Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

The democrats Have Finally Found a Tax They Don’t Like

Friday, March 22nd, 2013

…that would be the tax that is already owed, but not yet collected — from employees of the federal government. We’re all equal, but some of us are more equal than others. Daily Caller, by way of Mr. Teach at Pirate’s Cove:

Citing figures indicating that more than 100,000 federal employees owe more than $1 billion in federal taxes, a House committee on Wednesday approved legislation that would require the firing of government workers who are “seriously tax delinquent.”

The legislation, introduced by Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz, advanced through the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. It now has to pass the full House to be implemented into law.

“Most taxpayers file accurate tax returns and pay the taxes they owe on time, regardless of their income,” Chaffetz, a Republican, said during the hearing Wednesday. “Federal employees and individuals applying for federal employment should do the same.”

The Federal Employee Tax Accountability Act of 2013 requires the termination of employment for tax delinquent federal employees, while also prohibiting the hiring of new federal employees with a substantial amount of delinquent tax debt.

“The intent of the bill is simple,” Chaffetz said. “If you are a federal employee or applicant, you should be making a good faith effort to pay your taxes or to dispute them, as all taxpayers have the right to do.”

Chaffetz explained that the term “seriously tax delinquent” is defined as having an outstanding federal tax debt where a notice of lien has been publicly filed.

The bill exempts employees who can demonstrate financial hardships and an effort of working to settle tax liabilities.

Democrats on the committee opposed the bill. Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings, the ranking member on the committee, said the legislation “seeks to demonize federal employees rather than ensure their compliance with tax obligations.”

“By requiring agencies to fire employees for not paying their taxes on time, the measure actually undermines the ability of the government to collect the unpaid taxes,” Cummings said. “It is much, much, much more difficult to recoup the delinquent taxes from someone who is unemployed.”

The article goes on to lay out Congressman Cummings’ alternative suggestions for resolving the delinquent tax issues.

Oh, oops, no wait. I made up that last part. It’s not there; I looked for it. And I looked for it because the first thought in my head was, if I were Elijah Cummings, I’d have spent a moment or two thinking about, gosh darn it if I really don’t want this to happen, I’m sure my words will carry much greater persuasive weight if I could offer a solution of my own.

These are really funny, strange people. When there’s a problem they want solved, and their solution involves sorting people out into these different levels of privilege, they’ll hold back nothing in getting that solution applied even if the problem is a non-problem, like for example the climate change scam. Although there are many others. But when elsewhere, there is a real problem, and the problem is that we’ve already been sorted out into these different levels of privilege, the “Everybody On Equal Footing” party doesn’t want that problem solved at all.

They won’t even acknowledge it. Rep. Cummings thinks the problem is getting hold of the billion dollars. Isn’t that cute?

The mystery is, to what extent were they ever devoted to equal privilege, equal rights, equal protection under the law and equal opportunity.

To what extent they are devoted to such things today, there’s no mystery at all. That much is crystal clear.

Five Ways to Forfeit Your Man Card

Friday, March 22nd, 2013

Wish I had the idea that John Hawkins had. I could probably come up with another 25 items before my wife even has my breakfast ready.

But his five are pretty good, in that most of them, some 80%, are practical. They have a definable effect on what gets done by the guy losing his man card, and what doesn’t, and on how things turn out.

Update: Was reading this…

That’s the funny thing about women. They’re always trying to tame men and then the moment they pull it off, they get bored with the wolf they managed to carefully craft into a poodle.

I’ve been noticing that for awhile. There is the courtship/seduction then the fun times then the proposal then the marriage then the errands errands errands errands errands…(deep breath) more errands…

Several years later, you see what they expect out of each other every day, and a lot of couples lapse into that pattern: He doesn’t expect a damn thing, and what she expects is, a timetable of very simple tasks to be met. Or else there will be complaining. In a lot of other cases, the simple tasks are never more involved than “make sure you’re out of the way.” Some wives skip straight to the complaining — if he did it right, she’d never know what to do with herself. It’s a very sad thing to see.

Not hard to see, though. There’s the misconception. Lots of married couples think there is absolute privacy here, nobody on the outside understands. They’re like the lovers in the office who think no one knows what’s up. In reality, very few things are more obvious.

Anyway: I’ve always thought of a metaphor involving a wild stallion, and a little wooden hobby horse. It’s in the instinct profile of a fertile woman: Engage that good wild man-energy, run with it, harness it, tame it…and then get rid of it, and spend the rest of your days tolerating the empty husk of what’s left. Peevishly. I feel badly for both of them, but what can you do.

Let Us Into Our House, Matt Yglesias

Friday, March 22nd, 2013

Interesting piece of data appearing in the Washingtonian yesterday:

Journalist and political blogger Matthew Yglesias bought a three-bedroom, three-bath condo on Q Street in Logan Circle for $1.2 million. In a converted Victorian rowhouse, the unit has original exposed-brick walls and a private patio. Yglesias writes about business and the economy for Slate.

Andy at Ace of Spades wants to know:

So, party at Matty’s this weekend? I mean, I’m sure he won’t mind if we crash the joint, what with that myth of owning private property and all.

Looks like validation of a theory of mine: It isn’t about who-has-what, it’s about who merits the having of it.

Hat tip to Daily Caller, by way of Instapundit.

Your Obligatory “Broken Beast” Post

Thursday, March 21st, 2013

I no longer give a crap if it’s gas instead of diesel or diesel instead of gas. The reports have gone both ways. And, you know, it really doesn’t matter…

Also, it seems clear it’s a matter of miscommunication, likely involving some crucial bit of information that has a classification rating. It’s possible that the guy whose hand was on the fuel pump handle did everything exactly right. I would even consider that a likelihood.

But no matter what…it is yet another embarrassment for the country. And it’s a perfect metaphor for the situation. The guy at the top of the food chain gives wonderful perfect speeches but has never held a real job. So yeah. Some crucial details that involve making things actually work, are not going to get the respect and the attention they command…and things will get screwed up. It is pre-determined.

Remember all those limo problems President Bush had?

Me neither.

What’s it Like to Bodypaint Kate Upton?

Thursday, March 21st, 2013

Dunno. Better read up to find out.

Kate UptonWhat is it like to paint on Kate Upton‘s nude body? Only one person can truly answer this question and her name is Joanne Gair, a New Zealand-born makeup artist who has worked on the SI Swimsuit issue for 14 years. Though she still handles many traditional makeup jobs, Gair has carved a niche as the premier bodypainter in the industry. New York Magazine recently spoke with Gair about her career and painting SI’s cover model in the buff. The interview is well worth reading and here are a few of the more interesting quotes:

How the models prepare for a bodypainting session:

I need all the hair follicles removed as best they can, otherwise it gets done on the day. Hair follicles only show when you start airbrushing. Even if you think you have none, as soon as you blow air on skin, the follicles stand up and you can see them because they get coated with color. So you need to make sure that’s not there, because with high definition you’re going to see everything — and I mean everything.
:
What it’s like working with Kate Upton:

I first met Kate when she was 18, and she was so excited. I know a lot of people say this, but it’s true — she is completely comfortable in her own skin. She brings a great deal of life to the moment. She knows how to calm down and go into a zen state and relax, but she finds humor in all of it, and really keeps morale up. It’s very enjoyable working with a live canvas that has so much personality.

Insane Office Escape

Wednesday, March 20th, 2013

No plot, no motive. But fun to watch, and everyone has the same favorite-part of course…

(Language warning)

From here, and hat tip to Gerard.

This Is Good CVII

Wednesday, March 20th, 2013

GoneWithTheWind comments on capitalism, over at Maggie’s Farm.

This post-subscribing thing generates a lot of e-mail, but I’m picking up the impression that, nevertheless, I should make a point of doing it more often.

Capitalism is “normal”. It has been around forever and is more like a law of nature then a invention of man. The dramatic increase in capitalism coincides with and is a result of freedom. The freedom of individuals to practice capitalism openly and in many different ways. To the extent there is any moral negative to it is not the result of capitalism but simply the inevitable result of human nature. We are not perfect beings and we use many things including religion to attain personal gain often at the expense of others. babies do it right out of the womb and most humans do it until their last breath. Everything from taking the last cookie to using sex to get what you want to taking money by false means is human nature and not the result of capitalism or religion or any external factor.

