Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

How the Media Could Begin Repairing its Tattered Reputation

Monday, February 18th, 2013

I know…they don’t give a damn.

But I watched the incoming White House Chief of Staff being interviewed yesterday by some silly twit. I guess that would be this human-buzzard-lookin’ guy, and the useless jerk interviewing him was…I don’t remember.

Well the Chief of Staff repeatedly made mention of the middle class being made stronger, or thriving or whatever…this is, as I have explored before, a contradiction in terms and it doesn’t matter if the phrase has been thrown around like refried beans at a school food fight since the 1930’s. It’s worth a question or two. How about asking some questions about that?

But also, McDonough used the phrase “balanced approach” about five times in the space of a minute. Now look: McDonough is speaking on behalf of someone else. There is an assumption in place that he’s had ample time to sync up with the President on the details, down to some arcane level, quite a bit further down in the weeds than anything that would pique our interest. And our interest should certainly be piqued about the definition of a balanced approach. He kept using and re-using that term. It must be important.

I understand it isn’t a complete mystery: For every spending cut, democrats want to see a tax increase on those hated rich people. The thing is though, that’s not the end of it, especially if the WH Chief of Staff is going to keep repeating it like a parrot. So, how balanced? A nickel of this for every dollar of that? How about assuring the country that someone is in charge, making decisions about these things, who is capable of doing anything with a hard number anywhere, be it a dollar figure or a percentage. Do these suits know that the rest of us, out here, have to do that a couple times every single month? This goes beyond partisan politics, when I see the “boys in charge” just throwing around catch-phrases like this, it makes me worried. I don’t think I’m the only one.

Brings to mind that thing about the Republicans and democrats fighting over spending, being like the two drunks fighting over a bar tab on the Titanic. Seems there’s some mission-definition missing here. Are you patching the leak in the hull while you’re explaining to us what’s being done and what we can expect to see…are you telling us sweet lies about the ship being fine while it sinks lower and lower…or are you merely playing a lullaby for us to listen to? Like the band-playing-on?

I know Sunday morning is different. I know it’s accepted that the whole point to these shows is to help both sides get their talking points out there…more one party than the other. I’m just saying, how about disrupt the pattern now and then? Just to make it a bit more interesting? Every now and then, the Sunday talkie-shows make big news, which I would think would translate to establishing a reason for existence…a good thing. Is my thinking going off in a totally different direction from the producers of these shows? They just want a palliating rhythm going, without any boat-rocking? Here I come to the question central to it all. I’m guessing it could be a little difficult from here on in getting Ambassador Susan Rice on any of those shows, maybe they don’t like that. But it doesn’t really matter, does it? This is information we need to have. Gives us a reason to tune in. I thought that was important too.

The “‘Hello Kitty’ of Blogging” is in Trouble?

Monday, February 18th, 2013

Poll: People aren’t logging on to Facebook anymore.

The Facebook craze that gave us Farmville and notes from “friends” about their breakfast and just about everything else may finally be ending.

A new Pew Research Center poll finds that a huge group of users, 61 percent, are taking breaks from Facebook up to “several weeks” long, and that virtually all age groups are decreasing their time on the social media site that recently flopped in its initial public offering of publicly traded stock. Most devastating: 38 percent of users aged 18-29, the focus of advertisers on the site, plan to slash their time on Facebook this year.

Farmville…pffft. So long.

I still find Facebook useful as a way to communicate to the “everyday” people whose politics don’t necessarily line up with mine. In this day & age, “how in the [expletive] could you possibly have voted for Barack Obama” is not quite so much an outburst of exasperation, as a sincere question that demands some quality answering, toot-sweet. I can’t get that from my blog. Blog readership tends to follow the ideological meanderings of its author. And my readers are mostly too smart to ever support Obama. It ends up being a preach-to-the-choir thing.

But, I have noticed over time, Facebook following also begins to follow the ideological meanderings of the subscriber, thus defeating the purpose. Liberals delight in shunning me, as quickly and as forcefully as possible. I’ve also noticed this is something they tend to be very practiced at doing in all walks of life. Low-information centrists, for the most part, have learned their lesson, and I think the centrists not included in that were never really centrists. This week I got my first chiding from Facebook that I had to review the community guidelines because I’d been reported as submitting a friend request to someone I don’t know. This is not something that could happen on a regular basis, since I don’t do that; I think there were a couple times lately I pushed the button, purely in the spirit of “a friend of [blank] is a friend of mine.” And, in likelihood, those two were libs and I was trying to heal a rift. They saw an opportunity. Okay, lesson learned, it’s not my place to try to heal the polarization, I should learn to embrace it and celebrate it like they do.

