Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

I Made a New Word LXXIV

Monday, January 15th, 2018

Non•flict (n.)

A bunch of nonsense you say to generate conflict.

This has the potential, in fact the very high potential, of turning an open, rational, free exchange of well-thought-out ideas into an incoherent shouting match, which may be desirable if you figure out you’re about to lose in the former but not in the latter. No one really wins a shouting match, which means no one really loses at one either.

“You’re a towel!”

You know the old saying: If the facts are on your side pound the facts, if the law is on your side pound the law; if both are against you, pound the table. These days, concepts that used to be simplistic, rugged and indisputable, like “facts” and “law,” have been yanked back into the realm of things that must be debated endlessly.

I think the update we need is something like this: Call out the evidence when the evidence is on your side, and place great weight upon the popular consensus when it agrees with you. If neither is on your side, then yank the trolley off the tracks. Go for chaos, hurl some insults, say a bunch of silly stuff, move the conversation down into the gutter.

I was noticing this while discussing something with a #NeverTrump guy, again, on the Hello Kitty of Blogging. I suppose the reason I’m noticing this is because it’s inconveniencing me, and it’s inconveniencing me because I’m actually interested in what they have to say. I know President Trump doesn’t have a perfect score when he predicts what’s about to happen, or plies the citizenry with his interpretations of what did happen, so I’d like to hear the details when someone calls him a liar. And I’m not automatically dismissing it by any means. But, I notice, automatic dismissal is what I run into when I merely ask the question…which seems odd, to say the least.

And this has become a pattern with the #NeverTrump crowd. You ask them to explain themselves, you get static. An innocuous question like “What’s the most egregious lie Donald Trump has ever told?” nets you all this useless conflict, when it seems like you should be able to get back a reasonable answer from which a rational back-and-forth discussion may ensue. Seems they’ve calculated such a thing would not work to their advantage.

So based on all I’ve seen, I conclude the following. The new three-point has taken the place of the older one, since we’re living in a post-metaphysical culture now and “facts” are no longer “facts.” But, furthermore, the three-point has become a two-point, since in a post-metaphysical culture, “evidence” doesn’t mean anything either. Two and two make nine, and you’re a towel!

It’s bigger than Trump, or #NeverTrump. It’s swollen to consume everything. Wade on in, ignore any “evidence” and just state your opinion. If you pick up that the popular consensus goes along with that, crow in victory, that’s all the “right” or “correct” you need. You win. If not, then shove the conversation in the dirt. Hurl some insults, which are bound to be recapitulated…and you win again. Or at least, you get a stalemate.

Our infatuation with the scam that is higher education, has brought us here. The kids who are currently experiencing, or anticipating, their ivy-league years think of these thoughts they’ll be properly credentialed & permitted to have, as complex compared to the thoughts they’d have if they wore steel-toed work boots. And they’re probably right. But complexity is just one meaningful attribute. An even more meaningful consideration is whether the idea is falsifiable, and so many of these college kids seem to be beginning one year after they end another one, again and again, without pondering anything that’s falsifiable. Nothing testable. And so there’s no “must,” as in — one of my favorite examples — “This bolt head must be 12mm, because it’s too big for my 7/16″ and too small for my 1/2″.”

Even when they’re ready to ridicule whoever doesn’t go along — in fact, I would say, especially when they are so ready, and willing — there’s no test, no way to know for sure. And it seems, no one has ever explained to them that if there’s no way to know for sure, there’s no call to denigrate the intelligence or reasoning capacity of someone who disagrees. Or, for that matter, someone who merely asks to know more. Or hesitates to go along. They slept through that lecture. But still want to be taken seriously.

And then they layer more nonsense upon the nonsense that was there before, whatever it takes, to avoid losing the argument. Arriving at the right answer has nothing to do with it after awhile. It’s all about winning. And scolding.

Related: The Dumbing Down:

What has happened is these young people now getting to college have no sense of history – of any kind! No sense of history. No world geography. No sense of the violence and the barbarities of history. So, they think that the whole world has always been like this, a kind of nice, comfortable world where you can go to the store and get orange juice and milk, and you can turn on the water and the hot water comes out. They have no sense whatever of the destruction, of the great civilizations that rose and fell, and so on – and how arrogant people get when they’re in a comfortable civilization. They now have been taught to look around them to see defects in America – which is the freest country in the history of the world – and to feel that somehow America is the source of all evil in the universe, and it’s because they’ve never been exposed to the actual evil of the history of humanity…

Just Because It’s Your Job to Make People Watch You, Doesn’t Mean You Have Something to Say

Friday, January 12th, 2018

Jonah Goldberg, writing in Townhall:

It may be hard for some people to get the joke these days, but for most of human history, actors were considered low-class. They were akin to carnies, grifters, hookers and other riffraff.

In ancient Rome, actors were often slaves. In feudal Japan, Kabuki actors were sometimes available to the theatergoers as prostitutes — a practice not uncommon among theater troupes in the American Wild West. In 17th century England, France and America, theaters were widely considered dens of iniquity, turpitude and crapulence. Under Oliver Cromwell’s Puritan dictatorship, the theaters were forced to close to improve moral hygiene. The Puritans of New England did likewise. A ban on theaters in Connecticut imposed in 1800 stayed on the books until 1952.

Partly out of a desire develop a wartime economy, partly out of disdain for the grubbiness of the stage, the first Continental Congress in 1774 proclaimed, “We will, in our several stations … discountenance and discourage every species of extravagance and dissipation, especially all horse-racing, and all kinds of gaming, cock-fighting, exhibitions of shews [sic], plays, and other expensive diversions and entertainments …”

Needless to say, times have changed. And I suppose I have to say they’ve changed for the better. But that’s a pretty low bar. I don’t think acting is a dishonorable profession, and I’m steadfastly opposed to banning plays, musicals, movies and TV shows.

But in our collective effort to correct the social stigmas of the past, can anyone deny that we’ve overshot the mark?
:
The most recent Golden Globes ceremony has already been excoriated for being a veritable geyser of hypocritical effluvia, as the same crowd that not long ago bowed and scraped to serial harasser and accused rapist Harvey Weinstein, admitted child rapist Roman Polanski and that modern Caligula, Bill Clinton, congratulated itself for its own moral superiority.

The interesting question is: Why have movie stars and other celebrities become an aristocracy of secular demigods? It seems to me an objective fact that virtually any other group of professionals plucked at random from the Statistical Abstract of the United States — nuclear engineers, plumbers, grocers, etc. — are more likely to model decent moral behavior in their everyday lives. Indeed, it is a bizarre inconsistency in the cartoonishly liberal ideology of Hollywood that the only super-rich people in America reflexively assumed to be morally superior are people who pretend to be other people for a living.

Exactly. We’d be better off throwing a pair of dice to figure out what’s right vs. what’s wrong, than we are turning to the acting profession for moral guidance. This is a profession — never forget this — that relies on pretending false things are true.

I see Gerard posted a video of the one thing that, in my mind, persuasively puts other countries ahead of the good ol’ US of A; we have this bizarre cultural wrinkle, that compels us to dress up our weather girls as high-ranking executives in some stodgy old bank or law firm or something. I’ve complained about this before, and for good reason. It’s dumb. Mexico has Yanet Garcia and the Mighty Mayte Carranco, and we have stuffy also-rans in pantsuits scolding us about the five-day forecast like we’re the stupidest male student on the third-grade playground and they’re the frumpy yard duty teacher. My home country is getting its ass whipped on this front, for no good reason.

Had to reply to one commenter:

I’m truly glad you enjoyed the video so robustly. However, there is a concept in play of appropriate professional dress. Weather forecaster is a professional job, no? Sometimes it is a stodgy man in a suit who does the job, more rarely a stodgy woman, sometimes a hot babe in a cocktail dress. I do understand sex sells. But please to never again bring up the issue of skankiness with regard to today’s women, as the men of the manosphere so often do; no, the hypocrisy is too flaming to bear. For although the weathergirl may not be a ho, she is wearing a ho’s uniform. Your appreciation for one and not the other makes no logical sense to my simple and straightforward mind…

To which I said…

“Weather forecaster is a professional job, no?”

Wherever there is a disagreement, it’s a rare and good opportunity that arises, to mark the exact point of dispute. And here it is.

No.

Entertainers are entertainers. They’re not leaders or moral compasses or role models or oracles. And throwing all these things into the same big stewpot is dangerous.

It’s an important point, because it highlights exactly where we’re getting all twisty, where things are falling apart. Entertainers have the job of making people want to watch them. And so the rest of us — quite rightly, I would say — anticipate that kids will watch them, and try to figure out what the consequences will be. And so there is aroused this pressure, from outside & from within the entertainment industry, to figure out what would put kids on the wrong path, and do the opposite. All good so far.

The problem is, as Goldberg points out above, we’ve overshot the mark. We’ve passed the point where we see entertainers as a lodestar for where our society is going, for where it ought to go. And it’s not lost on me that we’ve pivoted, in many cases, from figuring out what’s right & true, to figuring out what’s inevitable…as in, right or wrong, this is where it’s going, better get on board or get left behind…

Some of the biggest problems we have aren’t getting fixed, until this one gets fixed first. Court jesters are not kings. They need to mind their place, and the rest of us need to fulfill our basic duties as good citizens, by putting them (back) there.

There’s another problem here too though, one that has to do with inappropriately binary, all-or-nothing thinking. The casual female deserves more respect. There is dressing like the female CEO of a Fortune 500 company, and there is a “ho’s uniform”; any woman who’s shopped for her own wardrobe knows there are a lot of increments between those two extremes. This is a case of achieving the opposite of what’s intended, for if you take a look at the schoolgirls we’re supposed to be educating to respect themselves better, by pressuring the weather girls to dress up like bank executives — well, the schoolgirls aren’t dressing like bank executives, let’s just say that. The problem here is that the adults have taken something ultra-seriously, thinking the kids will take it equally seriously, and the kids look at it and go…meh.

But we didn’t really want the schoolgirls to dress like bank executives, did we. The errant ultra-strict dress code is pressed upon the weather girls, to make the weather girls look appealing, but to female viewers. As in, look pretty, but don’t make other women jealous. Everyone knows this is true. We’re just not allowed to talk about it.

Now excuse me, I have to go find out about the weekend forecast in Tijuana, because…reasons.

Badlands

Saturday, December 23rd, 2017

So the family and I went to see that new movie that starts off where the previous one left things, with this plucky girl handing a flashlight thing to this grumpy old guy on a remote island. Rumors swirl about whether it’s a liberal crap-fest, and I’m not going to mislead anyone who hasn’t seen it yet, it kinda is. But it’s still a fun movie to watch.

And I’m on-board, still. Looking forward to Episode IX. You can see the worst of the old is only slightly better than the best of the new, so the franchise is on the cusp of recapturing its former glory.

This one lands somewhere in the ball park of the stupid third one with the forest moon and way too many muppets. We’re seeing more pieces emerge and fit into the puzzle of what Star Wars is, why we are/were drawn to it, what spoils things. Whacky talkative sidekicks, while they have their appeal, are so hazardous that filmmakers would be well-advised to leave them unused altogether, they bring nothing that isn’t brought by adorable alien animals. And the adorable alien animals can be built into lucrative Christmas toy offerings, just fine, if they’re kept on the sidelines where they belong. Lucas and Kasdan made a mistake building the Ewoks up into jungle foot-soldiers who were ultimately responsible for achievement of the final victory over the Galactic Empire. The Last Jedi doesn’t make that mistake. But, its story is not crisp, clear, well-structured or strong. It’s messy.

All that really matters, to us, in figuring out whether we’ll buy it or not is: Will the disc make it into the player for repeat-viewings. Yeah, I can see it. The prequels do not pass this test. Not that we took a pass on those, they’re still on the shelf downstairs…sitting…

But, I digress. The new one has positives and negatives. It’s missing the toxic elements, aside from the whacky talkative sidekicks, that ruined the prequels. You know what else there was? The sanitized environment.

The Last JediI’ve complained to excess, within & outside of the Star Wars universe, of “conference room scenes” which, I maintain, have what it takes to singlehandedly wreck an otherwise great movie. People who have to attend meetings at work, get this, and people who don’t, don’t. If you’re like me, you’re not down with going to work, being called in to some stuffy conference room to sit at a big table with a bunch of other people who are wondering why they’re there, watching a bunch of mundane progress reports proceed about efforts that have nothing whatsoever to do with you, clocking out, picking up the family and spending a huge chunk out of that paycheck for candy, popcorn, sodas, and the privilege of watching more people & creatures sitting at tables in conference rooms.

But, over the years, I’ve found I’m walking that road mostly alone, even among people who work for a living and do have to go to meetings. It doesn’t ruin the experience of everyone else, and so I’ve kept my silence for the most part. Although, some people do at least get it. Who wants to go to a movie to be reminded of work, right? And, I’ve had to modify this as a rule for great or terrible movies. Many a movie has been made better by a conference room scene. The original Star Wars movie, for example. Thunderball. I’ve always been fond of Al Capone’s speech about teamwork in The Untouchables. From this, we see the rule emerge with crystal clarity: Someone has to die. Or, at least, get seriously threatened. If you have that, the conference room scene adds. If you don’t…

For several dozens to sit down at a big table, and listen to one or two people go back & forth for a bit, then adjourn when someone says “good, then it’s settled” — this is no bueno. Thirty people sit, and only two have speaking lines, so you can work it into your story that a decision got made? That’s cheating the audience. There are lots of ways to show a decision got made. This has to be the worst of all of them, the very worst. Anyway. I’ve learned over the years that I am hyper-sensitive to this, and everybody else isn’t necessarily.

So I’ve been given cause to think about this, as the reviews come in on The Last Jedi. It hasn’t got any conference room scenes, it’s full of liberal twaddle but is still fun to watch. The reviews come in, people either love it or hate it. It’s becoming one of those things where nobody has a “meh” in-between opinion. I’m thinking of what my old Uncle Wally used to say to me. “Morgan, the world is made up of two kinds of people: The ones who go around dividing everyone into two groups, and everyone else.” Yeah, the old man was mocking me I’m quite sure. But, this is correct, and this movie proves it. It’s really rubbing some people the wrong way, whereas others, like me, see redeeming features. I can even see things in the original trilogy that went missing for awhile, and have been restored.

Let’s explore for a bit what that is, exactly. In the beginning, what people really paid money to see was the story of Luke Skywalker, who grew up humbly but aspired toward greater things. He embarked on the Hero’s Journey. I was about to turn eleven, at the time, and saw very little overlap between my situation & any future ambitions that interested me. There was no one talking to me seriously about having such feelings, and if they did, & brought it to my attention “You know, there are a lot of others who are in the same boat,” I likely wouldn’t have cared much. Point was, my future was unclear. An unclear future at my age now, causes some measured panic, but when you’re young you tend to be anesthetized to it. Watching Luke stare at the twin suns, as they set, sort of sums up the whole point right there. Luke’s just had an altercation, learned he’s going to be staring at the suns for another year before he can ever hope to move on to better things. When you’re growing up humbly, and you’re ten, this has an impact.

Star Wars, I think, is changing because people are changing. You haven’t seen a lot of movies do this lately, explore the feelings of a youngster teetering on the brink of adulthood, wondering “When am I going to make something of my life?” It doesn’t resonate with young people today. They’re more interested, from what I can make out about them, in strolling through campuses and hallways built by others, than in laying a foundation, making it possible to get the campus or hallway built. And so we have franchises like Harry Potter, and on teevee we’ve got The Librarians and The Magicians.

BadlandsThe thought occurs to me: We are seeing two distinctly separate sub-genres of adventure-drama, being put together for the benefit of two distinctly separate classes of audience. The world, after all, is divided into two groups of people: The ones who do, and do not, lust for adventure in The Badlands.

That’s a term I am coining — I can think of none other — to describe the situation in which you immerse yourself when you travel through the actual badlands. Out there, in the badlands of the United States, if you get yourself hurt, it’s bad. If you find yourself at the mercy of the wildlife around you, for whatever reason; if you run out of water; if you bust a radiator hose, run out of gas, or discover it’s been too long since you changed the oil, it’s bad. Hence the name. In fiction, such a situation brings a flavor of drama that is altogether missing from Coruscant, and Hogwarts.

I mean, just think about it. If the snake bites you, not only are there no medical services available, but there’s no one to hear you holler. No one would ever know. Not for awhile, when the sun is bleaching your bones. In the inner city, maybe you’d be surrounded by hostiles and this would bring a whole different sense of danger. But, that sense of danger would be different. The badlands bring a story that is unique unto itself. Obi-Wan summed it up succinctly: “The Jundland wastes are not to be traveled lightly.” The Old Trilogy, like this new Disney project, writhed away in The Badlands. The Prequels merely poked around a bit with such settings, concentrating for the most part on murky political intrigue in the capitol. This, more than Jar Jar Binks, brought about their ruin. It wasn’t because of what was there; it was because of what was missing.

We see this in the movie that really put Steven Spielberg‘s name in lights: Jaws. Jaws is Beowulf. The hero ventures out into the space, ocean, wilderness — Badlands — to do battle with the creature that has been harassing the citizenry. There is a special flavoring of the drama because if the shark wins, there aren’t even any spectators around to watch, to say “Wow, sucks to be you, dude.” The heroes would simply disappear. The same is true of Spielberg’s earlier debut vehicle, Duel. The hero struggles to defend, not only his life, but his existence in the minds of others. It’s the same situation as with the rattlesnake. If he loses this thing, no one will ever know, he’ll just be a pile of bleached bones in a wrecked car. The tension is not the same as Harry Potter struggling for victory in some competition with all his classmates watching him, and wizened elders calculating scores according to a point system. It’s completely separate from that.

I could add to this list all day. In the genre of psychological thrillers, there are many offerings that are rather low-budget and humdrum, especially from the 1970’s…but they have that ONE thing that makes them memorable. The protagonist, and the agent of menace whatever it is, play cat-and-mouse in some setting of isolation. An island, a building, a canyon, a jungle, the stratosphere, outer space…someplace where defeat would be not only final, but unnoticed.

So it seems we’re dealing with THREE types of people. There are those who see no appeal in the Badlands at all, either in real life or in fiction. There are those who are drawn to the drama of the Badlands in fiction, but have no desire at all to go exploring it in real life. And then I guess there are the ones like me, who are up for a real-life adventure out where no one can ever hear us scream, and it goes without saying we like seeing this situation in our “Hero’s Journey” movies too.

I imagine I have something of a soft spot for this latest movie, because I identify somewhat with Luke. In software development and in IT, I have often halfway “joked” about chucking technology altogether and becoming a goat farmer. The punchline to my joke-that-is-not-a-joke, is that I have no misgivings about technology itself, but I’m disgusted by the way people behave around it, and I’m repulsed by the changes I see being made to my chosen profession, and the efforts to change it further by people who don’t even seem to understand what changes they’re trying to make. When Rey actually does hand Luke his old lightsaber, he takes it, (spoiler, highlight to read) looks it over for a moment or two, and then chucks it over his shoulder, over the cliff; he’s done with this whole “Jedi” business, really, really done. Goats don’t bitch at their farmers about renewing their latest certifications, they don’t crash if two goats have been assigned the same IP address, they’re naturally Y2K compliant…oh yes, I’ve been there, I’ve been there for awhile. Impulse after impulse after impulse washes over me, year after year, to do what Luke did. And for similar reasons.

How important is this observation of mine? Very, I think. We see it in politics pretty much all the time, with President Trump finishing out his first year. The tax cut…that’s Badlands, is it not? It works if, and only if, the citizenry figure out where they put their spirit of independence, and get it back again. Big-government liberals are working hard to proliferate the narrative that a tax cut has something to do with spiraling deficits and financial instability. They’re right, if the people who live in this country are what the liberals think, and hope, they are: enfeebled, ignorant, weak, not having the slightest idea what to do with a bit of extra money, effeminate, dependent…like barnyard animals. The possibility doesn’t enter their consciousness that they just might be wrong, that we might be free-thinking, rugged, capable human beings ready for a foray into The Badlands, ready to create some economic activity of our own, doing something productive with that extra money besides squirreling it away under a mattress. We only have to be more productive than the government, to make this work. It isn’t a high bar. But people who are not ready for such a Badlands adventure, do not understand people who are.

We see it with the Net Neutrality, too. This is the ultimate in pasteurized, over-civilized thinking, since the dispute is over a danger that has not yet emerged. NN, therefore, is sterilization just for sterilization’s sake. It’s pure cowardice, the kind that’s brought us absolutely nothing. “Ooh, let’s stay in bed, there might be snakes out there.” In evaluating our movies and other works of fiction, I’ll not begrudge my Badlands-averse brethren for their preferences that are different from mine.

I only ask they find it in themselves to make room for the rest of us, when we deliberate about public policies out here, in real life? These civilized, sterile and fully serviced settings they crave so intransigently, after all, are here because of us. Someone has to be rugged, at some time. Hogwarts requires a foundation. Before the city can be built, there is a swamp that has to be drained. Someone has to venture out into the untamed territory first. All of human existence cannot work its way through history, inside the polished walls of a cloister. Sooner or later, here or there, now & then, someone’s hands have to get dirty. The cloistered, clean-hands people need the Badlands-venturing, dirty-hands people. Not the other way around.