I consider the Wikipedia definition to be a great example of how one distances oneself from reality by relying too much on textbooks, and laboring with too much effort to produce answers found to comport with their content:

Capitalism is an economic system based on the private ownership of capital goods and the means of production, with the creation of goods and services for profit. Elements central to capitalism include capital accumulation, competitive markets, and a price system. There are multiple variants of capitalism, including laissez-faire, welfare capitalism, and state capitalism…

All veritably true, as usual. And unhelpful in the endeavor of defining something.

When we discuss capitalism, we are discussing trade. Exchange of goods and services. And free of coercion, including regulatory or tax-related coercion. The traders act like owners of the commodities being exchanged, or representatives of those owners, saying yea or nay to the proposal based on their consideration of the value of the commodities. If such selfish evaluations enjoy primacy above all other considerations in the arrival at the yea-or-nay, then we have capitalism. If they don’t, then we don’t.

Some of the attacks upon capitalism we have seen, lately, have to do with perversions, not displacements, of it. A bank that is “too big to fail” and assents to faulty loans with the understanding that the government will shield the bank from the undesirable consequences, qualifies for my definition. In fact, that’s the whole problem with too-big-to-fail. The phrase packed barely enough punch to allow the negotiators to get away with it — in the urgency of the moment, third-quarter of 2008. The process went forward, with the grudging approval, or at least lack of will to protest it into stoppage, of the public. But that smattering of goodwill has not aged well, I think.

Getting back to the subject at hand: It’s a good point. Capitalism is normal. You have A, I have B, it is natural that our situations are different and you may value A more than B, while my material values are the opposite. We trade. One or the other of us suffers, if one or the other of us is in the wrong, which will happen from time to time. But overall, we will both be correct, because with repeated exchanges we will learn whatever it is we need to learn. The exchanges that endure over time, therefore, will be the ones that are mutually profitable.

It’s odd that the people who have the greatest positive exuberance for “evolution,” nurture the most bitter and churlish resentment against capitalism. The latter endures only as a proper and functional implementation of the former. It therefore possesses all of the noted characteristics: Big improvement over long time, as a result of everyday happenstance within much shorter time, involving success, failures, discomfort and demise. Throughout it all, the organisms learn, and the organisms improve. It is the same process, in all the ways that really matter.

How Old People Think

Monday, March 18th, 2013

I’ve had exactly this thought, many a time and long ago. So I must have been an old person for quite awhile now.

From the Brother-in-Law, in the e-mails:

An Observation on an Age Old Question

I mowed the lawn today, and after doing so I sat down and had a cold beer.

Old Guy with BeerThe day was really quite beautiful, and the drink facilitated some deep thinking on various topics.

Finally I thought about an age old question:

Is giving birth more painful than getting kicked in the nuts?

Women always maintain that giving birth is way more painful than a guy getting kicked in the nuts.

Well, after another beer, and some heavy deductive thinking, I have come up with the answer to that question.

Getting kicked in the nuts is more painful than having a baby; and here is the reason for my conclusion.

A year or so after giving birth, a woman will often say, “it might be nice to have another child.”

On the other hand, you never hear a guy say, “You know, I think I would like another kick in the nuts.”

I rest my case.

Time for another beer.

The Increase in Vegetation

Saturday, March 16th, 2013

Hat tip to Bird Dog at Maggie’s Farm.

Of course it makes good sense that living things within an ecosystem have an effect on that ecosystem, and vice-versa. It’s a symbiotic relationship. Within the environmental movement, wherever science fails to show that we have to stop commercialism and development in order to continue surviving and/or become decent people, their special brand of religion will fill in the gaps. It’s a curious consistency they have about it: If a human did it, it must be poisonous. They’re not worried about cows releasing methane into the atmosphere, unless the cows are living on a farm run by a human, supplying a market of beef consumed by humans. Greenhouse gases are not the problem, in the environmental doctrine, the problem is that humans put them there. Anything humans put anywhere, is a problem.

How the IMF Works

Friday, March 15th, 2013

From Sippican, by way of Kate at Small Dead Animals.

I Made a New Word LXIII

Thursday, March 14th, 2013

Got a family matter going on, the details of which are entirely irrelevant. As is typical of family matters, lots of involved/related people get a “vote” in what’s going on, but not really; you’ve probably had some family matters, and you know how it is. People make it clear they’d like to have your buy-in, but nobody has veto power, the thing is going to happen no matter what. So, you go through the motions of gathering information…after awhile, you start to feel like the doctor must feel when he’s giving an examination to a patient who’s eating or smoking himself to death, and won’t do what the doctor says. Just performing an autopsy a few months early.

So I have made the acquaintance of a professional who was selected by someone else. The thing that interests me is not that my questions are unwelcome; it was the way she went about letting me know she doesn’t like my questions. Reminds me of when we had another family matter about something entirely different, and my brother started making e-mail inquiries to a professional he did not select, the conversation went pretty much the same way.

After those experiences, I see this clip of White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, avoiding questions that compare the cost of the White House tours — an expense that is a victim of the dreaded “sequester,” demanding as it does some $74,000 a week — to President Obama’s vacations. Again, the focus of my interest is not that Carney wants to avoid the question. It’s an awkward subject, and hey, it’s Jay Carney, this is what he does. He does very little else, from what I’ve seen. The focus of my interest is the technique:

I would summarize it thusly:

You: I’m concerned about [blank]. Since I have that concern, [question].
Other person: I don’t care about [blank]. [Topic change]

Like the first YouTube comment points out: “I wouldn’t say he avoids the question. He just makes it clear that he doesn’t care.” Precisely, and actually what he did was both of those things.

It is more than evasive. It is controlling. It is dishonest. It is intellectually lazy.

And I’m going to come up with a name for it right now: Transparency Deficit Disorder. Maneuvering of the focus of the discussion away, consciously or otherwise, from inspection or disclosure of some matter whose opacity is strategically desirable to the speaker, by means of bullying. The forceful imposition of one person’s attention-deficit problems upon another, at an opportune time.

I see it outside of politics just as much as I see it within politics. It is now about as widespread as a text-messaging acronym among high-school age kids, and it seems to have reached a popularity crescendo at about the same time. “I don’t care about that, and neither should you” is the sentiment. It is the opposite of inquisitiveness. Over a longer period of time, it is bound to make us stupid. There is no other outcome possible.

The time frame must have been fairly recent. Had Tony Snow or Ari Fleischer been asked something, and practiced such maneuvering, there would have been a full-blown scandal. So if this was on the rise during the Bush years, it must have been kept separated from politics. But, maybe it started within our nation’s politics. Perhaps when the anti-war movement sort of dissipated and drifted off into the ether, with the election of a democrat White House, this made non-inquisitiveness the order of the day.

Either way, I’m not liking it. I certainly don’t like bumping into it, several times a day, over entirely unrelated matters.

So many times when I have to contend with some kind of screw-up, on my part or on someone else’s part, it really doesn’t matter which one…as I triage the wreckage and try to figure out the point of failure, time after time it all comes back to a lack of access to, or availability of, or pursuit of, information. Someone did not disclose something, or someone did not take the time to learn it. In one form or another, information was not given the respect that it deserves, as an enabling agent of productive and discerning human effort. Again and again and again, this emerges as a root cause of some disaster, great or small…

I’m taking it as a tip-off that the people engaging their TDD are representative of, and accustomed to dealing with, a wholly different sort. What they mean to say is, of course, “that was a bad question.” But what they signify to me is that it wasn’t a bad question at all, it was a good one, and a little bit too good of a question. And they’re signifying something else to me as well: Insincerity.

I’m going to be pretty happy when we’re done with this fad. It’s going to demand a lot of patience.

Meanwhile…I don’t care if other people don’t care. It’s not answering my question.

Update: Actually, I see from my written archives this has been getting under my skin for, off-and-on, somewhere around seven years

Thing I Know #112. Strong leadership is a dialog: That which is led, states the problem, the leader provides the solution. It’s a weak brand of leadership that addresses a problem by directing people to ignore the problem.

The Site Has Gone Down

Thursday, March 14th, 2013

Not this site, but the official website for Steak and Blow Job Day. That would be today, March 14th.