But the weird screwy “abusing the friend request button” algorithm is a major turn-off. What conservative wants to log in to a social network, so that liberals can continue to frolic in and enforce their pretend-reality-bubble of “everyone who doesn’t agree with me is creepy”? Not good for us, not good for them, not good for anybody else. If we felt some compulsion to continue to do things that aren’t good for anybody, we’d probably be liberals in the first place, right? And, I suppose if they had what it takes to opt in to “friendships” with people who don’t march in lockstep with them on every little thing, they wouldn’t be.

As a way to establish and maintain an identifiable on-line presence, I think Facebook is probably around for the long haul. I think there is research on this that says so. Facebook seems lately to have read that research, and come to a decision that it wants to move in on LinkedIn‘s turf by offering people a work identity. This, I believe, is a mistake of enormous proportions. I’m basing that on a presumption that people use these tools the way I do, and that’s always problematic I realize. But I don’t want current work contacts to see me on Facebook. Maybe past co-workers, the ones who are kinda “cool.” But there is no reason to go mixing up these two worlds, and if I’m going to be pushed into it because that’s just the way the system expects me to use its services, then I’ll be on my way out too. That’s probably what’s been happening, since most Facebook inhabitants behave more-or-less the way I do.

Besides, I’m getting rather fatigued with networks and systems and applications demanding that I should use them a certain way. It’s like any other form of pollution, I suppose, each polluter thinks his pollution isn’t quite as bad as the next guy’s, and he isn’t really contributing to the problem. But the totality of it is a problem, and subscribers will opt out of things to keep that total under control. Twice a month, if not more, I’m asked to upgrade my Flash support for videos and I have to wonder: Isn’t this technology pretty well settled? What are you doing, adding support for more codecs or something? If that’s the case then maybe your architecture needs re-visiting. You use a thing for a certain purpose, if the purpose doesn’t change then why is it that you have to keep tinkering with the thing just because you’re told to?

Dunno, maybe there’s something in the details that will confound this idea-progression I’m having. I’ll stay away from discussing what I don’t understand. But there’s been some resentment brewing about Facebook for a few years now, and I can’t say I’m completely surprised to see something might come of it. If it happens, I think “Timeline” might be recalled by history as the jump-the-shark point, the beginning of the end.

Hat tip to Instapundit.

Marco Rubio Water Bottles

Sunday, February 17th, 2013

Buzzfeed:

When Marco Rubio paused to take a sip from a water bottle during his response to the State of the Union this week, it become an instant viral sensation. The Florida Senator has now capitalized on the moment to raise more than $100,000 for his Reclaim America political action committee by selling branded water bottles.

A source close to Rubio tells BuzzFeed that the water bottles, which were sold on the senator’s PAC website to anyone who makes a donation of $25 or more, sold like hotcakes. In the period since they went on sale Wednesday, more than 3,100 of the PAC’s “Marco Rubio Water Bottles” have been sold.

“Send the liberal detractors a message that not only does Marco Rubio inspire you…he hydrates you too,” the donation page reads.

Ah…this is great stuff. Refreshing.

My Cool Hair

Sunday, February 17th, 2013

So the wife and I go see the new Die Hard movie. And I’m thinking, among other things…okay, my hair is in a transitional phase of sorts. And the phase to which it is transitioning is aptly represented by Mr. Willis here, who is slightly my senior, an action hero star, and bald as a billiard ball. That’s right, I’ve seen the wedding pics and I know what they mean. Getting thin up there. But no roadkill rugs for me, it’s natural all the way. If the widows-peak is encroaching upward, and there’s a big hole up on top, and I’m starting to look all monk-like and nerdy up there, then someday I’m going to go John McClane on it and just whack it all.

Meanwhile…the morning after…I’m doing the hotel room fight with my hair, after it’s been all washed out by hotel room shower soap. Like herding cats.

Morgan: Go there!

Hair: Fuck you.

Morgan: I said, go there. Be parallel, at least, for Chrissakes.

Hair. Dude, seriously. Fuck you and the horse you rode in on. We’re still sleeping.

Morgan: AT LEAST DON’T BE A HAIR DILDO ALL POINTING IN THE SAME DIRECTION, JESUS FUCKING CHRIST.

Hair: We do what we want. We know best. Deal with it.

Morgan: GO HERE! I mean it! Don’t make me bring out the spit!

Hair: …der…no hablo anglais…

Morgan. FINE…what the fuck ever.

So we go to Hooters. I have a cool wife, she likes going to Hooters as all decent wives do.

Now get a load of this, fellas…this Hooters girl is not our server. Our server is a blondie type, this is a redhead. I was just looking over at her thinking, wow this is really Phil‘s type, the natural redhead who likes having long hair.

