Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Our Despair

Sunday, December 2nd, 2012

The nation’s finances are being managed by crooks who want to get rid of the debt ceiling. Because debt ceilings are for little-people or something…you know…people out here in the “real” world, who pay taxes & stuff.

Atheists are gearing up for their annual Yuletide War against Christmas…you’ll be ridiculed if you stoop to so much as noticing it or pointing it out.

Israel is supposed to be some kind of a bully, for simply defending itself. That means the same goes for you and me; a successful bully achieves the ultimate bully objective, which is to look like the victim, and make his victim look like the bully. It’s getting easier to do.

The democrats have strong opinions about which other democrats are perfect for some powerful, respected, important and influential positions…it’s always a complete mystery what the candidate’s qualifications are supposed to be, nobody ever seems to provide any answers about this, nor are they pressed to.

We have a new legal principle that says if your efforts might be considered to have something to do with the “public interest” then you can break the law (hat tip to Sonic Charmer).

The men’s voices are an octave higher than in 1950, and the women sound like kazoos.” (Hat tip to Gerard.) Yes, that pretty much nails it doesn’t it. That eardrum-burning Hillary-Clinton-duckbill nasal resonance, you can’t get away from it. Sweet dulcet tones from a female voice box, that’s as much a thing of the past as the headlight dimmer switch by your left toe. Evidently that’s considered too submissive now, and being submissive and soothing-of-tone is now a man’s job.

Dirty Jobs is canceled.

Although the new James Bond movie was a heap of fun and much better than the previous, the plot holes are rather massive and the new Q is roughly half my age, which is bumming me out.

The on-again off-again campaign to put Wonder Woman in long pants, always a reliable indicator of the waxing & waning influence of negative nasty people, may have subsided for the time being but I’m sure it’s going to come up again, any week now.

Taxmageddon is coming. More taxes, more taxes! Some people can’t get enough of it; their motives remain a complete mystery, but they might get their way nevertheless. And President Obama is the worst of the lot. Did we just have a divorce, or an election?

Steven Goddard has managed to detect a pattern, and I’m afraid he’s on to something. Worse yet, I’m afraid that as a sales job, it’s working just great and that means we should expect to see the pattern continue, and continue & continue some more.

Just figured out the reason I can’t find out how many seasons there “were” to Jersey Shore is: It’s not past-tense, they’re still making it. Let that sink in for a minute. Dirty Jobs canceled, dirty Jersey sluts still going strong.

But…you saw Passion of the Christ, right? How hopeless was that? And you remember who won? It’s got to do with spirituality, and it also has something to do with vision. So check that vision, and keep your chin up.

“Quit Obsessing!”

Saturday, December 1st, 2012

From the Columbus Dispatch.

Cross-posted at Rotten Chestnuts.

“And That’s Why I’m Not Ashamed to Talk About My Bank Account”

Friday, November 30th, 2012

Hat tip to Chicks on the Right.

How Terror Works

Friday, November 30th, 2012

“Extremely Scary Ghost Elevator Prank in Brazil”

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

Hat tip to Bird Dog.

Found more meanness:

Time to Update Palin?

Tuesday, November 27th, 2012

Yeah, must have put this one together shortly after the accident that occurred four years ago…maybe need to drop that last “2″ and stick in a “6″ but it won’t do much good if she isn’t willing to step up. And who could blame her.

Over the past several years I see many trends. I’ve already discussed how there is evidently a hemisphere-wide attitude of hostility against simply dealing with details in the information, particularly the most important details, the details required to meet the stated objective. People talk about what needs to happen and at the end of every cherished make-it-all-good strategy, there is a trailing-off, it seems, a sort of vaporous and implied “…and then, I’m reasonably sure it will all work out okay.” But if you think on how such-and-such a cause is supposed to lead to such-and-such a desired effect, you realize you’re just dealing with more nonsense.

Compassion for those who are less well-off, it seems, is more and more of a forced sort of thing, not something to be left up to the whims of individual desire, or sympathy. It’s more and more taxed, which means coerced, involuntary. Simultaneous with this, there is a palpable dropping-off of the good old-fashioned feelings of true charity on the part of the givers, which is to be expected since, hey, they are no longer choosing their donations, the loot is being forcibly taken from them. And as for those receiving, it seems there used to be a sentiment of pure gratitude that is no longer there. Gimme gimme gimme, Obamaphone is free.

“Work,” at least the kind of work that earns respect and widespread appreciation, has changed. It isn’t productive work that people appreciate anymore, by which I mean the kind of work that creates wealth where it did not previously exist — or, the supporting work that makes that kind of work possible. No, we seem to be reserving our appreciation for “hard work” for the work that is purely non-productive. Or even anti-productive…the kind of work that interacts with that other work, the kind that creates wealth, and interferes with it. Don’t build that, there’s tree sloths & snail darters & caribou or whatever…

Side note: Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe has been canceled. Welcome to twenty-twelve.

Forward!

I have faith. Things can get only so absurd, and then they’ll have to snap back again. It always works out that way; thing is, it’s always damned uncomfortable. Our fate lies in that direction, somewhere.

Free the Weed!

Tuesday, November 27th, 2012

According to Mr. Crowder’s IMDB page, he was born in the summer of ’87. So somewhere around 4:30 when he embarks on this “what the hell is the matter with kids these days” lament, well, that kinda smarts. What in the hell is “pogs” anyway??

See, here is why I can’t get with the legalize-it crowd. Just like with the liberals, it isn’t what they don’t know, it’s that they know so much that isn’t so. The early part of this clip makes the point pretty nicely: You have a perfect right to ingest the herb, but passing nanny laws against your next Big Gulp, why, that’s “probably a good thing, actually” and all the rest of what they were saying there…eh? Come again?

It’s no different from what we’re seeing in a lot of other places — people “knowing” things because, and only because, they’re trying to become members of some in-crowd. And they end up spewing nonsense. Somewhere around the brink of adulthood, I notice people are particularly susceptible to this. It’s particularly popular around that age to pick up on some prevailing and traditional notion of two things that are similar, and display one’s cleverness and rebellious streak by rationalizing some difference. Or vice-versa, to attack a more orthodox notion of difference and start monologuing about similarities. And the problem, of course, is that sometimes when our cultural traditions say two things are different, or similar, it isn’t a very rare happenstance that it turns out this is quite correct. And, once again, the overly-clever rebellious-but-law-abiding youths are caught, with their own identifiable voice-boxes positioned behind absurd, silly things.

It’s embarrassing just to watch.

When Technology is Used in Marketing…

Tuesday, November 27th, 2012

One of my social networking friends uploaded a re-transcribed “fail in Google Voice transcription” and oh, boy. Our technological journey seems to have taken a turn down the wrong cul de sac.

This really gets under my skin. Machines should be used to augment and enhance the return on investment when humans put time into things; it should never, ever be used to soak that time up or burn it away. If ever that is to happen, then we have to get into nets & grosses & all that stuff…and it seems we are now well past that point…but, even more worryingly, it seems lately the net is a negative. Meaning, we’re getting less done everyday than we’d get done if we just lived like the Amish.

Every time I pick up a ringing phone and hear some machine getting ready to connect me to some human who couldn’t quite spare the time to try to contact me personally, I’m more and more convinced of this. I don’t just hang up, I throw the damn handset across the room. Well, if the woman is home at the time, I only think about doing that. But it really, really pisses me off, the very thought of it: Machines being used to stop people from going about doing what they were doing. Machines being used to harass people. To do the harassing that the human harassers couldn’t quite find the time to do, without automated harassing-assistance. What, are we nuts?

You realize what else we have to consider? Perhaps the professional harassing humans can’t find the time to do the harassing they need to do, because they, in turn, are being harassed…by machines…which, in turn, well you can fill in that stupid little cycle all by yourself. Yes, it is endless.

Quoting myself:

I swear, if we could leverage technology to actually do productive things, as efficiently as we can leverage technology to go bothering each other, by this time we would have journeyed off to the brightest star in the Sirius constellation, dragged it back here in a great big net, and ground it up in a giant food processor to make a delightful sweetening powder for our corn flakes.

I’m seeing a lot of job postings for programmers in C#, .NET, Java. So…web development. And when I consume the web, what new technology do I see being developed, you know, on the web? Advertisements. Popup windows. Videos that auto-play, with sound and music. Little applets and widgets that wait until you’ve managed to call up the article you wanted to read…and then explode in your face with useless bits of nonsense. Refinance your house, pull in those chicks with some testosterone, make your dick bigger. Obama wants to send you back to school, find out if you qualify.

