. No need to act like a belligerent “science guy” and call your own fans idiots. No need to go around to restaurants or other social gatherings to harass the people who disagree with you.

There is no need to cudgel or bludgeon, to henpeck, to gaslight, to “crusade for social justice” when you believe in true things, like women get pregnant and men don’t. It liberates you to ask questions. And the best part is, if you do ask these questions and it emerges you were wrong, if you’ve got the balls to admit it you end up even closer to the truth; this is called “learning.” So you don’t need to be afraid to ask questions about the other position, like “Fine then, if negative numbers can have square roots, what is the square root of minus-16?” Or “How exactly does it work that our economy becomes stronger when we raise taxes?”

There are, walking around among us, a great many wretches who have never been outvoted because they saw something the majority failed to see. They’ve never allowed themselves to be put in that position. They’ve been too worried about their social stature, never stood up for the fact that the boiling temperature of water is affected by air pressure, or that unborn babies have heartbeats.

They think they “do science.”

And yet their whole understanding of nature revolves around the idiom of “But you can’t just go around saying that stuff.”

They think they’re all about reality. And yet they allow teeming hordes of strangers to mold and shape their reality. Disembodied voices, activist-types, whom they’ve never met and never will meet.

They think they’re all about not being offensive, think they’ve found some happy medium between truth and tact. And yet they work hard at being tactless. They put a lot of energy into offending the right people. And they still believe Jussie Smollett.

Black P.R.

Wednesday, April 24th, 2019

Some people tell me I need an editor. I do have one, but he works for free and he sucks at the job.

Some people who need editors are still very good writers. It’s not for me to say whether that applies to me or not, but it applies to Kevin D. Williamson. I hope, when my “editor” falls down on the job, the end result looks like his stuff. You just bump into the awkward sentences that needed better editing, read them a few times and go “wha??” Then you figure out what the author’s intent was and move forward, so you can get to the good stuff. I hope my finished output is like that. I hope so, although I don’t think it too likely.

The Covington fiasco has proved to be a clarifying moment. And here is what has been made clear: Much of the American media is no longer engaged in journalism. It is engaged in opposition research and in what is sometimes known among political operatives as “black p.r.”—the sinister twin of ordinary public relations. As Joy Behar, as profoundly dim and tedious a person as American public life has to offer, forthrightly confessed: The hysteria and outright dishonesty surrounding the Covington students had nothing to do with them. It has to do with narrowly partisan, selfish, deeply stupid, entirely unpatriotic, childish, foot-stamping, fingers-in-the-ears, weeping, cooties-loathing, teary-eyed, tremulous, quavering, pansified, gormless, deceitful, dishonorable, and cynical politics of the lowest kind — the politics of Us and Them.

Preach it!! Call ’em out, go get ’em.

Chris Truax in USA Today: “Trump bears moral responsibility for pipe bombs. Denying it just makes things worse.” Jonathan Chait, New York: “Bomber Cesar Sayoc is a By-product of Trump’s Party.” Even Rick Wilson debased himself, writing in The Daily Beast: “Of Course Donald Trump Inspired Cesar Sayoc’s Alleged Terrorism.” That’s a particularly asinine headline: For Trump’s culpability, it’s “of course,” while Sayoc’s crimes are “alleged.” That isn’t the kind of stupidity that happens by accident. These claims are pure intellectual dishonesty. They are smears, and there is no good-faith case to be made for them. All of these writers should be ashamed.
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As some of you may recall, I wrote a little book called The Case against Trump. I didn’t think much of him in 2016. I don’t think much of him now. But we aren’t three tweets away from the Holocaust.

Hat tip to Instapundit, who adds:

The best argument in favor of Trump’s presidency is what Trump’s presidency has taught us about the character of the people who oppose him, and who would be wielding power if he weren’t.

Stop Enabling Liberals

Friday, April 19th, 2019

A fascinating comment about “sophisticated judgments,” as Carl Bernstein opines on the Mueller Report:

It’s here in substance, in nuance, in context and it is there for all people of good will in this country, if they are not so dug in politically or ideologically to process information and make some sophisticated judgments about the behavior of everybody I’ve mentioned here.

This is why journalism is dead. It’s been killed off, inch by inch, as its practitioners tell us what’s going on the world, and then it’s up to us to make decisions about what to do…then we decide the “wrong” way. So then the journalists start busying themselves with somehow giving us the right motivation to make better decisions. This fact over here gets more emphasis, that fact over there gets less, this thing over here isn’t a fact at all, it’s an opinion, but let’s present it as a fact…

And that’s brought us to where we are. We have this two year investigation that was supposed to be the be-all end-all. Now the report is out, it doesn’t say what the High Priests were telling us it would say, so what you have to do is read it in a “sophisticated” way and then you’ll get it.