You can “like” it on the Hello Kitty of Blogging, over here.

If you’re still unclear on it, the Urban Dictionary provides edification:

Celebrated on March 14th, Steak and Blowjob Day is a holiday for men, celebrated the month after Valentine’s Day — a holiday for women.

The idea is simple: no cards, flowers, candy or other whimsical gifts. Ladies, you simply bestow your partner with a steak and a blowjob. Not necessarily in that order.

But Does it Come With a Warranty?

Thursday, March 14th, 2013

From Gizmodo.

Discovered by BIL, the Brother-in-Law.

Don’t Help Yourselves

Monday, March 11th, 2013

During a discussion, with Cylar Z over at The Hello Kitty of Blogging, I pointed something out…

I get the distinct impression that we’re all arguing about something here that doesn’t have anything to do with guns. Like Mencken said, puritanism is the fear that someone somewhere is having a good time; liberalism is a fear that someone somewhere is taking charge of a situation, protecting themselves, making a profit, doing something to adapt to reality or make life better for themselves in some way.

I was thinking that during the health care debate. I see them pushing toward a single-payer plan and I think…okay…your cousin or your niece or somebody, got a blood condition and ended up dying because they couldn’t get medicine, now you want a guarantee for everybody, I can certainly understand the motive. But then they go on to: After we provide this public “insurance” coverage, you can’t go and supplement that by buying your own plan, or if you go see a doctor and pay for it out of pocket, then you should be fined or jailed. And I think, well, what’s the motivation there? I can only conclude that their passions are tied up in this other thing — nobody should ever be able to help themselves.

Of course, I’m talking about the modern, post-1968 American liberalism, not the classic liberalism.

I was inspired to go down this road because of this article he put up about what’s going on in South Dakota…

South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard on Friday signed a bill allowing teachers to carry guns in school, making his state the first to enact such a law since the Newtown shooting tragedy.

The bill was pushed by gun-rights supporters who say arming teachers could help prevent tragedies like the one at Sandy Hook Elementary School, where 20 students and six educators died. The law, which goes into effect July 1, will allow school districts to arm teachers and other personnel.

But the measure prompted intense debate in the capital, as several representatives of school boards, school administrators and teachers opposed the bill during committee testimony last month. They said the measure could make schools more dangerous, lead to accidental shootings and put guns in the hands of people who are not adequately trained to shoot in emergency situations.

I can just see it now: Eek, a gun-carrying madman, he’s shooting us, do something. Sorry, I have my pistol and I have my bullets, but I have not been adequately trained to shoot in emergency situations. The whole pattern of thinking suggests someone who wouldn’t know an “emergency situation” if it walked up and kicked him square in the ‘nards. Doesn’t the very phrase itself implore whoever might be present to do something fer Chrissakes?

This is the kind of thinking you get when people pay a lower social penalty for yelling “no” than for yelling “yes.” I think I can pretty well guarantee, nobody at the meeting, or interviewed, would stand behind the statement: We think if the situation arises, we will get a better result if the new policy is not in effect. At least, I think that might be true. I think, it isn’t that they actually believe a no-guns policy will bring a better result; I think, in their minds, the objective of bringing a better result is a ship that’s sailed out of sight, it isn’t on-topic anymore.

That’s why I get frustrated when committees decide too many things. We all like to pretend it isn’t true, but committee decisions are mostly about social victories and social defeats. Committee decisions, therefore, tend to be meaningless but nice-sounding, boring bromides. Training! Yeah, you have to have training!

Just like the firefighters who didn’t save that drowning guy. The deep thinkers go through all the right motions and put on this appearance that they’re thinking things through in this “emergency situation,” but their decision ends up being one of “if I’m dangling off the cliff and there’s nobody to pull me up who’s attended the proper training, I’d rather fall.” Just complete balderdash.

I’m trying to understand this thinking. I think what they may be trying to do is point our society in the right direction; like, if we say “you can’t save that guy unless you have been properly trained,” a few years following such a proclamation we’ll have a bunch of people running around who’ve been properly trained, when otherwise, we might not. So they don’t mean to say, I want the guy to drown. They mean to say I want lots of trained people. Kind of like me, when I put my car keys or sunglasses in a very, very special place and thereby force myself to recover my deteriorating abilities to remember things, then end up completely panicked when I can’t find them again.

But I take that sort of silly “opportunity” because it’s a situation in which nobody will pay the penalty if it doesn’t work, save me. That’s the whole point. And it isn’t that I’m trying to do right by others, it’s more like I don’t want to be embarrassed: If I’m losing my faculties and a disaster must ensue, let it be a controlled disaster, which I must endure and sort out in solitude, so I can at least see where I stand.

This does not apply to complete strangers, standing around helplessly, waiting to be mowed down by a guy with a gun. By the only guy around who has a gun…because the teachers might be lacking in the proper training, and so have been disarmed. This makes no sense to me at all. And then you have those other issues. The health care. We have lots of big cars around my area, which annoy me just as much as they annoy the liberals. But you know, a V-8 pickup truck with a ball hitch, say what you want about it, but it is capable. You can’t tow a boat up to Folsom Lake and launch it with one of those silly smart-cars. And the liberals are not annoyed by the same thing that annoys me. They’re seeing someone poisoning the planet — read that as, somebody who has been told what to do by liberals, and failed to obey. I see someone who is extremely likely to not own a boat, who bought a big car so they can sit way up high, feel safe, and drive like a jackass.

Could it be jealousy? The way I was raised, if you and I are doing something and some special challenge emerges, you fix it while I cannot because you prepared yourself somehow…to me, that is a message that I should go get hold of whatever that thing was so that next time I can be ready. So if pliers are needed, you have just taught me I should carry a Leatherman or something. Could it be there are other people out there who, going through the same experience, react with something like “he should not have been able to do anything I can’t do”? That’s about the only way I can make sense of this. I remember the first Mrs. Freeberg used to get upset with me if I used “big words,” which caused a lot of tension because I didn’t know what a big word was. And, if I learned how to do anything she couldn’t do, or grow facial hair, or do anything she couldn’t do. Years after the divorce, I discovered to my surprise that I’d been married to a democrat.

So, maybe that explains everything. “I can’t do that, so I don’t want you doing that either” is the real sentiment, “not unless you’ve been properly trained” is just the window-dressing, the sheep’s-clothing. Helpless people, who’ve lost their ambition for ever extricating themselves from their helplessness, want everyone else to be helpless.

This would fit my operating theory that left-wing politics, in our day and age, are nothing more than failure to mature past about middle or high school. It’s all about doing what you want. The other guy does something you can’t do, you want to go all tall-poppy on that guy and chop him down to size; if you can do something he can’t do, you want to climb to the highest mountain and shout it and brag about it. Obviously, acting on both of those wants is injurious to the long-term functioning of your society, because it requires disparate levels of social allowance — you must be privileged to do things the other guy can’t do. A more egalitarian alignment is required, for the good of a long-functioning and peaceful society. In one of those situations, or another, you must behave in ways not necessarily to your own liking at the time, to be patient, and/or improve yourself. As normal people mature, they learn things like this. But, of course, nobody ever said we were all required to.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News.

Cute Girl Turns Into Paper Cutout

Monday, March 11th, 2013

Ant Rights Commission

Monday, March 11th, 2013

Somebody get a magnifying glass…

Hat tip to Kate at Small Dead Animals.

Universal Response to Universal Solution

Sunday, March 10th, 2013

Steven Goddard has identified the solution the Obama regime will propose, every single time, no matter what the problem is.

Whatever the problem is, Obama’s solution is to take things away from the American people.

Budget cutbacks? Take away whatever hurts the American people most.

Take away their guns, their Bill of Rights, their car, their coal, make them turn the thermostat down and tell them what and how much they are allowed to eat.

Reagan’s core philosophy was growth and freedom. Obama’s core philosophy is to take control away from the peasants, and put himself control of everything

When he said “bitter people who cling to guns and religion” it was pretty obvious where he was coming from. The only reason to cling to anything is because someone is trying to take it away from you. That person is Barack Obama.

Thing I Know #410. When the guy telling you what to do keeps coming up with the same solution for every single problem, that’s a problem.