They Walk Among Us, Dead Inside

Thursday, December 14th, 2017

Unanswerable question of the day: If Roy Moore was to be opposed because it’s important to keep child molesters and creepers out of Congress, and this effort ultimately succeeded, then how come all the celebrating is on the side of the democrats who merely wanted to pick up a Senate seat? Oh sure I’m seeing a little bit of gloating from the Republicans who were anti-Moore, some “In Your Face!” But the narrative that things are made better with a Moore defeat, and would somehow deteriorate with a Moore victory, seems to have been tossed out the window. All this “in your face” stuff, every jot & tittle of it, is dedicated to a proposition of “you dummies picked the wrong candidate and now disaster has ensued.” This just adds to my conviction that there never was any logical coherence to it. Roy Moore, defeated, doesn’t open a hole in the ground, leap into it, reach up & pull the hole in after himself — that’s not how it works. He serves no jail time for having seduced or mistreated anyone. No one is protected by this ultimately successful, but very poorly thought-out, effort to protect children & women. Logical coherence would be…although this comes off as a bit daffy, because it is…Roy Moore was, and remains, a danger to these women-children, so he should win this Senate seat so we can watch him and he won’t have the time to be dangerous. Now he’s a free, private citizen, not convicted of anything, facing no trial, with spare time he would not otherwise have.

Allow me to suggest an answer for my own question. Republicans — Americans — labor under a strange relationship with this idea of voters being able to influence things. We’re excited by it, and at the same time we fear the responsibility that goes with it, with such an intensity that some among us are polarized by it, even repulsed and sickened by it. For them, this fear wins out, day after day. Like the drivers-ed student who wants to sit in the back seat while the other kids take their turn driving on the freeway, all the time, until the teacher finally has to call her out on it.

Spend it for me!We’re hearing much the same thing about the tax bill President Trump is trying to pass. It’s funny, to those of us who’ve been watching it awhile, how much more popular tax cuts are well before they’re about to actually happen, than they are when we’re right on top of the delivery, and there’s only 1 or 2 signatures or procedural moves remaining before they become law. It’s not at all unlike watching a cat try to figure out if it really wants to go outside. The democrats amp up their propaganda, yank the volume dial on it up to eleven, and we hear “trickle down is bullshit” from all directions. Suddenly, tax cuts are an “expense” the government can’t afford. I guess everyone else has to grapple with the situation of now & then having less, but the government is entitled to be protected from this, spending whatever it wants, while everyone outside of government has to scrimp, and squeak, and cope.

It isn’t based on reason. A large truck chips a curb a couple hundred feet away, repairing the curb depends on funds that ultimately come from Washington, so we have to send lots of money to Washington to get the curb fixed? That’s nuts. Even nuttier is the proposition that the curb will remain unfixed, because budget cuts, and we have budget cuts because of tax cuts. Oh, so we have to keep the government in the black so we can get our curbs fixed? The government’s not in the black. Not even close. Nor does the government have any qualms about spending money when it’s in the red. People who rail against tax cuts based on this loony line of reasoning, know all this full well. They’re not keeping a jaundiced beady eye on the bottom line of the government’s income statement, they’re only pretending to do this. What they’re doing is more like clutching a security blanket. They’re the student driver who doesn’t want to take the wheel.

I remember thirty years ago people used to deny “trickle down,” the favorite pejorative used by those who like to change what truth is, through their judicious selection of the words used to describe it. I’m sure they’d accuse me of using a “straw man fallacy” if I were to suggest that what they’re really denying, is free trade. But, that’s what they’re denying. Trickle down doesn’t exist, because you and I have “R” for Rich and “P” for Poor tattooed onto our foreheads and we carry these letters around, womb to tomb — what, that’s not what they’re saying? If not, then what does it mean to deny the opportunity exists for us to work hard and better ourselves? The opportunity is there or else it isn’t. Binary choice. I think it’s there, and I can present evidence. What’s the evidence that it’s impossible? And if it’s possible for a poor child to grow up and become not-poor…and been done…which it has. What else would you call that?

And yet, decade after decade, this tedious narrative rises up that trickle-down is a lot of baloney, and it’s our lot in life to soldier on, through the dash between the two numbers that will ultimately be carved on our headstones, with our prospects unchanged the whole time. In America! In the twenty-first century, yet. The departure from reality nauseates me. It’s disgusting, infuriating. When I think of people living in different countries, today, or who squirmed away in anguish in different times, that we have people here, now, indulging in this nonsensical un-fantasy that their ability to provide for themselves is so unmoving & unmovable, so static, so limited. Many among them have real talent. The loss of human potential — it’s just mind-blowing. What a bunch of spoilsports. They’re being fed this stuff. And they’re swallowing. Demanding seconds. It’s a national disgrace and a national tragedy.

But, as tempting as it is to get all wrapped around the axle of whether or not trickle-down is bullshit. Let us examine instead what truly matters in politics: The conditions under which the undecided will be won over to one side, or the other. What does it take for more people to accept the premise that trickle down is bullshit, that the free market doesn’t work, that liquid assets are static, immobilized, that we all carry on in futility until the final date with the Grim Reaper. And what does it take for people to reject this?

We know this is a cry of the forlorn & helpless. People say this when they’re having a tough time looking for work, or perhaps when they already do have a job and it pays well, but they’re singing in a gilded cage — they doubt their abilities to find another should they ever find themselves dismissed. It is despair, almost a cry for help, and I think in many cases it is exactly that. It is a cry of “I think I’m working very hard, why don’t I feel more secure?”

I do believe, if it were easy for companies to hire people, and therefore easy for people to find prospective employers who are serious, people in great numbers would reject this notion of the unmovable standard of living, and embrace the idea that their hands are indeed on the steering wheel and they can act as true captains of their own destinies — even if the unemployment numbers were very high, even if the income inequality was very high, even if differentials in personal wealth were very high. For people to utter this note of despair, you have to have a perception of stasis, a perception that moving money around is very hard to do, that no one’s buying and no one’s selling.

Rich Get Richer, Poor Get PoorerObviously, if people go around saying “trickle down is bullshit” in great numbers, you’re looking at a place where democrats are more likely to win elections. And we know from experience all too well, this does NOT mean you’re looking at any likelihood the problem will be solved. Places where democrats run things, and have run things for decades and decades, where democrats are exceptionally likely to win the next election, where you’re more likely to see a re-animated dinosaur than a Republican elected to anything…people stumble around, like zombies, in perpetual despair, saying dumb things like “trickle down doesn’t work,” or “the rich get richer, the poor get poorer,” not expecting to hire anyone, not expecting to get hired, not seeing any way they can ever escape their current conditions. And generation after generation, this doesn’t get fixed. The democrats who run the place have no plan to make it any better. Perhaps if they ever needed to have such a plan, they’d make one, but they don’t. People are depressed so they’ll keep voting democrat.

I’m talking about what? Could be any one of a number of places. Detroit, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Sacramento, Atlanta, NOLA, LA, Chicago, NYC, Philadelphia…

The same people who benefit politically from this feeling of stasis, that it’s very hard to get the money moving, are the ones crusading non-stop for higher taxes. They’re also the builders of all our wonderful little-laws that say “You cannot work, and you cannot hire, unless…” People don’t notice the pattern. Which makes me think they must want to avoid seeing it. It’s pretty hard to miss, once you open yourself up to noticing it.

And so I have to wonder. Do we really have to have a knock-down drag-out about whether higher taxes make it harder to move the money around? That one seems, to me, to be like “people breathe air” or something — outside the realm of the disputed. But maybe I’m wrong.

But in my experience quibbling over this stuff, with people who are emotionally invested in the other side; their position is not “money is harder to move around when taxes are high,” it’s more like “money will NEVER move around no matter where the tax rate is, so it doesn’t matter.” Which is silly, to me, I guess because I’ve always seen people buying & selling things so I know that cannot be true. I know when I make money, I have to spend quite a lot of it. So people are making money off me. What, then, is going on with these zombies, these deniers of money-mobility; are they not paying for anything? Or do they think as soon as the money leaves their fingertips, it ceases to exist? That only the government can spend money in such a way that jobs will result?

People, in order to accept that there’s no such thing as trickle-down, that it must be up to the government to move the money around in such a way that everyone has a shot at getting some, must embrace strong doubts about the goodness of themselves & others. They must think we don’t need each other, that there’s nothing anyone can do to provide a valuable service to someone else, for lack of some educational credential or networking connection that’s always just out of reach. This would be the minimum of what is required to sustain the sad, sad narrative if “no such thing as ‘trickle-down’.” You don’t have to be “woke” into doubting it; you have to be depressed into doubting it.

And once enough people doubt it, there are some people who, rest assured, are getting & staying very, very powerful in their miserable little communities, and getting & staying very, very rich.

What all this diseased zombie-thinking has in common, is an alarming lack of regard for the end-game. None of it survives the innocuous question, “What’s your vision?” What is the sequence of events one hopes to get started, how does one thing lead to another, in fulfillment of something desired. Roy Moore is defeated; what’s better? Ah, who knows…Who Is John Galt. Stop arguing politics! Kardashians is on…

These are the baby-steps society takes, as it lurches toward a new world no one actually wanted. This is how & why we emerge into a new day, wherein we find only government can spend money in any meaningful way, which it does until government is broke, and then it spends some more, so that we’re all encumbered with the effects of runaway inflation eating away at our limited savings, which we cannot replenish. This is how we find ourselves living in a silly world where throwaway lines like “How do you do” and “You’re looking nice today,” among office-co-workers, have to be micro-managed by lawyers. This is the fulfillment of the darkest fears that led us to make the wrong decisions in the prelude; a self-fulfilling prophecy. That’s the scary thing about being a grown-up, of moving into the front seat and taking the wheel. You have to reckon with the idea that decisions have consequences, both good & bad, that your happiness and success are your responsibility and no one else’s.

That’s reality. We don’t get to choose whether or not to accept it. But, some people never stop trying. They’re dead inside, and you can tell they’re dead inside because they can’t explain how or why their choices might lead to success. The truth is, there is no connection for you to find, or for them to find. It isn’t there, because they’ve given up on maintaining one. They’ve been frightened & depressed out of it. They’ve taken a pass on adult living, and are just biding their time until that date with the Grim Reaper.

Things I’ve Learned People Don’t Do Very Well at All

Sunday, December 10th, 2017

1. Think like an Architect, and like a Medicator, both at the same time

That would mean, you’re treating time as a resource while simultaneously doing your best to avoid being bored. This comes up a lot when you’re doing work you happen to enjoy, but at some point you’ve got to stop because whatever comes after it is time-sensitive and just as important. It doesn’t come naturally to us. It calls for thinking like a responsible adult and an impulsive little kid at the same time. Every time you look at the clock and it’s either earlier or later than you thought it would be, it’s both good & bad news.

This is not natural for people. Sooner or later, you have to commit to the one, or to the other. We often don’t notice because before that fork-in-the-road has to be taken, we manage to actually get the job of the day done, and the drama is over. But if we had to live in the crisis for an indefinite period of time, I think it would become obvious.

2. Mind their own damn business

Oh, this is easy if you’re not trying to help anybody. One thing I’ve learned about software development over the years, is this is the best way to suck at the job — start dictating to the user what he’s trying to do, why he’s trying to do it, what steps he should follow. If you really do the job well, the fruits of your labor are going to answer only a few of these questions. That’s when it becomes a truly useful tool, when the person using it gets to decide the how.

I met one guy who started using an Apple Mac first time he ever saw one, put the mouse backwards so that he pulled it toward himself when he wanted the pointer to go up, away for down, left & right reversed. Then he proceed to wire his brain that way, subsequently learned everyone else was doing it the opposite way, didn’t care. That’s actually how most people use computers, and most software developers don’t get this. “But I’m the manufacturer, you should always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations!” No Skippy, that’s not how it works at all. They think you made a tool, they want to use the tool. However they want. It’s your job to make it work.

3. Live in reality

Not much I need to write here at all.

Maslow PyramidSome people think they’re exceptionally gifted at living in reality. I’m one of those. What we are actually good at doing, is choosing a narrative that closely resembles reality, even down in the details, and then living in that. This is actually how everyone works, we live in narratives. We don’t actually come in contact with reality, except when we find out the narrative is busted in some way and in need of fixing. And then some of us might respond to that and do the fixing, but only if we have the focus, and the time.

4. Maintain the strengths you needed to get something, after you got it

It’s that Maslow Pyramid. You need food, clothing and shelter, and protection from the bad guys who want to beat you up and steal your stuff. After you get that, you worry about having a job so you can replenish these things independently…then you want some toys, like an iPhone. Then you’ll want games to put on the iPhone. Now while you’re trying to get the game, you’re not going to be thinking about food, clothing and shelter. The brain just isn’t wired like that.

Since it’s a weakness we all have, it would be alright…ordinarily…except, there are still people working their butts off to make sure when we pay for our food, clothing and shelter, that we actually get it. This is “real” work. If it didn’t get done, we’d know.

And yet, the temptation is always there to take it for granted. Pretend it doesn’t really have to be done. Or that these aren’t “real” people laboring away to make sure it gets done. Or that these are “low skill” jobs.

What really happens, inside the mind, is the Maslow Pyramid becomes complete, all levels fulfilled. And then the “capstone” on top turns into a sort of balloon, swelling and swelling until it consumes all the rest; gotta get that video game. And it becomes a balloon-capstone of trivialities. The real trouble starts when it messes with our priorities, because it doesn’t just mess with the spectrum of what’s important vs. what’s not. It flips it directly upside-down, compelling us to fixate exactly on all the things that don’t really matter.

Memo For File CCVIII

Saturday, December 2nd, 2017

So for quite some time now, weeks or so, I’ve had this article open in my browser session, waiting for me to record a few notes about it. Some might think I’m leaving it open because of the visually appealing nature of the picture, but that’s a falsehood. I’m not that much into cows. It’s a “linky-not-thinky” type piece, worthy of being saved because of its connection to other things. So that presents some difficulty. And the subject matter is, How and why Americans are currently turning into infantile dumbasses. We’ve already addressed that here quite a few times, so that presents difficulty too. What I’ve been trying to do is overturn a few rocks, explore some ideas hitherto unexplored, without going back over old ground.

IdiotesWhich is do-able; there is fresh insight to be found here. At least, if old thoughts are being expressed, the verbiage is new. “…[T]he average person in the developed world today lives at least as well as the royalty of centuries ago.” We have technology to thank for this. It is, as even a cursory reading of the piece will reveal, a curse just as much as a blessing. This high standard of living involves a perception, and perhaps a reality, of margin-of-error in our daily decisions. Something that was not there before. Admittedly, this does not do much to give any sort of mighty shove upon the vessel of our experiences, away from the dock of reality. But it does cast away the lines. The necessity is gone.

I have written before, over the years, perhaps to excess, of Architects and Medicators. I’ve lately been relatively quiet about this, silently seeking out the one primary great-granddaddy distinction, from which all other evident and meaningful distinctions are born. The concept, at a very high level, is this: People who fail to get along with other people, are failing to bridge a divide across two halves of humanity that may not be bridgeable. We don’t need to wait long to see this happen. Roommates, business partners, spouses, lovers, work-colleagues, tearing their couplings asunder. Often in genuine surprise, on both sides, that things could have deteriorated to that point. If one follows the stories for quite awhile, one will often see there is a catalyst. Silly Sally doesn’t get along with this boyfriend, that boyfriend, that other one, with her ex-husband, with her new husband, her parents…gee, who’s the common denominator? But a lot of times, it’s not like that. She picks up a new stud, gets along with him like bacon ‘n eggs. The cast-off gets a new girl…they get along…Sally’s new boyfriend gets along with this guy over here, not with that guy over there. Here and there, now and then, someone will enter the picture and bring a new lofty standard of diplomacy. But even that natural-ambassador doesn’t get along with everybody, in fact, no more often than anyone else involved. His natural “people-skills,” when all’s said & done, improve nothing but the cosmetics of these relationships.

As my Uncle used to say, “Morgan, one of my editors told me the world is divided into two groups of people. The ones that go around dividing everyone into groups, and everybody else.” That, I’ve noticed, seems to explain what’s going on here. Two camps. If you keep careful track of who’s managed to function alongside who else, it all fits. The two camps are thought and feeling. But how does it get to be that way?

Order and chaos have something to do with it. When the constable hauls in some village-drunk who’s behind in his child support, in front of the magistrate, there is a conflict taking place between two cultures, much like two gears that have been brought together when they’re spinning in opposite directions. In the miscreant’s world, public drunkenness is how it’s done. It’s fun. It’s living for today. Living up to responsibilities, is actually a crime there. These observations work at a high level; they don’t work with all the details. There are always exceptions. Sometimes the magistrate likes to get plastered too. And maybe the constable has had an unpleasant encounter, in his past, with the child support enforcement division.

Nevertheless, if you could somehow drop a huge wall between these halves, much of the trouble would dissipate. This raises the issue that on the one side, where no one works for a living, things are not maintainable. Well, who’s to say. Maybe, with the wall there, some people would learn some things they need to learn. Without the wall, they don’t. Chaotic people get to skim off the hard work of orderly people, which prevents this learning. With such a wall removed, the necessity of knowing is removed. With the wall re-imposed, the necessity of knowing is re-established, and maybe, just maybe, the requisite learning takes place. Necessity, as they say, is the mother of invention. There’s a lot of truth in that.

Each individual, within each one of these two halves, further ensconces himself. This is why, in the orderly world where we treat crimes as if they’re actually crimes, we put some importance on addressing the smaller crimes so that the perpetrators don’t engage in more serious crimes later. One of the defining distinctions I proposed was, when a complex piece of machinery no longer functions but is fixable if the faulty parts are correctly identified and replaced. Architects will go chasing off after these details, whereas Medicators will be drawn to the idea of just trashing & replacing the entire thing — nevermind the material cost. The real issue isn’t labor or parts investment, it’s world-view & outlook. It’s a binary choice about whether or not to deal with details, and you’re going to find the people who go out of their way to avoid details in one situation, will work that way in dealing with pretty much all of them. Cars, clocks…spouses…

What drives each individual into his chosen half? It isn’t intelligence. Some details-obsessed people are a bit dim, at a few things. I suppose I could volunteer myself as an example. Some of the people who shun details as a lifelong habit, are actually quite bright. It isn’t maturity either. It’s not even a work ethic.

Sexy ChemistOne thing I’ve noticed holds up consistently and well, is the individual’s perception of property rights. A lot of people who fancy themselves to be constant champions of law and order, are anything-but, because as soon as the Druggist’s Dilemma emerges in some form they’re full of “advice” about how someone who has the means, should do the right thing. More often than not, once they’re presented with the complication that this supposed benefactor doesn’t want to go for it, he should be forced to do so — in the final analysis, they are mere fair-weather friends to the concept of property. They’re pro-theft. Sure they’ll insist this is an isolated case because the thief has an identifiable need. But, talk to a few thieves sometime. The case is not as isolated as they think it is, not even close. Because you’ll find every single thief you’ve caught has a rationale.

This is the difference between drama and reality. In drama, the protagonist is an isolated central character whose desires, dreams, hopes and fears, matter. This sets him apart from the secondary characters, who are only there so that he can interact with them. In real life, everyone thinks their concerns matter. And they’re right.

The spending of money also sets these two sides apart. How often do we see a marriage undone because one spouse wants to create a budget and stick to it; the other one is content to simply spend the loot until it’s gone. Seems there are few stories as sad as the tale of the lottery winner who doesn’t know how to handle his new life’s-circumstances. Some people are programmed to only have a certain amount of money. There are times when I think I may be one of those people, and this fills me with dread. I’m likely not alone, even among just the people I know. Although, having grown up in relatively threadbare conditions, I might be an exceptional case.

One of my very favorite Simpson’s episodes captures this nicely. Homer somehow acquires an allocation of $15,000, to go buy a car, and he starts the negotiations the way dumbasses do (about 13:22): “Is this car fifteen thousand dollars?” The salesman nonchalantly wipes off the old price with his sleeve and answers, “It is now.” It’s funny because…yeah. It’s like that. Just like that.

From early on, I had noticed you can tell these two halves apart, and predict the power-struggles and other dust-ups that would take place between them, by observing a couple’s behavior when a bit of security has to be sacrificed for sake of some opportunity. Or, vice-versa. A lot of people who talk about a “fallback plan” wouldn’t know a fallback plan if it hit ’em square between the eyes; they’re actually talking about protection from consequences of their own regrettable decisions. In a way, we’re really talking about the difference between the domesticated animals and the wild animals. Irony with humans, though, is it’s the domesticated animals who want to make a big show of flouting the rules. It’s the wild “animals,” who have formed the discipline of paying attention to the consequences of their own decisions, and therefore learned which decisions are good and which ones not so good — who want, quite naturally, to enjoy the rewards of having refined their decision-making acumen. They’re really having a tempest-in-a-teapot about whether decisions should matter.

I’ve concluded, after a great many years of observing these pathetic chapters in the lives of others, and myself, that the great-granddaddy split that eventually results in all the others, is how one looks at a block of unclaimed time. The one thing the Medicator wants to “achieve” more than anything else, is to act as an effective steward of his own emotional state. Both sides will say “I want to get this done today,” but one side is talking about “With that done, I can do these other things” or “With that done, I don’t have to think about it anymore and I can concentrate on something else.” The other side is saying “I will have fun doing it.” And they aren’t mixing it up, with one guy motivated by this thing at this time and that thing at that time, and the other guy vice-versa. No. They’re ensconcing. Each individual ensconcing himself more thoroughly into his chosen half, with each out-of-the-ordinary decision made, about anything, womb-to-tomb. The chaotic, feelings-over-thought people want not to be bored. They want to make it to the coffin without experiencing boredom.

A block of time, unclaimed for any previously defined purpose, unstructured, un-allocated, is, therefore — in the world of Architects — an asset. To the Medicator it is a liability, a problem that has to be solved. The solution to the problem is to burn this time away.