Reminds me of that favorite quote of mine about airport security, from an Israeli security expert:

The United States does not have a security system; it has a system for bothering people.

We have gotten awfully talented at bothering each other, interfering with what other people want to get done, haven’t we? Technology has made us unusually “productive” here, as of late.

Anti-Bullying

Tuesday, November 27th, 2012

Just have to get something off my chest here. Although, to be clear about it, my biggest “peeve” with this issue is not any of the many peeves themselves, it’s the nagging doubt I have that any of this comes as news to anybody, certainly not to those who are promoting the anti-bullying policy.

I was bullied, back in the day. We didn’t have anti-bullying policies. The response from the school officials who might have been in a position to do something, was pretty uniform: If we do something to interfere it will just make the problem worse. Continuing with this explanation of the dazzlingly obvious — although we today are supposed to deplore that attitude, and I certainly didn’t think highly of it at the time, it was & is completely correct. And it taught me the lesson that “nobody is looking out for your welfare, that is completely up to you.” Which is also correct. The drawback was, of course, it was up to me to toughen up to such a level that the bullies left me alone & went on to something else. Which, it turns out, really doesn’t involve that much toughening.

I remember stopping a bit too quick when I was being chased, on a downgrade, sending the bully sailing overhead out of control. Another one in the following year got a swift jab in the solar plexus, and I think that was about it. There’s a difference between taunting someone, and blocking him into a corner, you know. Bullies are cowards, they don’t like victims that fight back, they only prey on those weaker; it’s in the definition. So what concerns me nowadays is that this is the very first tier of learning to deal with a confrontation when there’s no authority figure around to bail your skinny ass out of trouble. We’re going to get rid of that? At the very least, it seems there are some potential liabilities involved in that, that should be inspected in foresight rather than in hindsight.

That is just the first concern I have, that comes immediately to mind. It is the most pressing. I’m not alone in thinking about it. But there are other things that should be bugging people about this more than they do.

I dislike seeing a website called www.stopbullying.gov. The TLD gives me the creeps more than any bully ever did.

Here’s something else that raises my concerns. I recall from the years gone by, that bullying had very little to do with physical torment or intimidation. The bullying I remember, would be much more accurately described, as: A perpetual celebration of the ability to bamboozle and hoodwink the authority figures. And I daresay every single teacher who has ever breathed air, knows exactly what I’m saying. “What, MEEEEE?” Don’t know what he’s talking about. I was just minding my own business. And the all-time favorite: He is actually the one who was hitting me.

I’m seeing all sorts of focus-group-tested and committee-crafted phrases, sentences, paragraphs about zero tolerance. I’m seeing not a single syllable about making the authority figures any smarter, or less distracted.

This suggests to me, rather persuasively, that it’s the bullies-grown-up who are behind the anti-bullying policies. Aren’t all the characteristics there? Smooth talkin’; getting the last word; no appeal, zero-tolerance.

And then there is, if we had some demonstrable talents in any other area of life, we’d be doing that & not this. That reminds me of the bullies, too.

Memo For File CLXXV

Tuesday, November 27th, 2012

On Sunday, on the Hello Kitty of Blogging I made an observation…and a funny…

Over the last twenty to thirty years or so, we have been seeing the ascension of a modern cultural crisis which takes the form of: People who loathe any kind of reckoning with details, insisting on unilateral control over efforts that can only be successfully realized by dealing with details. Examples abound and an exhaustive listing of them would not be useful here.

As is the case with most things, if we’re merely pondering what’s going on and figuring out what to do about it, any “exhaustive listing” wouldn’t be of much use anywhere. On the other hand, if you’re seeing some task through to the end and the task has any layers of complexity to it at all, you have to make a list and it has to be complete. I’ve had this out with my son throughout the years during our battles about homework; now that he’s in high school it seems the lesson is starting to sink in. (That puts him three years ahead of me, at the same stage.) I’ve lately taken to referring to this with a metaphor involving a “heap of gravel.” What thoughts and feelings are churning away inside you, as you pick up a shovel and tackle a pile of gravel that is so large and so heavy, that all you can do is slog away at it endlessly; hoping against hope that there isn’t some guy, or bunch of guys, maybe a machine, depositing more gravel in the pile on the other end? Answer: Not much. Just “let’s go,” and that’s when you are at your best. The mind shuts down. You feel a sense of hopelessness and despair. Whether you’re willing to admit it or not, you are overwhelmed with a sense of boredom and, ultimately, futility. You may actually see it through, and the results may be impressive when you’re finally finished. But you’re not at your best, you aren’t operating efficiently.

And worst of all, if someone comes along asking for a progress report or estimated date & time of completion, you can’t give them one.

So what I’ve been teaching him is: Before you start any task that is sufficiently complex that it requires a list to define what exactly it is — and most tasks are like this — make the list. Let’s look at it logically. There are three things you’re trying to do: 1) Keep yourself out of that depressing, soul-sucking “pile of gravel” mindset; 2) Track your progress, or at the very least maintain yourself in a position to do that; 3) At any given stage, after you have completed certain subtasks, make some qualified, informed decisions about what you should be working on next. The last of those may be the most important of all. You have to prioritize.

An exhaustive listing is needed for prioritizing. Prioritizing is nothing more than a decision based on a sequencing of some kind, and since it is sequencing, if the list is not complete then the decision is nothing better than guesswork. And then there are those other two objectives, staying out of the pile-of-gravel, and tracking progress. Both of those depend on the production of a fraction at any given time, a quotient between 0 and 1, showing how much of the task has been done and how much of it remains. Without that quotient you cannot do these other two things. Without the quantity of subtasks defined, you cannot produce the quotient because you won’t have the gross count which becomes the divisor. Without a record of each subtask, and some status maintained for each one, you won’t be able to produce the dividend. The quotient is the dividend divided by the divisor, right? So you need both of those two to make the one.

So quit fidgeting & pretending your pencil is a spaceship, and make the [expletive] list.

Do it, first and foremost, to get that number in Column A, row <n>; and, that “Completed” column whichever one it may be, so you can produce your fraction. Then, use your noggin to figure out what your prioritizing strategy is. The strategy determines what other columns go in. If the strategy is more complex than you might have thought at first, you’re going to need more columns than you thought you would. And this will usually happen. Build it once, make it proper, make it good, make it useful. Build it so it only has to be built one time. Go ahead and “waste” that time because it’s better to lose it up front rather than later.

I’m confident that this is putting him on a path that generally meanders toward success. This certainly would have been true some half-century ago. But I must confess, looking at where the world is going, this rising antagonism toward grappling with details, I have my doubts.

EducationAll my professional success, looking back on it, has derived from the exercise described above. The way I see it, this is what work is. But I also notice most of my little conflicts in the work environment have come from this as well. It entails some measure of independent thought…not very much, by any fair standard, but some. I have learned, periodically, that there are some people who can’t stand this. It isn’t just because they’re threatened by it, although there might be some of that. I’ve encountered some conflict with professionals who simply seek to gel with me, to team up with me, with each of us lending our individual efforts toward a common goal, and they’ve found they can’t do it. It’s not exclusively their problem but then again, it seems to me it’s not exclusively mine either. There are those three objectives, aren’t there? How else are they to be done?

Throughout the years I have gradually learned that in many cases the answer is, simply: They aren’t being done. The first objective is to keep your thoughts and your emotional state out of that depressing mire of gravel-digging. The lesson has gradually sunk in, for me, that this whole thing that people call “education” without very much discussing what the education is supposed to be, has a lot to do with building up a tolerance for monotony. Compared to this frame of reference, I’m spoiled and I might have a raging case of what they now call ADD, because I haven’t built up this tolerance. What I’ve built up, instead, brings us to the second objective which is to produce periodic progress reports; I have come to the realization that while some professionals do have such a requirement built in to the descriptions of their jobs, the vast majority of them, even the ones in skilled, technical occupations, do not. Now in my case I have actually been one of the ones who do have such a job description, so if I wasn’t already building these kinds of checklists before my formal training in project management, I would have been forced to have started it then.

But the fact is, here is how it really works: The engineer keeps his job skills current by going to training, and the training is some mash-up between “here is how all the pieces of our product fit together,” and “here are the steps you follow to do this thing, if anything goes wrong then call our support line.” And by “mash-up” what I mean is, any given cert program may be all of one & none of the other, or some combination of the two — the training may make a point out of keeping the content heavy on the assembly-of-parts stuff and light on the scripted-process stuff, but it doesn’t matter because management, and I’m describing at a high, generalized level here, doesn’t give a rip. Management is either paying for the training or making hiring decisions based on the training. So the point is, this vital distinction between outcome and process, doesn’t matter much in the final analysis because it doesn’t have any currency. The market doesn’t value the distinction. We can quibble all day long about whether or not it should, but it doesn’t.