No. Stop. Enough. This is not advice about the right way to read a report. This is a symptom of a mental disease. Liberals are suffering from it, non-liberals have been making it happen and we should stop hurting the liberals, stop exacerbating what’s already wrong with them, making it worse.

Non-liberals must accept blame for liberalism. We are enabling it. If you’re not a liberal, there has to be a reason because liberalism is easy. You want everyone to think you’re a nice person, then of course you go “Ban plastic bags to save the planet” or “Yes gosh darn it health care is a right.” To say no to these things, you must either be taking the time and effort to see the bigger picture, or you’re just a jerk who wants people to stay sick and you want to trash the planet.

The propaganda of liberals notwithstanding…it’s very likely the first of those two things, not the second. You probably don’t want people to stay sick or to trash the planet. You probably see the broader picture and, with some measure of regret, keep your decisions rooted in what you know to be true, and hell with what anyone thinks about it.

People like this actually have the best kind of decency, because it’s the decency they don’t need to advertise. They know they could make more friends if they played the virtue-signaling game, pledging money to noble causes that actually belongs to other people, but they’ve made a conscious decision that it’s better to have good friends than many (phony) friends. The dirty little secret is that such people *do* care about other people’s feelings.

So when a liberal says, “I have figured out two and two make five, because I’m uniquely sophisticated”…

What they see is someone who says “I think two and two make five because I’m a dumbass.” Or to be more precise: “I think two and two make five because I haven’t put enough thought into it.” Or, “I think two and two make five because I’m engaging my mouth when the subject matter hasn’t yet been routed through the best parts of my brain.”

And decent people who care about other people’s feelings, are going to respond the same way, every single time: Sure Carl. You’re right, Mr. Bernstein. Yes Barack Obama. You’ve figured this out and you’ve got your unique take on it, because you’re smart and you can see something no one else can see. How frustrating that must be for you.

Decent people presume this treatment is a palliative balm for the poor beleaguered liberal, who must be running into a bruising disagreement everywhere he goes. The decent-people’s momma taught them, after all, if you can’t say anything nice don’t say anything at all. And they want to be the port in the storm, for a good friend. Here’s the problem: There’s no storm. The liberals are not running into dissent everywhere they go. They’re actually running into “You’re right, you’re so smart” everywhere they go. Because most people are decent, this way.

I won’t play that game. I couple days ago, obliged to have a certain opinion because a liberal was telling me about “all the studies say,” I correctly pointed out that grown-ups don’t think that way, don’t make decisions that way. This stung him, and I got back a lecture about not being condescending…*heh* from a liberal. The truth is, my words stung him because the antiseptic was working.

We’re living in a time where the point of “maturity” is simply a birthday. That’s not what maturity is. Maturity involves critical thinking. It involves looking under the surface packaging of an idea, inspecting its content, looking for the parts of it that don’t fit. It involves saying “He says he’ll pay me back on Tuesday…but he said that before and he already owes me $50 so I might make a different decision.” Or, “The study says white males have ‘privilege,’ but I’m looking at the college entrance stats and the graduation stats, AND the upward mobility of incomes, and I don’t see the privilege.” Or, “They ruled out arson ‘for the time being’ while Notre Dame was still burning…that actually doesn’t make a lick of sense.” Or, “Illegal aliens don’t ‘work hard and follow the law,’ they might work hard but if they followed the law they wouldn’t be here.”

So when people accept these bumper sticker slogans and run with them, and you want to keep the peace, my advice is to just change the subject. DO NOT pretend to agree, or make the lib feel smart. Don’t praise the liberal for bringing superior intellect or keen insight. Stop that stuff. Change the subject, maybe with a note of “I disagree.” Even better: “I disagree, and it could very well be I see something you don’t, now let’s talk about something else.”

Your momma would call that good.

But stop praising liberals. They might crave it, but your dog craves chocolate the same way, and this isn’t good for them. They are NOT — repeat, NOT — starved for it. Not even close. They’re ready to call you a bad person for thinking two and two make four, because they think being a good person is all about saying five. They haven’t been exposed to anything else, in all likelihood, or if they have then it hasn’t sunk in yet. They’ve already gotten their validation, just like the alcoholic who wants you to pour him a scotch, already got his libation. Things will get better, when we stop validating the self-image of liberals.

Are Plastic Bag Bans Garbage?

Sunday, April 14th, 2019

NPR, by way of Instapundit…who points out the obvious, that the answer is yes of course they are.