Also, money. I’ve experienced first-hand people who are doomed never to have any money. And they don’t realize it. They’ll never have money, because if they do have money, and something is being left undone that makes them unhappy, by leaving the money unspent they’re making a statement that they’re not bothered by whatever the thing is. So they have to spend the money to make the thing go away, and if this works — which it almost never does — there surely will be another thing popping up to take its place. Meet a few people who have managed to hang on to money, build it up into something, you’ll see what I’m talking about: They have the ability to say “That makes me unhappy, but money is not the answer.” The people who are doomed to never have money, can’t do this. Can’t prioritize. The plug will always be missing from their bathtub.

So the other night, the Mrs. and I were participating in an office dinner party. I was given cause to think about all of the above, in the aftermath of what follows: We sat with another couple, and I didn’t have any way to subtly signal to my spouse that 1) this is one of our cool-people, an experienced, sharp, savvy guy who I happen to like, and 2) this is in spite of the fact that he’s a democrat. Thankfully, the discussion meandered around to alcoholic beverages, whereupon we realized that Mrs. Freeberg is home-brewing Kahlua and Amaretto, whilst the other couple is making mead. Many satisfying minutes of exuberant, non-political conversation unfurled after that…followed by…

It was the other guy. I SWEAR. Really. Honey, back me up on this.

Yeah. He wanted to talk politics. And I guess he & his wife, or at the very least just his wife, labored under complete ignorance of my own leanings because there was a distinct overtone of “Well of COURSE all four of us are good liberals, since we all have common sense.”

My wife began to administer a backrub that wasn’t really a backrub.

Well, I found his monologue to be reasonable enough even though I didn’t agree with it. He had experienced a turn-about, like many other Americans, in the wake of the war in Iraq. Now, anyone who’s been reading The Blog That Nobody Reads, for any length of time, knows my reaction to “Saddam didn’t have any munitions except for some stuff that was really really old” is a big, fat “So the fuck what??” But, we were letting the other couple have their say…although it was clear they thought they were speaking to friendlies about all this. At least the lady-half of the couple thought that. She seems like a nice enough lady. Well, we were all very civil and very appropriately restrained. There was no upset.

Or very little.

The lady had her opportunity to present her outlook, and she made a regrettable choice to end her intro with a question-mark. Since all four of us are roughly the same age, she observed something like “I think as we get older and our perspectives change, it’s a natural thing that we start to lean a little bit further left, do we not?”

Ummmm…followed by a single, staccato, stinging syllable. “No.”

I felt Mrs. Freeberg’s fingernails dig into my flesh. I also noticed, once the word escaped my maw, that out of the four of us I was the senior, and my single-syllable perhaps carried some extra punch because of this. More than I intended, maybe. It was not the response she was expecting. But in my defense, what was I to do, lie? The lady asked a direct question. And then, like sent from Heaven on high, a waiter appeared to inform us that dinner was served and it was time to relocate into the dining hall. It’s Christmastime! Time for miracles!

The near-miss, however, gives occasion for some good quality thinking. It’s a reminder, which I’m guessing most of us could use from time to time, that all of the people we like and respect don’t necessarily have the same political opinions we do, and even more importantly, that all the people who embrace different opinions, by doing so aren’t making themselves guilty of anything, or into targets of any righteous rage out of us. They’re just opinions. Which are the products of, among other things, life-experiences, and who can legitimately blame another man for having a different set of experiences? It’s something we’re supposed to do.

That having been said. It is interesting to me anyone could think such a thing, let alone say it. Getting older, entering into this bracket (we’re about fifty), inclines one to be a liberal. Really? I have occasionally had this issue with software developers, or at least people who think they’re software developers, saying strange things like this. “I’m a liberal because software development has taught me to be one.” What the heck? Because I think I’m one, too. And I can’t do my job thinking like liberals. I recall that one bug I fixed, some 2 or 3 engineers already looked at it and took a pass on it. The group-think axiom that had emerged, like the Phoenix rising from the ashes, was that the test utility had been persuaded to enter into a logical loop without a run-time termination, the dreaded “infinite loop.” Thinking like a lib, I wouldn’t have fixed this. I’d just chant the same incantation everyone else was chanting. Never would have discovered the code was instantiating six million objects of a common class, per cycle, never releasing any of them. So when these guys say software development has bludgeoned them into becoming liberals, how do they figure? And on what planet does reaching middle age inspire you to become that way? It’s a life I’m not currently living. I can promise you that.

If I were permitted a proper response — it’s a fascinating thought exercise. How do I make my views of conservatism and liberalism, appealing to someone I admire and respect, who happens to be emotionally invested in the other side. I suppose I would start with an anecdote. I recall from the previous century, being plied with the same notion, that an accumulation of years having been spent on the planet, persuades a young conservative to become a more mature liberal. A certain contracting firm hired me to work at a corporation, and someone at the corporation didn’t like me so they took a pass. So my boss and I stopped off at a law firm to litigate the corporation into providing a different answer. I told the lawyer, when my boss was out of the room, that I wasn’t down with this. My thinking was that employment of any kind should be based on desire, and a sensible business case — or else it isn’t really there. I was 28, childless, single, and the lawyer assured me that my outlook was due to this. When I got older I would place a higher value on security and guaranteed employment, and not be so fixated to excess on silly things like “Do the people providing the money or me to be there really want me there.” We-ell…I must be very sluggish intellectually, because I’m now many years older than the lawyer was back then. I’m ashamed of having followed my boss down to that daffy law firm, just because she was my boss and she told me to do it. But I’m proud of myself for having picked up the phone a little while later, and terminating the whole arrangement. Wish I’d done that sooner.

MapIn fact…I’d go on to say…as I get older, it’s become harder and harder for me to ever consider being a liberal because things, far from getting more & more complicated, look simpler and simpler. Which is an interesting paradox, since my responsibilities have become higher, weightier, and a great deal more visible than before. Things have a way of getting like that, when you can see more. If you look down on a map, you’re are availed the luxury of seeing the entire vicinity without obstructions, and can define things in terms of simple, crude compass points. That, I’ve learned, is how politics works. Politics is about human efforts, it’s about stopping them or getting them started. And human efforts are about just three things: Creation, preservation and destruction. That’s not how I saw them at twenty or thirty. But it is how I’ve been seeing them at forty and fifty. Because I know more, and I have less time to waste.

I should add that it’s a bit more complicated than that, because people trying to do things, is never simple. To explain what I’m talking about here, my favorite example is the military. It is said that their mission is to destroy. That is not entirely true. Their tactic is to destroy, and their mission is to be ready to destroy. Their reason for being, is to preserve. The mission of a terrorist, is to destroy. The take-away here is that vocations that do one of these three things — which is, I think, all vocations worth mentioning — are to be defined according to their end-goals, not according to their tactics. The military preserves. Public-defender lawyers who defend their guilty clients whom they know are guilty, are destroyers, as are liberal politicians.

And, the people who vote for them.

Okay, no! I wouldn’t say that. We’re all supposed to be remaining friends here. But, in answering the question, I would have to reveal something about how & why I can’t be a liberal. There is definitely a problem with my lack of mental agility. I can’t say “Donald Trump is a great guy” in Year N, and then, in Year N + 1 immediately start prattling away with “Donald Trump is an awful human being who grabs womens’ pussies and is a Nazi sympathizer” just because Hillary Clinton wants me to say that.

I can’t be a liberal, because I’m a real human being, and real human beings are very different from the way liberals portray us. Here’s the ugly, wonderful truth. That calculus up above, about choosing between opportunity and security. It’s strictly either-or, and this is scenario-independent. None of us are fair-weather friends to it. We’re not going to say “I am confident of my ability to get a job, if and only if the unemployment rate is below, let’s say, six percent.” Like I said earlier: We ensconce. We choose a side and we stick to it, barring some cataclysmic life-changing experience, from crib to crypt. We believe in ourselves, or else we don’t believe in ourselves.

Liberals in government are a toxin, a solvent upon the citizenry. They cannot win elective office if the voters have too much confidence in themselves, and they know it. So they decimate.

I’m choosing that last word very deliberately. It doesn’t mean what you probably think it means. It doesn’t mean “devastate” and it doesn’t mean “obliterate.” It means “to destroy one tenth of,” or “to destroy a large portion of.” Whole people are very unlikely to vote for democrats, and these days it’s very hard to get democrats elected to anything. The politicians who are democrats, therefore, have a keen incentive to make whole people less than whole, to decimate them. They’ve been far more successful at doing this than they have been at getting elected to anything, and as a consequence we have a large number of wounded, incomplete people walking around among us. This is done mostly through the power of suggestion. Most people don’t like to admit how persuasive this is, because deep down I think we all know none of us are above it, not a single one of us is truly immune.

Kids are particularly vulnerable to the decimation liberal use to try to get their favorite politicians elected. They have to go to school, and liberals have maintained a lock on academia for many decades now. The curricula, particularly in public schools, tends to persuade toward a lifelong view emphasizing security over opportunity. Kids are taught not to think for themselves. And, lately, it has become faddish and fashionable to “diagnose” them with all sorts of bullshit “learning disabilities” if they show themselves not to be properly manageable. They graduate, by design, pre-disposed to seek out “leaders” who will give them stuff. It never seems to occur to them: Why does it “have to be free” in order for you to be able to afford it? That’s only true if your earning capacity is zero, right? What makes your earning capacity zero? Aren’t you supposed to be getting educated, so you have a capacity that is not zero?

This is a wounding. It is a making-incomplete. It is a decimation. And, it is destructive; so very destructive. When God gives us 100% of a person, and we decimate that person into 90% of a person, that is a destructive process.

One of the ways we have been decimating children, making them into just a fraction of what they were when God gave them to us, is through this misbegotten notion that children should never be bored. I really don’t know what started this. It’s worse than mistaken. It’s monstrous. It damages children in two ways, first of which is it destroys their creativity. I’ve written about this before, drawing on the salient observations made by Dilbert creator Scott Adams. In sum: There is a link between boredom and creativity. If you’ve ever been creative, you probably understand this already. If you’ve got a gadget that prevents you from ever being bored, and these days who doesn’t…if you stop and think, and if you’re really honest with yourself, you’ll admit you haven’t had a truly inspired idea while you were being spared this boredom. In fact, there’s an idea kicking around out there that the brain may require boredom, in order to self-repair, much like it requires sleep. I dunno. I’m not a neurologist. I’m open to the idea, FWIW. Anyway: We are now habitually denying children this down-time…there never was any discussion about this, it’s just something we do. I don’t think that’s good. I think it’s a bad thing. I’m pretty sure of it.

The second way it damages kids, is this. It doesn’t leave it up to them to figure out for themselves, naturally, whether they want to spend their entire lives as Medicators or not. It gives them a mighty shove in that direction, giving them a taste of this badly flawed idea that they’re somehow entitled to a minute-to-minute relief from boredom. This naturally inspires a nascent outlook on life, that the whole point to existing in the first place, is to be constantly entertained. This damages the kids, and it also damages society, because it ends up flooding us with new generations of destroyers. Medicators are naturally predisposed to be destroyers. They have to be. Because Medicators can’t stand being bored, and creation & preservation are pretty darn boring. Destruction is exciting. It’s quick. And it doesn’t demand details. The guy who swings the wrecking ball doesn’t need to know the dimensions of the building, whether that window pane fits in that wall, whether the measurements are in crunchy-frog system or in God’s measurement-system…

Anyway. That’s how I see it. How would I try to convert someone I admire and respect, toward my point of view when they’re not initially inclined…this is a fascinating question. I think, given this time of year, we would all do well to ponder this.

Given a bit of time to do this monologuing before dinner, I would ask my (captive?) audience to examine with me more carefully the terms we’re using.

The college kids tell me the way I use these terms is wrong, but I have spotted several tell-tale signs that what they mean by “wrong” is “contrary to what my professor told me.” Liberals should never be given authority to define what “conservative” means…or, for that matter, what “liberal” means. They’re all humming from the same hymn, but that doesn’t mean they’re right, or even that what they’re saying makes any sense. Let me see if I get it right here: Liberal means, rugged fearless in the face of proposed paradigm shift, right? Open to new thoughts, new ideas? More innovative, creative? And conservative means, closed-off to these things, entrenched in the status quo. New idea comes up and the conservative yells “No no no, I can’t hear you la la la!” stomps his foot and clasps his hands over his ears. Well, 2017 is a good year to upset that apple cart isn’t it. The “liberals” have gone the entire calendar year not proposing one single new idea about anything, anywhere. The conservatives are the reformers. The liberals are the ones hanging on with bloody fingernails to the legacy power structures. Yelling no-no-no.

So, the textbook definitions don’t work. That means they never did, really. It’s been this way half the time. Liberals were exactly what they say conservatives are, during the Reagan revolution, the Newt Gingrich revolution…during every “conservative” revolution. To say they want to go forward and the conservatives want things to stay the same, is like saying “North is whichever way the bow of this boat is pointing” and throwing away the compass. It works some of the time. But it’s flat-out wrong.

PatrioticThe definition I use works better than any other. I point to it often. Although it’s been criticized for falling short of an actual “definition”…a criticism I find to be valid. What I have in mind when I use these terms, is:

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

Like anything else we argue about that actually has influence over anything, to make the arguing worthwhile: It comes down to the definitions. Conservatives are conservative about definitions. Liberals are liberal with definitions. My detractors speak of textbooks…well folks, the dictionary’s on my side on this thing.

Conservative: “cautiously moderate or purposefully low: a conservative estimate.” As in, a conservative interpretation of “All men are created equal…they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights…among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.”

Liberal: “not strict or rigorous; free; not literal: a liberal interpretation of a rule.” As in, a liberal interpretation of the above would say…these aren’t “men,” they’re our property, and as such (we’ve conjured up the argument that) they’re not entitled to Life, Liberty or any of that other stuff.

Quite a different tack to take, innit? And it isn’t at all flattering to liberals. But…it’s accurate, with regard to history, and with regard to definitions. The college kids point out this must be mistake, for it puts the abolitionists in the antebellum era on the same side as conservatives. Well, they’re right about fifty percent of that…it’s not a mistake.

Conservatism is not about keeping everything static. It isn’t about saying “no no no” to any new idea that comes along. That’s a myth, a mistake, the kind of mistake we make when we allow definitions to be made by liberals, who don’t even like definitions. Conservatism is about being careful, cautious, and asking the sort of sensible questions grown-ups ask. You can certainly evaluate a new idea conservatively and, eventually, give it your unreserved consent. It actually happens pretty often.

Liberals get angry when they don’t get an immediate go-ahead, just like an impertinent little kid who doesn’t have the maturity to form an informed opinion on the matter on which he’s been asked to opine. This happens pretty often too. I call it the Car Color Metaphor.

This all leads up to the one thing I would most like to impress on anyone, of any age, who’s toying with the idea of throwing their weight behind liberalism. This is one seldom-discussed, but often-practiced, way that modern liberalism leads to the idiotes of which Saint Augustine spoke in the piece I linked way up top. Liberalism, unlike conservatism, creates an unhealthy feedback loop. You’ll see what I mean if you examine the issues that have drawn liberal support in recent times. So many of these positions have it in common with each other, that they empower the government — which is supposed to be periodically formed and reformed, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…to mold & shape that mass of “governed.” A single example would highlight the danger, but I have several in mind. There is, using our education system in the manner mentioned above, to “push” newer generations of voters into the Medicator mindset. And then there are all these initiatives to nickel-n-dime us, introducing all sorts of hidden costs into the most innocuous of transactions. Must use these plastic bags, must buy this kind of health insurance, must pay the fine if there is no insurance, must license your dog-groomer, must do this must do that…the job has to pay X much an hour or else the job must cease to exist. This creates artificial economic distress, makes the electorate desperate. Well, like I said above: Whole people aren’t likely to vote for democrats, and electing democrats is hard these days. The damage they’ve done is still fresh in people’s minds.

Transmogrifying illegal aliens into democrat voters, is another way of affecting the electorate. I guess we need the “undocumented migrants” to “do the job Americans will not do,” which is vote for democrats.

The danger involved in this is difficult to overstate. The electorate is supposed to have an effect on what the government is, not the other way around. This is roughly akin to one of those old movies where the evil scientist has a remote-control killer robot, and the killer robot somehow gains physical control of the remote — it’s just like that. If you were to revive the Founding Fathers somehow, I’m sure they’d express their abject horror just like an electrician discovering you mounted a light switch yourself, leaving all the wires stripped bare, buried deep in the wall. Because this is a short circuit; that’s exactly what it is.

It’s the liberals who believe in doing it this way. So when we think about politicians making the citizens into whatever the politicians want the citizens to be, we have to think about liberal politicians doing it. And that means we have to think about the above-mentioned decimation of these citizens, the transformation of complete people into wounded-incomplete people. Subjects instead of citizens. Medicators. Destroyers. Depressed, uncreative…and helpless, so very, very helpless.

So, no, I’m sorry but “Donald Trump talked about grabbing pussies one time” isn’t good enough for me. That’s not enough to get me to hop off the Trump train. I know too much about how the boat needed to be rocked, and I understand all too well the damage that was being done.

But other than the foregoing, I really have no opinion. Oh look! It’s time to go eat…

The Ten Worst Arguments Anyone Ever Provided to Support Any Position

Tuesday, November 28th, 2017

The democrats run pretty-much nothing and have nothing to sell. So we have sex scandals of course…

Their strategists figured out a long time ago that a purported and whispered-about moral failing somewhere, anywhere, will split up the Republicans like a big steel spike through a dry old log. Sure as one heartbeat follows another, the “I cannot in good conscience support” Republicans will separate, and the infighting will begin. And I have noticed this is an occasion for observing the very worst supporting arguments, about anything.

So, I decided to make a little list.

1. You’re stupid! [That is, if you don’t go along]. Clearly this has to take the top spot. The favorite of medium-intellect six-year-olds everywhere.

2. We have to do it for the [children] [working families] [ethnic minorities] [women] [homosexuals & sexually ambiguous] [other]. It’s been used & abused to the point of mockery, but I see it still hasn’t gone out of style. You can’t oppose my idea unless you hate kids, and you don’t hate kids…do you? Well, do you??

3. I’m really aggravated and I’m getting even more aggravated so you better back down right now. Used predominantly by females, who have given up on supporting their unsupportable opinions by way of feminine appeal, because they haven’t got any.

4. I don’t care / refuse to discuss. Yeah. Totally. Because of course reality is shaped by your own willingness, or lack thereof, to notice it.

5. If you don’t agree, me and my friends are going to make fun of you. Ah…now we’re stealing ideas from middle-schoolers.

6. All the cool people are doing it! This is also known as “bandwagon fallacy.” Of course watching grown-ups use it is embarrassing…but, it happens. Europe’s doing it, the other countries are doing it, it’s time we got with the program.

7. All the experts agree and who the hell are you to argue with them?

8. It’s vastly superior because it’s based on tens! Yes…I’m picking on the metric system. Which is a bad supporting argument, and a bad conclusion, all rolled up into one.

9. A board, or a panel, or a “blue ribbon commission,” or council full of no-names voted on it and said yes. I’ve written before about the psychological phenomenon that takes place here, there is a “draw” of sorts that exists because there aren’t any names. No one says it out loud, they just act as if it’s true: If we got a roster, and we knew some of the names upon it, it would be easier to remember the decision-makers are fallible. If we don’t know who they are, somehow they become infallible. But then, I’ve also written about how groups of people can make wrong decisions, and often do, just like individuals make wrong decisions. The “panel,” just by being a panel, doesn’t contribute anything positive whatsoever. Good decisions are still good, bad decisions are still bad. People tend to forget that.

10. Passive-voice buzz: Is considered to be, is regarded to be, is seen as, blah blah blah…a single rhetorical question entirely neutralizes it. “By whom?”

Of course, conclusions supported by bad-supporting-arguments can still be correct. A busted clock can be occasionally right. That doesn’t mean it works, and that doesn’t mean the supporting argument was any good.

What these all have in common, you’ll find, is that the people reaching the conclusions reached those conclusions first. Without actually doing any thinking. If they did it the right way, the epistemology they used would, naturally, form a supporting argument that had some heft to it, some quality. They’d be simply showing their work.

People get into these jams, back themselves into corners, by using their emotions rather than their reasoning capabilities. And then, by calling them out on it or by merely asking “What makes it so?” or “How do you know?”, the other fellow puts himself in the position of being blamed for the heated discussion that ensues. But this is a cosmetic falsehood. The contentiousness and the rancor are to be blamed on the person who wants to win an argument without doing any actual arguing, the person who reached a conclusion without reasoning.

And deep down, he knows it, which makes him resentful. It comes out in the form of these bad arguments.

Check Your Defaults

Monday, November 27th, 2017

The quote that is so often mis-attributed to Robert Francis Kennedy is something like: “There are those that look at things the way they are, and ask why? I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?”

It is quite the scathing indictment against modern-day liberalism, nevermind who did or did not intend for it to be. Our friends the libs get in quite a bit of trouble, and rather regularly, dreaming of things that never were & asking why not. A few of these things could someday be. A lot of them cannot, and in their zeal to make decisions on behalf of the rest of us that are supposed to do good things for us, our progressive friends very often lose sight of obvious contradictions and other things that make these practical impossibilities. But among the ones that really could happen, it would take something remarkable to make them happen. Liberals lose track of this even more often than they lose track of the impossible. They forget the default state, acting as if merely asking “Why Not?” should be enough to flip the polarity. I guess the universe hasn’t been listening.