So the engineers are given some kind of knowledge, which they then supplement day-by-day by attending to the job. Regarding the work itself, they are typically tasked with going at it pile-of-gravel style. The “priority” sequencing I described amounts to: Keep working until the thing is done, and make some kind of informed decision about going home when it isn’t done yet, based on whether the thing is a mega-super-high priority. That’s how engineers deal with priority.

Then, they report to the project manager who centralizes all this concern about status, completed, producing the quotient, tracking the progress, et al. Along with, next-subtask-to-be-worked. Usually, it is the project manager who owns that; he figures out what it is, or else it is chosen in some meeting environment, with project stakeholders providing their input…which is very likely to be “chaired” by this project manager.

Now, this is such a simplified explanation that it demands a whole lot of caveats, and the caveats are not trivial. One certainly does hope that if a job requires something called “engineering,” it should entail some complexity even within the most minor tasks, at least greater complexity than what is involved when one uses a shovel to move a scoop of gravel. But at the highest level of what it seeks to point out, the explanation works, for what it seeks to point out is this: Corporate America, and perhaps Corporate Western Civilization, has been making a point of isolating this task-tracking job requirement into managerial roles that are specifically delegated to provide a proper stewardship over all of it. So that no one else has to.

I’m very reserved about discussing job stuff on the blog. But I’ve spent a lot of years on each of the two sides of this “line,” so to speak…and although I’m unsure of what is to be done about it, I’m thinking I’m sufficiently qualified to say I’ve described something that actually does exist. And, to the extent it exists, it seems to be exacerbating a cultural split amongst us, that runs rather deep.

Now, this ties in to the election wreckage from earlier this month, and the identity crisis conservatives are having as they try to figure out what it all means. There are those who suggest that America, when all’s said & done, is a liberal nation and we’d all do well to just get with the program. There certainly is some evidence to support this point of view; if a dominant theme did emerge on Election night, it was that many among our fellow citizens don’t seem to give a rat’s rear end about what the rest of us call “freedom,” and when those fellow citizens actually use the word, they aren’t using it to describe what we describe. I’ve noticed many of them insist that some defined and isolated class of oppressed-types is missing its “freedom” until the individuals within it are 1) held blameless for civil and criminal infractions, 2) never spoken of in any unflattering way, lest the speakers suffer some kind of swift punitive consequences for their “hate speech” and 3) offered a bunch of material goods and services free of charge. And maybe that’s just it; “freedom” means you get things for free. I’ve asked around as to whether things really are that simple, with one half of America defining “freedom” as freedom and the other half using the actual word to describe a post-capitalism phase in which people simply run around taking things without paying for them. I haven’t gotten a straight answer back on that yet. I’m not altogether sure what I should presume about that in the absence of any determinant answer, so I remain undecided. But it does make sense.

There are those others who suggest that America is not a liberal nation, that it is moderate to conservative; and it is voting the wrong way because it is uninformed, combined with the effect achieved when liberals have enjoyed the benefits of a choke-hold maintained on our educational institutions throughout much of the last century. I think I’m pretty much in this crowd. It seems to me the conservatives are still arguing about what went wrong because many among them are looking for the problem that has to be fixed, and with that accomplished the thinking is, although they won’t actually say so out loud because it sounds so silly, that everything will magically fall into place. Obviously, when there is more than one thing broken, that isn’t going to work out well over the long term. And there is. Mentally handicapped people being shuttled to the polling places, and coached to vote for Obama. If we’re looking for just one thing, we could start with that…Mitt Romney woulda-coulda-shoulda taken Michigan, Colorado, Florida, maybe even Pennsylvania and Ohio. There is the Electoral College we can be thinking about, and each of those states could have swung the other way with the vote count being altered not-by-much. But granting that — why should it even have been this close? Look at what kind of a leader Barack Obama really is. Inspiring, fills people with hope…uh, really? He just sucks. He plays golf, flies around, delivers speeches all of which are pretty much useless, ethereal, even interchangeable. Then He flies around some more and plays some more golf. Look out our foreign relations, look how the economy is doing. It’s all the very picture of a “leader” who is not a leader, isn’t even engaged. This shouldn’t even have been close.

The inescapable conclusion is that there are many broken things. (VDH, true to form, does a better job analyzing the factors than most, hat tip to Instapundit.) Liberals, having a vested interest in these things being broken, have been…well…breaking them. While conservatives did nothing.

So these people say that what we saw three weeks ago was the culmination of a lot of carefully-coordinated, driven, determined hard work by our friends the liberals since twenty years ago…or forty…or even eighty. I concur in part and dissent in part. Careful coordination, drive and determination are rather difficult to achieve. I think I know what they look like, and I think I know what the effort looks like when people try to get ‘em going. I don’t see any of this stuff from our friends the libs. None of it. Even when they do exactly what I was describing, up above; finish up with one subtask, and put some thought into figuring out what the next one is. They do not look, to me, like Morgan working from one of his notorious thousands-of-rows-long 8-point-font Excel 97 spreadsheets. Not even close. What I see is raw, emotion-based, unbridled impulse.

What I see reminds me of a dog chasing a car.

Forward!

And when conservatives make their attempts to try to comprehend it, I’m seeing a mistake being made. I do not know if it is a meaningful one, and if it is a meaningful mistake, I can’t completely define how. Perhaps it does not matter. But there is a major disconnect here, and I think it’s got to do with conservatives seeing things in absolute terms, whereas liberals, like the dog chasing the car, see things only in the relative.

This is to be easily demonstrated by asking a lib one of my favorite questions: Once government has achieved perfection and provides everything it should be providing, how much spending to make it happen, on a dollars-per-nose-per-annum basis? What’s that magic number? It works particularly well after the liberal has just gotten done bellyaching about the lack of efficiency involved in privatized this-or-that, the failure to centralize some effort to provide resources, in which case they’re effectively blocked from the escape hatch of “can’t put a price on human [whatever].” They react like they’ve been tazed, or hit over the head with a board: completely stunned. To paraphrase one of our most frequent and respected comment-posters on this blog, if they thought in those terms they wouldn’t be liberals.

The fact is, liberalism isn’t really an objective. Conservatism might be an objective, but liberalism is merely a direction. Dog chasing the car. It doesn’t really know where it’s going, nor does it care.

So how about that list of ways in which we, as an evolving society, have become increasingly hostile toward the grappling with details. You know what? It turns out an exhaustive listing doesn’t do much good here, either. I’ll just add that to my list of things to do.

“The Lust for Generators”

Sunday, November 25th, 2012

Egads, what a silly title, I wince just typing that one in. But as the quotation marks suggest, I lifted it from someplace else, specifically this Nicholas Kristof piece.

In upper-middle-class suburbs on the East Coast, the newest must-have isn’t a $7,500 Sub-Zero refrigerator. It’s a standby generator that automatically flips on backup power to an entire house when the electrical grid goes out.

In part, that’s a legacy of Hurricane Sandy. Such a system can cost well over $10,000, but many families are fed up with losing power again and again.

(A month ago, I would have written more snarkily about residential generators. But then we lost power for 12 days after Sandy – and that was our third extended power outage in four years. Now I’m feeling less snarky than jealous!)

More broadly, the lust for generators is a reflection of our antiquated electrical grid and failure to address climate change. The American Society of Civil Engineers gave our grid, prone to bottlenecks and blackouts, a grade of D+ in 2009.

It would seem this “less snarky than jealous” business in the parentheses might have been inserted after initial publication. In any case, the honesty is refreshing. Not that you have long to wait before Kristof gets to the heart of the matter of what he wants to discuss…

That’s how things often work in America. Half-a-century of tax cuts focused on the wealthiest Americans leave us with third-rate public services, leading the wealthy to develop inefficient private workarounds.

It’s manifestly silly (and highly polluting) for every fine home to have a generator. It would make more sense to invest those resources in the electrical grid so that it wouldn’t fail in the first place.

But our political system is dysfunctional: in addressing income inequality, in confronting climate change and in maintaining national infrastructure.

The article isn’t very long and you should go read it from top to bottom.