University of Sydney economist Rebecca Taylor started studying bag regulations because it seemed as though every time she moved for a new job — from Washington, D.C., to California to Australia — bag restrictions were implemented shortly after. “Yeah, these policies might be following me,” she jokes. Taylor recently published a study of bag regulations in California. It’s a classic tale of unintended consequences.
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Taylor found these bag bans did what they were supposed to: People in the cities with the bans used fewer plastic bags, which led to about 40 million fewer pounds of plastic trash per year. But people who used to reuse their shopping bags for other purposes, like picking up dog poop or lining trash bins, still needed bags. “What I found was that sales of garbage bags actually skyrocketed after plastic grocery bags were banned,” she says. This was particularly the case for small, 4-gallon bags, which saw a 120 percent increase in sales after bans went into effect.
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A 2011 study by the U.K. government found a person would have to reuse a cotton tote bag 131 times before it was better for climate change than using a plastic grocery bag once. The Danish government recently did a study that took into account environmental impacts beyond simply greenhouse gas emissions, including water use, damage to ecosystems and air pollution. These factors make cloth bags even worse. They estimate you would have to use an organic cotton bag 20,000 times more than a plastic grocery bag to make using it better for the environment.

Can we stop pretending now?

The activism, and the legislation that goes along with it, is about churning, and constant turmoil, and drama. It also makes money for some people. It hasn’t got anything to do with saving the environment, except as a sales pitch.

“You Create Nothing”

Saturday, April 13th, 2019

Exactly the kind of observation I would make. Must be a real smart guy saying this. Oh yes, it is…it’s Correia (by way of Gerard).

To The Book Community: Go Fuck Yourself. An Anti-Apology.
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You people aren’t a “community”. You are a fucking cancer.

People who like to read books? That’s a book community. Bullies who exist in a perpetual state of being offended, eager to silence artists, you’re scum.

If you had an ounce of self-awareness, you would be ashamed of yourself. But you don’t…Fuck you. Fuck your feelings. And fuck your ridiculous claims. Fuck your perpetual offense. Take your smug, entitled ignorance, and cram it up your ass sideways, you worthless sacks of crap…
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You create nothing. You can only destroy. You are miserable failures, and like the demons of CS Lewis, your misery makes you want to drag down everyone else too. You give one star reviews to books which haven’t come out yet, which tell us a lot more about your weird personal issues and neurosis than they do about the book you’re supposedly reviewing.

You get away with this abusive shit only because most artists are sensitive, caring types. They don’t want to offend people. They don’t want to hurt feelings. Only you lie to them…You don’t care about their art. You don’t care about entertaining people. You don’t care about kids reading or people enjoying themselves or even the group you’re supposedly championing today.

You only care about control.

Yeah, preach it. This goes way beyond book reviews. These days it’s everywhere you look. If it’s going to get worse before it gets better, then bring it on but one way or another, we have to get past this.

What got him all spun up, is this

Anti-apology. I love it. Would like to see more, a lot more.

Being perpetually offended, carries no price. That’s what is wrong. That is what has to change. And it hasn’t been lost on me, that if you happen to be offended by these “perpetually-offended” types, that’s the moment where all of a sudden offense loses meaning. Right at that moment in time when, if it were taken seriously and given its due weight, it might put us on the pathway toward regaining our sanity. We seem to be stuck in the mold of only giving offense weight when it is least sincere, most manipulative, radiating off the miserable carcasses of the lowliest jackasses.

Creating a Toxic Environment

Sunday, March 31st, 2019

We live in a time in which we get to see many people say many foolish things and we don’t have to wait long for the next example. Every now and then, though, one foolish statement stands apart from the rest, imparting something not only foolish, but as distant from the real truth of things as anything written or uttered can ever be.

Chicago’s Mayor, Rahm Emanuel, speaking about the Jussie Smollett debacle — in the midst of saying some otherwise rational things — came up with this beauty:

At a news conference Thursday, Emanuel — who has called the dropped charges in the Smollett case a “whitewash of justice” — took aim at the President for fostering a culture which, in his view, enabled the incident.

“Let me be really clear about something,” Emanuel said. “The only reason Jussie Smollett thought he could take advantage of a hoax about a hate crime is for the environment — the toxic environment — that Donald Trump created.”

Um…

Mr. Smollett’s story was that immediately after buying a Subway sandwich, he was accosted by a couple of Trump supporters who doused him with a chemical substance and tied a noose around his neck yelling “This is MAGA country.” The sandwich somehow survived the attack, an aspect of the story even weirder than the idea of identifying any part of Chicago as MAGA country.