My proposed universal response to this universal lunacy:

I understand where you want to go with this, that the solution somehow lies behind an objective of allowing people in government to do more things, and confining people outside of government to doing fewer things. Completely get that. And, I also get how you want people outside government to be forced to reveal more information, and people in government to be allowed to keep more secrets. I see how that’s all supposed to work. Unfortunately, I can’t pay bills with it, and I can’t put it on my dinner table.

Update: Lest we forget, being “in government” includes being friends with those who are in government.

Jeb Bush Says History Will Be Kind to George W.

Sunday, March 10th, 2013

NBC News:

“In his four years as president a lot of amazing accomplishments took place,” said Jeb Bush, the son of former President George H.W. Bush, during an interview on NBC’s Meet the Press. “So my guess is that history will be kind to my brother, the further out you get from this and the more people compare his tenure to what’s going on now.”

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush discusses the shifting statistics of the Republican party.

The 43rd president has largely stayed out of the spotlight since leaving office. After presiding over broad public discontent over the Iraq War and a flailing economy, George W. Bush left the White House with poor approval ratings and was notably unpopular even within his own party.

Here’s the truth that never gets mentioned, it seems: George W. Bush was more popular when he governed like a Republican, and he lost his popularity when he governed like a statist democrat. “Too Big To Fail” started the final, irreversible downslide.

War ProtestsThe bit of evidence that is most charitable to the theory that Bush eroded his popularity & credibility because of his conservative credentials, rather than in spite of them, is the nation’s festering distaste for the Iraq war. But today, we know that anti-war feeling was only fashionable as long as a Republican was in the White House. Someone, somewhere, has decided that with Emperor Barry in charge, vaporizing terrorists with drones is cool again.

Apart from that, why else do people “hate Bush”? A bunch of democrat-friendly things. Medicare Part D. No Child Left Behind. Budget after budget passed, bigger every year, with no veto. Illegal immigrants do the jobs Americans won’t do.

I honestly don’t know why Republican officials seem to think they can recapture or build up their momentum by governing like democrats. This is something that has never worked. Ever.

But you know, you ask the loud people who are insistent on having the last word all the time, why George Bush was so loathed. You get back two answers: Lied about WMDs as a pretext for war in Iraq, and tax cuts for the rich. These are not grassroots answers; let’s be clear about that. Real people don’t use the word “pretext.” And real people don’t hate freedom.

I think, overall, Jeb’s going to be right on this. He is already. Who wouldn’t like 4.6% unemployment, gas two-something a gallon, and a AAA credit rating for the country right now?

The “George W. Bush was the worst president ever” thing has already aged about as well as a pack of halibut someone forgot to put in the fridge.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News.

“Then He Went Out and Bought an AR-15″

Sunday, March 10th, 2013

From Gateway Pundit:

Former Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-AZ), a victim of a mass shooting in 2011, and her husband, Mark Kelly, testified before a Congressional panel on gun control in January. Kelly told the assembled members of Congress that modern weapons “Have turned every single corner of our society into places of carnage and gross human loss.”

Then he went out and bought an AR-15.

From Breitbart:

Mark E. Kelly, gun-control proponent and husband to former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, recently purchased an AR-15 (an “assault weapon,” he called it)—which he now says he intended as an illustration of the need for more stringent gun laws.

Kelly reportedly bought the AR-15 and a 1911-style semi-automatic pistol at a gun store in Tucson, Arizona.

Breitbart News received a tip on this when Neil McCabe, editor of Guns & Patriots newsletter, contacted us on March 7 and said:

Mark E. Kelly, made purchases which included an AR-15–sometimes described as an “assault rifle”–at 3:30 pm on the afternoon of March 5 at Diamondback Police Supply, 170 S. Kolb Street, Tucson, AZ.

According to McCabe, witnesses to the purchases claimed Kelly purchased “high capacity” magazines as well.
:
Testifying to the Senate Judiciary Committee Jan. 30, Kelly had urged senators to restrict sales firearms based on their lethality–a common refrain with other witnesses that day, who argued that semi-automatic weapons, which chamber subsequent rounds as bullets are fired, and other guns with military-style features level the playing field against law enforcement.

Kelly and Giffords founded their own advocacy group to restrict gun rights, Americans for Responsible Solutions, in January. On its website, ARS wrote: “High capacity magazines are a deadly factor in gun violence.” A 30-round magazine is considered a high-capacity magazine.

The ARS website says: “Congress should act to limit the sale of high capacity magazines, which are not needed for hunting or self-defense, but have proven very lethal.”

Similarly, the ARS website says: “Congress should act to limit the sale of assault weapons.

Now, I think everyone who understands the concept of the rule of law, would agree we’re doing a poor job coming up with the rules if certain things are happening: 1) The people coming up with the rules don’t understand what in the hell they’re doing; 2) the people who support the rules, themselves, are not following them. I’m sure we can come up with some other red flags as well, and I’m sure the applicability of these red flags would be agreeable to everybody who’s asked about it, regardless of their position on gun control…

Therefore, we see the world is divided into two groups of people. I recall what my Uncle Wally was telling me, “Morgan, the world is divided into two groups of people, those who go around dividing the whole world into groups, and everybody else.” Pro- and anti-gun-control is not the important divide here. The divide is: What if a rule is handed down, depriving you of some of the options you had before, and it’s supposed to make the world a better place but it fails some of these tests? So, before the rule is even codified, you see the people supporting it refusing to live by it. And, the people who oppose the rule are found to really, really know what they’re talking about, and their arguments make complete sense, and the people who support the rule are just dishing out a bunch of noise and demagoguery?

We see this with the high-capacity-magazine debate, which by now is defined past the point of new rebuttal. Pro-gun-control: “These rifles are made and bought for one reason and one reason only: To kill lots and lots of people!” Anti-gun-control: “Limiting magazine capacity doesn’t do anything, look here’s how fast I can swap out a magazine.” Click, click. Now, those are the arguments. The issue doesn’t include much outside of those. This is not a discussion that goes in circles. One refutes the other. It would be nonsense to come back and say “Who cares how fast you can swap out the magazine, the high capacity of each one makes this a human-killing weapon” or something. It wouldn’t even be addressing the point. That’s why people don’t do it.

But, to the other thing, the people supporting the new rule refusing to live under it. This is not the same hypocrisy as a Republican congressman giving speech after speech about “family values” and then getting caught cheating on his wife. A society in which we’re all faithful in our marriages, is stronger jointly and severally. Society itself is stronger and, independent of that, your household is stronger, and my household is stronger. Contrasted with that, a society that is supposed to be safer because it is gun-free, is “stronger” — I’m assuming this would work, which I don’t believe, but I’m just gonna go with it — jointly only. You, as an individual, are not stronger and more capable because you don’t own guns. That makes you individually weaker. The plan is to elevate all of society above the individuals. It’s like a soap bubble: The rule only works if there is a complete envelopment, if there is a breach anywhere then the entire framework collapses, in theory if not in practice.

In short: Mark Kelly wants a new societal pact in which we are all defrocked of our guns, our protection. He wants us to live under this pact, but it isn’t good enough for Mark Kelly.

I find hypocrisy itself to be understandable. Babysit a toddler sometime: Somewhere in our third year, onward, we have to learn not to be hypocrites. Our tendency is to be born hypocritical. Now, tolerance for hypocrisy, I’m afraid, is something entirely outside my comprehension. I just don’t get this. I see these damn democrats whining away about “a society of haves and have-nots” and then, as a solution to this kind of thing, they propose rules that make it happen. And then, as those rules are debated and discussed, and we ponder the implications of making these new terraced existences in which some of us are entitled to things and others of us are not, we see the rules supported by people who know full well they would fall into the lower, plebeian, not-entitled terrace.

They embrace this. They welcome it.

Mark Kelly wants new rules that say they can’t have guns. Mark Kelly is buying a gun. You bring this to their attention, they’ll sneer at the news, minimize it, trivialize it…eventually call you some kind of an idiot for paying any attention to it at all.

Let the chains rest lightly upon them, and let posterity forget they were our countrymen.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News.