It is a fascinating study in how otherwise-intelligent, and no doubt well-intentioned, people get from “I wish to be seen participating in a political process to provide safety nets for those who need them” to the mind-boggling “there is something wrong when the lowly individual is able to take extra steps to protect himself.” Turns out that chasm is not so wide & yawning. Or, if it is, the mental gymnastics of Kristof find a way to shrink it down and make the leap.

But Dr. Jacobson (hat tip to Dyspepsia Generation) has a few words to offer by way of rebuttal…

[W]here is the link between marginal tax rates and (a) the percentage of total taxes actually paid by top income earners, which has risen in the last 50 years, and (b) the electric grid. Assuming the false arguendo that higher marginal rates would have resulted in more tax revenue, where is the evidence it would have been spent on the national electric grid, rather than pork projects and giveaways for political constituencies?

There are those who believe, in the wake of this last election, that we are now heading for a “fiscal cliff” that entails such a damning fall, with such a great head of momentum built up, and we’re so close to the brink, that we as a nation are now doomed. If that is the case then it is to our national shame that things have progressed to this point, and we still don’t have a name for this mental feebleness which apparently has determined our lack-of-future. Words like “envy” and “jealousy” do not adequately describe it.

The calamity arrives; your neighbor prepared against it and you didn’t; somehow, your neighbor with the spare tire & the jack, or the jumper cables, or the swiss army knife, or the polyurethane or the canned goods or the bottled water in his basement must have screwed it up for everybody else. Or maybe the connection goes the other way? Looking out for each other depends, in some way that’s never quite stated or defined, on being unprepared for extraordinary discomforts, and thereby burdening your fellow citizens with your entirely avoidable lack of preparedness.

We don’t do right by each other unless we’re constantly diving from the stage into a mosh pit. Or something.

Month by month and year by year, I continue to be amazed that things that should not be called mental deficiencies, somehow are, and things that should be categorized that way, somehow are not. I do not know if oblivion is avoidable or not at this point. But one way or another, we’d better get cracking and start fixing this. We need to start categorizing these mental illnesses before we can address the spending issues, that’s the take-away from this. Or, could it be that the New York Times has branched out into the satire business and I shouldn’t worry? I hope that is the case. But I have to doubt it, and my concerns are there.

The War on Men

Sunday, November 25th, 2012

Suzanne Venker:

Believe it or not, modern women want to get married. Trouble is, men don’t.
:
As the author of three books on the American family and its intersection with pop culture, I’ve spent thirteen years examining social agendas as they pertain to sex, parenting, and gender roles. During this time, I’ve spoken with hundreds, if not thousands, of men and women. And in doing so, I’ve accidentally stumbled upon a subculture of men who’ve told me, in no uncertain terms, that they’re never getting married. When I ask them why, the answer is always the same.

Women aren’t women anymore.
:
…[T]he so-called rise of women has not threatened men. It has pissed them off. It has also undermined their ability to become self-sufficient in the hopes of someday supporting a family. Men want to love women, not compete with them. They want to provide for and protect their families – it’s in their DNA. But modern women won’t let them.
:
It’s the women who lose. Not only are they saddled with the consequences of sex, by dismissing male nature they’re forever seeking a balanced life. The fact is, women need men’s linear career goals – they need men to pick up the slack at the office – in order to live the balanced life they seek.

Not exactly as ground-breaking as it has been presented here, at this point. And it comes as no surprise to me. Although I suppose I’m upsetting the trend by getting married at the end of next month.

But I do remember that brief stretch on the singles market, some eight-plus years ago, like it was yesterday. I was getting re-acquainted with it, since before that I’d been out of it again for, oh, another eight or nine years…so whatever changes took place there had a more pronounced effect on me, I suppose. And I recall having one thought more than the others: “Huh, well this seems like a match made in heaven if I want to be someone’s accessory.”

Venker “accidentally stumbled upon a subculture of men” in the course of writing her books, who were jaded against marriage. Well in the course of dating, I’d accidentally stumbled upon a subculture of single ladies who might as well have been responsible for making those men that way. They were all much more intelligent than I was, or am, at detecting the cultural trends of the moment and drifting around with them. And two demands here, are key: One, have a man; and two, don’t depend on him for anything. Ahem. No matter how you approach those, when you’re finished with them what you have is not much more than a teddy bear.

Some women buck the trend, and insist they are ready for a man to take his responsibilities in life, well, like a man. It turns out they’re much worse than the rest, and this is just a glorified way of saying “he should find out what I want and bring it to me.” These women make the mistake of assuming they’ve developed some keen insight on life’s challenges, leaving their sisters in the dust, by coming to grips & making peace with their own limitations. But in fact, all they’ve done is some cursory assessment of the difficulties involved in learning to drive a stick shift, arriving at the conclusion that it’s too much trouble and they don’t see the point.

You know, there’s an awful lot of that kind of thing going around lately: People seeking to define some keen insight they have, but once they’ve defined it you see there’s not a lot to it other than “I’m tired of trying to figure this thing out, so I’m just going to declare it dumb-and-stupid so I don’t have to figure it out anymore.” I think this would be just fine if it was something more like “I’m tired of figuring it out so I’m going to shut down this whole exercise, and file it as an object lesson in how I should appreciate the people who can do it, because I can’t.” There’s a subtle difference there, but an important one. The latter is a renewed appreciation for the socio-economic concept of specialization; the former is simply an exercise in limiting one’s life-goals and narrowing one’s world-view.

“Like You Liberals Give a Cluck About Thanksgiving”

Saturday, November 24th, 2012

If H.L. Mencken was right, that puritanism is the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy or having a good time; then surely, modern liberalism must be the haunting fear that someone, somewhere is raking in the dough from consumers willingly parting with it, and therefore getting their bills paid…without pledging themselves in any way to the agenda of liberalism.

“A corporation bites the dust. And what person in poverty, is better off for it?”

Where’s Her Helmet??

Thursday, November 22nd, 2012

From TheChive.

“-”

Thursday, November 22nd, 2012

We went to apply for our marriage license at the county office. What a fascinating custom, you fork over eighty bucks of your hard-earned loot, for that the clerk starts brow-beating your soon-to-be-wife about the possibilities of diminishing your manhood for the rest of your life by hyphenating her last name.

Fuck that. I did not relay her sentiments to the office in those words, I think I said something like “Yeah, I don’t think she’s too interested in that” — in a calm, soothing, but commanding and most patriarchal baritone. And there were giggles all around.

Had a casual conversation over on the Hello Kitty of Blogging about this, and discovered that I am by no means alone in this; I don’t care who it is, I’m not marrying anybody who’s keeping her last name or going in on that hyphenated crap. A lot of guys are of the same mind, it turns out. And that list of misgivings is not in sequence, I can certainly see the practical benefits of “just keep using the maiden name” if the woman in question has a career or some other tangibles built up around the identity she’s been using. If there are special expenses involved in a change, who am I to criticize? But that’s certainly not for me, she can marry some gelding somewhere, and I’ll stick with what I have. Wasn’t meant to be.

Think of it as a guy-competition thing. Other guys, within world history, have gotten married; some of them have been real stinkers, and I figure if they were good enough to foist their last names onto their brides, then so am I. Besides of which, for a surname that’s only 98 years old “Freeberg” is very hip and modern and with the times: You can type it in with your left hand while holding a beer in your right.

I absolutely detest hyphenated names. They represent, to me, a determination to ignore time. I mean, think this through: You’re a maiden losing her maiden-ness, getting married. But you’re such a hard-ass that you refuse to be subjugated by the patriarchy or whatever, and what to keep your name, so you’re first name, space, maiden-name hyphen married-name. That should show ‘em! Alright, and your kids’ names are going to be what? And your grandkids’ names? And your great-grandkids’ names?

So the way I see it, since that’s impractical and it takes only about four or five decades to be exposed as such, this is all about living in the moment. It’s all about secularism, defining the ultimate goal of life as “being happy,” feeling-over-thought, who gives a rip about about tomorrow…

There is another thing going on here which I think I could call “agreement fatigue.” Right or wrong, I perceive that there is a new culture rising up within this thing we have taken to calling “feminism,” and its dictate is that males who lack aggrieved-minority cred — read that as, males who are of full height, hetero, Catholic/Protestant and Caucasian — are essentially binary; they can stick to a pure-passive role and simply agree with everything that comes along, or else they’re some kind of “ist.” It’s an all-or-nothing proposition, there is no in-between on this. Our sometimes-blogger-friend Margot Magowan made that abundantly clear, when it comes to looking at how a female is dressed & styled & presented and drawing inferences about what it all means, chicks get to do that and dudes don’t…unless the dudes are simply expressing agreement with the chicks. My observation with this sub-culture has been, this seems to be the way it works, across the board. Chicks get to have opinions, dudes get to have opinions that are aligned with the opinions the chicks have already expressed. Other than that, the dudes aren’t allowed to have any. So of course the expected reaction is going to be “Okay honey, hyphenated is just fine with me, whatever you say.” And, of course, once again I am going to fail this cultural expectation. As 2012 reaches a close, I’m all “whatever-you-say”-ed out, I’ve done used it all up.