So you would think there would be more widespread hesitation about buying into this. Perhaps if Smollett were white, and straight, and maybe if he were a Trump supporter with a story about being jumped by Antifa thugs, you would have seen such reluctance. But it seems Smollett “thought he could take advantage of a hoax” — thought he could get away with it — because he is black, openly gay, therefore people in public, high profile positions, would be afraid to call him out on his B.S. If so, he calculated correctly.

In fact, even now that the whole thing has collapsed, people are busily writing about how they still believe him, or at least are still proud to have believed him, which is almost as bad. “It makes us better.”

No, it doesn’t. You’d be better if you didn’t fall for obvious deceptions. And I continue to be impressed by this “let me be clear” phrasing, because the pattern continues that when liberals say that, the thing that follows produces more fuzziness and confusion than clarity, by way of being soporific balderdash.

Trump did not create the environment in which Jussie thought he could get away with it. The modern, showboating virtue-signaling liberal with a raging case of GoodPerson Fever, created that environment and continues to create such an environment. Special status for minorities and homosexuals, the refusal to just treat everyone equally without regard to such private attributes, the “Believe the Victim All the Time” mentality, created this environment.

At a time when many people say many foolish things, and often, Mayor Emanuel’s utterance stands head & shoulders above the rest. But of course, he had to put that in there because he’s a liberal talking to other liberals, and he would have lost popularity if he spoke too long, saying too many sensible things, without throwing in some garbage. The kind of thing that makes sense only to someone who’s been paying no attention whatsoever to anything, whose understanding of the entire news cycle can be boiled down to “I hate Trump.”

Or There’ll Be a Reckoning

Tuesday, March 26th, 2019

I was in the car and listening to Rush Limbaugh, who I heard take a break from this all-Mueller-all-the-time stuff to notice something…

I got a note today from a friend. “Rush, do you know the major differences between us and Democrats? Aside from the policy differences, what everybody knows. What is one of the big differences between Democrats and Republicans?”

And the answer provided here is the left cannot get over losing and move on. We can. They are like children who always want their way, and when they don’t get their way, they whine, they cry, they demand all the rules be changed so they can get their way.

They can’t get over that Hillary lost. They’ve never gotten over that Bush won twice. They want to change the Electoral College. They want to do all kinds of crazy things because they cannot and will not accept losing. You might think that that’s a little simplistic, but it actually isn’t. It is a fundamental feature of the ongoing American constitutional republic. It’s part of the peaceful transition of power.

If one side decides that they are not going accept the results of duly constituted elections, we’ve got a major, major problem. If one side develops the attitude that they should never lose and when they do, it’s because they got jobbed and they turn around and begin to investigate everybody and everything that resulted in their losing, we’re gonna continue to roll along like this.

They’re like a bunch of spoiled brat, pampered children, a bunch of irresponsible little kids who cry, whine, and moan, except they’re not kids. They’re wealthy people with lots of power who refuse to accept that they have ever been rejected.

And so whoever rejects them, whoever votes against them, whoever defeats them is gonna pay one hellacious price so that they don’t try it again. That’s what we’re smack-dab in the middle of here.

I’d been noticing this myself. Not that I haven’t commented on it before, but the air is getting fairly thick with rule-changes proposed by liberals and democrats; not stuff that is innately “progressive,” for which some rationale can be offered about how the rule changes are going to help you and me. Just stuff that would help democrats win elections.

One or two of these might seem reasonable. “Hey, we represent the downtrodden and the oppressed, and because elections work such-and-such a way, we can’t get a break so our guys can’t get a break.” But I feel a tinge of proxy embarrassment for liberals and democrats right now — which they don’t seem to feel — because there’s so much rule-changing needed to help them this way, all of it important, and all of it right now. I mean, the question just naturally emerges: If your ideas need that much help, and all at the same time…have you re-thought the premise that you should be winning? Maybe you shouldn’t be.

I’ve had this John Podhoretz column saved in my stack since last week, and it’s just become even more timely now with the crashing and burning of the so-called “investigation.”

In recent days, Democrats have been trampling all over each other to get to a microphone to trumpet massive structural changes to American public life.

First, several presidential candidates are calling for an increase in the size of the Supreme Court. Nine justices are too few, apparently. In a proposal that seems straight out of the writers’ room at “The West Wing,” Beto O’Rourke wants the court apportioned by party, with five Democrats and five Republicans, and an extra five chosen by the 10 partisan ones.

Meanwhile, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has endorsed a proposal to lower the federal voting age to 16 (an idea already being contemplated at the local level in Oregon and the District of Columbia, and gathering steam in California).

Oh, and a great many Democrats want to abolish the Electoral College. This is nothing new for modern Democrats, who feel the Electoral College makes it too hard for them to win the presidency.