Well, she — swear to God, not making this up — asks to be introduced to us, and makes a point of mentioning how cool she thinks my hair is. That’s why her face is all blocked out like that. To protect her identity. Because I think the poor girl is nuts.

But…my forty-seventh birthday is coming up this summer. So, I’m figuring this is just about the last time it’ll ever happen. Yes, in years past, I’ve gotten my share of compliments…occasionally, from hot, hot good-looking girls, like this. I thought they were nuts too.

But, maybe not. If not, then I guess my hair does know what’s best, after all. I mean, let’s be real: The hair DID win the argument this morning. And it seems to have had a good outcome, not that anything will develop from it. I may not be dead, but I am married. And I’m sure Nic– I mean, the anonymous good-looking Hooters girl here, with terrible taste in mens’ hair, has some kind of a stud-muffin young boyfriend back at home, seven feet tall with rock hard abs and whatever.

But I’m at the age where I’ll take a compliment where I can get it.

Oh, and as a side note, the Hooters restaurant on Challenge Way, by the Arden Fair Mall, is being well-managed and fun again. Wife and I had a complete blast. You’re dropping about a hundred bucks every time you walk in & out again, so it’s important to take note of which ones are fun. With the wings and beer being exactly the same, a fun atmosphere is all the difference between “Shit yeah, why the hell did we even hesitate, we should be coming here all the time”…and…”Uh, why did we spend all that time and money when we could’ve gotten a burger at Carls?”

Hooters on Challenge is fun again. Spread the word. And, don’t ask me about the details, for apparently I’m a poor judge of this, but my hair is cool-looking and all. In about a year I might not have any, but whatever. Yipee Kay-yay…

“It is Consistent, However, With Common Sense”

Sunday, February 17th, 2013

Investor’s Business Daily editorial:

The global warming alarmists repeat the line endlessly. They claim that there is a consensus among scientists that man is causing climate change. Fact is, they’re not even close.

Yes, many climate scientists believe that emissions of greenhouse gases are heating the earth. Of course there are some who don’t.

But when confining the question to geoscientists and engineers, it turns out that only 36% believe that human activities are causing Earth’s climate to warm.

This is the finding of the peer-reviewed paper “Science or Science Fiction? Professionals’ Discursive Construction of Climate Change” and this group is categorized as the “Comply with Kyoto” cohort.

Members of this group, not unexpectedly, “express the strong belief that climate change is happening, that it is not a normal cycle of nature, and humans are the main or central cause.”

Academics Lianne M. Lefsrud of the University of Alberta and Renate E. Meyer of Vienna University of Economics and Business, and the Copenhagen Business School, came upon that number through a survey of 1,077 professional engineers and geoscientists.

Their work also revealed that 24% “believe that changes to the climate are natural, normal cycles of the earth” while another 10% consider the “‘real’ cause of climate change” to be “unknown” and acknowledge that “nature is forever changing and uncontrollable.”
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This is all illuminating information. But it won’t get the same media attention given to Al Gore and the usual assortment of eco-radicals, because it violates the narrative that our selfish activities are warming this planet.

It is consistent, however, with what most people call common sense.

Hat tip to Maggie’s Farm.

The alwarmists are not too happy about my exercise in questioning whether what we’re looking at is really science. They’ve formed their own consensus that I’m doubting the “science,” because I don’t like where it goes. There it is again, a consensus. Give ‘em credit. They can form a consensus like nobody’s business. Go through them puppies like Rosie O’Donnell through a box of donuts.

This consensus of theirs, tragically, reveals that the point went sailing right over their heads. No matter what your feelings are about where a line on a paper “goes,” you’re not even ready to debate it until you settle the matter of whether the line is what it is perceived to be. Whether it is straight. And there are tests you can do with the straightedge or triangle that was used to draw the line — most effective if they are localized. If they have nothing to do with where the line “goes.” You can use the straightedge to draw the line, flip it over, and bring it up alongside the same line.

This faux vintage of “science” doesn’t pass simple tests like this. It is far too intermarried with the public relations aspect of itself. It seems to be concerned with “winning,” everywhere it is challenged, primarily by means of getting in the last word.

Alwarmists, therefore, sidestep the question of whether their straightedge is straight, deciding instead that we should be concerned with where the line “goes.” They either are lacking conceptual command of the knowledge domain, or they are engaged in an attempt to deceive.

Does it really matter which one it is?

Professor Bans Fox News

Sunday, February 17th, 2013

Professors can do that? Wow.

Inside Higher Ed:

Students in a political science class at West Liberty University were given an assignment recently to keep a “politics journal” in which they would record their reactions to various articles they had selected.