So hyphens are not for us. But I do have to say what impressed me the most, was making all these options available to the li’l lady as if she hadn’t already given this some thought. My gal’s brain is considerably bigger than that. Uh, who’s isn’t? How does that conversation go…”Oh, I hadn’t thought of that, I could hyphenate my name!” No need to discuss it with the schmuck standing next to you who’s promising to raise any whelp that pops out of you, and pay all the bank fees on your bounced checks along with your overtime parking tickets.

This is one of many reasons why I don’t like to see government involved in family stuff. Government has a tendency to promote the dysfunctional, the living-for-today stuff. The self-destructive, lefty-hippie stuff. That’s where it goes. Conquest Rule.

Radical, Extreme Ideas

Tuesday, November 20th, 2012

Turkey Day minus two. No extended family showing up at our place this year, let alone any bug-eyed crazy McGovern-voting granduncles, so we’ll be spared that. Our hearts go out to those of you with your own blood-relative Joe Bidens who’ll be smirking at you over the stuffing and yams, reminding you of how much your side sucks and you need to come to terms with how much sucking you do, or whatever.

But our Thanksgiving will be politics-free.

One task remains to be done: I am hearing from a variety of different directions, from those hip and cool leftists as well as from some of those on the right, that the GOP — the one that nominated Mitt Romney, John McCain and Bob Dole — needs to retreat from the cliff. It needs to identify these kooky, weird extreme ideas that turned people off, and jettison them. What is kooky and weird though to me, though, is that these people seem to have a lot of adrenaline built up toward this objective and yet the very next step…which is to name some specifics…remains undone. They just stick to the general, high-level, useless message “get rid of those extremist ideas.”

Odd that the specifics should fall to me. And yet, they do. So I came up with twenty candidates. Can’t get rid of what you haven’t identified.

I’m thinking of leaving the final filtering & sequencing up to someone else though. So which ones, among these, cost the Republicans the election? Which among these odd, radical, kooky, weird, extremist, unreasonable ideas?

1. If you value that thing you have less than a certain amount of money, and I value that thing you have more than the money, we should be allowed to meet and facilitate a private sale that is agreeable to both sides.
2. If we’re concerned about the economy getting better & stronger, we should want to have more people getting rich and fewer people getting poor, rather than the other way around.
3. We should do something to make sure people who are casting votes in our elections, really are citizens who are eligible to cast votes.
4. “Freedom” has something to do with being able to do things FREE of interference, particularly by the government; it doesn’t refer to people getting material things FOR FREE.
5. We have to question the “Biden Doctrine” that says we have to spend lots of money to keep from going broke.
6. We have strong doubts that when you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody.
7. Sloppy wet camping in the middle of urban parks, pooping in buckets and calling the whole silly circus “Occupy-something,” is unlikely to solve any problems.
8. It probably is not among the legitimate occupations of the First Lady, to run around telling kids what they shouldn’t eat.
9. Especially if it has the effect of bankrupting companies and sending thousands of people to the unemployment line.
10. When a public-sector agency unionizes, and the “negotiating” ends up being government-to-government with no REAL compromises taking place…something might be a bit cocked up about that.
11. There might be a bit more to the United States Constitution than “NO CROSSES ANYWHERE, ROE V. WADE, END OF CONSTITUTION.”
12. “Dear liberals: A binder is something you keep resumes in. A resume is something you give someone to get a job. A job is something we do so we can make money.”
13. There’s more to “education” than the word; we’d like our kids to calculate that change for a sixty-two cent sale, out of $1.12, is two quarters. In their heads. Just for starters.
14. There’s more to “sitting down to talk to our enemies” than just that. We’d like to have some serious discussions, stateside, about what’s being negotiated before that happens.
15. Looking at a truly beautiful woman is a pleasant experience, nothing is made better when there are fewer pretty women and more ugly women.
16. People are capable of doing more things when they have more money, nothing is made better when there are fewer rich people and more poor people.
17. Babies are innocent and good. Convicted murderers are guilty and bad. Nothing is made better when babies are executed for nothing, and murderers are spared after doing something.
18. If it costs too much money to do business in the United States, and as a result of this a company “offshores jobs,” the people who run the company might not be the problem.
19. If terrorists launch an organized attack on our embassy in Libya, it might not be a good idea for our leaders to jump to a conclusion that “it was the video.”
20. Supreme Court justices should probably decide their cases according to the applicable legitimately ratified laws, not out of any kind of sense of “empathy.”

So someone tell me: Did I leave something off? If so, what is it? If not, then which one is the screwiest, the nuttiest?

I’m willing to keep an open mind about “getting with the program.” But first, someone needs to explain to me what the program is. I have doubts that anyone, anywhere, really has a clear picture of what it is.

Steve’s Place

Monday, November 19th, 2012

Sent in on an offline from WTBBIL (Wife-To-Be’s Brother-In-Law). Found it here. I LOL’d…

Last week, we took some friends to a new restaurant, ‘Steve’s Place,’ and noticed that the waiter who took our order carried a spoon in his shirt pocket.

It seemed a little strange.

When the busboy brought our water and utensils, I observed that he also had a spoon in his shirt pocket.

Then I looked around and saw that the entire staff had spoons in their pockets.

When the waiter came back to serve our soup I inquired, ‘Why the spoon?’

‘Well, ‘he explained, ‘the restaurant’s owner hired Andersen Consulting to revamp all of our processes. After several months of analysis, they concluded that the spoon was the most frequently dropped utensil. It represents a drop frequency of approximately 3 spoons per table per hour. If our personnel are better prepared, we can reduce the number of trips back to the kitchen and save 15 man-hours per shift.’

As luck would have it, I dropped my spoon and he replaced it with his spare. ‘I’ll get another spoon next time I go to the kitchen instead of making an extra trip to get it right now.’ I was impressed.

I also noticed that there was a string hanging out of the waiter’s fly.

Looking around, I saw that all of the waiters had the same string hanging from their flies.

So, before he walked off, I asked the waiter, ‘excuse me, but can you tell me why you have that string right there?’

“Oh, certainly!’ Then he lowered his voice. ‘Not everyone is so observant. That consulting firm I mentioned also learned that we can save time in the restroom.

By tying this string to the tip of our you-know-what, we can pull it out without touching it and eliminate the need to wash our hands, shortening the time spent in the restroom by 76.39%.

I asked quietly, ‘After you get it out, how do you put it back?’

‘Well,’ he whispered, ‘I don’t know about the others, but I use the spoon.’

“Be Safe Around Trains”

Monday, November 19th, 2012

From TheChive.

Memo For File CLXXIV

Sunday, November 18th, 2012

Even with the Petraeus/Allen sex scandals and Hostess going out of business, and Thanksgiving looming on the horizon, an improbable leitmotif has retained its dominance over all others: “I’m so sick of all the mud-slinging and campaigning and so glad the elections are over, most of all I’m tired of hearing about what those Republicans need to do to bring themselves back to life again. But, while I’m on the subject, here are MY words of advice for them…” There typically follows some helpful hints for the GOP that seem to have been culled straight from the democrat party, which boil down to: Become democrats.

Well, about that: The constructive advice is going to come after the constructive criticism, and the constructive criticism is two-fold. First, the know-it-alls within the Republican party — and, from elsewhere — identifying Sarah Palin as the cause of all electoral troubles and counseling that she should shut-up-and-go-away, was all wet. Everybody can agree on that, right? It’s been tested and it’s a flop. She was never the problem. C’mon…just admit it…I know you ultra-sophisticateds think so highly of your big brains and such, and difficulty in ‘fessing up to your mistakes is part & parcel of that. But there’s no getting around it, you were wrong on this one. You got want you wanted and disaster followed. You. Were. Wrong.

Private Sector is Doing FineThat, and: I think Ramesh Ponnuru (hat tip to The News Junkie) is on the right track…

The Republican story about how societies prosper — not just the Romney story — dwelt on the heroic entrepreneur stifled by taxes and regulations: an important story with which most people do not identify. The ordinary person does not see himself as a great innovator. He, or she, is trying to make a living and support or maybe start a family. A conservative reform of our health-care system and tax code, among other institutions, might help with these goals. About this person, however, Republicans have had little to say.