Podhoretz offers an explanation:

Here’s the thing, though. Eighty thousand votes won Donald Trump the election in 2016 — votes scattered across three states that Barack Obama had won twice.

If you put aside all the high-flown talk about the grand meaning of the Trump victory and what it tells us about America and our history and white supremacy and blah blah blah, the challenge for Democrats in 2020 is pretty simple. They need to get 80,000 new Democratic votes in those places, flip the states, and reclaim the presidency.

They won in 2018 by not being lunatics. Democrats seem intent on testing the proposition that it will take a lunatic to beat a tweeter.

Mkay…it’s worth looking at that, because somewhere there’s a plan and wherever there is a plan, there must be planners. But that isn’t all of it. The Republicans have lost presidential elections too, in which the electoral college, while not changing the outcome from what a national popular vote would’ve been, certainly did magnify the defeat. Romney’s loss in 2012 was particularly close. I don’t recall any calls for this rule, that rule, that other rule to be pitched out the window so the Republicans could win next time. Rush is right. There’s a meaningful difference here.

It seems whenever there’s any kind of a contest, be it an election, discussion, town hall debate, talk radio rant, cable teevee scream-fest, workplace water-cooler melee…conservatives have this passive faith in the parameters of the exchange that liberals do not have. The latter are constantly screeching about how from this point forward, such-and-such a thing has to be done such-and-such a way, and not the way it’s always been done, otherwise it’s NOT FAIR. Whereas the former has no counterpart to this. They hope they can make their point operating under the game-rules as they exist already, and if they can’t, well. They’ll just be hoping some wisdom and maturity set in to the audience members next time.

I see a great example of what Rush is talking about in this Twitter-flurry about Quilette, and universities:

Dr. Katja Thieme, a professor of English at the University of British Columbia, took to Twitter recently to enact her own unique brand of McCarthyism. “YES. If you are an academic and you publish in Quillette, we see you. We fucking see you. And we are looking right at you.”

This was in response to the following tweet by a Denison University History professor who stated, “And any member of our field who publishes with Quillette should lose all credibility.”

One of Thieme’s followers then followed up with the astonishing suggestion that there should be a literal blacklist of academics who have written for the magazine. “It would be nice to have a list of Canadian academics who have published in that shitrag.”
:
It has become fashionable to spout nonsense such as Quillette is “racist,” or Quillette is “white supremacist.” When asked to provide evidence, accusers often claim that they do not have to provide evidence, or they just never respond.

The breezy dismissive rhetorical gesture of “both sides do it” does not work here. There is something in the liberal well-water that makes them act this way. I’m looking, once again, at how normal people mature. What they learn as they are about to enter, or soon after they have entered, adulthood.

One of the things we have to learn is how to cope with a system as we find it. Building a new widget is actually pretty easy. Well it’s not…really…perhaps what I should say is, building a whole new system, while intellectually taxing IF you hang around long enough to see what goes wrong with it, and take your orders about how to correct and refine it…falls short of demanding a certain discipline, that coping with a legacy system does indeed demand. I’ve seen this in software development fairly constantly. I’ve been one of the worst offenders. To do this thing, you have to do that thing first, and that way, and before you can do that you have to do this. The impulse sets in like a rapid fever: Oh for chrissakes, can’t we just scrap it and start over again? There’s no way, if we started over again, it would end up being this complicated, or unpredictable, or hard to use, or, or, or.

Which is often correct. But the point is, we can’t just go through life that way. We don’t have the time and resources to keep rebuilding everything from scratch. Sometimes, you have to stop programming, and accept that the system will be telling the humans how to behave, rather than the other way around.

And then comes the most painful truth: A lot of us have started to program computers, because of our failure to accept this. We developed our talents after taking our marbles and going home, after being called on to join a conga line, executing the right dance steps at the right time — and failing. We started building systems because we hadn’t developed the maturity to use a system someone else had built. After we learned how to do some cool stuff and put together some semblance of a marketable skill, then we matured. I see this in my colleagues often. It’s frustrating. “Hey, look what I built, now we don’t have to use that anymore.” Uh…okay, that’s nice. But “that” already has documented instructions, a bunch of bugs that have been opened and then resolved, or else documented as won’t-be-fixed, and we have software engineers in five different time zones who already know how to use it. People wonder why so many programmers are liberals. I think some of it has to do with what comes naturally to programmers, and it isn’t our innate and common strengths. It’s our weaknesses. It’s got to do with what’s wrong with us, not with what’s right with us.