Hillary winning the presidency is a great example of this, because it certainly was possible. But in order for that to happen, people would have to vote for her in numbers large enough to net her 270 electoral votes or more. Obviously, America needed more reasons and these were not forthcoming. “Because she’s a woman,” “because it’s her turn”…the list pretty much ends there. Her famous book “What Happened,” therefore, misses the point. And entirely, not just a little bit. What happened? More like what didn’t happen. Liberals lose sight of the default state, which is that a politician running for office, loses. Even when politicians run against each other, this is the natural situation for both of them. They both labor under the onerous task of flipping the situation to their favor, which is, as they first confront it & until they present something to get it flipped, “You’re going to lose.” That’s the default. What happened is simply this: Hillary never did anything to change the situation from the default. Her opponent did.

Trump HappenedLiberals are wrong, and this way, with pretty much every issue that captures their passions, stem to stern. They have a lot of “solutions to poverty,” but they don’t understand poverty. Poverty is the default state. We’re all born without any money, and also without any investment capital or skills we could use to get some money. Thus, we don’t have any need for an exceptional circumstance to stay impoverished. We require an exceptional circumstance before we can make money. If that should come to pass, there is another default state within the non-default, which is: Inequality. Inequality of income, and inequality of wealth. These are more things liberals don’t understand, because they think of them as exceptional evils. This is wrong. If you and I are languishing in the default state of poverty, and you say to yourself “I am tired of this, I wish to do something exceptional so I can live in a non-impoverished state,” good for you. Maybe I’ll emulate your superior example, and instantly…but the default is, I’m going to keep doing what you and I both have been doing, therefore, staying impoverished myself. Bam. Inequality.

Climate change is the default. This is science. Liberals are silly about climate change because they think on it with an underlying premise that there’s something exceptional about it, that the default is for the climate to remain static with the passage of time, and something nefarious & artificial must have happened in order to make it change. If that were the case, there would be no climate for anyone to study. But there has always been climate, and the climate has always changed. If it didn’t change, that would be exceptional.

Here’s another quote, this one genuine: Ronald Reagan said “The trouble with our liberal friends is not that they’re ignorant, it’s just that they know so much that isn’t so.”

If you are charged with a crime, you are guaranteed certain rights, not the least of which is the benefit of the doubt. The prosecution has to prove its case, and in the absence of either side being able to prove anything, you are presumed innocent. This is not because the Founding Fathers wanted to make the country a cushy comfortable place for people to commit crimes and get away with them. It’s because this simply makes sense. Innocence is the default state.

Liberals forget that when we give new powers to a government agency, and start worrying about the authorities abusing these powers, what we’re worrying about is the default, not an exception. For new powers to be invested in the elected & appointed, who then proceed to use them without abusing them, would be exceptional. In fact, it really hasn’t happened very often in our history. People are corruptible. Abuse is the default premise. In fact, if after some amount of time it doesn’t happen, the default premise that arises to replace the earlier one, is that the abuse will happen a little bit later.

Beer WenchWhen we make it more expensive to do something, the default condition is going to be that fewer people will do it. If we make it less expensive, or less onerous, or speedier, or make the product taste better, the default condition will be that more people will partake. If we qualify people for something and we lower the standards, the default scenario is going to be that more people will meet this new, lower standard. And, they will be a lower caliber than before because they won’t have had to prove as much, or try as hard. For standards to be maintained in outcome while relaxed in code, would be truly exceptional. That’s not to say it is impossible. It is to say responsible people — not liberals — should expect the default, not that.

When people are given things and don’t have to work for them anymore, it would be truly exceptional for them to value the things as highly as they did back when they still had to work for them. Liberals think that isn’t exceptional, it is the default, and they should be able to count on it. They’re wrong about that. The scenario that unfolds by default, when people are given things that don’t require work, is that they don’t cherish those things and if the things have to be maintained by their owners, it isn’t going to happen and the things will degrade after just a little bit of time.

Perhaps the biggest misconception liberals have about defaults, has to do with the aftermath of the imposition of new rules. People, by default, don’t like rules. They may like to see the rules imposed on others, but when new rules are imposed on them, they balk at it. The default situation to be expected when new rules are imposed on a geographic locality, is that people will flee. And if yet another rule is imposed to keep people from fleeing, the default scenario one can expect to see unfold, is that people will try to escape.

The people we today call “liberals” have a tough time with this. They envision all sorts of bizarre things that they accept as default-scenarios, that aren’t, in fact are wildly exceptional, even risible. Something having to do with “paying higher taxes out of a sense of patriotism” or some such.

This failure to grasp the true meaning of the default, and the true implications of the default, is the shortest path between modern liberalism and pure & predictable wrongness. Which is saying something, since there are many such paths, and they’re all short. But this one problem they have, above all others, does the most to ensure they do not, and cannot, live in reality. Sane sensible people don’t want liberals running anything that impacts anybody else. And when they hear “research says,” they don’t put stock in it until they confirm no liberals were involved in the research. They don’t have confidence in “experts say” until they confirm none of the experts were liberals.

Because liberals don’t really ask “Why Not?” Their minds are not open to hearing the answer; and most of the time, there is one, a solid, inescapable answer why things are not that way, and cannot be that way. You can’t count on the liberals to stick around and find out what that is.

Facts, Factoids, Feelings and Naught

Thursday, November 16th, 2017

Someone’s been hitting Snopes a bit too hard. And I seek to criticize them for it, not for any hard-linkage to the now thoroughly discredited lefty-leaning “debunking” website, but for their borrowing of the flawed methodology. And the rest of us should pay attention, for this is an object lesson in “How, and why, liberals are to blame for most of, in fact nearly all, of the pointless arguing.”

Ed Darrell sees a similarity between the famous tank-vs.-man footage from Tiananmen Square in China back in the summer of ’89…

…and the chubby Trump-dissenting bicycle-lady who flipped off PDJT’s motorcade…

Well, there’s a problem with this. It isn’t so much with the lack of similarity between the two things, as with the presence of key differences. It takes more time than I’ve got to list those, whether I limit myself to the important ones or not. It would take a lot less time to list the things that aren’t different. Maybe I should do that.

Both events took place on a firm, somewhat flat surface.

Someone came along with a rebuttal:

Of course if someone was flipping Obama the narrative would be racism or lack of civility. Ok , i’m joking the picture would never been taken, let alone shown the light of day…if it were Obama , the media gate keepers would not allow it.

Here the narrative is ‘resistance’ and ‘evil nazi trump’ which the media gate keepers are a main proponent of so nearly any anti trump behaviour is welcome and normalised.

From anonymous protest, to outing herself , then complaining about the consequences of her pursuing her 15 minutes of fame, victim of her own vanity then victim of Trumpian dark forces and now winner thanks to trumpian dark forces…

And Mr. Darrell replied with something that, depending on your point of view, really put the voice of dissent in its place & showed it what’s what & what for…or…demonstrated to all willing to pay attention, the incredible difficulty involved in telling Mr. Darrell anything.

Russian and GOP bots spread far and wide any even barely colorable acts of disrespect or dissent to President Obama. You’ve forgotten the drunken Republican Rep. Joe Wilson’s heckling during the State of the Union? You’ve forgotten Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer’s finger wagging at Sky Harbor Airport? Sen. Mitch McConnell’s press conference to declare the top GOP goal was making sure Obama was a one-termer — while the nation faced its greatest economic crisis at least since the Great Depression?

CNN put together a Top Ten list of great acts of disrespect to President Obama: (Link)

President Obama, and First Lady Michelle Obama, bore those insults with calm equanimity, unlike the thin-skinned Donald Trump. They sought no vengeance, no retribution, and mostly ignored them to let action and reality speak for itself.

They were so cool about it, you seem to have forgotten the insults entirely, suggesting their strategy worked well.

Nor did “media gatekeepers” hide anything. They often were in the forefront of spreading the false, scurrilous claims. Remember the New Yorker cover showing the Obama’s as Muslim militants or terrorists?

Here is the problem with debunking things with feelings. The unstated but unavoidable conclusion Darrell seeks to prove, that there is no institutional anti-Trump pro-Obama bias at work, is patently absurd. But, you’ll notice, all the facts he puts out are technically true. This isn’t because his point has merit overall, it’s because there is so little fact in what he says, and so much feeling. It’s like opening a large Amazon package and finding eighty to ninety percent of the volume is taken up by those cushy air pillows, and you got half as much toothpaste as you thought you were getting.

But the problem is not limited to quantity. Feelings don’t debunk anything, for someone else can remember, with legitimacy…let me say that again, with legitimacy…the historical events having gone down a different way. Many of you are going to be supping with your smart-alecky liberal nieces or nephews next week at the Thanksgiving table, reaping the benefits of the younger generation having boned up on their Salon or Huffington Post articles about “How to win arguments with your Republican Uncle.” If you can’t see my point now, surely you’ll be able to see it then…

I would cite one key example, although I could cite many, for this criticism of Obama that seems to have rubbed Darrell the wrong way was very often, at the time, the story-of-the-week. And the next week, and the next week too. Made that way, by Obama supporters who couldn’t let it go, huffing away with their air of “how DARE s/he say that!”

New Yorker CartoonThe “You Lie!” thing with Congressman Wilson is a suitable example of this. Obama’s detractors thought little of it…at least, the way I recall it. We chuckled a little bit, and said to each other “Well…He does,” and then went back to work while the Obama supporters hyperventilated away, demanding censure, expulsion or both. The New Yorker example is an even better one. The naughty magazine, far from standing as some bastion of clear-eyed William F. Buckley conservatism, sought to publish a pictorial wisecrack, poking fun at those who were not on the Obama bandwagon. Conservatives and moderate-conservatives, in other words. It was a joke that was supposed to be at their expense.

It backfired due to the overwhelming failure of the distinction Darrell seeks to proliferate here: That Obama has thick skin, contrasted with President Trump whose skin is so very thin.

Well…can’t speak to the skin-thickness of the two individuals, specifically. And Trump was many years away from becoming a thing at the time the cartoon hit the stands. But my recollection was that there was little or no “calm equanimity” that allowed the whole thing to fade into the darkness of forgotten history, from Obama’s supporters. It is to laugh. They went into schoolgirl hysterics over it, and against one of their own, much like the revolutionaries during the Reign of Terror putting their own former compatriots into the guillotine for failing to be revolutionary enough. The New Yorker proliferated a vision that was supposed to be in the heads of those unsophisticated and racist anti-Obama types, as in, “This is what they see, amIRight?” And, those who are so solidly on-board with the Obama reforms to see the figurehead more as a religious figure than a political one, yelled “Sacrilege!” And then, for a little while, the whole country was dragged into a phony controversy whether it wanted to be or not.

That’s the way I remember it. Other people remember it differently, I’m sure. But then again, I’m also sure I’m not the only one who remembers it the way I do. This is why skilled architects who design mighty buildings that stand the test of time, even in high winds, use computer software to draw straight lines, and before those came along, they used straight-edges. Some things shouldn’t be drawn free-hand. And feelings don’t prove anything. Logically, this means they don’t debunk anything either. But that doesn’t stop liberals from trying, constantly.

This is something that makes sense to them. This is why persons today of sane mind, don’t want liberals running anything, anywhere. Modern liberalism is all about, among other things: My feelings are all-important; yours don’t count for squat.

Thing I Know #463. Facts debunk factoids; feelings don’t debunk anything.

On a related note, I seem to have “Costco‘d” my list of eight things; it should be nine. The list of things young people don’t get. Let me explain: I started the list because of one thing that was slightly bugging me, and after fleshing it all the way out to six things, and then going back to add another two, I forgot the one thing that I was supposed to hit if nothing else.

Young people, and Mr. Darrell, seem to entirely miss the key difference between Tiananmen Square guy and bicycle girl. They don’t understand the difference between “That is a brave thing that person is doing,”…or “His risk to himself, or her personal sacrifice, will mean freedom for many”…or “The idea being presented is meritorious, and worthy of respect, maybe even adulation”…or “It certainly does not justify the disdain and the derision being heaped upon it”…

…versus, “S/He has a right to say it.”

We live in a society that protects freedom of speech. Protect doesn’t have to mean respect. There has to be a difference between these two things, because we have to protect the disreputable ideas first. We have to protect the bad ideas, the ideas that really do deserve the disdain. We have to protect the dumb ideas. If freedom of speech doesn’t apply to those, it really doesn’t apply to anything else either.

Logically, this means “S/He has a right to say it” is not a substantial comment, one way or another, on whether the thing said is any good.

That’s another thing to keep in mind while waiting for your snarky liberal niece or nephew to pass you the mashed potatoes, along with the lecturing. The NFL “Take a Knee” controversy will almost certainly be included among the topics discussed. And if that’s the case, reliable as Black Friday shopping sales, the point will be made that they have the “right” to do it. Which is supposed to end, with an air of finality, the whole thing.

But it deserves only a two-word rebuttal, the only one possible: So what?

Thanksgiving Lecturing Instructions for Liberals

Wednesday, November 15th, 2017

Reviewing…from 2015, 2016

Don Surber (hat tip to American Digest) has the round-up for this year…

…and closes it out with:

If you will notice, there are no conservatives writing how-to-lecture-a-captive-audience story.

That’s because the conservatives are too busy buying turkeys and trimmings. Cleaning up the house. Getting out the folding chairs.

These family dinners tend to be hosted by conservatives because we took out mortgages, not student loans.

Car Color Metaphor

Monday, November 13th, 2017

Conscientious parenthood, I’ve noticed, is a never-ending series of just-because. That is, to those of us who care whether, and how, our children are maturing. Not all parents do. But for those who do, we have to understand, and all the time: Just because the child’s ready to do this, doesn’t mean he or she is ready to do that. And perhaps the biggest just-because of all comes right after the terrible-twos, when the kids learn to express a preference, and then get a bit testy about it: Just because your child can make a choice, doesn’t mean your child can make a decision.

I have often been distressed to see other parents place great weight…I mean, great weight, like, “I want my child to know how to swim before going to a canoe swamp”…on the making of choices. They don’t seem to remember that this is nothing more than merely expressing a preference. They think they’re doing the right thing. Figure out what you want, and then go after it sweetie! And in a way, it is the right thing. Figuring out what you want is the gateway. Can’t make a plan without a goal. Well…fine, but there are things to be factored into that. Before you can do that, what are the prerequisites? And after you get “what you want,” what are the consequences? This kind of stuff goes into decision-making, not choice-making. Here & there, now & then, such considerations might change the goal. That’s how you make a decision. Making a choice is not that. Making a choice is nothing more, really, than “I want.” It’s an impulse.

Mommy: Pumpkin, your father and I have decided you’re old enough, we’re going to include you in the vote on what color to paint the family car.

Tyke: I want it to be glow-in-the-dark purple and canary-yellow, like my favorite Pokemon character!!

That’s choice-making, not decision-making. A different level of maturity required for each.

The other thing that requires a certain level of maturity, is the processing of rejection…

Mommy: That’s wonderful, precious! Daddy and I have talked it over, and we’ve taken the vote…we’re going to order dark metallic gray.

Ah yes…when you try you have to expect to fail, when you gamble you must be prepared to lose, and when you participate in a vote you have to anticipate you’ll be outvoted. Some children who make choices but not decisions, might at least get this, that everything in life is not a win. The child might conclude the vote was conducted honestly, it wasn’t a set-up, it was a simple case of two against one. Or, she might understand, deep-down, that painting the family car the color of a cartoon character was never going to happen. Or, at the very least, choices are personal, what might be right for one may not be appealing to all.

Or.

Mommy and Daddy knew from the beginning what color they wanted to paint the car. It was a set-up!

My parents are evil!

And stupid! So, so very stupid!

They’re out to get me!

If she doesn’t have the maturity to accept that when you vote, sometimes you lose, she’ll skid along one or more stops in the Kübler-Ross Model, and then come to rest here. The game was rigged, the people who outvoted me are stupid, they’re evil, they’re out to get me. Also, their stuffy old minds are closed to my wonderful, bold new ideas because they are just too simple and set in their ways to understand.

This is exactly what liberals say about conservatives whenever they lose.

It’s going to be that way for awhile, because in liberal-land, lack of maturity is an actual weapon. The political class has learned to deploy, and use — successfully — Weaponized Arrested Development. This is good for them. It’s bad for the rest of the country, including their base which is displaying the lack of maturity they seek to exploit.

My Blog’s Thirteenth Birthday

Sunday, November 12th, 2017

Yay…

We’re at 8,269 posts and 26,678 comments. Stopped counting the hits awhile ago…the mechanics for doing so started sucking, and I realized I don’t really care…it’s The Blog That Nobody Reads, after all…

Veterans Day 2017

Saturday, November 11th, 2017

Our Young People Don’t Understand

Friday, November 10th, 2017

Someone wrote in with a comment, once upon a time, that my blog is very optimistic. Which came as news to me. I always thought of myself as grouchy, and pretty much everyone who knows me sees me that way. But the point the observer was making, was that every post is upbeat…which, I see, has some truth to it. This thing conservatives often say, like “We’re DOOOOOOMED!!!!” — I’m not part of that.

Mine are more like: Here is a complaint. It has to do with our society and where it’s headed. We’re headed in the wrong direction and we’d better check our bearings if we care about where we’re going — but each day offers some new hope.

Like, for example. Our young people. They are headed in the wrong direction. But…how many previous generations, in the history of humanity, looked at their young people and pronounced that civilization must surely be coming to an end, since the young were so poorly-adapted to shoulder the burdens being passed on by the old? I’d say that complaint has endured throughout all the generations, since the Great Flood. And yet we’re still here. So that has to mean, older generations complaining about younger generations, is part of the natural order of things. It’s okay. It’ll all work out over the long term. N-E-V-E-R-T-H-E-L-E-S-S — the time has now come for my own generation to turn soft, obese, gray, boring, “Get the fuck off my lawn”….and look down with sneering disdain on the younger generation that seeks to eventually displace us.

Let me tell you of the problems I see. Oh, yes there is some optimism. But before we get to that, there is this very short list of important things our young people don’t seem to understand…like…

1. WHY do we bother to study history? The youngsters do study it. They know something about Mahatma Ghandi being a nice wonderful guy and all, and the (mythical) Great Party Switch of the 1960’s. What I see the young people doing, is viewing history through the lens of a movie aficionado, with clearly defined heroes and villains. Well…that’s probably not history as it really happened. Also, we can’t USE history that’s made up of glittering generalities about certain people. Like, Genghis Khan had lots of children, Edward Longshanks was a very capable administrator, Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King fought for the freedom of people…Louis XIV had an enormous penis and William The Conqueror was so strong he could mount a horse while fully clad in plate armor. Those things really don’t help us. What helps us is when we notice trends, when we see how human behavior works. That’s why we study history. To avoid the mistakes of the past. And it has not been lost on me, that the young people who are most ignorant of this, are the ones who are most enthused about proving they’re better people than the old people they seek to displace. Well…that’s actually how it’s done. Old people teach history to young people, so the young people have a shot at living better, more productive, better-informed lives.

2. Cause and effect. When you study history, the most useful thing you can learn from it by far, is the stuff that follows the pattern of “WHEN people do X, or have X done to them, the next thing that happens, is Y.” Like, when elected and appointed officials get power, they find ways to get more. When people are given things and don’t have to work for those things, they don’t take very good care of them. When you own a building and a gutter falls off the roof or a window breaks & you don’t fix it, you send a message…it’s okay for people to break all the other windows…

3. The correct way to generalize. A lot of young people are going to look at this list, come up with one or two exceptions to it, engage in a bit of mockery, then march away triumphant like a pigeon that just crapped on a chessboard or a dog that just piddled on a hydrant. It only takes one exception to prove it wrong! I win! Eh, not quite Skippy…there is such a thing as aggregate measurement. These metrics mean things. That’s why we take the trouble to gather statistics. And, while history is chock full of chubby middle-age generations like mine grumbling away about how the world is doomed because the newer kids don’t know what they’re doing…and the world has always managed to limp along…there’s something new & different going on with your age set. The alternative to noticing is to ignore it, and “ignore” is the main part of the word “ignorance,” because that’s how we make ourselves ignorant, by ignoring things.

4. The other side. I was noticing when I was reading this Cracked article…it’s supposed to be eighteen reasons why other countries are better than the United States. It ends up being sixteen reasons why the United States is better than those other countries, with an additional 2 items up for debate, because, well, older people are going to see the other side. Even if younger people do not. Like for example…

Cars are rare in Cuba, and as a result, all government vehicles are required to pick up hitchhikers (space permitting) to ensure they reach their destination safely.

Well…where to begin. I think anyone with a brain, over the age of forty, will see the downside(s). But, based on my experience watching other people notice things and form conclusions about what they mean, it seems lately you have to have been on the planet awhile before there’s a “form conclusion” process at all. Look over the article linked above, you’ll see what I mean. Win cash for obeying the speed limit! Ipso facto! You might have experienced this blindness yourself, talking with young people, having to explain to them: Well no, there actually are some reasons why we don’t want “guaranteed” paid parental leave. You might have noticed, it’s a blindness more severe than simply having never thought of it, a darker shade of pitch-black. Like the concept doesn’t exist in their universe. A downside? Who could imagine such a thing? Must be some sort of other-worldly creature or something.

5. Winning arguments. YES, your generation DID get its news from The Daily Show…NO, it is NOT “just a comedy show,” too many of you kids took it way too seriously for way too long and it’s done something to you. Too many among you think a wisecrack is a winning, even a definitively winning, argument. Well it’s not. Empirically observed evidence wins arguments…and then direct, not circumstantial, evidence. And then there’s logic. Also: “tl;dr” does not win arguments, in fact it makes you look like something of a tool.

6. Time. I really don’t know if “the majority of” people on welfare are chiselers who’ve selected the lifestyle because they don’t want to work…don’t very much care. You can’t measure it anyway. The issue is what happens over time. See #2, “cause and effect,” above. What are we to infer a new policy is going to do to such a ratio? Obviously if it’s very easy to collect welfare when you’re able-bodied, and very hard to find and keep a job, we should expect to see more people collecting welfare when they could work. People do what’s easy. And they, like all the rest of us, do not live inside snapshots. Time passes. Things move.