The instructor at the West Virginia public institution included some possible news sources, such as The Economist, BBC, CNN and The Huffington Post. But the instructor also specified that two sources could not be used. One was The Onion, which the assignment notes “is not news” and “is literally a parody.”

The other barred source is the one that got the instructor — Stephanie Wolfe — scrutiny this week. She banned articles from Fox News, writing: “The tagline ‘Fox News’ makes me cringe. Please do not subject me to this biased news station. I would almost rather you print off an article from the Onion.”

Information as a contaminant.

Anti-science.

Don’t have too much more to say after those. Many people walking around among us, who seem to think you’re wiser when you take in less information.

Hat tip to Instapundit.

Update: The college president confronts the issue head-on, without ducking it. That’s good to see. Hat tip to Fellowship of the Minds.

The Dumbest Liberal Moments Ever

Saturday, February 16th, 2013

Asteroid Stories and Near-Earth-Like Planet Stories

Saturday, February 16th, 2013

They tend to congregate around each other in the news cycle.

I suppose it means we’re always being given the news we’ve shown we’re ready to watch.

It Isn’t Science

Saturday, February 16th, 2013

On the whole climate change thing, as far as the science goes, my position isn’t too remarkably different from blogger friend Phil’s. I think it is perhaps measurable lately, due to our inevitably sharpening skills and technology in measuring things, that human activity is having an impact on the environment around us. But not in any way remarkably different from the effect any other species has on its environment, as the environment certainly has an effect on all those species. It is a relationship involving mutual dependence and mutual effect.

This is simply not the question crying out for resolution, I think. Or if it is, then this thing we lately call “science” is clearly not the tool to be deployed in answering it, for we lack certainty in our understanding of what the tool is. You can’t draw a straight line with a straightedge that isn’t straight, and you cannot use one enigma to resolve another. This thing we lately call “science” is different from the science I know, in two meaningful ways. First, at key points in its exercise, it is evidence-immune. Climate models assume a certain warming from carbon, this will release a certain quantity of water vapor, a climate sensitivity is presumed by which this water vapor will continue to heat things further, and by such-and-such a date the temperature will be up so-and-so degrees. It doesn’t happen, so this climate sensitivity number is re-computed with this objective in mind of “Hooray! We’re still doomed!” And so the “science” triumphs. Trouble is, it’s triumphant over reality itself, and when that is the objective then it’s not science anymore.

The other thing is, its foundations are all screwy. Real science is impure and flawed, by nature, since it is exercised by impure and flawed humans. It cannot strive toward purity, it can only strive to maintain awareness of its own flaws and find ways to tamper down the effect of those flaws. I’m hearing this phrase “peer review” thrown around quite a lot; it seems to be lost to history, that this is supposed to be peer review’s purpose, to try to sift the flaws of the human condition away from the work, and minimize the effect of the vestigial remnants that can’t be removed. This thing we lately call “science” seeks to exacerbate the effect of the flaws of the human condition. It uses peer review to keep them in. We saw this in the University of East Anglia e-mail scandal, which isn’t supposed to count anymore because…quite predictably, just like Atlas Shrugged villains…the institutions involved convened a big fancy panel which then cleared the key players of any wrongdoing.

That is, of course, what institutions always do when they prove the Conquest Rule a bit too well (#2, organizations not explicitly right-wing sooner or later become left-wing), and then get caught at it. These elements are constants in the equation. Some blue-ribbon-panel, filled with functionally anonymous VIPs in which the rest of us are supposed to place unlimited trust. Ooh, a panel! And, a clean bill of health from the panel. Well okay then, move along folks. Nothing to see here. Wouldn’t want to question the panel.

But the fact remains. You cannot settle questions in nature or anything else, using an implement to settle the questions that is, itself, questionable. I have no doubt that the climate is changing, none whatsoever. That is what it is supposed to do. Who ever said otherwise? I have a lot of doubts in some of the other things, like the tipping-point concept first and foremost. But when people use the “science” to show me I shouldn’t be questioning this or anything else, I’m noticing the differences between real science and this square-quote “science.” There’s a lot of anti-science and red-dot science involved in this weird brand of science they use. Which is to say, it’s more important to get rid of information than accumulate it, and it’s more important to figure out what’s going on by way of feeling than by way of rational thought. After a time, the only similarity I can see between real science and the “science” being used to convince me of the tipping point, or other things, is the word itself.

And it becomes unavoidable to conclude that we must be studying the wrong thing. Knowns cannot be delivered to us by way of an unknown. Can’t draw a straight line with a straightedge of questionable straightness. The science, itself, must be studied.

And based on all I’ve seen over the years, going back to the beginning of Al Gore’s crusade about this, before his vice-presidency during which time he did little or nothing about it (link goes to video that auto-plays): This doesn’t seem to be science, as we have known it and understood it through the hundreds of years before that time, but a big bundle of pathologies.