What we’re dealing with here is Chesterton’s Fence:

In the matter of reforming things, as distinct from deforming them, there is one plain and simple principle; a principle which will probably be called a paradox. There exists in such a case a certain institution or law; let us say, for the sake of simplicity, a fence or gate erected across a road. The more modern type of reformer goes gaily up to it and says, “I don’t see the use of this; let us clear it away.” To which the more intelligent type of reformer will do well to answer: “If you don’t see the use of it, I certainly won’t let you clear it away. Go away and think. Then, when you can come back and tell me that you do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it.”

It takes a lot of maturity to say to yourself, “I don’t know what that thing is doing here. It may have a purpose that is still relevant but outside of my knowledge.” When we see liberals going on about “Hey hey now, you/we don’t need to do it all stupid the way we’ve always done it, we can do it this new way” — what they’d like us to be seeing is what they see themselves, some special, keen insight. But you’ll notice this doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. If you take “I just figured out we don’t have to do X, we can do Y,” you have to envision someone who lived a long time ago decided we should do it the other way. With using fossil fuels that can work…but did some guy who lived a long time ago really decide we should leave millions of people without health insurance?

Liberals swallow this stuff because they don’t scrutinize the claims coming from their own side. No Virginia, the Electoral College was not established to preserve slavery. But you just try telling ’em that.

A couple of years ago, a Brit by the name of Rory Sutherland made an interesting observation: We seem to be in the midst of mass producing Chesterton’s-Fence-Wreckers.

Ideas such as electoral reform, a single-European currency, or the removal of the monarchy, for instance, are all intellectual enthusiasms rarely shared by ordinary folk. All three ideas seem to make perfect sense until you think long and hard about what the hidden virtues of the previous irrational arrangement may be…We could add to this list of expert failures of judgment the promotion of low-fat diets, the support for free movement of labour and the promotion of diesel cars. All were trumpeted as self-evidently good ideas by experts, because experts all shared the same narrow frame of reference. So yes, diesel cars did reduce CO2 emissions: the experts were right there. But widespread use of diesel in cities came at a terrible cost in particulate pollution, which lay outside their model.

There is a huge cast of well-paid people, from management consultants to economic advisers, whose entire salaries are earned by ripping out Chesterton’s fences. Interestingly, these are mostly male-dominated industries (men are more prone to narrow systematising than women). Silicon Valley, which is overwhelmingly male, is possibly the worst offender of all. The very fact that a fence is over ten years old, requires atoms in its manufacture or creates employment for human beings is reason enough for them to want to get rid of it. [emphasis mine]

This observation of the male-female split is interesting. It certainly does apply to my above cranky-rant about programmers. This newbie who never bothered to learn the system already in place, and busied himself with crafting a replacement no one but him wanted, in my recollection is almost always a “him.” I’m ashamed at how often I might have been the guy, and I have to admit a female counterpart wouldn’t have been so likely to make that blunder.

But in politics, the gender-divide falls away. Elizabeth Warren wants to get rid of the Electoral College. Nancy Pelosi wants to lower the voting age to sixteen. Hillary Clinton wants to regulate the financial industry in a whole new way, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wants to get rid of capitalism, passenger jets and cow flatulence. We have lately become quite accustomed to the pantsuit-termagant caterwauling without restraint, in true Chesterton’s-Fence-Wrecker style, about “don’t do it that way start doing it this way.”

Why do women allow us men to blunder along making that mistake, all by ourselves, in software development? And then so unabashedly match our weakness when it comes to national politics. You’ll have to ask them. It’s off topic here so I’ll not get carried away with speculating, but by all means if you figure it out let me know.

But in all these “games,” the rule holds that when you play and lose, the right thing for you to do before playing again is to improve. Reconnect. Study. Grow. Learn.

Changing the rules, getting a blacklist started, and demanding a rematch is for mental children, perpetual nuisances and ankle-biters.

On the Emotional Investment

Sunday, March 17th, 2019

Cobb:

The primary social problem in our society is that we are too emotionally engaged with the productions of journalists and political activists. These two groups, more than any other media producers have captured the attention of many Americans and are compensated by those things that spark ‘debate’.

This is not a consequence of social media…
:
In the news today is the story of a boy who threw an egg at an Australian senator, who was making remarks about a mass murder in New Zealand. So today, emotionally involved Americans are yelling at each other as if we need, every day, to demonstrate that murder is bad. Who has convinced us that there is a spectrum of positions on murder which are worthy of public debate? Journalists and political activists.

I had been meaning to write something about this. “Conservatism” versus “liberalism” explains much of what separates my opinions from the opinions people who are, well, you know…wrong…much, but not all. There is dark matter there, in the void. A lot of this has to do with emotional investment.