This is a bit outside my perspective, because I’ve actually worked for entrepreneurs. Quite a few of them, in fact. I tend to forget that this is an experience a lot of people haven’t shared; they hear “stifling regulation” and their eyes just sort of glaze over. They don’t see the connection. Maybe the boss will call them in and give them the “company is like a big clock” speech and give them their walking papers…and maybe he won’t. They aren’t put in a position where they’ll see the cause and effect. The erosion, also, is something that has to be communicated better. Too many of them see ten percent getting laid off and think “Oh well, I dodged that bullet, sucks that I have to do all this extra work though…” They don’t understand the increased likelihood that the next ten percent will also be laid off. That’s what a bad economy is, though. Everyone has to worry, and worry especially hard when they see the next guy being let go. One wave of discharge makes the next wave more likely, not less. The bullet is never really dodged.

And, increased regulation is what starts that whole chain-reaction.

But that is not the sad part. The sad part is, we are re-living what we saw four years ago when Barack Obama was first elected to the White House. It seems so strange, to me; I have, on occasion, been “elected” (hired or contracted or tasked) to do big things, at least, things much bigger than what I had been doing up to that point. Exuberant optimism and sensible pessimism collide, in my mind, to create a cyclone of inspiration which then churns into: What am I going to do on my first day? And, do I know nearly enough about the job, to start answering that question? If I don’t, then what exactly is it that I need to find out?

Obama’s people show absolutely none of this. Perhaps the urges are there, and they desire to conceal them in order to conceal the doubts that are necessarily associated with them. The “projecting confidence” thing, I guess. Well if that’s it, then now, as was the case four years ago, this does not seem too effective. I’m seeing all of the energy going into these tedious monologues about what bad people the Republicans are. It’s weird. It’s as if they haven’t won the election yet.

Where they do have some actual plans, those plans seem to have all the structure of an Underpants Gnome Profit Plan, with a big fat question mark in the middle, that remains a big fat question mark, never clarified…even when the plan fails. When that happens, all that happens is finger-pointing, followed by another underpants-gnome plan with a big fat question mark in the middle of it again.

I’m altogether confused about what to make of it. I’m repeatedly seeing all this lecturing from all sides that Obama is “owed respect because of the office that He holds.” There is legal authority that goes along with that, whether we like it or not, because it is entirely valid legal authority. And hey, He must know something about what He’s doing because of this victory, right? And yet — the very first thing a victorious candidate should be expected to know about campaigning, is when the campaign is over. Obama doesn’t seem to know this and, worse yet, doesn’t seem to care.

Another day, another reason we shouldn’t vote for Republicans. But, not much real leadership.

I was sorry, at first, that the very earliest sign that the election would not do anything helpful for the economy, was the demise of a huge company that makes snacky-cakes and so forth. We have the eighteen thousand people looking for work now, and for all that slippage, there’s not much clear communication of how this all works because, well, it’s just starchy crap you put in a kid’s lunchbox when he’s spoiled. So who cares? So it’s just more economic damage, with the electorate remaining under-informed and confused about the cause and effect…more of the things we have seen plenty enough already. Who needs it. Not much opportunity for education to be going on.

But thinking on it further, I see this is a good illustration of the problem, after all. Hostess wasn’t sunk because of Obama’s disastrous leadership, its demise came about because of union negotiations. And what are those: Artificial constraints. Options systematically eliminated. A bunch of musts and oughts and shoulds, written up into a contract. Lines drawn in the sand, which must be respected by the producers, drawn by non-producers. We have become quite adept at that lately, haven’t we? It is fun to imagine that, in so doing, we are building something. The Hostess thing demonstrates clearly that this is a destructive process, and not a creative one.

Generally, this is where the big mistakes are made: Destructive processes mistaken for creative processes. And so this shows where the mistake was made, in re-electing Barack Obama. A lot of people are having quite a thrill imagining that Obama is building something, but can any among them provide some specific answers about what He is building? There doesn’t seem to be any such answer, anywhere. But the people who believe He’s a destroyer, can certainly provide some specificity on what He’s destroying. That says something.

But, again, the election. Obama won, so He is the better incarnation of the feelings dominating the American landscape now. And I agree with that; this is the dominating sickness. People want to destroy things, and fool themselves into thinking they’re building something.

There is another epiphany to be observed here. The musts, the oughts, the shoulds. We all like to have an impact on each other; I think most people who desire this, would identify within the goals they cherish the most, things that have to do with thinking big. They would say we should try to work with each other, in unity, in part so that we can share the learning experience. Something about how we would benefit from our diverse range of backgrounds, our different points-of-view would provide perspective that would be missing if we were all to work in our silos. Added to that, they would say, we could help each other out, encourage each other, lend a hand. Is that close?

SelfishMy observation is, whether we like to admit it or not, this is not what we have been doing. We don’t encourage each other by coming together, not under the destructive stewardship of an Obama anyway. The encouragement, experience has shown us, is consistently toward the desultory actions. The ass-sitting. The living at home, on Mom & Dad’s health plans, until age twenty-six. The voting for the candidate who will give you a free cell phone. The ridiculous “Occupying” which means, if it means anything at all, acquiring one’s needs and wants through bitching and complaining and obstructing the efforts of others, as opposed to exchanging goods and services with those others for mutual benefit.

Allow me to offer an unflattering suggestion: We aren’t doing a good job of encouraging each other, because that is not where our efforts have been going. Encouragement is tough, and unappealing; encouragement toward productive actions is even tougher and even less appealing. Meanwhile, there are the musts, the oughts, the shoulds. That is much more fun, because it feels like power. And so our “coming together” energy has been focused on coming up with new restrictions, on telling each other “you can’t do that.” We very often speak to each other of rules that don’t even exist. “You’ll have to take down that American flag, because someone might be offended.” Don’t wear that shirt. Don’t tweet that message. Don’t put that in the “regular” garbage. You can’t say that, it might be construed as [insert something]-ist. Can’t buy any more than sixteen ounces at a time.

And don’t say anything bad about Obama, whatever you do!

It has the feel about it of pointing out the obvious — and maybe it is. But these are the words of people who wish to become guides and teachers, but lack the wisdom for it; they want it just because they have become bored with their ordinary lives. They wish to anesthetize against the boredom by telling others what to do, and it turns out it’s much easier to tell other people what not to do. They counsel us toward together-ness, but it isn’t the together-ness that appeals to them. They do not wish to encourage, they wish to impose constraints. They do not wish to provide lift under the wings of their fellow “birds,” their efforts are entirely invested in clipping those wings. Must not. Don’t. Stop. Can’t.

I have every confidence in the world that, to the last man, they’ll say I shouldn’t be blogging any of this.

But, it’s a problem we’re encountering more and more lately. Everybody wants to be the inspiring teacher, the one who provides the “big” encouragement, who fuels the “big” thoughts. But in practice, this big-encouragement seems to be pretty rare. It’s much more common we see the little stuff, the petty stuff, the can’t/don’t-do-that stuff. The little-rules, conjured up on the spot, even where the rules don’t exist people just make them up, either lying outright or seeking refuge in this craven and cowardly “might be a good idea not to do that” stuff. The ankle biting.

Leadership is reflected in landscape. I still have optimism we can succeed, by way of genuinely encouraging each other, daring each other to dare, dreamin’ big. But four years in, it is only becoming increasingly clear month by month that where that happens under the leadership of Obama, it happens in spite of Him, not because of Him.

Drug Shortages

Saturday, November 17th, 2012

New York Times:

Rationing is just one example of the extraordinary lengths being taken to address the shortage, which health care workers say has ceased to be a temporary emergency and is now a fact of life. In desperation, they are resorting to treating patients with less effective alternative medicines and using expired drugs. The Cleveland Clinic has hired a pharmacist whose only job is to track down hard-to-find drugs.

Caused largely by an array of manufacturing problems, the shortage has prompted Congressional hearings, a presidential order and pledges by generic drug makers to communicate better with federal regulators.
:
In 2011, prompted by emotional pleas by cancer patients and others who said the drug shortage was threatening lives, President Obama issued an executive order requiring drug makers to notify the F.D.A. when a shortage appeared imminent. The agency also loosened some restrictions on importing drugs, and sped up approvals by other manufacturers to make certain medicines.