Update 11-11-17: 7. Conservatism, liberalism, socialism, fascism: No, conservatism is not a bunch of reflexive “no no no” against every new idea that comes along, the stuff we call “liberalism” today is not about liberty, socialism is not about making life fair, and fascism is not some spectrum-opposite of socialism with the forced redistribution of wealth removed. That’s not right at all. For conservatism and liberalism, you’re far better off referring back to what I had to say about it:

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

Socialism is many increments of power transfer on the way toward the elimination of private property; it is being governed as if civilization is dead already, the resources are not being renewed, and everybody has to receive an evenly distributed portion so that no one person dies last, the final heartbeat comes to everyone simultaneously. Fascism is not the opposite of socialism, if anything it’s the opposite of classic liberalism, in which the rights of the individual would have been supreme, with fascism it is the right of the state that is supreme. The state controls everything. Unless you’ve been living in a cave, you should understand modern liberalism is not opposed to this.

Modern liberalism comes up with new ideas, that are not new ideas at all, they have to do with transfers of wealth and power to the state. It makes these old/new ideas appealing to people who pay attentiopn only casually, by attacking definitions, and exploiting the audience’s lack of critical thinking and lack of maturity. Conservatism, far from rejecting these ideas out-of-hand because they came from a liberal, or a woman, or a black or gay guy, evaluates the proposal conservatively and asks questions about it. Most problematically, for the liberalism, Prof. Sowell’s famous three: “Compared to what?”, “What hard evidence do you have?”, and “At what cost?” You’ll notice, when conservatives object, very often the objection is framed around a concern for the continuance of civilization, with a prediction that has to do with cause-and-effect: Civilization cannot continue that way. And: When people discover they don’t have to do work to get things, they won’t do as much work.

Modern liberalism, you’ll notice, having positioned itself to exploit the lack of maturity among its chosen audience, will reply to these concerns with a bunch of accusations. What does a very small child think, invited for the first time to participate in a family decision, and then seeing his or her cherished idea rejected? If there is maturity, the child will conclude the decision was made in good faith and there were sound reasons, understood or not, for things going the way they did. But before the maturity sets in, the first synapse to jump the gap will be that those who made the decision are 1) evil, 2) stupid, 3) some combination of evil and stupid. Exactly what liberals say about conservatives, whenever liberals lose.

Suzy, Daddy and I have decided to include you on the decision about the family’s next pet. Puppy, or goldfish?

Great white shark!!

That’s nice sweetie…well, Daddy and I have discussed it, and we’re getting a puppy.

What the?? My parents hate me! You and Daddy are evil!! And stupid!!

It’s a civilization thing, a definitions thing, and it’s a maturity thing. The “new ideas” thing comes from liberals who have mistakenly been handed autocratic-level power in determining definitions, which is always a mistake because liberals don’t believe in definitions. They like defining themselves that way, because then they’re like the six-year-old wanting a great white shark in the family pool. It makes it look like everyone who’s not on board with the idea, has a phobia against new ideas. What’s really happening is the detractors are asking good, sound, grown-up questions, and thinking ahead to the ultimate consequences, something the liberal isn’t doing.

Which brings me to…

8. Change, progress, moving forward, lean[ing] forward: This is the one misunderstanding that most efficiently transforms good, honest, fresh little kids who were properly raised, who could end up going either way based on their honestly evaluated life-experience, into liberal dingbats.

All change is not necessarily good. People like that word, when they perceive that the change being proposed will bring no inconvenience to them, only to others. Of course, with this assurance in place, all change is positive and exciting. But, it’s implicitly understood that a fight is ahead, some people will not be welcoming of the change…and so, Barack-Obama-like, the advocate can always launch into a monologue about how change can be scary, for some, but we just need to nut up and get over it.

This is a three-fer for the liberal ideology, because they get to energize their base about this “change” and at the same time renew the slander against those “conservatives” who are resisting because they must be “afraid of change.” And then the base feels like it must be all big-and-bad, because these unmet other-people are afraid of something, and they themselves are not afraid of it. Well…it’s easy to be unafraid of something, if you don’t anticipate any negative consequences from it, either because the proposed change is carefully crafted to direct the negative consequences onto other classes of people, or because you’re just not thinking ahead. Takes no courage to remain-unafraid, in that set of conditions, at all.

Happy 242nd Birthday Marines

Friday, November 10th, 2017

Liberals Gather to Scream at the Sky

Thursday, November 9th, 2017

Well…add this to the list of problems President Trump has not yet fixed. It matters because it’s a problem that’s been with us awhile. Difficult to say how long. It definitely kicked into high gear with the Occupy Wall Street protests a few years ago…

You’re seeing an example of the object of my complaint, every time there is a protest without a coherent message. Other than something roughly equivalent to “I’m unhappy with the way things are going and I wish things were different.”

I often make mention of Architects and Medicators; thinking people who must come up with ways to solve new unfamiliar problems, fall into one of these camps, or the other. You aren’t born into this one or that one, but you might as well be, because when people choose to solve new unfamiliar problems by way of subscribing to the methods of one group or another, they acclimate themselves to these methods for the next new problem, and the one after that and the one after that. They ensconce themselves. Medicators act as stewards over their own emotional state, placing a premium value on the shared experience. Whereas, Architects are mindful of, and comfortable with, the metaphysical. They know that two and two make four, and it doesn’t matter who’s watching or what anyone thinks about it. They also understand that not all events are spontaneous. There is cause-and-effect; things happen, because they were made increasingly likely by other things happening.

Our evolving culture is leaning way too far into Medicator territory. Can this be denied, when one notices the liberals screaming at the sky on the anniversary of an election loss? There’s a shared experience — and absolutely, positively, nothing else.

Americans share their feelings with other Americans way too much, right now. Especially young Americans. There is now a hard, distributed, yet concentrated, ignorance of the metaphysical. Ignorance of the fact that Trump is still their President, just as much as he would be if they were ecstatic over the results. That’s how reality works. It doesn’t care what you think.

And I suppose it doesn’t matter if we’re losing understanding of this…doesn’t matter if we lose it altogether. It’s not like an endangered species dying off & becoming extinct. Reality is always there to remind people who’ve become reality-averse. Everyone can always learn from it, and at any time. All it takes is a moment’s worth of paying attention.

But, two or three generations in a row, trained from birth to cultivate and display discomfort about this, and at every opportunity? That can’t be good.

There are quite a few jobs Medicators can’t do. Quite a few jobs that, when they aren’t done, someone has to recognize “Duh, hey, that job is not yet done”…even though no one feels good about saying so. Matching up jobs with the people who would presumably do those jobs, in recent years, has become the nearly-exclusive domain of the Medicator mindset. As in, “Although he has the hard skills, I feel like this other candidate would be a better cultural fit.” That could work, if the people who were experienced at doing the job made these sorts of judgment calls. But we’ve lately been getting away from that, entrusting first-gatekeeper chores to clerk-zombies and H.R. hosebeasts who can’t even pretend to know the first thing about doing the actual job.

There is, arguably, some value in young people developing the skill to coordinate with each other, even if it’s about a big silly nothing, a post-election screaming session. Better to have them understand how to work together on such a futile thing, than to not know how to work together at all. But, all things in moderation, and this one has passed the point of moderation. “Working together” is a learned skill, but it isn’t a productive skill. It’s just a first step. Somewhere along the line, seems we as a society have forgotten that.

No, I don’t see these tow-heads as fringe-kookburgers. I see them as a direction where we’re headed. We haven’t quite had anything like this before, have we? We had the hippie movement. Before hippies, there were beatniks. But this is different. It’s a heading, I think, that won’t be changed until such time as some influence from the outside produces such change. The individuals might grow out of it, as real life challenges them to recognize reality & actually solve problems. But they will be replaced by more ditzy kids just entering the phase, so that it hangs around us like a bad smell. It is the price of our success, we have all these airheads who have time to protest about nothing.

If we really try, I’m sure there’s a way we can enjoy the material success, without being encumbered by this constant spectacle. Seems to me children should be taught how to contribute to the prosperity they enjoy, when they find themselves privileged and emboldened to participate in these protests-about-nothing. Perhaps if that were happening, they won’t have the time to protest-about-nothing, or not nearly as much. Or, not nearly as many of them would, as often; perhaps we wouldn’t see it reaching critical mass, like, every single month out of every single year like this. Perhaps what we’re seeing, is the parents taking an undeserved and unearned holiday. Not enough parenting happening.

And so the young, who will inherit the future whether they’re ready for it or not, have yet to figure out two and two make four, and that things happen because other things happened. That is what we’re seeing. “I don’t like it, so let’s protest.” Protest…to stop it from happening a second time? Take a few of them aside, interview them in isolation, they wouldn’t be able to tell you…

It isn’t cute. Those are our future leaders. Yes, only the best will lead, maybe, hopefully…but if that’s the best out of a whole generation that lacks understanding, that doesn’t solve anything. And maybe it won’t be the best. History tends to offer us specimens of the most outspoken being selected for positions of real influence. That’s the norm.

Their Very Fine Line

Monday, November 6th, 2017

Once again, I wrote it out, looked back and thought to myself, “Hmmm, that’s quite good, innit?”

The democrats have to walk a fine line when they control the electorate. Voters have to feel like things are good enough that there’s no penalty for wrong decisions, and they can say & do any ol’ stupid thing…but, at the same time, bleak enough for their own individual circumstances that an even redistribution of wealth would net them something.

Best way to do that is to insert a layer of wise, sophisticated bureaucrats in the acquisition of vital goods & services, like gasoline and health care…and, keep the proles in positions of absolute local mastery over their acquisitions of non-vital, silly, electable things. Like sneakers, tattoos, video games, tongue & navel studs, barbiturates, hallucinogens and fidget spinners.

President Trump was elected by millions of people who don’t even personally like him. It is, by & large, the same group of voters that elected Barack Obama twice. There are many reasons for this, first of which is that “by & large” is not the same as “exactly.” There were voters who stopped voting, and other voters who started (again). Obama provided an opportunity for virtue-signaling, for going through the motions of fighting racism. Hillary Clinton would have provided equivalent opportunity for going through the motions of fighting sexism, but either people aren’t as concerned about that, or she wasn’t as convincing. Or, she was just a horrible candidate.

I think, though, people have a very primal way, a very accurate way, of sensing when they’ve run out of margin-of-error. They grow up real quick, when it becomes necessary to do so, dancing much more cautiously when they know they’re nearing the edge of a cliff. A lot of voters wanted to offer the impression, to others, that they & their families were suffering through dire circumstances in 2008, when it made perfect sense for the presumptive candidate to say…

We will look back and tell our children, this was the moment…when the rise of the oceans began to slow, and our planet began to heal…

Hate to rain on the pity-party. But if your circumstances are such that this is convincing campaign rhetoric for you, you really don’t have it that bad.

And that’s the perfect storm they need to create. If people are suffering too much, they might get the idea the source of their suffering is the government the democrats want to empower and inflate. This would be a repeat of November of 2016, and of all those midterms that didn’t work out well for democrats, like 1994, 2002, 2010, 2014. If people are doing well enough that they’re starting to feel some confidence in their own abilities to make things better, this will diminish that feeling of helplessness and dependence the democrats need to exploit. Of these two spoilers, I think the democrats are more worried about that one, the aspiration toward self-empowerment. Material prosperity isn’t required to make it happen. You just have to have confidence, and then you have to think like a grown-up. Spiritual health, and belief in a Higher Power, contribute to this. So, they’re none too fond of such things.

Right now, it’s interesting to watch them. They themselves know they’re in the “can’t screw up” mode, dancing like they’re nowhere near the edge of the cliff. They’ve already fallen off it, enjoying the luxury of knowing they can’t go anywhere but up.

And what is it we see them doing, when they’re relieved of the burden of pretending they’re something they’re not? When we get to watch them in this state of relaxed candidness?

They’re stockpiling the one asset they have, which is the widespread resentment against the current President. If that anger diminishes too much within the next year, they lose. If too many people say “I really don’t like the way 2016 went, but ya know what, I’m over it…gonna get on with life”….they lose. The one arrow they have left in their quiver, is to keep that anger keen, sharp and hot. Building on it, if that could be done, would be ideal.

So the masses have to feel like they’re doing well enough they can afford to think all cockeyed, like our voting makes a difference in what the planet’s going to do…and, are miserable enough that they’ve managed to net fewer material possessions than the average, such that they’d come out on the higher end if all the wealth were to be evenly re-distributed. Like they are wallowing in some misery because other people didn’t care enough about them, didn’t give them enough stuff.

And, they have to be angry at Donald Trump. How do they make the voters angry at Donald Trump? How best to rub those emotions raw in the year ahead, when the emotions have been rubbed already over the past year, or more? How to keep the flame from being exhausted at the very moment when it counts?

By reminding them how stupid he is

Think about THAT, now. We’re constantly told the democrats are the party of the little guy, of the underdog. The handicapped, who cannot do, couldn’t have done, anything to improve his present circumstances. Well, putting aside the fact that this is exactly how small children argue — “You’re stupid! I win!” — when the time comes for all of their hopes and dreams to depend on making an entire country angry at one guy, they see this as the most promising strategy. Promulgate the notion that he’s stupid, like they did with Sarah Palin and George W. Bush. Convince us he’s stupid, and our anger is automatic. And right, and good, and just.

Think about that…take all the time you need…

Speaking for myself, a guy who’s had to curse himself for thinking dumb thoughts and doing dumb things, even as bosses & colleagues have practically worshiped him for his soooper-genius intelligence in the aftermath of solving this or that problem…and, has watched others do super smart & super dumb things…the simplicity of this boring bromide bothers me. “Intelligence” — there are quite a few different kinds, right? Have we forgotten this? I guess we’re prospering enough, once again, we feel like we can afford to think all silly and sloppy. It’s not like ounces of residual wine left in a jug or something like that. It’s not a singular metric.

Besides, if we’re dancing close enough to the edge of the cliff that we have to think a bit longer & harder about what might be an errant move, what we can & cannot afford…it is not lost on me, that government tends to become much more expensive, much less affordable, when under the stewardship of these sleek, sophisticated, eloquent talkers who’ve been billed to us as Higher Beings with genius intellect. Seems to me that pattern’s pretty durable. The World’s Smartest Woman, or Black Guy, or Gay Guy or just plain World’s Smartest Straight White Guy gets in there…a year later, the price of gas goes up, premiums go up, deductibles go up, the grocery stores are required to stiff me by selling me fancy plastic bags…the money just flows. We get nickeled and dimed to death. But, not to worry, because the super-smart bosses can make fancy speeches.

The perfect situation, for them, is one in which we’re all out of money and have no idea where it went. This is why super-smart super-genius politicians, owing their allegiance to the democrat party, are so wild about controlling energy policy. If they were to pass some laws resulting in a sharp increase of the price of just one thing, let’s say for example cold cereal; there would be wrath expressed at the ballot box. The candidate running for re-election would be the six-dollars-for-a-box-of-Cheerios guy, and he’d lose. BUT. Make energy more expensive; that pushes up the price of everything across the board. The cereal, the milk, the bowl, the spoon, the cream, the sugar, the table and chairs.

Better make some more money! Oh, but the companies are not hiring. It looks like that’s because they don’t care about you all of a sudden…we can blame Republicans for that. The truth is, it costs more to hire you.

The democrats need another 2008. That means their guy has to appear intelligent; present an opportunity to cosmetically fight some sort of “ism”; be visually appealing, young, vibrant, a bit sexy, and the voters have to feel pampered enough they can afford to think clumsily, but abused enough the time’s come for revenge.

But, the rest of us cannot afford this. Bring on the dummies. We’ve already elected all the phony sophistication we can afford.

The Ogle Shaming

Saturday, November 4th, 2017

One of the women in my workplace erupted into a lecture-dervish when she discovered it was my policy to “discriminate” in favor of kids with good Halloween costumes, by way of handing out extra large chocolate bars. She announced that if I was going to give a reward to a skinny fit girl in a Wonder Woman costume, then I should be compelled to give an equal reward to a pudgy fat girl in the same costume. Then she got distracted, so no debate ensued.

There wouldn’t have been one, anyway, though…these are little tiny kids, not swimsuit models. Withholding chocolate bars from obese kids, as much sense as that might make because of issues concerning health, not sightliness…it isn’t part of my routine. A costume’s a costume. Yes, Wonder Woman gets the top spot because we had a Wonder Woman movie this year…which the feminists, oddly, find threatening. Batman ties for first place, because Batman’s cool. Kylo Ren is the next one down. Then, Moana. They all get enormous, pound-plus chocolate bars. The idea is to reward kids who really put thought & effort into the occasion, and send the “bag over my head, where’s my candy?” kids home with their fun-size snickers to think about how they could try harder next time. These are great messages to give to kids. Great job! And, Try harder.

Kate UptonIt’s tradition. The way it’s supposed to work. “Trick or treat” means, I’ve got a treat waiting for you, show me your trick. The rest of the world may have moved on to something else, something one-sided, but I haven’t.

This never-ending crusading and offense-taking, though, about fit-vs.-fat…it’s interesting. I write frequently of questions a space alien might ask, if he were intelligent and logical but unfamiliar with our evolving culture. This is perhaps the #1 question I wouldn’t be able to answer fully. You wouldn’t either. We crusade tirelessly against men appreciating the sight of fit, beautiful women. And yet, as our economy veers away from the production of goods and services, into the morass of selling things to one another that someone else built…we rely to excess on the sight of fit, beautiful women to help us sell things. Does this mean we wish to destroy ourselves economically?

Let’s try to formulate at least a partial answer. No…one of our inexplicable paradoxes is that everyone likes money. Some people, I’ve noted, act as if they don’t like having it, find ways to get rid of it when some has come their way. What they really despise is math. Monitoring the checking account balance, and finding ways to help other people. If you watch them awhile, you’ll see they like the things money can buy, just fine. They want someone else to handle all that “We’re running low, better get some more money” stuff. And there is a lot of overlap between this crowd, and the “Force guys to fall in love with sloppy fat women even if they don’t want to” crowd.

Side rant: I spend a fair amount of time on the Internet. Like many people in our modern world, perhaps more than I should. Perhaps I’m seeing content surreptitiously customized to my own proclivities and preferences, but I’ve gradually noticed something about Internet advertising. And I’m inclined to think something about this, because Internet advertising is not a trivial thing, it seems to be where our world is headed. A lot of it seems to consist of a pretty girl wearing something skimpy, and then a box appears over the image to interrupt my ogling to tell me about something. When I see this, my first reaction is: This was put together by a gay man or a straight woman, someone who just doesn’t get it. Men have been assessing the physical attributes of women for thousands of years, just as long as we’ve been selling & buying things. Maybe longer. Science has confirmed that such lengthy traditions have an effect on our primal wiring, and it is this wiring framework advertising seeks to trigger. That’s the whole point. To close the “I wanna buy that” circuit. The cock-blocking popup box doesn’t do this. It does the opposite. How do I describe what happens in the male mind when such unwelcome occlusion-culling occurs, to someone who doesn’t have a male mind? Words fail. Suffice to say I’m not reading what’s in the box, and I’m not buying what it’s selling.

And when it become prevalent, it gets very difficult to sell me things. It also gets difficult to sell me on the whole “Men still run the world” thing…I’m looking around, and I don’t think so. I really don’t. I doubt we’ve been running things before. Going back a long ways, I’m doubting it strongly.

Back to the subject at hand. What’s the end game? Could men be forced, socially, to change their preferences as feminists and other fat-worship activists hound them? Seems unlikely anyone could actually be hoping for such a thing. But there certainly is a lot of energy devoted to this. What are they trying to do?

Rush Limbaugh had a lot to say about this. In fact, of his famous First 35 Undeniable Truths of Life, I have noticed there is exactly one, and only one, that ever gets any press at all, either from him or from those who criticize him:

#24: Feminism was established so as to allow unattractive women access to the mainstream of society.

This gets all the attention, because 1) it’s true, and 2) we’re not allowed to notice. The objective can be accomplished by way of the two fronts of attack which modern-day feminism so often presses: 1) discouraging any attention given to nice looking women, and 2) diminishing the influence of the men who’d be lavishing such attention. Well…the latter of those two things seems more realistic than the former.

I don’t think you can culturally shame men who appreciate fit healthy women, so that they equivalently appreciate disgusting sloppy fat women. Furthermore, I’m inclined to think the people who continually try, agree with me. But, try they do…they continue to do. It’s dishonest because they know they can’t succeed at this, and they still command resources which they leverage toward this futile end. It’s also hypocritical. A shirtless Taylor Lautner? Or, back in the day, Tom Selleck? All good!

I think this is one of those crimes that are to be identified, and called out, but people aren’t supposed to stop committing. It’s part of that weird “criminal class manufacturing” thing civilizations do after they’ve passed the zenith of health, and begun their decline. People who aren’t guilty of anything are harder to control. Before we got here, we made simpler laws about bigger things, that existed as actual laws with definitions, and penalties attached. “Don’t kill other people” and the like. This one, not being part of our justice system, can’t have actual penalties attached. It’s a purely social cudgeling.