Palin Was RightRemaining emotionally detached so you can think like a grown-up, is not always easy. It can present some daunting challenges. But it’s never impossible. I think we all fail in this effort at one point or another, but I’ve seen how when people disagree with me about things, one of the things that separates us is that I at least try. If the disagreement becomes heated, I see it’s almost always because of an underlying disagreement, obscured by the other one more visible, about whether or not there should be a discussion at all. Emotionally invested people often play the game of “I want to win the argument without doing any actual arguing.” So they have these tricks. I’m pulling rank, or the “experts” are on my side, or I don’t wanna talk about it, or, or, or…

If they’re the only one paying the price for being wrong, it’s pretty easy to resolve. Just do what they want, disappear into the void and wish them the best on your way to oblivion. The eventual results will educate one side, or the other.

In politics, things are difficult because they’re not the only ones paying the price for being wrong.

Another fascinating thing I’ve picked up about overly-emotionally-invested people, is they get that way by way of laboring under the mistaken impression they personally know the people involved. I saw this awhile ago with the “Sarah Palin is a stupid idiot” song-and-dance from a decade ago. My own opinion wasn’t so much that was was or was not a stupid idiot, nor did I take the position she was some kind of egghead genius — she did seem to win a lot more often than people remember — but rather, that thing that is the beginning of all learning. I DON’T KNOW. I disagreed with people about Palin’s lack of intellect…and also, subsequently, about Barack Obama’s abundance of it…

Because I kept in mind that I didn’t personally know these people. And Mitt Romney, and Joe Biden, and Donald Trump, and Mike Pence. I don’t know these people. Palin might be stupid, heck she could be retarded. Maybe Barack and Michelle are geniuses. I know approximately how much I’d bet on such things, but it really doesn’t matter. The lack of certainty is what matters. Or to be more precise about it, the lack of doubt is what matters.

Emotionally invested people tend to confuse their politics with their soap opera viewing. They “feel” like they know all these people. The disease spreads when we’re talking about level of intellect, because it’s hard to remember that dumb people can be right about things and smart people can be wrong about things — both of those actually happen, quite often. So he/she is stupid/smart, really doesn’t matter at all.

How it connects back with the above: I think by the time you become part of the problem, you’re no longer discussing principles like “murder is wrong.” People who add more heat to these discussions than light, have crossed a Rubicon where they’re buttressing narratives about attributes of these characters, like they’re writing a screenplay. They’re talking about people and no longer talking about ideas.

Why We Disagree

Monday, March 11th, 2019

You know, it occurs to me. I’ve occasionally had some frustrating exchanges with the more casual observers of the political scene, about for example “raising the minimum wage.” They are just as earnestly baffled by the idea that I could oppose it, as I am by the idea they could support it, and it’s easy to see why. They hear “raising the minimum wage” and they hear raising…wage. A wage is going up. Someone — probably somebody who makes very little money and could use every nickel they can get — will be paid more. Who could possibly be against that? And of course, once they find out I’m on the other side, it follows that I must be the jerk who wants these doe-eyed low-paid innocents to be shafted some more.

Being lightweights, these adherents don’t hear or understand the word “minimum.” Raise a minimum of something is an exclusionary concept. Over and over again I explain it to them, raising the minimum wage outlaws jobs. It defines a class of job currently legal, and then makes everything in that class illegal so it has to go away. They just don’t get it. They’ve become emotionally invested in the proposal before exploring the true ramifications of it.

A lot of this has to do with demographics, particularly sex and race, because those are visible. Like many straight white males who aren’t all on-board with the latest whatever, I get pigeonholed. The pigeonholers see it all as a race/sex/preference/class thing, and we six-foot-tall straight white non-homeless males still in possession of all twenty-one digits, are supposedly looking out for our interests.

It is demonstrably untrue because of the economic-class thing. I joke a lot about being independently wealthy, but I’m really not. I’ve done well but the Missus and I don’t have “Fuck You” money. We are wage slaves.

The truth is: I, and people like me — not all of us straight white males — presume the worst. I presume a progressive tax scheme does not exist to pay for anything, it exists to punish. I think all these schemes exist to punish. I think reparations are not being proposed to lift anyone up, but to punish others. I think environmental initiatives, for the most part, exist just to screw with people. I think “International Women’s Day” is not there to empower women, but to punish men. I think higher minimum wages and entitlement programs are put together to manufacture dependency classes, not to help anyone up or out of anything. These are my default presumptions until I learn more.

It isn’t because I’m a white straight man. It’s because I’m a grown-up and I think like one.

It isn’t because I’m full of hate.

It’s because I’m wise. At least, wise the way Socrates was wise. I know there are things I don’t know, and when I admit it, I have a chance to learn.