Pastry Gun

Saturday, March 9th, 2013

No…words…

Josh said, “It was already a rectangle and I just kept on biting it and biting it and tore off the top and it kinda looked like a gun but it wasn’t.” Josh takes full responsibly for trying to shape his breakfast pastry, but admits it was in innocent fun. He told FOX45, “All I was trying to do was turn it into a mountain but, it didn’t look like a mountain really and it turned out to be a gun kinda.” When his teacher saw the strawberry tart he knew he was in trouble, he recalls, “She was pretty mad…and I think I was in big trouble.”

Just…wow.

Hasselbeck Wished Out to the Cornfield

Saturday, March 9th, 2013

From Us Weekly, by way of Huffington Post:

The people have spoken. Elisabeth Hasselbeck, one of the five cohorts of ABC’s daytime talk show The View, will not be returning to the couch next season, following hot on the footsteps of fellow cohost Joy Behar, a source tells Us Weekly.

According to the source, the show’s resident conservative voice is being ousted after market research revealed that she isn’t popular with TV audiences.

“The viewers they polled all said she was too extreme and right wing,” the insider tells Us. “People did not watch the show because of Elisabeth. So they told her yesterday her contract would not be renewed.”

Well okay, we’ll just have to wait and see. “A source,” pffft…

But you know, if we do our waiting and seeing, and we see there’s something to it, I’ll have to say right now I would not end up being too surprised about it. Yes, it would be a very silly thing to do, but then again it is a very silly show. And, maybe for me it’s a case of rose-colored glasses. I’d like to see Hasselbeck leave, so that then she could possibly get some work on something I’d be inclined to watch every now and then. She is a very lovely young woman.

WishingAs far as the content of what this “source” is saying, I find it entirely credible. How did William F. Buckley put it:

Liberals claim to want to give a hearing to other views, but then are shocked and offended to discover that there are other views.

And, there is the personal experience to vouch for what Mr. Buckley said there. Oh, where to even begin. What would even be the point.

So, let us speculate on the idea that there is truth to this “sourced” report. What then to make of it?

Well, it would be a dumb move. Or, a smart move made to appeal to a very dumb audience: A show where these women gather around a table with their ornamental coffee cups, and talk over the issues of the day and figure out what they think about it all…but it’s important to get rid of anybody who thinks anything different from what the rest think. Okay, so they won’t be huddling about it in order to gather different ideas or learn anything new, they’ll just gather to repeat the same things over and over. “The View”: That is singular, not plural. Okay then. That’s actually a perfect description of the modern liberal. They get together in their groups and pretend to have dialogue when they’re really just having parallel monologue. They reiterate “the view” over and over again and pretend they are harvesting a diverse assortment of idea-seeds in their little garden there.

I personally know the modern liberal to be most adept at getting rid of information while going through the motions of acquiring it. If you listen to their arguments carefully, you’ll see they consist mostly of that: Discarding something, encouraging all those in earshot to also discard it, under threat of being discarded themselves. Liberalism isn’t really about embracing or preserving or elevating anything at all, when you get down to it. When they say “up with women” they really mean down with men; when they champion the cause of black people, they really mean to injure white people. When the Vice President says “get a shotgun” he doesn’t mean to extol the virtues of shotguns; if you listen to him in context, what he’s trying to do is discourage people from getting an AR-15. Every single positive is just a thin, translucent wrapping around a negative. It applies to ideas, natural things, artificial things, and people.

Liberalism is all about wishing things out to the cornfield.

Which raises the question of: What is the cornfield?

The ViewThis is the scary part: They don’t know. They really don’t know. Not even a little, tiny bit. They are not like the semiconductor manufacturer working to make sure anything that might be a contaminant is kept outside of the million-dollar “clean room,” or the bartender telling the argumentative customers to “take it outside,” or the TSA checkpoint that keeps you from going into a secure area until you have been “cleared.” Those agents possess a good, developed understanding of 1) criteria applied, and 2) where things should go when they fail to meet the criteria. Liberals only understand the criteria. It comes easily to them to say things like “There is no use discussing [blank] with someone like you, who can’t see [blank].” You, then, are supposed to go away — but to where? It’s completely obvious you aren’t supposed to take your money with you as you leave. They’re building a society that “works for everyone” and you’re part of the “everyone,” at least when it comes time to pay taxes, regulatory fees and union dues. How do you exclude the undesirables from an all-inclusive society that refuses to recognize undesirables? This is the puzzle they’ve never managed to solve.

But they don’t have the time or the ambition to solve it. In fact, they can work up quite a sweat evading the problem, refusing to even address it, let alone start solving it. You’ll find, when conversation with a liberal turns toward an examination of this, the subject is always changed in some way. Either the topic is changed abruptly, or it is cut short by way of some judicious name-calling. But they’ll never, ever explore it, no matter what. They love banishing things. They got the banishing-motion down cold. But they don’t know if they’re entirely obliterating what they’re banishing, or merely demoting it to some lowered caste in a society that is not, contrary to its branding, caste-less. It has to be one of those, or the other. But they’ve abjured both of those as possibilities, with that instinctive, swift, practiced abjuring-motion of theirs. What options remain, then? To ponder that question, you have to find a liberal willing to do the pondering. This has yet to be found…

I hope it’s true that Hasselbeck has fallen under the axe. I’d like to see her moved to something watchable. I’ve always thought the show was called “The View” because Elisabeth Hasselbeck might be wearing something, from the waist down, really, really short. And if they did wish her out to the cornfield because of her undesirable conservative beliefs, I think I’d tune in once or twice in the aftermath, just for a good laugh. I can see it: Someone says something that could’ve been said by just about anyone still at the table, and they all nod their heads and go “Mmmmm, hmmmmmmm….” And then they try to keep that interesting and watchable. It would be completely funny for a little while…and then the pain would get to be too much, and I’d tune out, along with everybody else.

Update 3/11/13: Babbawawa is refudiating the gossip. Well, maybe and maybe not. We’ll just have to watch and see.

The Default Presumptions

Friday, March 8th, 2013

It occurs to me that we spend so much energy and time arguing about conclusions of things. We think we’re doing a wonderful job marshaling our critical thinking resources, thinking for ourselves and so forth. But we’re all human, and initial presumptions count for a lot. All who doubt that need only conduct a crude survey, of themselves or of the people they know, it doesn’t matter which — figure out how often it is someone reaches a conclusion wildly at odds with their initial impressions.

If they’re honest, they’ll usually find it doesn’t happen that often. Even in cases where they learn a whole lot between the first impression and the final conclusion. People tend to think what they want to think.

There is nothing new about any of that, in fact. What has changed lately, so far as I can tell anyway, is that we have a smaller and smaller band of puppeteers pulling the strings of a larger and larger population of puppets, when it comes to forming those initial, default presumptions. That last part is significant. If the coterie of puppeteers sought to control conclusions, they’d be less likely to get away with it. And here is the vulnerability. For those of us who put some importance on thinking for ourselves, it is a common flaw for us to guard our final conclusions much more vigilantly than our initial, default presumptions, even though it is very often that the former is determined by the latter. That’s true of both individuals and organizations.

This thing with the Rand Paul filibuster and the drone strikes, falls into this. Sen. Paul is criticized, not for his final or tentative conclusions, but for his default presumptions: President Obama would never do that, you see.

On the other hand, I see there is a bill filed in the Florida legislature requiring anger management classes for people wanting to buy ammunition. See, there is a default presumption there. I see the legislator who came up with the bill is a democrat. I wonder if she supports President Obama, and what opinion she has about the drone thing. I probably don’t need to wonder too much. See how incongruous these get? Default presumption is: President Obama won’t go nuts with drone strikes. But, you might be an angry person who is buying ammunition to shoot someone.

We argue about our final thoughts, but not about our initial ones. Then we wonder why Romney lost.

A compelling, prevailing consensus descends on us quickly with regard to these, since the presumptions are not debated the way the conclusions are. It has not escaped my notice that the prevailing consensus takes on a predictable form: It will be democrat-friendly time after time, and it will say that people who have important jobs in our nation’s capitol — not in the Pentagon, though — can be trusted to make good decisions. And no one else can, unless they’re in another country. We emit too much carbon, we drink too much soda, we eat too much salt, we cling to our guns and our religion.