A law passed this summer contains several provisions aimed at improving the situation, including expediting approval of new generic medicines and requiring the agency’s enforcement unit to better coordinate with its drug-shortage officials before it takes action against a manufacturer.

Uh wait, I think I just got confused again. If it’s “caused largely by…manufacturing problems,” then what good does it do, pray tell, to go tinkering around with the regulatory machinery?

Our fiftieth birthday is in the very near future, so we’ll have to keep watching this for personal reasons. And, take solace as we review that very long historical list of product shortages that have been tempered and ultimately cured, by the swift action of regulatory agencies, which is exhaustively included here: .

“Old Leia”

Saturday, November 17th, 2012

Oh wow, this just fills me with confidence. Carrie Fisher appears on some The View knock-off, and offers her vision of Princess Leia in an Episode VII timeframe…

…after she married Han Solo, “we fought and fought and I killed him.”

Okay, but didn’t Leia build something? Her brother did. I’m sure wherever men can build things, women can as well…otherwise, what’s the point of this chick-equality if, in the end, they aren’t going to do anything more impressive than killing their husbands?

And I realize it’s humor-&-all, but what kind of cackling hens find that appealing anyway. Maybe it’s possible to turn out some product that will appeal to both them and me. But I kinda have to doubt it.

The Homeschool Graduate

Saturday, November 17th, 2012

From Sippican.

Why Do They Love This Picture So Much?

Thursday, November 15th, 2012

And who is “they”? I’m picking up that there is a lot of feminist excitement about it, and I’m also picking up that there is a lot of liberal excitement; after all I’ve seen gone down this year and years past, I consider those two things to be opposites although I’m sure some self-identifying feminists might disagree with that. Be that as it may, our modern left has managed to put up, and win an election by means of, a message I find about as anti-feminist as any ever could possibly be. The whole “Life of Julia” thing. Summed up as “women can’t count on men and they’re completely helpless so they need free stuff.” Compared to that, Archie Bunker is a tireless crusader for female equality.

It is a plurality — more than one — of incoming female senators. Uh, well there’s nothing ground-breaking about this, we’ve had that before. What might be unprecedented is the lucky snapshot of twins. Twins in hairstyle, twins in apparel, twins in footwear, twins in body language.

Told that they are lawmakers, nobody with common sense is ever going to say “Well, that looks like more local control, strong defense, greater respect for individual liberty headed our way.” They look like a couple of bureaucrats. Huddled together, keeping bureaucratic secrets, within an opaque bureaucracy, with their anorexic bodies conditioned to the most effective posture for this by years and years of practice.

I’ve asked the question…will probably regret it…what if Sarah Palin was a third figure in the pic, as an additional freshman senator? Looking as ravishing as ever, loaded with man-appeal, in formal sensible shoes and a nice feminine skirt? Would that enhance the appeal by fifty percent?

From Palin’s America By Heart, p. 135:

The tragedy of contemporary American feminism is that it’s had the example of Margaret Thatcher to put forward as a model…and yet feminists have championed a very different type of female leader. Modern feminism’s idea of a “real” woman isn’t so much a woman as a liberal. “Real” women must be in favor of government-run health care, of restricting Second Amendment rights, of curtailing free speech in universities and in political campaigns, and other liberal causes. In the name of liberating women, modern feminism has wrapped us in a one-size-fits-all straight-jacket of political correctness.

This liberal ideology is so sacrosanct among feminists that they label women who don’t agree with them a not “real women.” Typical was a remark by a Democratic Tennessee lawmaker complaining that Republican women in the state legislature don’t share her liberal views. She snarked, “You have to lift their skirts to find out if they are women.”

To me, this picture says a lot more than “Hey look we managed to get a couple women elected to the Senate.” I see a lot of what brings about my distrust and cynicism against the centralized bureaucracy, by which I mean for the most part, the left-wing centralized bureaucracy. Looters elected to represent moochers. Shepherds getting ready to “manage” the sheep…but everlastingly sheltered, bringing no knowledge to the subject, knowing less about herding sheep than the sheep themselves.

And the twin hairstyles & fashion statements, along with Palin’s comments about her own experiences above, suggest to me a stultifying lack of diversity of thought. It looks to me like diamond-hard theories, ready to meet up with reality, determined that in any conflict that arises it is the reality that must yield to the theory. And it looks like being pretty & attractive to men, would be some kind of infraction against a protocol nobody would ever actually write down, because they’re too craven to do so…but they’ll enforce the code nevertheless.

It looks like a hot mess on four legs coming our way. And not just because they’re women. It looks like a big bundle of negative energy. I wonder what would ensue, should those who find something appealing about it, self-task to create a list of adjectives to describe it. I can’t envision any positive adjectives being applied. Just: Catty, jealous, sneaky, conniving, conspiratorial, unfeminine, feral, craven. There is great mystery arising from the situation that so many of my fellow countrypeoples, seem to find something attractive about the picture. And, I’m sensing that I will not manage to solve the mystery, or even make a dent in it, until such time as I find out more about how these people think than they know themselves. Because they’re hiding something from their own consciousnesses.

Update: Margot has responded. Yes, it is >1 senators of the female persuasion, that’s the low bar that has been met. And also as a by-the-way, she’s blown away at how sexist my comments are. Surprised?

Time to invoke Morgan Rule Number One — “if I’m gonna be accused, I wanna be guilty” — on this sexism charge. Let’s go for broke.

Taking into account the results of this election, along with the 2010 midterms, the reactions to all that has happened from people & pundits, there are some telling patterns emerging. I find two such patterns to be significant: The electorate responded in approving terms, two years ago, to female candidates who looked like women, and this year they have responded in approving terms to women who do not look like women. Because, to me, that hairstyle is just bizarre. I do not see it out in “flyover country” or in offices…for this, I’m glad. It’s terrible, just terrible. And regular readers already know how I feel about the Mao Tse Hillary pantsuit look. But yeah, that was the big winner here, women who don’t look like women.

This was a cultural conflict. Public policies weren’t very central to what we saw taking place, since the people who affiliate themselves with the public policies that emerged victorious, cannot state how those policies will lead to anything that anybody particularly wants. No, what’s more important is that a culture won out over other cultures. And that culture does not impress me as being terribly friendly toward or respectful to women. It would be more accurate to describe it as an urbanized, Occupy-Something, counter-capitalism, bureaucrats-run-everything, gender-neutral androgynous culture.

And you’d better not notice or point it out, or else you’re sexist, eleventy.

The Deer’s Ass

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012

Yesterday morning I was headed out the door around 4 in the morning, making it as far as exit 135 on I-80 near Colfax and Weimar by 5, which is when Starbucks opens. Resuming my progress eastbound with the coffee & croissant now acquired, I noticed the blood on the highway, along with the bits of fur and flesh. The chunks of flesh got bigger and the blood got thicker as I started to think “uh oh, I think this might be really bad” and there it was — a deer’s ass headed right between my front wheels. There wasn’t any time to do anything at all.

Actually, I was working on a project some twenty years ago and one of the guys who joined up with our crew fairly late, sometime in ’94 I think, just a couple years ago I read that he lost his life right around here. Probably within a mile or two of that spot. His exit from this world came about, according to the news report, because he swerved too sharply to avoid hitting something.

So I hoped for the best, as I felt the deer’s ass — just the ass, with a couple hooves sticking out of it — lift the car off the freeway and then, mercifully, the car settled back down again. After an additional 350 miles, no detectable damage to the gas tank or oil pan, so I think we are good. Last night as I finally drifted off to sleep, I was starting to ponder all the different ways that could’ve gone wrong. What if that was the head, with antlers attached, instead of the ass? Uff da. Scary.

And really, really disgusting. That had to be an eighteen-wheeler. Just five minutes earlier, maybe less.

The democrats Think They’ve Prevailed Over Math

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012

The title of this particular post, is a precise summary of the most grave threat facing this country right now. Mark Steyn said it best, though: Reality doesn’t need to take 270 electoral votes. We essentially just got done voting on whether or not the bridge is out ahead.

Credit to our friend in New Mexico for finding the latest of Mr. Ramirez’ wonderful work.

Edge of the Abyss

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

Mark Steyn writes in National Review. We’re a bit late to the party on this one, but our primary purpose in posting is to link back, in the future. With sadness.