There are two aspects to it. There’s the preference; if you like pretty fit thin girls, you should stop liking them, or else make sure and lavish a measured and equal portion of enthusiasm and affection upon the sloppy fat girls. And then there is etiquette: When you’re out in public, in a place where others can see you, you shouldn’t stare because it’s rude. These are both useful efforts in attracting the support of decent people, people who never would ordinarily support liberal causes because they’re decent people. These are the people liberals do not deserve to have in their ranks, but they manage to recruit them anyway. Some of these decent people have daughters, sisters, wives. And they all love their mothers. Hey! That glance is disrespectful! Why yes…let’s have some penalties. Let’s apply some force. Just see where it goes. Try and make those bad men stop doing that. Who, in their right mind, could possibly be opposed?

Distracted BoyfriendWell I mentioned up above about definitions. However you want to define a rude glance, buying a copy of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition is not it, although that’s a prime example of what’s being targeted. But, to this offensive leering: There has to be some sort of criterion, somewhere. Everyone’s going to accept this. In fact we hear it all the time. “A polite glance is okay, a rude leer is not.” So what’s the threshold? Can we measure it in milliseconds? I think everyone would agree that’s a negative. A polite, loving, respectful gaze can stretch on and on, whereas this leering we’re supposed to be burying forever, could be over in a flash. So time is not the factor.

What is, then?

Here we come to another thing that 1) is true, and 2) we’re not allowed to notice.

What’s going on here is a grok. I mean that according to its original, correct definition…not according to the wrong definition, the one you find in the dictionary:

[T]o understand profoundly and intuitively.

I’m referring to that part of “grok” that is exclusive to this word itself, and does not in any way apply to apparent synonyms like “comprehend” or “understand”:

It assumes the Quantum mechanics principle that one cannot observe a subject without changing it and thereby becoming part of it.

You see, for all these thousands of years while the men were gazing & leering at female breasts, thighs, bellies, hips, lips, toes and ears, to assess the specimen’s physical health inside & out and thus make a determination about her suitability for bearing children…thereby, hard-wiring the custom into the DNA of those who would come afterward — the women were shopping. For everything. Mostly food. And a lot of this food, like drupes, fruits and nuts, required practiced inspection. The men programmed their sons, and the women programmed their daughters. A man sees a pretty girl, enjoys the look, would look all day, if he could…well, it turns out the woman sees the man. And with thousands of years of evolved practice, she doesn’t need all day to make a decision.

What makes the glance rude, is the guy doing the glancing, and the decision the glancee has already made about him. No one’s supposed to see her being all gorgeous and everything, except the guys she wants to attract. That, there, is your difference between rude and polite; does she want the guy to look?

This is another thing feminism has ruined. Back before, in that awful period we’re supposed to despise so much because women were being treated like property — which is actually a bit of fiction, but let’s let that go for now — fathers and mothers told their daughters you’re not going out in public wearing that. Today it’s all about her choice. Well, back then when the girl was old enough, eventually she would be taught the true ramifications of “in public.” You’re going out, looking attractive, shopping for guys…with these thousands of years of evolved practice, you’re going to very deftly and very swiftly make a determination that this guy or that guy is too old, too fat, too thin, doesn’t make enough money, and cast them aside like a wise old housewife passing on a rotten coconut or overripe melon. From then on, you’ll concentrate on the specimens that remain. But, everyone can get a look at you.

Some of the girls were not bothered by this at all. But at least they were educated about it. They knew what “in public” meant.

Today, this particular bit of education is no longer acceptable and is not being done as often. And so — this is the fact of the matter, and there are people who profit from it — we have lawsuits galore, because females were reminded rather abruptly of what they should’ve been taught years earlier. The substandard males who don’t make the cut, get to see them being all gorgeous too. It isn’t just Brad Pitt. They’re out in public. “In public” means everyone gets a look.

None of this would be worth calling out, if it were not for where we are as a society, and where we’re headed. These days, not a week goes by before you hear about some supposed scandal involving a famous male, and some indecent liberties he took with a member of the fairer sex ten, twenty, thirty years ago. These are invitations for more women to “come forward with their stories” about the male, and if enough of those materialize, then it will become obligatory upon everyone paying attention to presume the accused’s guilt. But haven’t you noticed? The name of the target gets primary focus; what he actually did, is relegated to secondary status. Since it’s a popular fad right now, some of these accused persons are bound to be innocent. Not that the accuser is being dishonest in her chronicling of what happened or her feelings about it, what I mean is the quite literal sense that he didn’t do anything wrong. We’re bound to be seeing some examples in which she went shopping for men the way old housewives went to the village marketplace to pick out seasonal grapefruit, and being uneducated about what “in public” means, became quite offended to discover the grapefruit was animated, sentient, and “shopped” right back.

Also, our economy is relying more and more every year on men appreciating, and being motivated to purchase things by, the sight of a pretty woman wearing not too many clothes. And the culture in which that economy thrives, is consumed with the idle activity of bludgeoning these men into not looking. This will not end well.

That Other Split

Thursday, November 2nd, 2017

One year onward, it might be a good time to think about That Other Split, the one that isn’t between Republicans and democrats. Conservatives and liberals are on both sides of this.

To the one side, are people who translate their values directly into selection of candidates. They want the guy who gets their vote, to stand as an emblem of what’s right. Their kids should want to be like this guy. Note that very few people, even among the ones who voted for him, would elevate Donald Trump to such a pedestal. There isn’t much strategy here, other than “If I elevate what’s important to me so that everyone sees it, and bury what I don’t like so that no one can see it, I will prevail,” something like that. There are a lot of people here who forget the Morgan Rule Of Winning Arguments: First step is, you have to DO some actual arguing. They like to skip forward, to the fun part, where they win.

The other side is much more pragmatic. They see an election as, possibly, the first step toward solving problems; or, if the other guy wins, the first step toward making those problems much worse. The candidate states some policies, which may be good or bad, and he may be sincere or not. If he wins, he’ll do things; if he was sincere, the things he does will bear a resemblance to what he said he was going to do when he was campaigning. If the things he does are good things, then things will be made better, and if the things he does are bad things then things will be made worse. This crowd thinks a lot of the problems we have, are the result of politicians being dishonest about the good things they said they were going to do, or being elected to do bad things. They’re completely right about this.

The democrats lost a year ago because they appealed entirely, or at least mostly, to the first group. “Remind people of climate change constantly, FORCE people to buy bio-bags & drink out of eco-cups, REMIND them that Trump called Alicia Machado Miss Piggy, make every cartoon character gay and then everyone will have to like us.” To the second group, they’ve only been throwing scraps. “Actually, when you raise the minimum wage, unemployment goes down” — nice thing to say, you can have Paul Krugman repeat it a few times, but no one believes it anymore. Not even Krugman.

The business of the democrat party is to make it prohibitively expensive for a full-fledged, legal, law-abiding citizen to convert oxygen to carbon dioxide in the time period between paychecks. Nickel & dime them to death, with gas taxes and “You must carry the health insurance that pleases us or else pay a fine”…tax them on their taxes. Until following the law is not only questionable as a possibility, but pointless. And the average American lives in a tiny apartment with a bunk of screaming kids and his credit card debt is equal to many years’ worth of income. With the country enshrouded in despair, democrats just might win something.

So when they campaign, as they appeal to the pragmatic group, they have to sell nonsense. Joe Biden said it himself: “We have to spend money to keep from going bankrupt, yes that’s what I’m telling you.” We have to succumb to an invasion of outsiders for the sake of national security, we have to make it more expensive for businesses to hire people in order to get the people hired, America is the greatest country on Earth already I hope you’ll join me in fundamentally transforming it. Nonsense, nonsense, nonsense. People are tired of it.

You can’t win an election appealing to the first group, because too many of them are defecting and joining the second group. “Hooray, I elected someone who looks like me!”…it only lasts so long and then there’s another election. When people get more desperate, they get more practical.

Trump won because he appealed to the second group, with plans that are credible. A year onward, we see they’re working. The nation has learned an important lesson, albeit not a very sophisticated one, it’s a lesson fit for children just on the verge of becoming grown-ups, about cause and effect. When you do this, that other thing is more likely to happen. Say what you want about grabbing pussies, but that’s what our evolving culture needed to learn.

Taxes and Manliness

Tuesday, October 31st, 2017

Taxes have an effect, and it isn’t an accidental side-effect, it’s an ulterior but central purpose: To weaken and distort the messages that bind civilization together, that keep it functioning.

Civilization is made up of very few of these messages: “It is wrong to kill or hurt other people”; “If someone has something you want, you need to acquire consent from them before you take it and that usually means paying for it”; “If you help me get things done I want to get done, I will give you this money.” Liberals and democrats want taxes higher, higher, higher, all the time and they don’t have a set amount in mind, nor do they want to pay for “police, fire departments and park benches”; they just want the taxes to be high, so they can attack that 3rd message that keeps civilization working and functional. Ideally, for them, the tax rate would be 100% and we’d all be fed & sheltered by living on the dole. Then, dependency on the state would also be 100%. Then they’d reach the “fun part” — they tell the rest of us what to do, and we go do it.

Camel AdThe perfect family unit, for them, is the one we see much more often in the miserable urban pockets where their policies are enacted unchallenged: Children are raised in broken homes, with a little bit of income meandering in — taxed! — forcibly extorted from the parent they never see, who has a job and therefore a productive work ethic, which the kids are also never allowed to see. The one parent with whom they’re still allowed to have a relationship is a needy termagant who tells them when to jump, how high, when to come back down again…pummeling them into becoming unproductive little hellions, ready to defy all authority except the bellowing bossy female.

Girls should grow up to become yet more bellowing bossy females, wounded, incomplete, looking for ways to show how unpleasant & bossy they can be. Boys should grow up to become bumptious, boasting, aspiring basketball stars who missed the boat…both sexes should be unskilled, utterly lacking in ways to distinguish themselves as individuals in any positive way. And devoid of any solid idea of what a MAN’s purpose in life is. Girls arriving at legal maturity should display complete utter ignorance about how how to relate to one, and boys at this stage should display complete utter ignorance about how to be one.

One of the biggest lies in the world is that people who want high taxes, want to see to it potholes are filled and chipped curbs are fixed. Ask a high-tax person what a man should be, sometime, and they’ll tell you they have no idea. Oh they don’t put it like that, no. Never. The words they use are something like “A real man isn’t afraid to show his feelings” or “A real man watches romantic comedies with his girlfriend ” or “A real man gets in touch with his female side”; all of these have the same meaning, and that meaning is “I don’t know.”

A real man knows how to handle things on his own. If he doesn’t know what to do, he figures out what he has to do. If he has children, he raises them.

He teaches the boys to do manly things, and if the girls want to do those manly things too, he encourages them. He teaches them to be strong and capable. In short, he influences the next generation so that they will be able to handle things on their own.

When militant feminists, or his ex-wife who’s been listening to mil-fems too much, sings him the modern parasite’s song of “Begone with your infernal opinions, go far away but leave your billfold behind,” he ignores this and continues in his God-given role as a father and a real man. He supports his children, and finds ways to do this outside of money transfers, since those serve to feed the parasites. Who, in turn, do what parasites should be expected to do, whatever it takes to increase the parasite’s food supply. Which means, to break up more families.

Yes, taxes are required to keep civilization working.

Higher taxes bring civilization to a stop. They’re supposed to do this. They remove the ability, as well as the incentive, for children to grow into strong, complete, capable adults. They’re supposed to do that, too. Minimal taxes are a lubricant. Higher taxes are a solvent.

Remember this next time you hear someone monologue away about the evils of a tax cut…

Plant Metaphor

Thursday, October 26th, 2017

People wonder why I spar on social media with the leftwardly-inclined folks, even when said lefties are so obviously full of B.S. There are actually many reasons, which for the most part become clear when you diligently inspect the alternative. Which is to hop into an echo chamber, seal it shut, and enjoy. After awhile, what do you do with that? You can pat yourself on the back for having the more reasonable opinion about things, but compared to what?

So over on the Hello Kitty of Blogging, I made reference to Severian’s Bucket Theory, which is interesting enough that when I tried to vector off from “the purpose of government” to “why are there children,” I failed. Too much “makes you go hmmm” stuff in one post, I guess.

Imagine that we set a whole bunch of famous leaders down and gave them a pop quiz: “What is the purpose of government? What is the State for[?] Then we sort them into buckets.

One common answer would be “the State exists to create Utopia here on earth,” and guys like Lenin, Hitler, Mao, and Obama would be in that bucket. Their Utopias would all look different, and they’d employ different means to get there, but all those guys would agree that their governments are trying to create a perfect world.

Another bucket contains guys like Oliver Cromwell, Suleiman the Magnificent, Charlemagne, and Ferdinand and Isabella. Their answer is something like “government exists to give greater glory to God, and/or punish His enemies.”

A third bucket is full of guys who answered “the purpose of the State is to give me and my entourage the highest possible standard of living” — Genghis Khan, Louis XVI, pick your ancient empire-builder.

A fourth bucket reads “the State exists to keep the natural world in balance.” Egyptian pharaohs and Confucian emperors fit here — they have to do their daily rituals or the world falls out of whack.

A fifth — very small — bucket reads “Government exists to protect its people’s life, liberty, and property.” Here you find George Washington, Jefferson Davis, William Pitt, and (arguably) guys like Pericles and the consuls of the Roman Republic.

I’d argue that the guys in the “state as utopia” bucket are the Left, and the “protect the people’s rights” bucket are the Right. That leaves the vast majority of all governments that have ever existed in the middle three buckets…

I have a former colleague, who’s actually a former colleague of some of my other former colleagues, who defends The Left tirelessly. But, only the label. I’ve learned to handle him by going after issues where I know he disagrees with leftist dogma, whereupon he’ll pull out a boilerplate monologue about how he is an independent thinker and doesn’t agree with The Left on abortion, et al…it doesn’t seem to be within his capacity for comprehension, to realize that what he’s defending is something that doesn’t really exist except in his mind, and he’s just revealed it to anyone who cares to pay attention.

PlantBut this time he tossed in a new boilerplate. It’s one you might have seen before somewhere else…the ol’ “Liberals actually believe in the right to [blank] too” thing. We’re supposed to take this stuff seriously, ponder it and then go: Huh. So why are we arguing? Must be because conservatives are racists or something…

I’m not sure how that’s supposed to work, since it’s the guilty-white-liberal brigade who keeps trying that. But I’m having none of it. There’s a problem with this logic, a very serious one, and it deserves at least a mention.

…[L]iberals don’t think of “rights” the way normal people do. When I say “I have a right to own a gun,” what I mean is that if someone in a position of real power is annoyed by my having one, they can’t do anything about it.

When liberals support my “right to own a gun” what they really mean is that they’re not going to stop me from having one until such time as they see fit to do so. And always, this is to be curtailed by their very reasonable (to them) preponderance about what kind of gun I “need,” as in, “no one needs a gun that fires 30 rounds,” etc.

It’s rather like a plant’s “right” to have water. The owner of the plant, much like the liberals who think they’re in charge of everyone, decides day to day, moment to moment, how much water the plant needs.

This is one of those things you jot down all by yourself, and then afterward look at it as if someone else did it. And say to yourself, “Mmmm, that’s quite good, innit?”

Well I don’t know about good. But the Plant Metaphor is…ominous. Everyone who lives in a supposedly free society, should be worried about it, day & night. People are not plants, and rights aren’t needs.

There are three important reasons why they aren’t. The first two have to do with consequences. Think this through now…you live in a society in which rights are needs, needs are rights, and you don’t have any money because you haven’t done anything to help anyone else, and when you did have money, you spent it without a care for the future. Now you need money, you have no way to get any…except, you have a right to it. That would mean someone else is obliged to give it to you. And that, in turn, would have to mean they must give it to you again and again and again, month after month. Are you going to mend your ways and start doing things to help others? Maybe you would if there were conditions attached. But, it’s a right, so that doesn’t apply. Unless it stops being a right…which it would, if you managed to stockpile some savings. The “right” only kicks in when you’re on your bottom dollar, right? Ah. But you’re always going to be there. What incentive is there to save any money? Once you get it done, you’re the plant that’s been watered already…you’ve lost your “right.” Who’d opt in to that?

Which brings us to the other consequence, the one that has to do with those toiling away under the obligation to fork over their loot, whenever someone else pops up with a more intensive need. They’re trying to do something higher up on the Maslow Pyramid than merely surviving; go on vacation, buy a boat, send their kids off to college, start a business. In a Twentieth-Century Motor Company match-up of “who needs it more desperately,” they’d lose. So the name of the game is, get the money saved and then get it spent, toot-sweet, thus completing the objective before some martinet comes along to declare the wealth-transfer obligation to have materialized, since there’s a drier plant nearby. So there is a motivation here, too, and like the motivation mentioned above, it persuades against the noble objective of saving.

In modern America, liberals have won that fight. Rather decisively, and sustainably. Round up a hundred or so citizens who do not self-identify as left or right…assuming they’re honest about this…and ask ’em. Here’s a guy who “needs” money and doesn’t have any, does he have a “right” to it? Now forget about the answers they give you, concentrate instead on how they formulate the answers. Any time over the last hundred years or more…the average American will do it the liberal way. The wrong way. Why yes! Whatever it takes, for the alternative would be cold and heartless…I don’t want to be that. Oh, and does the other guy have a “right” to the money that belongs to him? Well I don’t know…you mean, a right to keep it away from the one who needs it? Why would he want to do that? What a meanie. No, I don’t think so…that’s mean. We don’t have a right to be mean, do we? If we do, we shouldn’t…

In addition to the two problems listed above, there’s yet another that has to do with — I keep going back to this, broken-record style — definitions. The process of arbitration, by which one concludes “he needs it.” Who’s to say?

I recall another dust-up I had, not so public, with a nice Canadian lady who thought herself middle of the road. The issue was teevee sets. Ay-yup…some people “need” more than one, and maybe one of those has to be enormous, bigger than any teevee set owned by the taxpayers who are subsidizing the needy person’s lifestyle. Who’s to say otherwise? Maybe they have kids. Kids need teevee sets. So someone has to figure out if the plant really is dry. It isn’t something you can measure. Someone’s got to go with their gut. Now, who’s that going to be? I’m sure we’ll do a great job of embracing equality, and we’ll come up with a thick stack of written rules lickety-split to make sure everyone’s needs are assessed the same way. (I’m also sure it won’t be enforced everywhere, it’ll only be enforced when someone’s watching, but that’s a whole different stew-pot of problems I suppose.)

The point to all this is that people aren’t plants, rights aren’t needs, and a right isn’t a right if it has to be reassessed, and maintained on condition of whatever’s going on at that instant or in that locale. If you have to keep getting a “Mother May I?” then it isn’t a right.

A right is something you get to enjoy even if people in power are pig-biting mad over you having it. If they can’t do anything about it, even if their entrenched power is formidable and their anger is piqued — then, maybe, that really is a right.

But that is not what liberals have in mind when they say “As a liberal, I support your ‘right’ to…” They’re speaking of the “right” a plant has to water. With someone providing it day by day…and, assessing the “need” for it, moment by moment.

Conservatives Teach, Liberals Restrict

Sunday, October 22nd, 2017

One thing that impresses me as I see more years come & go, is the practical definition of dysfunction. Seems easy, at first. You just look at some guy and go “Oh he’s dysfunctional.” I mean, look, he can’t even get dressed by himself, can’t walk in a straight line…

But, wait awhile. He thinks the same thing about you. And maybe he’s right! After all, when you’re sitting in a ferry and it’s pulling away from the dock, it really looks like the dock is the thing that’s moving. And we KNOW it isn’t that easy. We have a whole scientific discipline, psychology, which doesn’t even qualify as science in many ways…it exists so we can have these alien-eggheads come up with names, and codes, to attach to things, thereby declaring them dysfunctional. And we know THEY aren’t all right. Do you actually know any psychologists? It’s a bit like hiring the fox to guard the hen house…

How Nature SaysAlso, think about the stuff they don’t bother to code. I’ve already listed several examples…which, if I were to list them here, that would be a distraction…

In extended family, as well as in politics, I see there is a high-level distinction that works consistently and well.

If you want to do right by someone less experienced, who is learning how to live life — you’re probably all right in the head, if your energies go toward truly EDUCATING him/her/them. Exposing them to your ideas. And then if someone who disagrees with you says “Okay, now I want to have my shot at it, I want to have my say”…you’re cool.

If you want to pass on your ideas, your lifestyle, your methods, your Weltanschauung on to the next generation by way of *restricting* what that next generation is allowed to see; by shrinking their exposure, stenciling off their experiences…then, I have some bad news for you. You’re that guy.

“Don’t leave your home town, that big city is evil.”

“Don’t marry her. With a mother like me, who needs a wife?”

“Stop reading these comic books, they’ll rot your brain.”

With that in mind, take a look at conservatives, liberals, and how each side seeks to proliferate their values forward in time by influencing the next generation…

Conservatives desire to teach. Yes this is in contravention against the stereotype, with the “new ideas” emerging and conservatives saying “No no no to new ideas, for I am a conservative.” But conservatives conserve civilization, and civilization is conserved by way of teaching. The old teach the young, so the young don’t have to re-learn everything the hard way; that is how it works. This is how you tie a knot, tie a bow, start a fire, use a knife, shoot a gun, go to Church. Yes, conservatives get surly about certain things. But very, very few of them go so far as to say “My kids are not allowed to watch movies because the actors are liberals.” Certainly, they don’t make a political movement out of such a thing. They don’t have the time for it. They’re too busy at their jobs, building things other people can use.

Liberals desire to restrict. Constantly. We don’t even need to wait past the next sundown to see more examples of it anymore, they emerge daily. Cultural appropriation! Sexist! Racist! It’s become such an unremarkable event for them to add more examples, to embiggen the definitions. So they can restrict some more. “Toxic masculinity!” With one single sweeping pronouncement, they declare 48% to 49% of humans to be toxic…”Don’t teach that in science, take it to a mythology class where it belongs!”…dishonest. What they mean is they don’t want kids to be taught religion. Even if the parents wish it. “Prosecute climate denialism!”…criminalize the very act of disagreeing with, or merely questioning, their catechism.