It has become very fashionable, rhythmic almost, to say “the government does not have a revenue problem, it has a spending problem.” So the syllables go viral. But the sentiment does not. I see it has no discernible effect, none at all. We out here run into revenue problems that really are revenue problems, and we have to cut our spending. Washington gets hit by something called the “sequester” — hits itself with it, is more like it — and goes completely apeshit about it. Again, it doesn’t have to do with bumper sticker slogans going viral and it doesn’t have to do with common sense, it has to do with one default presumption: We need to go without. Washington shouldn’t have to.

We don’t debate this stuff. Not as much as we should.

The most damaging one is the one ultimate lefty-democrat one, the one that says the next revolution is right around the corner and it will, at long last, finally make everything all wonderful and fair for everybody. I’ve noticed it is impervious to time-related evidence, it never buckles or withers under the assault of completely obvious points, like “but we just had a revolution, last year or the year before, this stuff is getting out of control isn’t it?”

I’ve noticed, discussing things with lefties, if you consider your victory to be complete the first time you run into a personal insult, there is one sure shortcut to that: Correctly identifying the exchange as an attempt by the liberal, to convince you — not the other way around — and you, correctly, have the right and the privilege of determining for yourself where the burden of proof should be. That drives them completely up a wall. For the most part, they’re coming at you with a body of experience that is very different from this. You tell them, I’m assuming humans don’t have the capability of emitting pollutants into the atmosphere to cause climate catastrophes, because I think that makes sense, although I’m open to evidence that might say something else, now lay it on me. You get back the biggest bundle of loquacity and garbage. They don’t know how to deal with this.

They don’t know how, because they seldom have to. Our evolving and modern society has become an illustration of the Conquest Rule: People form their default initial presumptions, to suit the liberal agenda, the way you would form a glove to fit a hand. They don’t mean to. They don’t even know they’re doing it. And they do this when they consider themselves moderate, or moderately conservative, or even stridently conservative. We continue to carve out a framework for deciding things, with all of the default thinking formed around liberal orthodoxy, and the burden of proof consistently and systematically positioned upon the other.

What a disaster, and women and minorities are hardest hit.

Lessons Learned From Rand Paul’s Filibuster

Friday, March 8th, 2013

Okay, the drone strike thing is obviously the most important one. It takes so long to get a straight answer about this, and yet we have a “bipartisan coalition,” to coin a phrase, of windbaggy people who are ready to ridicule anyone who will ask it. Without being so windbaggy, I note, about answering the fucking goddamn question.

Let’s see if I understand this right:

The Constitutional blessing for drone strikes works from a three-point system. You’ll notice “three points” does not appear anywhere in the Constitution, but everyone interpreting it seems to think they’re interpreting it the right way, and are horribly, awfully offended if their interpretation is called into question. The consensus seems to have settled on this system. Being an American citizen is worth a point; being here in the United States is worth a point; being engaged in peaceful activity, in the moment, is worth a point. Once you have been identified as an associate of terrorists, if you accumulate less than three points according to this, then the Constitution permits the President to send a missile up your ass, at His discretion. So. American citizens sitting in a pizza parlor who have been associated with terrorist activity but are not engaged in it at the moment, over there, can be droned. If they are here on American soil, sitting in the pizza parlor, but are not American citizens then they can be droned. If they are American citizens, and over here, and engaged in combat, then they can be droned.

If they rack up all three of the points and the President drones them anyway, then He is in big, big trouble because that three-pointer guy is entitled to a trial. That would be unconstitutional, and “inappropriate” in the words of Attorney General Holder, and the President would have to answer for this, uh, lack of propriety or something.

The other lesson is, we have a split within the Republican party with two sides to it. One of these sides seeks to preserve an institutional command of respect within the Senate, particularly within the Republicans in the Senate, that isn’t really there. They worry to excess about a loss of this respect that has already taken place awhile back, and they don’t seem to know. They labor under an unworkable contradiction: They want to get the word out that they are open and welcoming to everybody, and yet they will fall for every single gimmick of elitism that comes along. They’re constantly sniping at “fellow conservatives” for failing to believe this person, or failing to doubt that other person. And on the other side of this split, sit the open-and-small government types, who are put down and sneered at as “libertarians” or something. This side of the split believes, correctly, that if two and two make four then it doesn’t matter who says so, and if two and two make five then it still doesn’t matter who says so. You could define this split according to: Is it the identity of the person who advances the idea, that matters most, or is it the content of the idea itself?

Also, outside of the Republican party, seems to me there are a lot of loud people out there who think Congress’ duty according to the above mentioned Constitution is to do whatever President Obama tells them to do. And quit asking these pain-in-the-ass questions.

“Under Public Humiliation, the White House Will Do the Right Thing”

Friday, March 8th, 2013

Rand Paul, on his filibuster the other day:

“This was a very serious question. It was a question that took a month and a half to get an answer to and so I would argue — and I think a lot of the public would agree with me, both on the right and the left — that what we ask was a very serious question and it’s a question that we finally got an answer to,” Paul said.

Attorney General Eric Holder on Thursday responded to Paul in a letter that said the U.S. does not have the authority to conduct a drone attack against a U.S. citizen on American soil.

“Hooray, for 13 hours yesterday we asked them that question. And so there is a result and a victory,” Paul said after the letter was read to him during the Fox interview. “Under duress and under public humiliation the White House will respond and do the right thing.”

Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham were none too pleased with the whole performance.

McCain said Paul’s argument that the administration might use a drone to kill an outspoken opponent — someone like Jane Fonda during the Vietnam War — was “ridiculous.”

“To infer that the president is going to kill someone like Jane Fonda or someone who disagrees with him is simply ridiculous,” McCain said on the Senate floor. “If someone is an enemy combatant, that enemy combatant has nowhere to hide, not even in a café.”

“To infer that our government would drop a Hellfire missile on Jane Fonda brings the conversation to a ridiculous tone.”
:
“I don’t remember any of you fellow Republicans coming down here and saying President [George W.] Bush was going to kill anyone with a drone,” Graham said. “But we had a drone program back then…so what is it that’s got you so spun up now?”

Great question, Sen. Graham. Oh no wait — no it isn’t…there is a history of prevaricating on this issue, maybe you weren’t aware of it.

There is a problem here that goes beyond drones on home soil, involving the behavior of the Obama White House in response to questions like this; questions which would, by being answered, commit the President to a reduced scope of available options. Obama’s people seem, to me, to be disturbingly sluggish in making these commitments. This goes back quite a way. It didn’t start with the drones.

Always, if someone asks such a question, the answer has less to do with providing information sought by the question, and more to do with embarrassing the person asking. I’ve been looking for exceptions to this and I haven’t found any. Most of the time, the scolding that is heaped upon the person doing the asking, takes the form that the answer is just so self-evident that the asking should have been entirely unnecessary. That certainly happened here — but the other thing that happened here was, at the end of it all, you get that half-page letter from the Attorney General’s office that says “no.” Now, go back and watch the video again…

So, that kind of scolding is not appropriate. And it is most regrettable that some of it is coming from ostensibly “Republican” senators.

Someone is laboring under the mistaken belief that Useful Idiots retain their usefulness for some length of time. Well, I don’t think they do. I think, you could ask a panel of thousand Americans, evenly mixed by geographic location, ethnicity, sex, sex preference, party affiliation and any other way, “If the Republican party is not for shrinking the size of government, then why in the hell is it there?” and you wouldn’t get ANYTHING back. Just an occasional “put black people back in chains” and that’s the only coherent answer you’d get.

A Republican senator providing cover to a democrat president with delusions of dictatorship and grandeur, is about as useful as a bag with no bottom.

“Put On My Server Smile…”

Friday, March 8th, 2013

That would be an interesting experience…to say the least.

The waitress was handed her own stolen ID.

Imagine you’re a waitress, out with friends on a night off, when you lose your wallet. Cash, credit cards, driver’s license—all gone. Your bank later informs you that checks are being issued in your name.

It’s a pain, but you carry on. Two weeks later, you’re at work when four people walk in and sit in your section. They start ordering drinks. You ask to see their IDs. A woman in the group hands a driver’s license to you. You look down, and it’s yours.