You’ll notice, if you take the time to hang around after these plans are implemented and review the results objectively, more often than not it does turn out this way. Every program that says it’s out to fix or help or improve, doesn’t necessarily do that. Most of the time they just hurt or punish someone…and when there’s no correction made before the next lap, you have to conclude that was the original purpose and the punishment-program was a success.

You don’t have to think about things like a starry-eyed child, uncritically buying every word of every sales pitch. You don’t have to go around approving of everything. But if you do, thanks to the magic of social media you’re likely to come in contact, sooner rather than later, with someone who’s thought things out in a more mature, healthfully cynical, multi-point-perspective way. Which does cause conflict, and does look a bit ridiculous to anyone who’s on the outside. And kind of is.

But it isn’t a bad thing, not completely anyway. It’s a process of societal growth. We’re learning the fundamentals, things children should be learning before they become adults. That you can’t just legislate adequacy, or health, or goodness. That life is more complicated than that.

Related: Well, not really. Avett Ray has nothing to do with this at all, other than this 6-year-old blind boy played the same song and did a wonderful job.

Strong Women Can Cope with Men

Thursday, March 7th, 2019

This new Ms. Marvel movie is getting a rep as a social-justice vehicle, and I don’t know if it’s deserved but I do know the star asked for it when she said,

About a year ago, I started paying attention to what my press days looked like and the critics reviewing movies, and noticed 
it appeared to be overwhelmingly white male. So, I spoke to 
Dr Stacy Smith at the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, who put together a study to confirm that. Moving forward, I decided to make sure my press days were more inclusive. After speaking with you, the film critic Valerie Complex and a few other women of colour, it sounded like across the board they weren’t getting the same opportunities as others. When I talked to the facilities that weren’t providing it, they all had different excuses.

Yes…I’ve seen this before. There are some numbers someone collected, and this “proves” that white men are guilty of something. And this gives someone else license to label themselves and their efforts as “inclusive,” while indulging in some very non-inclusive behavior and showing some very non-inclusive attitudes.

“Too many of [blank] in here someone has to do something about it” is, by its very nature, non-inclusive. Do I even have to mention it? It seems only by willfully avoiding it can anyone with a brain fail to see it.

This isn’t the first time Brie Larson has set off alarm bells. Last summer, she made the comment about another movie,

Recognizing that “reviews change lives” and the impact which films are considered for awards season, Larson called for more inclusive representation in the industry. “Am I saying I hate white dudes?” the Oscar-winner asked the room at the Beverly Hilton. “No, I’m not,” she replied.

“I don’t want to hear what a white man has to say about ‘A Wrinkle in Time.’ I want to hear what a woman of color, a biracial woman has to say about the film. I want to hear what teenagers think about the film.”

You’re not saying you hate white dudes, but you are applying a litmus test of skin color & gender and, based on the outcome of that, making a determination that the person’s opinion is irrelevant or undesired.

That makes as much sense as deciding not to watch a superhero movie because the central character is a woman. And it isn’t very inclusive.

I’ve seen this attitude before, somewhere. Ah yes, now I remember: Kathleen Kennedy, producer of the Disney Debacle of Star Wars sequels, unwittingly explaining why her success has been less than complete.

I have a responsibility to the company that I work with. I don’t feel that I have a responsibility to cater in some way. I would never just seize on saying, “Well, this is a franchise that’s appealed primarily to men for many, many years, and therefore I owe men something.”

This is turning into a pattern. And the pattern is one of futility. People who say such things want to hold themselves up as strong, independent, “don’t need men,” “don’t owe anything to men”…and they keep babbling away about inclusiveness. But it comes across as weakness and bigotry: “Keep those men away from me, I can’t deal with them.”

And yeah, maybe I’m old fashioned but I recall this was an implicit part of entertainment: You owe something to everyone who buys a ticket. If you don’t like that idea, you need to find a different line of work. That’s show business.

For a couple of generations now, if not more, males who made male-centered action movies kept that in mind, and inserted plenty of kick-butt female supporting characters. Which means the Ms. Marvel movie might be breaking fewer glass ceilings than its most enthused fans might imagine…(warning, video below is produced for people who understand sarcasm)

And these male fans, to whom Ms. Kennedy feels she doesn’t owe anything, by & large didn’t object.

Nowadays, there has to be this twaddle put out there by the stars, the producers, whoever, that we are not to worry, special effort has been taken here to make sure “white males” are not included…and we should think of that as inclusive.

It comes across looking like weak, non-inclusive people were involved in making the entertainment product, which harbors the prospect of relieving us of lots of money and, in return, not providing much entertainment — for white males or anyone else.

I’ll avoid commenting on the movie specifically as I’ve not seen it. I have no plans to do anything about that in the near future. I can tell when I’m not wanted.