“Hostile work environment! You’ll have to take that down!”

“Excuse me sir, you’ll have to put that out!”

“Microaggressions!”

Click“You’re not welcome here!”

“This is a [blank] free zone!”

“Sarah Palin should shut up and go away!”

“Did you just assume my gender?”

“Trump’s not my President!” “Russia!” “Twenty-fifth amendment!

With the holidays just around the corner, most people with extended families are going to see this in action. If you’re like me, you have some branches that are functional and some branches that are not. And you likely know enough already to realize: These branches have all been expanding over time. If they’re functional, the mere act of expansion has not brought any drama, or at least, not very much. EVEN if there is disagreement in political opinions.

But if you have some branches that are dysfunctional…and I think most everyone does…again, you’ll see the truth of what I’m saying. That branch has expanded as kids have arrived at adulthood, and married. Boom, like a match in a barrel of kerosene. Instant drama. Why does your wife put the seasoning across the kitchen from the silverware. Have you kids baptized the way I say, not the way she says. Or, the all-time all-too-common ultra-evil one: No, we don’t want you visiting your dad anymore.

If you feel the need to restrict the experiences of others, and MUST act on it, then you’re that guy. The psychologists should’ve coded you.

Accepting the Results

Thursday, October 19th, 2017

Tomorrow is the first anniversary of the Republican presidential nominee being asked:

You’ve been warning at rallies recently that this election is rigged and that Hillary Clinton is in the process of trying to steal it from you. Your running mate Governor Pence pledged on Sunday that he and you, his words, will absolutely accept the result of this election. Today your daughter Ivanka said the same thing. I want to ask you here on the stage tonight, do you make the same commitment that you’ll absolutely accept the result of the election.

Perhaps there is a way to go back in time to visit ourselves on that night, or soon afterward…or, for a way for them to sneak a peek over our shoulders now…and see to it they have a chance to learn what they were wanting to know. Because there were quite a few people who managed to put together a lot of passion about this. Right? If I recall correctly, the controversy burned long and it burned hot.

It’s all good folks. Donald Trump is accepting the results of the election just fine.

Hillary is another story.

Sacred

Thursday, October 19th, 2017

Easily the most important clip of today, anywhere…

At 3:39: “There’s no perfect way to make that phone call.”

And at 6:34, I think, this whole phony “controversy” is quashed for good. The very well-deserved verbal spanking takes place in the next couple minutes after that.

We do have a problem. There are those who would say “both sides are equally guilty,” by which they mean, it isn’t necessarily a Republican-democrat thing. With that forced translation in place, I would agree. Things that once were sacred, are no longer. That reflects poorly on us all.

There is a secondary problem, though, in which I continue to see that being a democrat who leans left, is thought by some to be an adequate substitute for basic human decency. It isn’t, and I hope that sentiment would be echoed by those who find leftward-leaning political positions to be more appealing than I do.

It isn’t party preferences that move me to say such a thing, I don’t think, but: They’re the problem. Can persons all up & down the ideological spectrum agree on this? It seems obvious. The name of the game, for their side, is to keep the anger high throughout Election Day 2018. That’s their strategy. It may seem lame, but it’s all they have. Electorally, they’ve lost everything, they’ve got no credible sales pitch to deliver to get any of it back again, so that’s their reality. Vinegar over honey. Stir up the anger, do it on every topic that comes up, every day, and if they succeed at that then find a way to do it hour-by-hour. And it’s sad, but yes, that means if the situation repeated a hundred more times, we would see the same behavior that is the subject of Gen. Kelly’s complaint, a hundred more times.

The Pinkwashing

Sunday, October 8th, 2017

So, the Z-Man posted this, which bulls-eyes a hitherto-undiscussed rationale behind this whole “take a knee” nonsense…

As our society has become feminized, everything is drenched in politics. You see it with the NFL protest debacle. Men watch sports to enjoy seeing men compete with one another in ritualized combat. Men don’t care about what the combatants think about anything, including the combat. Interviews with coaches are to be focused on the strategy of the game, not the guy’s feelings about life. Player interviews are only interesting because most players are black now, so they say wacky and stupid things.
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In a feminine society like ours, it is just a matter of time before masculine things like sports are either made girlish or relegated to the fringe. Boxing, for example, still exists, but only as a fringe sport done by foreigners. UFC has managed to gain an audience, but again, it is as a renegade activity, done underground and on pay-per-view. White mothers will never be taking their sons to UFC camp. They can tolerate martial arts, just as long as it is white boys in bathrobes, safely pretending to be Jackie Chan.

This is why football is so much trouble. Peak professional football was probably a dozen years ago. It was around then that white mothers, especially divorced middle-class mothers, started turning against youth football. They did not want their little baby being run over by black kids. That’s why the concussion hysteria gained traction. It’s a ready made excuse for pulling the white kids out of football, that lets white women pretend it is not racism driving their decision. After all, they loved Will Smith in the concussion movie!

It’s why the NFL’s decision to let their blacks kneel during the anthem is going to be a disaster for them. The owners signed off on it thinking it added drama and would therefore draw in girls, because girls and girly-men like drama. Instead, those kneeling black players are a stark reminder to white women that the sport of football is for violent black men, not nice suburban white boys. Youth participation in football is collapsing and this will only serve to accelerate it. The NFL has now made football anti-white and un-American.

Let us start here with where I find it more difficult to agree, before proceeding to the other. I do find the pigeonholing to be troublesome. I try to avoid it myself, which I’m sure is an effort that doesn’t show. But, to say “women act this way and men act that way,” while the observation may be true 90% of the time or more, the 90% is on a noticeable decline year after year, precisely because of the forces at work identified here by Z. As the pinking continues, men are acting more like women and, conversely, women are acting more like men.

I would be remiss in failing to mention this in light of recent events. Just this week our ground floor office was invaded by a mouse. Being immersed in porting one change at a time over the last two months from one application to another application, a process that is many times more tedious than the dreaded documentation, I was gradually made aware of the rodent incursion by way of the loudness of the human reactions, over the better part of an hour. From the dudes, I noticed…the manly, manly, green-camo-wearing, boot-camp-surviving, returned-from-deployment, maybe-killed-somebody dudes…they were, as we say in military and military-contractor parlance, fucking loud.

I couldn’t help but notice the chicks in our office were as “manly” as you would care to expect. They just kept eyes down, photocopying their invoices or whatever like it was any other day. The chatter came from the Y-chromosome set. Now it’s true that the greatest portion of this was volume-setting-eleven observations that some other dude, let it be known, is afraid of mice. That, and banging on the locked office cubicle into which the illegal alien ensconced itself to scare it back out again. Perhaps this is in contrast to the noise the females would be making, if they made the noise, but see…there is the sticky wicket. I wouldn’t know. The chicks, contrary to the cartoon stereotype, were quiet about it. People call me sexist sometimes. With justification, they & some others would say. But, I do notice these things, and give credit where it’s due. If the image of the screeching woman perched atop a chair yelling her fool head off was ever based on reality in generations past — something has changed.

So I don’t like using references to male behavior and female behavior. They do exist…but, we’re losing them and at a pretty good clip. The average age in my work setting is roughly half of mine, my boss is younger than I am, and I’m not on safe ground making references to popular culture as recent as…hmmm, the last one to give me trouble. The older Robocop, yeah. See? So part of writing is making sure people understand what you’re talking about, and I succeed at that game roughly half the time if I really try. “Fight like a man,” these days, refers to something like a nerd-slap-fight. I’m thinking Sean Connery throwing a vicious right hook, my audience might very well think, I dunno…get kidnapped so some girl has to rescue you or something.

Writing for humans is like writing an interface for a new code library. Make the function calls easy to understand, hard to misunderstand…

Everybody's Equal But We're In ChargeI did not make this problem. The Z-Man didn’t make it either. We did not make it so that “manly-behavior” and “womanly-behavior” have lost all meaning and can no longer be used to reliably communicate thoughts in writing. Feminism did that, and it did it by design. This is part of its own internal contradiction, the thing that makes it inherently dysfunctional even according to its own rules. Men, you see, are entirely disposable because women are strong, and capable of doing everything men can do…and yet, at the same time, any distinctions between the two are culturally driven, arbitrary, unnatural and therefore invalid. The two sexes are the same in every way, it’s just that one of them is so much better and should be running things.

It can’t work. Ever. Not really. And yet when it fails, it’s all your fault.

To the other part of it: Yes parents, of both sexes I would argue, weenied out of football. I’ll go along with the idea that the moms started this, although I have doubts about the racial angle. From having lived through it at the time, from my vantage point it looked like the whole crushing mob-think initiative of “Everything the baby does must be 100% safe.” The peanut-allergy thing rather mystified me, although I lost no time in linking it to helicopter-mom new-wives-tale fever. Soy! Herbs! Oh heavens no, keep the baby away from that…what’s this? A local girl dropped dead from eating peanut butter? What’s going on? I can get that kids get tender when they’re deprived of a challenge, but that’s evolution, which even on the micro scale takes thousands and thousands of years…what is this? Well it turns out, I wasn’t far off at all. Kids are supposed to eat peanuts and when they grow into teen-hood without them, that’s where the trouble starts. And, well yes, that’s what happened to football. As a childhood sport, it’s something Those Other Kids can play. That’s because trips to the emergency room are things Those Other Parents can do.

So now the team owners are outsmarting themselves, according to Z-Man’s theory. All sexes are the same but the females should be running things, so goes the conventional wisdom…where the female sensibilities go, so goes society. So let’s inject some drama into football and get the girls to watch. I find this delicious, because it’s even more sexually discriminatory than I am — no mean feat, that, heh heh. And it’s roughly akin to a housefly taking a shortcut through a web.

Chicks are watching football already. Or, they were. But when they watch, they’re interested in the same things that interest the guys. Combat. Not drama.

We cannot safely associate this behavior with females anymore now that the guys are doing it too. But, we need to observe it, take note of it. You can’t form a solution to a problem until you define what the problem is. This “pinkwashing” is not confined to the relatively tiny wash-bucket that is football, it’s splashing around and hitting everything inside & outside of the car, in the yard, the garage, the house.

It’s even infecting the “science,” I notice:

The researchers conducted three experiments in which undergraduate students were required to perform tasks. In one, students were asked to search online for a blender and report the lowest price they could find with the possibility of winning a cash prize. The price search task was rigged, however, and a computer would inform all participants that the lowest price was $3.27 less than what they found. All failed to win the $50 cash prize.

Some participants were asked to focus on emotions as they learned the results and others their cognitive response, such as rationalizing factors for why they didn’t succeed. During the next similar task, participants that focused on their emotional response to failing exerted more effort than those who emphasized a cognitive response.

“I do think people will be surprised that allowing themselves to feel bad about a failure can improve performance more than thinking about that failure in some instances,” Nelson said. “The kinds of thoughts — like rationalizing a failure — people tend to come up with are sometimes counterproductive.”

This time, let’s talk first about where I agree.

I can see some merit to this, especially if the computer rigged the game the first go-round. Anger, it is often said, is where people stop being poor and start putting together a plan to manage their household finances more responsibly. Anger is where people stop gaining weight and get motivated to start losing it. It is a form of self-loathing that carries a certain radiant heat not found in the other kind of anger, the anger directed at others. I suppose this kind of passion is just like money, or love; whatever problems you have that result from not having enough of it, more of the stuff will fix just those problems. Just those, no others. But, more of whatever’s missing will fix the problems that came about because it was missing, and missing passion is often the problem with not enough money, too much debt, or a too-quickly expanding waistline.

(Glances at mirror)…uh…so I’ve been told…

Or, sucking at your rigged-then-not-rigged computer blender-shopping game.

Now all that having been said, the question arises — ONCE AGAIN — what kind of “researcher” puts together an experiment such as this? An impartial researcher, adhering dogmatically to the rigors of scientific discipline, who has no idea how the result will materialize, and doesn’t care to form such an idea before the data have been gathered? This is difficult to see. And by “difficult to see” what I really mean is laughable…

The experiment itself is laughable too. We rely on these productive passions to drive some of our efforts, like trimming fat from our household budget and from the ol’ midsection, and we rely on horse sense and cognitive ability for other efforts we plan to try again, after a previous go has resulted in failure. It depends on the task. It’s probably a waste of time for me to even point it out, let alone to come up with a list for examples, for I’m sure we all have our own examples we could produce if we really try. Mine…lessee…I guess it would be when I let the battery die and I needed a jump. I had the cables, but not the experience jumping a car from the era in which we’re living now. Long & short of it was, I learned the hard way, and through my cognitive abilities not by way of my “feelings,” that cars these days have so much plastic and so little metal that the time’s come to ditch the old procedure about clipping the black clamp to the frame. Actually, that’s probably been a stupid piece of advice for awhile now…it was a case of “that’s the way we always done it.” And I’m sure it looks silly no matter the excuse, to someone in this era who doesn’t know about the old Robocop.

Now we’re in our fourth year as homeowners, I have other examples…many others…that’s home. And then there’s work. As application developers, we are victims of our own success, with many people using the systems we’ve built. Oh my, the things we have learned. From the people. About people. Last problem we solved together was…well, it was a matter of weeks ago. More like days, really. The problem had to do with people using our system in a way contrary to what we intended, and no, we would not have made progress by concentrating on how the prior efforts made us feel. In point of fact, as is usually the case, one might say we’d done an adequate job of trying that already.

As always, for the real answer, look at the old people. They do not feel the need to define themselves, and if they did, they wouldn’t do it through any sort of rage, directed at themselves or others. “Ooh this makes me feel so mad!” is a game for the young. If something perplexes and the choice is there to use emotions or cognitive abilities, the old people can be counted on to…well, probably have their grandchildren do it next time they come visiting. Point is, though, along the way they had the chance to jettison the Hulk-mad-smash battle-tactic, and/or the figure-out-cause-and-effect one too. The former gets ditched first. Even when the natural ability to support it was never quite there, the latter one continues to hang around as long as it displays some occasional usefulness. The smashy-smashy one has to go first. The ticker can’t take it for too long, so if they keep losing it around every formidable challenge that arises, into the golden years, typically they don’t make it to the golden years at all. When you look at the old people who are still here, makes sense that you’re seeing what’s been left, what’s managed to survive. The “research” is bogus.

Have Jimmy Kimmel CryIt’s been pinkified. It bears repeating, don’t go blaming it all on the chicks, the dudes are acting pink too and they’re getting pinker.

Nevertheless, the pinkwashing continues, just like a stupid dog that keeps on eating because it can’t comprehend the primitive idea of “I’m not hungry anymore.” I remember The Man Show, Season One Episode One, “Oprahization,” oh would you look at that it’s a real word now…”a dam to hold back the tidal wave of feminization,” the brain behind it belonging to one Jimmy Kimmel. Yes, that Jimmy Kimmel, who in this day & age has become the poster child for crying to get what you want. In undergoing this transformation, and willingly, Kimmel has also become the emblem of the pinkwashing. Things that just a handful of years ago were insulated from the toxic stew of this “feminization,” and in his case in fact even stood as a bulwark against it, have succumbed.

I’m thinking there’s got to be some sort of way for me to make money off this. We have a lot of people heading off in a direction that the conscientious observer knows full well — by way of using his cognitive abilities, which are looked down upon with disdain by the “scientific research” like you see quoted above — leads to a dead end. No, high-drama for its own sake doesn’t make anything better. Anywhere. It is a solvent that dissolves whatever it touches. Rapidly some of the time, very slowly most of the time, but, well there it is.

The take-away? This is yet another in a long list of transformations we have seen, over a relatively short period of time, each of which is enshrouded in a bumptious confidence so tough on the outside and so unrelenting on the inside, as to command error. And yet, no one really wants it. You have to ask, Who is building this new world? Because you have to ask in the same way, Who wants this world? The answer is nobody. Nobody wants to live in a place where our public policy is flipped in an instant, like a pancake, because some late night comedian cries. Where science tells people to stop puzzling things out logically and stew in their emotions, if they want to succeed — so that you have to wonder now how the scientists are putting together their science. Where football has become a protest without an actual message, with the game-play as an afterthought.

Nobody really wants these things. Nobody.

So how did we get here?

We got here because people got too concerned about maneuvering conversations by forcing abrupt topic-shifts, so they could climb atop the din like a pile of junk in a yard, and self-genuflect from the apex about how they, in their individual status, turned out to be right about everything.

Without devoting sufficient concern to what is and is not really true.

Memo For File CCVII

Saturday, October 7th, 2017

Liberals, as Thomas Sowell pointed out twenty years ago, dominate comedy, fiction and drama. Why they don’t dominate something else is obvious. Their required attachment to reality isn’t there. They think gender is a matter of opinion, ObamaCare was awesome, and the Clintons have a wonderful marriage.

The mystery, to me, is why they “dominate” even what they dominate. They think a reference to Chris Christie being overweight is a great punchline.

They don’t even try for drama. Haven’t you noticed? You’d think a one-trick pony would at least know the trick, but liberal drama is heavy on effort and light on achievement. All liberal drama breaks down into “A is a victim because B victimized A. C is completely oblivious to this but D is sufficiently enlightened to notice A’s victim-status, and this makes D a GOOD PERSON. The end.” Go on, think of something liberals put together that falls outside of this. Better yet, think of something they put together that doesn’t…and, somehow, scored Oscar gold. With you being left wondering why, thinking you’re the only one. See how we’ve been rooked? Damn you, Dickens.

Oh sure, the rest of us keep lapping it up and demanding seconds, because, through over-exposure all these years, we’ve lost our sense of perspective. We’re like some weird other-culture, maybe like the future world in Demolition Man, where all the gourmet Mexican restaurants are Taco Bell because no one can remember ever having had anything better.

This was not an overnight thing. No publisher accepted a manuscript from Charles Dickens and decreed “That’s it, from this day forward this is what drama is, burn everything else.” In my lifetime, we had Westerns, tales of good rising up to confront evil. In fact, even the Westerns were rehashes. Pale Rider is the same story as Shane, and so is Steel Dawn. These are all stories about oppressors and victims, but they also had battle-climaxes near the end where the hero would mete out justice against the villains. These days some “action” movies still have battle-climaxes near the end, but you can see this staple is living on borrowed time. The other vital piece, “So-and-so has been victimized, nobody can see it except these sensitive, intelligent, enlightened people over here” is going strong. Well of course it is; it’s still in the prime of life. The “Shane” story-line doesn’t include enshrinement of some noble Olympus-inhabiting class of elite demigods uniquely endowed with the ability to see injustice; the injustice was a matter of fact.

This is why I say, I can’t understand why liberals dominate drama. In real drama, you have to have a meaningful event or two happening. “A is a victim, B is the oppressor, C is the ignoramus and D is uniquely enlightened sage who can see what’s wrong” — if it is true at the end, it will all have to be true at the beginning. Right? If everything that’s true and that matters at the beginning, is still true at the end, there’s no place to put any kind of a story. You can’t have a plot. And, indeed, when I look at this depressing wilderness of movies made by liberals, I see they tend to strain under this problem. There is no plot, because nothing is happening, and nothing is happening because there’s no shift in these roles. The victim is still a victim. The ignoramus is still an ignoramus and the enlightened empathy-authority is still an enlightened empathy-authority. Maybe the oppressor stops oppressing, but that’s all you get.

The teevee shows are even worse. Episode after episode, season after season; the cast-core is D. Oh look how enlightened and sensitive we are…everyone else is a bunch of ignoramuses, but we can see what sort of victimizing took place. Maybe we’ll even do something about it. Maybe. But the important thing is we’re sensitive to it and we acknowledge it. And so-and-so is a victim.

I’m afraid what’s getting jettisoned here is something bigger than all of this. Like…the concept of time. A future. A situation getting meaningfully improved. People enjoying freedom, at the end of a story, that they didn’t have at the beginning. Moses did something — because, with his people liberated from Egypt, a Jewish state became possible. And then Sampson did something, and then David did something, and then Christ did something. No wonder liberals hate the Bible. It upstages them.

Their drama is boring, because the doing-of-something is decidedly secondary. The primary is “Lookit me, I have empathy and I can see.”

I don’t know why liberals dominate drama. I really don’t.

The Demolition-Man Taco Bell analogy is apt. It’s on the rest of us. We’ve settled because we don’t know any better.

Making Mistakes and Being Wrong

Sunday, October 1st, 2017

I’ve occasionally noticed, when arguing with strangers on the Internet that I figure out are still in college or have only recently graduated (it isn’t tough), I can completely discombobulate them simply by admitting I’ve been wrong about something. Sometimes if I’m in an extra snarky mood I’ll tell them I make ten or more mistakes every day before they even think about getting out of bed, which in many cases is probably true. Trouble is, if this assault is fitting for the target, it’s difficult for the dialogue to proceed because it’s like introducing the concept of days-of-week to a barnyard animal, or depth to some kind of stencil-creature from a two-dimensional universe. Willing to admit you’ve ever been wrong about something? My professor didn’t teach me how to deal with this! What is this strange brew?

What’s really going on here is arrested development. No, that’s not a reference to a man in his fifties getting in Internet arguments with strangers…although that may apply too. No, I’m referring to the fastening of an identity, not so much to the specific assertion being made, but to the lofty goal of being right. Five-to-seven year olds argue this way: I’m smart-n-right, you’re wrong-n-dumb. They grow up, graduate high school, go to college which is supposed to be a proving ground for bold, diverse, innovative new ideas, and then graduate that. Still arguing the same way. I’m right you’re wrong, ALL the time…now what were we arguing about again? I forgot. But I’m still right.