That is precisely what police in Colorado say happened to Brianna Priddy, a server at a Lakewood Applebee’s.
:
Priddy called the police, and tried to act normal while waiting for them to arrive.

“I put on my server smile and tried to take care of them, but I was shaking like crazy,” she said.

When police arrived, the woman, whose name has not been released, was arrested on suspicion of theft, identity theft and criminal impersonation. Police also found narcotics in her possession.

“Dumb criminal,” Lakewood police spokesman Steve Davis told Denver’s 9NEWS. “That’s the first thing that comes to mind.”

Hat tip to Neo-neocon.

Area of a Triangle

Thursday, March 7th, 2013

As the definition of “learning disability” has noticeably broadened in recent years, I’ve harbored the suspicion that, although I wasn’t diagnosed with one in my childhood, if I had it to do over again today I might be. Every now and then some evidence comes along that elevates this from a suspicion to a near certainty.

I saw a web ad about some kind of learning program, don’t remember what it was. Girl calls woman. The girl is doing her homework, and can’t remember how to find the area of a triangle. So the woman reminds the girl that the area of a triangle is one half the length of the base times the height; so, what you do is multiply the base times the height, and then divide by two. Then they grin at each other. This bugs me, although I imagine others would wonder why.

I’m looking at it from the point of view of the instruction service provided: The formula was translated into a sequence of steps. It has me wondering about supply and demand, because when I needed help with homework, this particular instruction was in great supply even though the demand wasn’t there. And that’s mostly a ditto in the other half of my world experience, helping my son — translate a formula into a sequence of steps? Negatori. Choose the formula that applies, maybe. Figure out which bit of information in the “too much information” section is ripe for disposal before the real work starts.

And I remember the area-of-a-triangle thing pretty clearly: I was obsessed, like a dog going after a bone just out of reach, with the why. How come it is that this always works? For those who are a few years past this level of education, you can do this with right triangles, acute triangles, isosceles triangles, scalene triangles.

What makes it so? What if the width of the triangle is much greater than the base; do you use the base, or the width? And why? How is it to be demonstrated?

A chirpy math tutor just walking me through the steps of the formula, wouldn’t have done anything to resolve this. And in a way, it’s not a good demonstration of the problem because if I was off in the weeds meandering through all this, and I was interrupted with a task to just work out the area of a triangle as expected, I would’ve been able to do it fine. But it certainly was, and is, a distraction. And the other kids weren’t even wondering about it. But, to my way of learning, this kind of thing is a vital prerequisite to just getting the concepts down cold.

Hey look, even Wikipedia has the same kind of diagram (in the public domain) that got me going on all that. They’ve got a triangle with a base that’s narrower than its width. But if you follow the area-of-triangle link I embedded above, they don’t say anything about this scenario, they just give you instructions.

And, their instructions are equally lacking. Base times height times one-half? Or width times height times one-half? As it happens, if you simply ignore ramifications and consequences and hypothetical scenarios and simply stick to the script you’ll get it right, because the correct decision to make is: base. But can you come up with a proof?

See, there are those among us who can’t consider the lesson learned, with any confidence, until we construct some kind of a proof. After all, the question might be on the test: Base is a foot, height is two feet, width is a whole mile or more. Base times height over two, or with times height over two? And if it’s base times height over two, giving us a final area of one square foot, then how can that be, how does it work?

This step-by-step procedure-driven learning is like making your mind into a rake, nimbly navigating across the surface of such problems, while there are those of us who are more inclined in aptitude to work like pitchforks. We’re better suited for probing the conceptual material all the way down to the bottom, breaking up the clods, getting it all sorted out. Not so agile with the surface-spanning. It’s not that we’re slower with the work, the problem is that we’ve identified more of it to be done. Once we’ve identified it, we lack the ability to skip past it on command. It’s got to do with how the learning is done; it’s got to do with sequencing.

So yeah, the learning-disability mania lately really upsets me. It’s difficult to exhaustively identify all that’s going on here, but one of the things that seems to me to be undeniable is that LDs are being identified first as anomalies — this kid over here, isn’t learning & behaving quite the same way as all those other kids. We’ll work out why that is at some later time, but for now the important thing to do is to treat him differently. Well, that’s not going in the right direction. In my day I was held to the same standards as the other kids, and I had to figure out on my own how to make it work. Yes, there was some stress involved, there was suffering, some of it on me and some of it on my parents, and my teachers, and ultimately my grades. And, my adaptation to the world around me will always be incomplete. But then again, that’s true of any of us, isn’t it? Don’t we all have our little crosses to bear? Aren’t we all just a bunch of strangers in a strange land, in some way? Individual experiences are unique by their very nature, aren’t they?

And how does it improve the situation, to treat kids differently? All you manage to accomplish then, is to remove the incentive for getting the work done that really has to get done. They need to learn to map things out in their own way, so it can be programmed into their uniquely-laid-out brain circuits; they have to take responsibility for whatever translation tasks have to get done. It’s their job.

Somehow, somewhere, at some time, we’ve been sold this bill of goods that it’s the school district’s job to catalog all the students according to this iconoclastic brain-circuitry-layout, and start up as many special education programs as have to be started up — very much like instructing in as many different languages as are manifested in the native tongues of all the student body. See, we skipped past a dialogue we needed to have there. I don’t think that’s the way it should work. And on that particular note, I don’t think I’m one voice in the wilderness, I think there are others who see it the same way. But there, as in many other things, it seems we’ve settled on the answer that the system has to be all-understanding and all-knowing, while the individuals just sort of bumble along in whatever way they think makes sense.

This does not make for a graduating class of capable, productive and society-ready adults, which is what we all say we really want. It tends to produce, in my opinion, the opposite of this. Script-kitties. Experts in following sequences of steps, and when they’re done, the result should be like such-and-such…but what if it doesn’t work someday, what then? They won’t have the skills to sort that out, but that will be “okay” because it won’t be their job. The system we’ve managed to put together, from all I’ve learned about it, is a system that’s pretty sure it will all somehow work out fine. But, that’s the thing about bureaucracies: If & when it doesn’t work out fine, it isn’t anybody’s fault.

“My Parents Were Killed By a Sequester”

Thursday, March 7th, 2013

The first guy (1:12) could just take that answer word-for-word, and use it for everything that comes along. Which is probably exactly what he does.

I like the way they picked on the Obama opposition as well, though. Yes it’s true, there are people out there who wait for Obama to do something, and immediately see all the wrong in it; if He picked the other, they’d pick the other. But then, of course, there are the people like that first guy. Thinking is hard.

My favorite was the last one, though. Finally some honesty.

Ownership

Tuesday, March 5th, 2013

An alternative speech prepared by our nation’s 34th President, from years earlier when he commanded the most complex and daunting military operation in human history:

Our landings have failed and I have withdrawn the troops. My decision to attack at this time and place was based on the best information available. The troops, the air and the Navy did all that bravery could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt it is mine alone.

Not even a comma after the word “attempt.” Those are some balls, right there. Now, fast forward seven decades and ten presidents, we get

The longer these cuts remain in place, the greater the damage to our economy, a slow grind that will intensify with each passing day. So economists are estimating that as a consequence of the sequester that we could see growth cut by over one half of 1 percent. It will cost about 750,000 jobs at a time when we should be growing jobs more quickly.

So every time that we get a piece of economic news over the next month, next two months, next six months, as long as the sequester’s in place we’ll know that that economic news could have been better if Congress had not failed to act.

I’ve been waiting for someone to go after this like a pit bull. If it’s happened, it’s escaped my notice, so we’re left just listening for Ike’s bones to rattle as he spins in his tomb.

The lack of ownership concerns me, and my concern increases when I think about the timeline. Obama’s presidency started off continuing smoothly from His campaign, blaming Bush for every little thing. This sales pitch became a parody of itself and, over time, seemed to subside. This suggested a message from the White House of “okay, that’s wearing a bit thin, let’s shift to something else.” So perhaps, four years in, we’d have our answer to the question of when Obama would start owning the results and the situations under His management. Couldn’t hope for an Operation Overlord “if there is blame it is mine alone” — but maybe a bit of “this isn’t working let’s try that other thing”? I mean for the sake of the nation, not for the sake of the democrat party or His campaign. I’ve seen He’s capable of this when it comes to campaigning. But He’s President of the United States, not President of the democrat Party or President of the Obama Campaign. Too much hope?