In my opinion, we are way too quick to accept the label, to trust it unconditionally. Good science doesn’t demand trust. This “science” does. Well, we should not comply. We should study the pathologies that give rise to it. We should be studying these before we find out what it has to say. We cannot depend on this new-age brand of “science” to minimize the effect of human frailty against its effectiveness in finding the right answers. Because it doesn’t believe in those frailties. First step to reducing the effect of something, is to believe it is there, and this “science” doesn’t reach that first step, so it cannot reach any subsequent one.

I have identified twelve. They are generally distinguished from one another although there are exceptions to this, in that some are strongly related, and in some places overlap considerably. Each one of the twelve could reasonably be described as a personality disorder, with greater logical defense than many other foibles and eccentricities that really are diagnosed as personality disorders. And, on a side note, that has always struck me as a bit odd and weird about the way we do things in this modern day and age: We think of things that are not disorders as disorders, and think of things that really should be considered disorders, as not disorderly. Both with mental and behavioral health, we do this.

But the following should be diagnosable. Diagnosis is the first step toward treatment. Not-diagnosing is the first step toward taking things more seriously than they should be taken, and I think that’s the mistake we’ve been making here.

Climate Justice!
Image from Real Science blog

1. If I can’t have it, neither can you (wealth and income)

This has long been recognized as a telltale sign of mental instability, at least since the heyday of mystery novels during which time many villains sought to eliminate their former belles who found new suitors, with the motivation of “if I can’t have you than neither can he (or anybody else).” We know this is not a proper way to think. And yet much of the global warming legislation proposed, particularly in the international accords, is based on this charter principle of “developing” nations being given waivers to pollute more than the “developed” nations. The public at large, generally, doesn’t understand how bad the situation is.

To be sure, when you start to consider the economic consequences of implementing some of the solutions proposed, it does make sense. In the same way that a waitress making minimum wage would be completely devastated if she was taxed at the same rate as a millionaire, the developing nations would be similarly devastated if called on to implement the same targets as a developed nation. But that’s just justification for the same progressive politics we see with our tax system, and in both cases, progressivism is the point: Those who have more, should be taken down a peg.

If you have tall poppy syndrome and like having it, that’s all very helpful. But let’s be honest, that has nothing to do with saving the planet. If we’re in imminent peril because “humans” have trashed the environment, we wouldn’t be starting with the objective of granting some of those humans a break. That would make no sense. But if we’re out to redistribute resources and re-align the balance of power among nations, then it would make lots of sense. Well, that’s the way climate repair is done. So what really is the mission? What really is the goal?

Climate change “science” hurts people. Because it is supposed to.

2. If I can’t have it, neither can you (sense of purpose)

Where tall-poppy syndrome has to do with taking the advantaged down a few notches, crab mentality has more to do with sharing a fate. “I don’t care whether not I live, so long as you die.” It is said that if you carry a crab to a kitchen in a bucket, you need a lid on the bucket, but if there’s more than one crab then you don’t need to worry about the lid. Every time one starts to crawl out, the others will pull him back in.

Climate change “science,” when it is channeled into political action, invariably fosters an attack on achievement itself. It seeks to elevate the cost of energy, so that it can elevate the cost of building things that help people. It does this under the guise of helping people. This is not just irony; it is derailment of the entire argument, for no responsible or effective thinking can proceed from a point where some meaningful thing is conflated with, and perceived to be identical to, its opposite. The real goal here is to equalize sense of purpose. Some people manage to have one, and some people don’t. The ones that don’t, rather than focusing their energies on coming up with one, seek to attack the productive livelihoods of others.

3. Collectivist organization (lucre)

Upton Sinclair, author of The Jungle and other works, and noted socialist candidate, hit the nail on the head here: “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!” Ayn Rand, speaking through John Galt during the famous fifty-page speech, hit the nail on the head again: “The man who speaks to you of sacrifice speaks of slaves and masters. And intends to be master.” Climate change champions who speak of this “science,” don’t show the curiosity that is associated with real science. Their minds are all made up. They’re in the mode of “when do we get to the fun part, where I tell everyone else what to do and they go do it.” They aren’t seen wanting to learn anything, for a simple reason: They don’t want to. They intend to be the masters. They think the new world order will result in a “salary,” or some other kind of bonus or livelihood, or power.