And then…if they’re very unfortunate, they’ll achieve positions of leadership in some government agency. Which has some perks, but this way they might very well reach their coffins without ever understanding the virtues of being wrong about anything and having to admit it. Which is where the real learning begins.

As Thomas Sowell said,

Fiction and opinion are likewise dominated by the political left. If you can tell a good yarn, whether in a book or a motion picture, the only test you face is whether people will buy the book or go see the movie.

On TV talk shows, what matters is whether you can talk the talk that keeps people tuned in. You may scare the daylights out of them about fictitious dangers in apples or beef without a speck of evidence that you know what you are talking about. But, so long as it sounds good, that’s all that matters.

Any engineer, businessmen or athletic coach who knew no more about what he was doing than the talking heads on TV or foundation officials have to know would be heading for disaster in no time. When your bridge collapses or your business goes bankrupt or your team gets beaten again and again, you are history.

Nowhere are half-baked ideas more safe from facts than in government. When the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission assumes that statistical “imbalances” in a company’s work force show discrimination, the only test of that assumption is whether federal judges share it.
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One of the reasons why government absorbs so much money and takes on ever-increasing powers is that it is home to so many people whose beliefs could not withstand the draconian tests of science, the marketplace or a scoreboard. What we the taxpayers are ultimately paying for is their insulation from reality, as they pursue the heady pleasures of power.

As if that were not enough, the left promotes the idea that there is something wiser and nobler about having decisions made by third parties who pay no price for being wrong. That is called “public service” and it will undoubtedly be hyped in college commencement speeches this year — as it is every year — despite scandalous revelations in Washington or decades of economic failure and monumental human tragedies in left-wing governments around the world.

There is that famous quote often linked, erroneously it would seem, to Robert F. Kennedy: “There are those that look at things the way they are, and ask why? I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?” Liberals tend to seize on that specific quote, or at least the sentiment behind it, in their attempts to prop up their own ideology as some sort of wellspring that is responsible for gushing forth all human progress. I myself see it as a scathing indictment. Those of us who are capable of admitting we’ve been wrong about something, understand it is the asking of “why?” that is the real wellspring.

The ceiling fan over my head wobbles a bit. I thought there was a problem with the blades, mostly because this would be the cheapest thing to fix. Well, after removing the blades I discovered I was wrong and now I’m going to have to shell out a bit more money. If I were a liberal, I’d have no problem with the shelling-out-money part, of course; but, it would be blades blades blades, all the time, because they ask why-not instead of why. I was wrong earlier this week when I had to get up early, and set up my cell phone with an alarm clock, anticipating this would wake me & not my wife. Well, I got up a little after three without the benefit of the cell phone, and it’s a good thing I did. There was nothing wrong with how I set the alarm. I tested the sound for volume, made a prediction about whether I’d be able to hear it…and I was wrong. A lot of “why?” led me to that realization, which I’ll be using later. I’m just glad we both slept through it.

The point is, when conservatives and liberals have arguments, often they’re really arguing about the very concept of being wrong. Liberals, having stopped maturing at age five in a lot of ways, fasten their identities to just-being-right, nevermind what the subject of the disagreement is. The goal is to reach the coffin, without ever having admitted to being wrong about anything. Oh sure, you can make a policy that turns out to be wrong, and Those Other People will suffer for it, that’s quite alright…just don’t ever admit it.

This final paragraph in Sowell’s essay is particularly interesting to me, the one that begins “…the left promotes the idea that there is something wiser and nobler about having decision made by third parties who pay no price for being wrong.” I’m reminded of the several-months-long tempest in a teapot that occurred on these pages, about “George Washington never said ‘government is like fire, a dangerous servant and a fearful master.'” It turns out, maybe he didn’t, but the leftward-leaners bringing it to our attention wanted to raise the solidity of the debunking to the “We shall rightfully mock you if you dare disagree” status…and, try as they might, they weren’t able to substantiate it to that level. It landed over the imprimatur of “the experts.” What experts are those? You know…experts. The experts of the Mt. Vernon society. Who are they? It mattered because much of the debunking rested on an assertion that this didn’t seem to be “something Washington would have said,” something one of these experts wrote down without any explanation of what was meant by that. This conjecture, the subsequent back and forth revealed, was reproduced across the Internet to all sorts of places where the Washington quote was debunked…interestingly, today, I can’t find a single instance of it. There never was an explanation of what the expert meant by this: Writing style? Opinion about government? Neither? Both? Anyway…

Two things here. First, on Planet Liberal, the lack of identity actually enhances the credibility of the experts. Look around awhile, you’ll find many examples that reveal this is a love-of-big-government thing. “President Smith said” or “Senator Jones said” such-and-such a thing…lovers of big government will go, who? What? Even if Smith & Jones are their guys, still it’s just the word of a mere mortal. But — “The blue-ribbon commission issued a finding,” that’s wisdom from heaven. Who are you to disagree with the experts?? There is a psychology involved in this, one so well-established that our politicians started long ago to pander to it. And so you’ll notice everything’s a board, or a committee, or a panel, or a commission. It’s that “pay no price for being wrong” thing. Anonymity is a way to enhance the immunity, and as an additional benefit, in a perverse upside-down way of dealing with opinions, we the unwashed masses have shown we’re more likely to accept an opinion without a name attached.

Second thing: A conservative is going to wonder if the quote is genuine, and more importantly than that, what would Washington have thought of this warning. And more importantly than those two, what should the rest of us think about it. Whereas a liberal is going to scratch & claw for an opportunity to call someone else a big dopey doo-doo head who don’t know nuthin’…like a five-year-old. This doesn’t actually solve problems or make life better for anyone, whereas the realization that government can’t fix everything and isn’t motivated or positioned to fix anything, if given proper respect, just might do that. It’s said that a conservative is a liberal who got mugged, well, it might be more accurate to say a conservative is a liberal who put in his time waiting in line at the DMV. A lot of conservatives who are opposed to state-run health care used to have faith in government providing services and solving problems, before experience forced them to change their minds. You’ll notice liberals who insist they’re liberals because of their prior experiences, if you listen to those experiences, you’ll find they’re make-believe. It’s usually “If it were not for that government program, we would have starved to death.” They don’t actually know that. Here is the tragedy: They think they’ve been learning new things from their prior experiences, but they didn’t, they just kept on believing what they wanted to believe in the first place.

My Twelve Rules of Technology

Saturday, September 30th, 2017

Been making a point of fleshing this out & polishing it, while I’m actually working on stuff, for clarity’s sake. These are things I’ve had to learn the hard way, that they don’t (so far as I know) teach you in class…in fact, some of them are diametrically opposed to what they teach you in class. Well hey, those who can, do, those who can’t, teach…

It’s not just professors. Management has a tendency to “teach” the wrong stuff; they’re supposed to be all about producing positive results, doing more with less, but unfortunately they tend to gravitate toward making the job of managing easier. Which is not the same thing at all. I’ve noticed that the other job, my job, the designing & coding, is a young-man’s game. There aren’t too many people who’ve stuck with it as long as I have, unless they’ve made it a point to avoid principal-engineer & design positions, and just do what they’re told. As long as it works for them, I won’t judge. Some of the young guys who had tech-lead positions over me & a lot of others, back in the day, I see went on to go sell Amway or real estate just a few years later. So the institutional memory is lacking; it’s missing the advantage that masonry had, with journeymen & apprentices, while the cathedrals were being built hundreds of years ago. It isn’t common for someone in the coding business to actually jot down what they learned, unless they’re going into the book-writing business, in which case…yeah, they still quit what they were doing, and start writing books.

Well. This is what’s helped me, in the past, today, and probably will without much change in the foreseeable future. Take it for what it’s worth…the better job I do keeping them in mind, the better the results I see at the end…

1. Any proposed statement not specifically defined and validated to be true, must be presumed false. The only exceptions to this rule involve things that, by being false, would make your efforts easier. These must be presumed true. In short, presume Murphy. Presume everything is aligned against you until your tests prove it isn’t so…then, presume your tests are wrong.

2. Programmers create programs and the purpose of a program is to define behavior. The job, therefore, is to define behavior. Bearing Rule #1 in mind, the mission becomes one of identifying and managing uncertainties. Any aspect of this left undone is failure, even if the shortage is not recognized immediately.

3. Keep the machinery doing what machinery does, keep the people doing what people do. When people have to act like automated processes in order to use your product, you built it wrong. If the automated process makes decisions factoring in arcane, obscure and unpredictable experience & state data, like people do, you built it wrong. Either one of these sins will bring consequences in the form of diminished confidence felt by those who use it. The test is, is there a feeling of dread when the user produces a stimulus, which is a product of the uncertainty about what the response will be. This should not be happening.

4. People listen to speeches and machines run programs. Programs, therefore, are not speeches. It is said that a speech is like a skirt, it should be short enough to hold people’s attention but long enough to cover the subject. The program just has the job of making sure the subject is covered; all other objectives are secondary. Contrary to popular belief, there is no correlation between brevity in a computer program and the ease involved in its maintenance. This presumes sloppiness on the part of those who write long programs and neatness on the part of those who write short programs. This axiom doesn’t hold, at least not with any logical certainty; it is a myth propounded by those who consider themselves above the occasionally onerous task of grappling with details.

5. The product of my experience investigating situations where systems aren’t behaving correctly, is a learned bias that the machines are doing exactly what they should be doing, and the people are the problem. That’s because mistakes have a tendency to originate with lack of definition (see rules 1 and 2). Machines and automated processes work according to complete definitions; people have the ability to work without complete definitions. That is a bug, and not a feature, with the people. The dysfunction in a system tends to start with the people, and with something they left undefined, or defined only inside their own heads and failed to communicate with other involved people.

6. Error messages are unappreciated. A lot of people who might have been solid contributors in the field, decide they’re not right for it and go do something else because they find themselves confused a lot, and they’re confused because they’ve been reading bad error messages. The best-designed processes will treat their session mission as one of correctly reporting on whatever went wrong, so that a successful execution is the exception and not the rule. When fixing a bug that involves a malformed error message in the aftermath of something else that went wrong, always fix the error message FIRST, THEN proceed to the other condition that caused it. The rationale is that the test with the malformed data but repaired error message, is a valuable test, but the test with the repaired data and broken error message is worthless, because it effectively conceals an execution path known to be broken.

7. A design can’t be good unless it solidly prioritizes its own objectives and then sticks to its knitting. These design objectives compete with each other. Example: A fragment of code can make use of a design pattern so it’s more maintainable across time, even with the introduction of new requirements, by engineers who are nominally familiar with the pattern. But it will be grossly unrecognizable and confusing to a coder who is not familiar with the pattern, even if he is experienced in the programming language. A decision not to use the pattern would result in code more readable to a new programmer, but more difficult to maintain. So there is mutual exclusivity here. Be aware. Choose your battles.

8. A great design takes testing into account, essentially beginning with the end in mind. Simple requirements translated into a complex suite of regression tests, manifest a mediocre design. A simple suite of tests, covering a complex patchwork of requirements, is a sign of a great design — assuming, of course, that the tests do indeed provide this coverage.

9. A good design delegates responsibility to as many layers as there are subjects to be addressed in the definition of behavior, with each layer having a substantial reason for being, but no layer taking on more than one subject within the definition. Each layer should be conceptualized and built with strict adherence to Design by Contract (DbC), Separation of Concerns (SoC), and fulfillment of the dicutum that interfaces should be easy to use correctly and hard to use incorrectly. The design of these layers must apply definition of behavior in response to both success and failure of operations at run-time. The test of good application of SoC is, how much of the implementation has to be changed when a new requirement is introduced, or an existing requirement changes. If this causes a ripple effect throughout the application even though it’s a relatively innocuous change, this may reflect inadequate or ineffective separation. If the necessary change is contained, with the layer boundaries acting as a sort of “breakwater” and as a result the overwhelming majority of prior work escapes unmolested, this is a sign of strong, effective separation.

10. If the most charismatic people are making all the decisions that matter, the project may already be in trouble. Making definitions that have to be made in order for the project to succeed, often is achieved at the expense of being interesting & fun; being interesting & fun often comes at the expense of making these vital definitions. Not always. But often. The litmus test is, at the point these definitions are needed for work to continue, is it a common occurrence that guidance is already available because someone successfully anticipated the need. If this is not the case, refer back to Rule 5 — people are the problem, they tend to spin new definitions out of whole cloth and proceed as if no one else could’ve arrived at a different definition. This is the point of team-dysfunction, where the team starts to produce work inferior to what any one of the members could have produced working in solitude, or fails to address problems that would have easily been solved by any one of them working in solitude. In such a situation, the advantages of charismatic leadership are mostly neutralized.

11. “Technical debt” is a great term. If your project takes on a life of its own and becomes self-sustaining, manage T.D. just like real, corporate debt. Pay what you can against it, when you can, allow it to languish a bit only when you have no other choice, get back to reducing it again just as soon as you can, down to zero if possible. And if you can’t get to it, you’d better get busy finding out why.

12. Programmers are not system administrators. Sys admins are not programmers. The only time it makes sense to have the same people doing both these things, is when the operation is too small to practically divide the roles up into separate personnel, in which case it’s best to think of it as administrator-less. There are many rationales for this. The first is that system admins and programmers labor toward different goals, the former toward continuity, the latter toward progress against time, which translates to invasive, and frequent, change. The second is operational security, which can be compromised if these roles are not separated.

Crazy Man Theory

Saturday, September 30th, 2017

This made me think a bit more about a thought I’ve had fermenting away in the brewery of my head. It’s an exploration into why people on dating sites receive more messages when their pictures are better-looking.

Given the popular wisdom that Hollywood, the Internet, and Photoshop have created unrealistic expectations of how a woman should look, I found the fairness and, well, realism, of this gray arc kind of heartening.

Now let’s superimpose the distribution of actual messages guys have sent:

When it comes down to actually choosing targets, men choose the modelesque. Someone like roomtodance above gets nearly 5 times as many messages as a typical woman and 28 times as many messages as a woman at the low end of our curve. Site-wide, two-thirds of male messages go to the best-looking third of women. So basically, guys are fighting each other 2-for-1 for the absolute best-rated females, while plenty of potentially charming, even cute, girls go unwritten.

The medical term for this is male pattern madness.

Ha! It sounds like male pattern baldness, that makes it fun-ny…

My observation is that a reasonable person, sitting in quiet contemplation of the question “Is this really madness?” without any cajoling from anyone, wouldn’t likely answer in the affirmative. We’re talking about messaging attractive people as opposed to not-attractive people. I’m assuming things haven’t changed since the last time I was on the market, and messaging is the first step; these people don’t know each other, whether they’re pretty or homely. Preferring a good-looking mate just makes sense, so why are we condemning it as madness? It’s alright for women to do that, isn’t it?

The honest answer is: Because it’s men who are doing it, and men are easy targets.

My theory is that, while we have all been sleeping, this has slowly but surely become the accepted way to deal with men: Everything we/they do is silly, or nuts, or crazy, or psycho, or what has become the most-favored of all: insecure. But if you take the time to evaluate what’s being done rationally, you find it’s actually quite sane, or at least, understandable & to be expected of rational people. Who may or may not have lost control of their emotions in some particularly jarring circumstance, which rational people do. It’s become so commonplace, and so normalized, we now have generations of males & females who don’t know anything different.

Men make up a unique demographic group. Our group is caught up in a raging, passionate cultural conflict between oppressors & oppressed, and as the purported oppressors, our bodies are actual weapons. And so the tactic that has emerged is to put a man in a situation in which a rational person is more likely to lose it. Not being able to see his own kids, as if he’s committed some sort of crime, is good…there are others. Designating his workspace as a cubicle next door to some neurotic insecure cat-lady who’s just itching to call H.R. at the slightest little discomfort, thereby putting his livelihood in jeopardy if he doesn’t dance to the right tune. And then leaving it up to an actual crazy-person to decide what that tune is.

Other things are like, asking for his latest tale from the front as the divorce grinds onward, and then at the end of it looking down your nose at him, and letting loose with a dismissive bout of victim-blaming…”Well you know, you basically said this was alright when you married her,” or the time-honored, brain-dead “Not All Women Are Like That.”

Morgan Rule One is, “If I’m going to be accused, I wanna be guilty.” It has the potential to save a man’s sanity; but, most men don’t live according to my Rule One, because most men haven’t been called crazy over & over from childhood until they just give up trying. And so, paradoxically, they keep dancing to the changing tune their whole lives, trying to avoid being called crazy, so they don’t lose their marriages, houses, kids, jobs etc….if they learn to go sunup to sundown without glancing at any pretty girls, and talk in a pitch roughly an octave above what’s natural for them, sometimes the noose stops tightening and they feel like they accomplished something. See? I did it, all the other guys can do it too!

But by that time, they really have gone crazy.

You saw it with that Brooke Baldwin thing, where the insensitive male lout asked the gamma male who was helping to excoriate him something like (2:39) “Don’t you like boobs too?” and the gamma had to homina-homina-homina…visibly wondering what he should & could say in response to that…ultimately refusing to say anything.

Kinda like Principal Skinner. “Just tell me what to say!

So that’s my theory. We keep wondering “WTF happened to men??” and the answer is, we happened. The Big We. We put men in situations in which a non-insane person would lose his cool, and if it happens we see to it the subject is defrocked of his status, occupation, property, family situation, or what-not…so that the point gets across, “you better not do that.” Which it does. As a result, men really are going insane. After all, they’ve tried sanity and it didn’t work for them.

Update: Oh yeah I forgot all about it…great example of what I’m talking about. It’s called by many an “inappropriate” reaction, and it seems he did go on about it to excess, but Ms. Gilligan did look very appealing in her bathing suit. And I’m getting the impression the real mastermind of the off-topic drama was the jealous brunette, with her “inappropriately” behaving male co-anchor playing goof-ball to help her play straight-man…or, straight-scold as the case may be…

So these examples are going to fall primarily into two categories: Appreciating the sight of a beautiful woman, or in some other way behaving like a normal male; and, acting like a threat or wounding has taken place, after being threatened or wounded.

By lowering the boom of “Don’t act like that,” our evolving notions of decency have imposed an expectation on men to stop being what they are. So, a refresher scorecard of sorts:

Visual beauty: The correct response is to look at it and appreciate it. Yes, tastefulness is a factor. No, “She thinks you’re up to par and you’re the guy she wants to attract” is not the metric that decides what’s tasteful vs. what’s a lewd leer. That’s silly.

Sexual harassment rules designed by lawyers to make men into targets: The correct response is to act like you’ve been targeted. And, to resent it.

Your wife wakes up unhappy one morning and initiates a divorce process that’s going to make you poor: The correct response is pretty much the same response a normal woman would show when her husband does the same thing. Lots of stress, apprehension about the future, hurt feelings, and some anger, yes men are supposed to have these reactions too. I know right? Crazy stuff!

Being told “Well you knew she was daffy when you married her so that makes it okay”: A knuckle sandwich.

An authority figure concluding that in their “tender years,” your kids are better off with your ex-wife and you get to see them every other weekend: More resentment, more anger, and some wonderment about how the “justice” system could be so wrong and unjust…because ya know what? It is. And, a thought or two spared for other men and their kids, who are being similarly wronged by the same system. Because ya know what? It’s really happening.

A steady stream of commercials in which the smart wife is using the right product and the dopey husband is using brand X: Resignation, a touch of sadness, quick changing of the channel, and a mental note not to buy the product. No, men are not obliged to maintain a “sense of humor about themselves.” If they were, we would have to grapple next with the troublesome question about whether such commercials are really funny…

The lady jogger in the skimpy shorts indignantly asking what the hell you’re looking at: As the punchline to the old joke says, the correct response is “What you’re showing me.”

ThatIsAll.

Yes, Take-A-Knee is a Problem

Friday, September 29th, 2017

Men of the West:

The real reason this is a problem is because it’s an assault from the political left on our culture as Americans. The SJW’s have invaded yet another space and are demanding that everybody virtue signal for the right causes or else…

Conservatives and Christians have been losing the culture since the 1960’s. Every time there’s a new front that opens, we fall back. Churches lose their tax exempt status if they say something that upsets a politician, and it’s just accepted, and we fall back. Abortion is shoved down our throats, and we fall back. The government taxes us to pay for abortion, and we fall back. Prayer gets thrown out of public schools and we fall back. Christmas becomes a hateful word, and we fall back. The government takes over health care, demands we pay for abortion and abortifacients, and we fall back. Marriage – a sacrament of the Church – is taken from us and perverted in ways that the Church can only consider to be heresy, and we fall back. Lets face it, our backs are to the wall…

…I see “Conservatives” taking shots at Donald Trump when he says something right, but just in a way that they don’t approve of, and that’s why we keep losing these fights.

Conservatism will always be more timid than liberalism, though. It’s a structural difference. Liberals are the little kid who wants to have candy before dinner, and conservatives are the concerned parent asking questions the little kid isn’t asking: How much candy? How long before dinner? Are you going to declare yourself “full” with your plate only a third of the way empty and your vegetables untouched, like last time? And the time before that and the time before that? No? Why am I to doubt it?

The problem is we’ve been told a lie all this time, and accepted the lie, about what conservatism is. It isn’t resistance to change. It’s asking sensible questions. If it were just mindless resistance, as forceful and as unquestioning as “lean-forward” progressivism, there would be no influence differential because it would be equally appealing to those who refuse to discuss things.

The thing to fix is there. People who refuse to discus things. Conservatism will always wither and die, in a setting where it’s cool to think like a kid and act on impulse all of the time. It is an ideology for adults, who eat their vegetables before dessert, and want to know about long term consequences and what things cost.