In the weeks ahead, Democrats and Republicans will reach a triumphant “bipartisan” deal to avert the fiscal cliff through some artful bookkeeping mechanism that postpones Taxmageddon for another year, or six months, or three, when they can reach yet another triumphant deal to postpone it yet again. Harry Reid has already announced that he wants to raise the debt ceiling — or, more accurately, lower the debt abyss — by $2.4 trillion before the end of the year, and no doubt we can look forward to a spectacular “bipartisan” agreement on that, too. It took the government of the United States two centuries to rack up its first trillion dollars in debt. Now Washington piles on another trillion every nine months. Forward!
:
Reality doesn’t need to crack 270 in the Electoral College. Reality can get 1.3 percent of the popular vote and still trump everything else. In the course of his first term, Obama increased the federal debt by just shy of $6 trillion and in return grew the economy by $905 billion. So, as Lance Roberts at Street Talk Live pointed out, in order to generate every dollar of economic growth the United States had to borrow about five dollars and 60 cents. There’s no one out there on the planet — whether it’s “the rich” or the Chinese — who can afford to carry on bankrolling that rate of return.
:
Americans as a whole have joined the rest of the Western world in voting themselves a lifestyle they are not willing to earn. The longer any course correction is postponed the more convulsive it will be. Alas, on Tuesday, the electorate opted to defer it for another four years. I doubt they’ll get that long.

How to Explain America’s Entitlement Crisis to a Child

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

By way of Town Hall.

My Blog’s Eighth Birthday

Monday, November 12th, 2012

Yay. Now, what am I supposed to do, exactly?

I guess I could break form and point out only a part of something, leaving the rest of it to be pondered. This blog could very easily have been named “House of Socrates” or “House of Plato” or “House of Pericles” or what-not…lots of egghead white guys running around in those white robes back in the day. Why Eratosthenes and not Aristotle or Archimedes?

There is the matter of his specific experiment of which we are especially fond…but there is also his “business card.” Being a smart guy in Athens engaging in this structured debate with syllogisms and assertions and rebuttals and what-not, was not his primary gig. His day job was as the administrator of the library at Alexandria…and his annual performance review was not influenced toward the positive or toward the negative, even so much as a smidgen, by his understanding of whether the Earth was this size or that size.

What’s that say about you, and your understanding of the world, versus the demands of your day job? I’ll leave the rest of that up to the reader.

On Inequality

Monday, November 12th, 2012

My soon to be wife has a gift for thinking in rugged, non-linear, non-feminine ways on occasion. Somehow we were babbling away about Star Trek, not sure why. We may have meandered to the subject because of Sonic Charmer’s observation that Captain Kirk evidently incinerated the Enterprise and everybody on it at the end of The Undiscovered Country. The visual evidence seems to back this up, in spite of the fact that Kirk and Scotty were seen at the beginning of Generations, and Spock and McCoy made appearances on The Next Generation.

Deductive reasoning then makes it clear to us what happened: Those four made off with a shuttlecraft, bailing on the Enterprise-A while poor Chekov, Uhura and the rest of the crew were vaporized in an agonizing death, as they zipped off somewhere in the general opposite direction. Probably laughing maniacally as they did so. With the exception of Spock, of course, who was simply doing the logical thing.

But seriously, here is the observation: You have this United Federation of Planets which is dedicated to “…the principles of universal liberty, rights, and equality…” From over seven hundred television episodes and eleven movies, we are not left with much question about how this part of it works. And, true to the founding vision of the franchise, this is merely a continuation of a long-standing trend, which our left-wing fellows consider themselves to be working hard to continue, in which societies become more unified and egalitarian over time. Captains outrank ensigns and admirals outrank captains, but when it comes to justice, liberty and universal human rights, all are equally entitled. Presumably, the same holds for distribution of limited supplies of life-sustaining resources, and presumably such conflicts arise very rarely because technology has removed shortages.

Therein lies the problem: Technology’s victory over the concept of shortage, is so complete that they have “food replicators.” Now think on that term “universal.” It doesn’t apply because not everybody is in the UFP. The Prime Directive makes it very plain that some people are to be kept out.

The litmus test, as we saw in First Contact, is whether the civilization has developed warp drive. There’s evidently a presumption in place that once this level of technology is reached, interstellar travel becomes an inevitability and the indigenous peoples are going to run around and meet everybody else anyway, so why not stop off and introduce yourselves? That particular film, for those who’ve not seen it, ends with a Vulcan crew doing exactly that in the middle of Montana somewhere. Possibilities exist that perhaps the Vulcans are renegades who don’t care about rules, or perhaps they are committing an infraction against a rule that will not exist for another century or so. (I’m ignoring those because the central thread of suspense in this movie is that the Vulcans can’t & won’t land, and First Contact won’t happen, until the warp-drive flight is accomplished; so that seems like the proper way to go.)

Okay so look what you’ve got going on here. We have these alien civilizations who are toiling away within a vast array of positions on this one-dimensional technological spectrum. Some have only just recently begun walking upright, and must risk life and limb to gather meat and berries so they don’t starve to death. Once they get to the point where they can climb into these big ships and travel faster than the speed of light, they can be invited to join the Federation. Within my understanding of all these hundreds of episodes, which is only a fraction of what’s been produced, never once has the situation been confronted in which such an invitation is extended and then refused. Perhaps someone can enlighten me in the comments…but if I’m right about that, this might be proper because, hey, food replicators. Why would anyone say no? But here’s my fiance’s point: Within the known universe you’ve got these Federation-member civilizations who can have baby back ribs or marshmallow sundaes on a whim, and then you have these savages wallowing around in their own waste clubbing each other over the head. And, one might fairly presume, elevated religious mystics telling women they can’t have abortions? What would the progressive Star Trek producers think of that? Anyway…doesn’t seem like universal equality to me.

There is another problem with these Vulcans telling one another “hey, woudja look at that they got warp drive down there, let’s go introduce ourselves.” Would it work that way? Really? Because in 2012 on Earth, we’ve already been busily at work using technology to obviate shortage issues for quite some time, along with making our societies more fair and egalitarian; we’re several centuries into it and it’s fair to say we have a good understanding of how the journey works, although we’ve yet to reach the destinations discussed. Based on what we have learned up to this date, it seems safe to conclude it wouldn’t work quite like this. The Vulcans would have to record their observations and submit an application to some centralized construct of bureaucracy and wait for approval to introduce themselves. This centralized bureaucracy, then, or some localized representative of their central wisdom, would then comb over the application looking for trivial anomalies or flaws that they could use as a pretext for rejecting it. Which they would have every incentive to do, because they’d be bureaucrats, motivated toward reducing their own pile of work. Failing that, they would then reconcile this application with some ever-sprawling mass of “easy to stop, hard to go” regulation such as environmental impact, access for the handicapped, et al, which would take some extended period of time. If they still couldn’t find a way to clog things up, they’d summon the Vulcans back to the home planet and put together a “panel” of distinguished representatives, call them “ambassadors” or “emissaries” I suppose, who would then be presumed to possess the requisite skills in diplomacy and wisdom to get the introduction done the right way. Since you Vulcan starship people are all just a bunch of, ya know, shipping-lane people or whatever. Quite logical in your own way since you’re Vulcans and all. But still, just freight crew. Can’t have these first-contact things left up to just any ol’ folks. First thing a bureaucracy does is put the bureaucrats in charge, by tying the hands of the non-bureaucrats. Anyone who doesn’t know that, has never seen one in action.

The funny thing is, I cannot claim that this last realization of mine is entirely outside the community of Star Trek writers/producers. How many stories and arcs are out there that have made it all the way to the little- or big-screen, about the plucky and cocksure “Starfleet officer” who saw what needed doing & went ahead and did it, in defiance of his “orders” from the central bureaucracy. Dozens, maybe hundreds! The defiance was regretful, or thumb-your-nose brazen, but there was no mistaking the common lesson: Local control is better. These are not even bad Star Trek episodes, contradictory as they may be against the United-Nations-inspired founding vision. The episode in which the parasites started taking over the Federation by burrowing their way into the Starfleet officer’s bodies, ranks as one of my all-time favorites.

I suppose some of this is the price to be paid for having lots of writers from a diverse selection of backgrounds, collaborating on a common franchise over the course of half a century, and collaborating only loosely. But I believe some of this conflict is inextricably connected to the problem with the vision. “Universal equality” is a pipe dream, a dream that cannot be realized, and all who take umbrage at that that can be adequately answered with this simple truism: Those who dream the dream most ardently are the first to abandon it. It doesn’t even taken them forty-five years or seven hundred episodes to do it. Just by fleshing in the details of their fantasy, they reject it in the blink of an eye.

Dissecting Group-Think

Sunday, November 11th, 2012

I would not discuss it in terms quite so flattering, but this is how it works.