4. Collectivist organization (creativity inhibit) (partially redundant with #2)

You can tell a lot about people by the way they observe and celebrate human achievement. We’ve got a lot of people walking around among us who make a lot of noise celebrating what key historical figures have done in the past to help us out here in the present; but, they don’t celebrate these things the way normal people do. Just as a sentence can be framed in active voice versus passive voice — “I picked up the ball” versus “The ball was picked up, by me” — inventions and discoveries can be described in the same way. The person who actually did the thing, can be singled out for emphasis, or for de-emphasis. This is essentially the difference between old and new Star Trek episodes: Captain Kirk did this, Captain Kirk did that…fast forward a hundred years, you see “The Federation” has become some umbrella corporation, existing for the purpose of removing individual identity from any notable achievement. “Starfleet scientists” came up with this or that. And you can’t go faster than Warp Five.

We don’t need to wait for the faster-than-light engines to be invented to see this in action. People are scared of individual achievement right now. They find the collectivist lifestyle to be a soothing tonic, because it dulls down the sharpness of human victory. You didn’t build that. Nobody should be able to accomplish anything unless they’re in a group effort.

For the achievements we require tomorrow, we can always count on government. Government is like Starfleet: Safely anonymous. No one individual will get the credit.

5. Turnstyle (you can’t make a living until you punch our dance card)

For centuries, it has been a human ambition we don’t like to discuss, to become a turnstyle in the middle of the linear progress of others. This pathology doesn’t seek to diminish the success of others, or to obstruct it, quite so much as to tax it. And so we have college classes that purport to enhance the future earning capacity of the students that attend them, but don’t do anything to make it happen. We have commission after commission after commission, and board after board after board, awarding and revoking licenses and certificates. These pieces of paper are tickets, in the sense that if you do not have one, then you cannot “enter.” You cannot practice. Some of them are enforced by law, and you can be arrested or fined for doing X without having Y.

For no practical purpose, since the members of the board do not have the confidence of anybody. Oh, the board does, but the people on them who make the actual decisions, do not. For the most part, nobody involved even knows their names. But their decisions are supposed to be infinitely wise, and therefore, unquestioned.

It is true that a certification process can be used to elevate quality, enhance order and diminish chaos. That has the possibility of being the intent, and also the effect. It does not necessarily follow that these are the case. Certifications can be used by big companies to keep little (newer) companies out of the market. And they can be used against the big companies, too, by their governments.

Some people are motivated by this. Obviously, if that is the motivation, it isn’t too helpful to anybody else, so it’s fair to call it out when the possibility exists.

6. Repent for the End of the World is Nigh (partially redundant with #5)

Another sad thing about human faults and frailties that we’ve seen for centuries, is this curious thing: A lot of people look forward, with breathless anticipation, to the end of the world. I mean, the imminent end of the world. Months or weeks from now. Curiously, never “sometime today” or “this coming Thursday” or anything like that. There has to be at least enough time for a media sensation to slowly build so people can become famous. It’s been going on so long that it is impossible to declare some constant window of time, since the history of “here comes the end of the world” stretches backward deep into the middle ages, and further, to when information flowed much more slowly. But throughout all that, it’s a constant that people look forward to the last page of human history being turned in the great massive book, and that they should be among the ones around to see it.

And it seems once they get that far off the beaten path, most of them continue onward to include this other vital ingredient: “We” caused it. Yes, God’s pissed at something we did, or we’ve been hurting the environment…I remember when it was we were endangering the species and doing a lot of littering, and we wouldn’t have any water to drink. Nowadays, we’re spewing stuff into the atmosphere and making it hotter.

The fear that these people don’t want to face, is this: In this massive dusty diary of human existence, from its birth to its eventual demise, we are somewhere in the middle. That notion fills them a dread they cannot even fathom, can’t keep it in their heads for a microsecond. For that means, there is nothing exceptional about us, save for the good and bad things we do. We won’t be around to sing Amen. You and I won’t be around to see the back cover slammed shut. We’re just insects, living for a season, and if we want to be immortalized as special insects then we’d better get busy.

These people fancy themselves as being imbued with some special power to appreciate human mortality, thinking themselves keenly and uniquely aware while everyone else stumbles around in ignorance, with false delusions of immunity from eventual death. The truth is the exact opposite of this.

Your Brain on Virtue
This is your brain on virtue

7. Look at Me! I’m Doing Good!

Virtue junkies.

8. Look at Me! I’m Doing Good! And You’re Not! (#7 is an absolute, this is a relative)

Smug.

9. Look at Me! And Stop What You’re Doing! Right Now! Do What I Say! Or We’re All Screwed!

This is the central plank of modern liberalism itself. We saw it with ObamaCare and a whole bunch of other progressive ideas throughout the last hundred years. Here, I’ll describe it, and you should take note of how detailed I can get as I describe it — and yet, you cannot tell from my detailed description exactly which legislation I have in mind, or even if I have one in mind, since it applies to all of them.