Evidently. Now we have another six months of, if this doesn’t go all wonderfully…or even if it does…”we’ll know that that economic news could have been better if Congress had not failed to act.”

This is more than a continuation of what came before. It is a whole new horizon in the sad, pathetic voyage of failing to take ownership, a brand new threshold to cross. Here is President Obama instructing us to believe — not spinning it this way, but actually telling us what to think, not even being shy about it — Republicans in Congress are to blame for everything going badly. And, if that isn’t enough of a kick in the gut, if things go awesomely then Congress is to be blamed for everything not being even better.

What if things go so well, that they cannot have gone any better? Do I even need to ask…all hail Economic Savior Obama. Gosh, it’s great being a subject in Emperor Barry’s kingdom. To think of all those frustrating years I spent trying to think for myself.

Over at our collaborative blog, CylarZ was noticing something about what I said there, also with regard to the President’s press conference. He found it to align with something from his recent personal experience:

If it isn’t your fault, you make it your fault. Really, that is what you do. For if it does not depend on you in some way, then what hope do you have for making it better?

That’s profound. I’m going to have to remember that. In fact, I think maybe this should be added to your “Things I Know” list.
:
…I should have asked more questions before jumping into the purchase…If I don’t “own” my screw ups and take responsibility for them, how am I going to avoid similar ones in the future?

Regrettable purchases are wonderful illustrations of how this all works. In any human conflict, it’s easy to say “I’m perfect in every way and the problem all has to do with that other guy.” But when it comes to getting fleeced, the wisdom just has a way of sinking in, along with the pain. Even those most jaundiced against the simple concept of taking ownership, really have to ask themselves: Okay, you did everything right, the other guy did everything wrong, now with the little-to-nothing learning from that sad episode, do you really want to go sliding on in to the next transaction? Really?

Winning is fun. Screwing up sucks. But if we don’t screw up, we don’t learn. That’s where the learning’s done. We don’t learn much when we win.

My son was having some problems with this about the time I was splitting up with his Mom. He began to sink a lot of his passions into this reprehensible anime cartoon with origins over in Japan, about a boy roughly his age who’d conjure up these strange-looking animals out of a ball. It seems in this universe, all the kids did something like this, they’d run around with these distinctive-looking spheres, they’d talk a bunch of smack at each other, and then they’d conjure up these creatures out of the spheres. Then the creatures would do all the fighting for the kids. The kid who owned the creature that won the fight would be able to gloat, and the kid who owned the vanquished creature would get all mopey and frowny-faced and butt-hurt.

Thursdays and weekends, when my son came over to my bachelor pad, I absolutely forbade anything to do with this perverse franchise from crossing my doorstep. Naturally, the day soon came when he wanted to know why, and I held nothing back: I said, it is my job to make you into a strong and self-sufficient man, by the time you come of age, and frankly I’ve seen a distinct drop-off in the attributes I’m trying to build in you, since you’ve gotten all invested in that awful cartoon.

It is equally accurate to say I’d seen these things recede since his parents split up. But, you know, ownership: His parents splitting up was not the boy’s fault. But the crappy cartoon certainly was.

Anyway, it had the desired effect. The kid wanted to know, what were these things he used to show in some measure, that had been falling off? So we made an acronym:

L is for Leadership
I is for taking the Initiative
C is for Creativity
O is for Ownership of your own problems
R is for Resourcefulness
I is for Ingenuity
C is for Courage and Conviction
E is for Energy

This was, thankfully, about the time the “new Star Wars prequels” were rolling out. So, after doing what we could to get out and have fun together over the weekend, and it was time to slide the take-n-bake pizza in the oven and watch what installments were available, we were able to talk about, wow, that Anakin guy whines exactly the same way as his kid Luke. Those Skywalker dudes seem to have some real problems with the O in their L.I.C.O.R.I.C.E.

And so, a pact was formed. He brings his damn L.I.C.O.R.I.C.E. And, I bring him what he needs to bring that. He was a bit unclear on the concepts there, and it is a father’s job to restore the clarity.

Some folks suffer the handicap of not having a father figure who could have restored that clarity, but by marshaling their own internal resources and making the right decisions, they manage to figure it out on their own.

I wish our current president was one of those people. Today, we, as a nation, would have more hope. As it is, it looks like we the citizens will have to bring the L.I.C.O.R.I.C.E. that He can’t seem to bring. I mean, I understand it can be frustrating dealing with a Congress and everything, I completely get that…but, does the average Obama friend/voter/fan realize that the 43 previous administrations also had to deal with unfriendly congresses?

You find a way to make it your fault, if it isn’t your fault already. If it isn’t your fault, what hope do you have to make anything better?

Wealth Inequality in America

Monday, March 4th, 2013

Hat tip to Ed Darrell. And, good for him, since I think it is very important that this information get around. Not so much the distribution itself, but how people look at it.

Of course, there’s a problem or two with it, which I’ll just leave unmentioned.

Adam Carolla’s Son’s Helmet

Sunday, March 3rd, 2013

From pp. 16-17 of “In Fifty Years We’ll All Be Chicks…And Other Complaints from an Angry Middle-Aged White Guy”:

The tests suggested that if we didn’t buy the four-thousand-dollar PVC yarmulke, my son was going to look like Rocky from Mask. So after a plaster mold was made of his head, which was about as easy as stuffing a raccoon into a garbage disposal, four to six weeks later we received the final product. The instructions were to wear the helmet twenty-three hours out of he day, every day, for three months. He lasted less than forty-five seconds. He pitched such a fit and was so miserable that we had to pry the helmet off almost immediately…And today my son is four with a head prettier than Yul Brynner’s.

Please indulge me for moment on the off chance that the “expert” who prescribed the helmet is reading this.

Dear fuckwad:

Obviously you don’t know shit about your field. You said if my son didn’t wear the helmet that his sunglasses wouldn’t sit right on his head. Well, your four-thousand-dollar helmet became a four-thousand-dollar doorstop, and three years later my son’s head is perfect. Which means you’re either A) horrible at what you do or B) a liar preying on the guilt of moms who drive expensive SUVs. Perhaps it’s a combination of incompetence and greed. Either way, you should focus full-time on your true calling — gay porn.

Thank you.

That’s a bit insensitive to gay porn stars, and I wish he’d managed to intermix that splendid description he’d whipped up back on p. 15: “I blame us because we caved to the hypochondriac, Readbook-reading, Oprah-watching, crystal-rubbing, Whole Foods-shopping survivor-of-incest moms and their pussy-whipped attorney husbands.” Emphasis on hypochondriac. Hypochondriac moms, doing their hypochondriac worrying vicariously through their kids.

The rant about peanuts is splendid. At no point does he question that the severe peanut allergies are, in fact, real. And a lot of them are. But the question still remains, and the lack of curiosity about it is really rather befuddling: How come it is that if you’re around my age (class of ’84), you can barely, maybe, possibly remember one kid out of the whole school who had an allergy like this. Now we’re looking at one in twenty-five.

The logic is bad. Don’t take my word for it, try this simple test: Someone insists her precious has an allergy, or learning disability, or needs medication in order to concentrate, or is autistic, just…doubt it. Doubt it in the case of that one kid…and…sure as the sun rises in the East the next day, you are going to find yourself embroiled in a huge knock-down drag-out about whether the problem exists. So. You doubt the one case is a positive, and you are blitzed with this “overwhelming evidence” that the malady itself is a real one.

They can’t even keep their minds on the conversation at hand. But we’re supposed to uncritically believe them when they say their kids are special cases and need medicine or therapy or cartoonishly overprotective cafeteria policies about peanut butter.

The small-m moms are feeling guilty.

And it’s cultural. We place all this importance on being able to say “I’m smarter than the next guy” or “I’m more noble than the next guy” or “I really know what I’m talking about and that other guy doesn’t”…but, paradoxically, there is no value whatsoever being attached to saying “I am a better pick for the job than that guy, because I can achieve it without any special accommodations at all and he can’t.”

Attaching a sense of importance to that, I guess, would be like picking on handicapped kids or something. So now we all get to be handicapped.