There is a plan. The plan is going to involve some benefits, along with some obligations. Those who are to enjoy the new benefits are not necessarily to be the same as those who labor under the new obligations, but that’s just the way things are going to have to be. We are all to be put under the protection, and effect, of the plan. The plan is very important. A crisis awaits if we do not implement the plan. The plan will cost, but the cost of doing nothing will be considerably greater. We must “act,” as soon as possible, and this action has to involve invoking the plan, right now. There is to be no opt-out from the plan. It must affect everybody whether they want it to or not. The plan cannot be tested out in a sandbox. It has to affect everyone, on the production floor as it were…we’re pretty sure it’s going to do what it’s supposed to do, or in any case, you should not be allowed to suggest otherwise.

Even though the plan should be imposed on everyone, only a few people among us should have any say in figuring out further details of the plan. Some people will have to leave the room, because they lack the “qualifications” to suggest anything constructive. They lack understanding, and/or sanity, and/or good pure clean motives. They should leave so we can have our grown-up talk. Yes, the plan applies to the commoners, but only the elites can say what the plan is going to be. In fact, that is most of the plan; a lot of monologuing about who can’t shape the plan. We are not allowed to point this out in mixed company lest an argument ensue, but those who have the greatest faith in the plan, seem to believe most strongly in that aspect of it. Some loathed people among us should be stripped of any & all influence, particularly with the details of this plan that has not yet been fully formed.

But on their way out of the room, could they please leave their wallets and purses behind. We like their money. Just not them.

10. It Are Science. I Talks Science. It Makes Me Teh Smarts.

In the same way a guy with a little dick feels the need to drive a big, impressive-looking, cherry-red sports car…some people feel the need to discuss scientific findings in great detail, even as they demonstrate highly questionable understanding of what those findings really mean, or of the way science really works. One wonders why they feel the need to do this. It obviously has to do with defining their identities, just like the guy with the sports car. They’re compensating for something. I don’t know what, exactly. I imagine the answer to that would vary from case to case.

11. Creation vs. Destruction

It’s easy to define this problem; it’s done through the defining. If you like to go through the motions of building something big and grand and remarkable, but can’t define what exactly it is, then you’re probably afflicted with this personality disorder. If your enemies would be able to easily define what it is you seek to destroy, and you in large part would agree with them about this, then that pretty much settles things. You would then be a destructive agent masquerading as a creative force.

There’s a lot of this going around, in this day and age. I’m not sure why. Since I’m already in trouble for using one Star Trek metaphor, I’ll dig deeper by imaging it has something to do with what Spock said in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan: “As a matter of cosmic history, it has always been easier to destroy than to create.”

12. I Just Like Winning Arguments

Because it’s normal, natural human behavior to want to win, and not want to lose.

It’s not normal to make that a central, primary objective though. To lust so strongly after the “me smart, you dumb, me win, you lose” thing that you support the realignment of international balances of power, toward the benefit of complete strangers, just so you can win an argument. That’s as much a personality disorder as anything else. Well, just about anything else.

Cross-posted at Rotten Chestnuts and Right Wing News.

Rush Limbaugh’s Epiphany About Obama

Saturday, February 16th, 2013

Neo-Neocon discusses.

Has there ever before been a president who presents himself as a mediator and conciliator while simultaneously stirring up hatred and conflict? And been so successful at the deception? Has there ever before been a president who will not leave his fingerprints on anything? And gets away with it? Has there ever before been a president so inclined to blame his predecessors, and for so long, and with whom the American people has so cooperated with in that endeavor?

And I think Limbaugh is correct in saying that, although the sycophantic press is of course heavily, heavily involved, it is not the whole explanation or even close to it. The American people has lost the ability to see clearly and to demand performance from Obama. Obama is the first president to not be judged on his record.

From Rush’s rant:

Obama is constantly seen as in competition with what’s happening in Washington. It is though there are straw men. There are men behind curtains. There are invisible, evil people doing all this to the country. He’s trying to expose them and he’s working very hard. Romney is one of them. Bush was one of them. There are a bunch of other people, we don’t know who they are. But Obama is trying to find them. He’s trying to expose them and trying to fix all this. Obama is not seen as the guy behind the curtains pulling the levers. Obama is not seen as the guy who does not like the way the country was founded and is trying to take this country in a different direction. He’s not seen at all in the way he really is. It can’t all be because of the media.

I’m not quite seeing where the big epiphany is. Leftists posture themselves as the last, best, greatest hope the country has, to fix some problem they’ve been noticing — which they themselves caused. By way of exactly the same sort of policies they are proposing in the moment. On a Monday, the poor people just aren’t making it so we need to hike the minimum wage. By that Friday, there is inflation and higher unemployment, so we need to hike it again. Duh. Franklin D. Roosevelt governed this way. Ayn Rand wrote a big thick book about it. Example after example. Year N, we need price controls on energy, Year N+1 we have an energy crisis.

Yes, the “centrist” low-information voter is clueless about it. This, to me, is the origin of the whole problem: To say “Der, hey, whenever you do that stuff, the problem gets worse” is to be a right-wing conservative reactionary Republican who’s not in the “mainstream.” To point out the obvious makes you an extremist. Mainstream thinking has become nothing more than echoing leftist cant, getting emotionally caught up in the revolution-of-the-moment, biting your fingernails, hoping against hope that this latest scratch is going to cure the itch. All wrapped up in wondering about it, but without a doubt in the world. Showing your faith. Just like a good student at the pep rally, or a parishioner, or a sports fan.

Rush’s epiphany about Obama highlights the difference between liberals and conservatives. As we saw from the summer of 2008 dust-up between Obama and Hillary, Obama was chosen — either one of them would have been chosen — the same way all democrat contenders have been chosen for the last twenty years now: As the nation’s lefty champion at winning arguments, even while advancing a position that is clearly and obviously wrong. That is the job description. Because that is the message: “The time has come for sacrifice, and we all have to realize we can’t have everything we want, we need to put it aside for what’s truly important for the country. Which is that I get everything I want. Now sit down and shut your mouth.” If our friends, the libs, are good at nothing else, they’re certainly good at going through the motions of initiating a dialogue when they really just want a monologue.

And the American people right now are just eating it up. They have lost the ability, for the time being, to figure out what a candidate is all about when they make the decision to support, and align with, that candidate. Perhaps it is more accurate to say they can do this, but it’s more important to them to be aligned with the crowd that is aligned with that candidate. It really doesn’t matter which, though. What matters is that our whole system of a constitutional republic is based on this ability, and it’s taken a holiday. The constituency doesn’t want to buy what Obama is selling, but He’s just so gosh darn cute.

The Galileo Affair

Friday, February 15th, 2013

Don’t Want to Know About Guns

Friday, February 15th, 2013

Pajamas Media blog:

A short video from Minnesota (which has been pulled from YouTube since the writing of this article) spotlights shameful behavior by elected Democrats, supposedly interested in conducting a “national conversation on guns.”

At a meeting, two firearms experts came forward to speak, bringing with them two common Ruger 10/22 rifles that had been cleared by security. The purpose of their presentation was to explain how the gun-control laws currently being proposed would outlaw only a gun’s cosmetic features while not affecting the functionality of the firearms in any measurable way in terms of rate of fire and accuracy.

In the video, DFL legislators simply arise and exit without explanation. They avoid learning details from the presentation about the very firearms they seek to legislate out of existence.

The first step to knowing-what-you’re-talking-about…is…not to learn it in the first place. Anti-science. Information as a contaminant. These people, who may as well be from another planet, are obviously of the opinion that they’re in a much better position to make decisions if they make sure the relevant information never reaches them. Wisdom, in their solar system, has something to do with not knowing things.

So I guess I’m on to something. They envision this as a redaction process rather than as a cumulative process. This would be important, since these tend to be the people who say “who ya gonna believe, this guy over here who has published in peer-reviewed journals, or that guy over there who has not.” Well, gee. Add it up: Peer review seeks to elevate the quality of what’s published, mostly by way of a subtractive process rather than an additive one…it is, by nature, an obstruction. It opens the subject matter up to group discussion, it filters things out, it pushes the work through iterative loops of constructive suggestion. By doing those three things, it is supposed to improve on quality; but it is only through the last of those three that it gets this done. The other two, the group-discussion and the filtering, are merely means toward the end.

Obviously though, putting your hands to your ears and yelling “I can’t hear you la la la” does not do much to improve on quality. Is that part of the peer review process as well? Uh, if we’re not peers, we never get to know. Equally obvious: There are some people running around, having influence on things, who think that’s exactly how it should work. True wisdom is gained by removing knowledge and understanding.

Update: This video fits the description, at least as far as the information given — it’s the Minnesota house, Ruger 10/22, models compared, points made.

Not seeing anything about democrats walking out, although there are a lot of people walking around, enough that I’m wondering if the gentleman is getting distracted. Could this be another copy of the video that got pulled? If so, might there have been a mistake made about the intentions of all these people milling about…if not, then maybe this was the same lecture delivered multiple times that week, and they didn’t want to see it again? Or maybe this is the same lecture, there are democrats walking out, but we’re not seeing the correct angle.

So many questions. I’d like to know more. So I wouldn’t make a very good democrat…

Let’s Abolish This Dumb, Stupid State of the Union Tradition

Thursday, February 14th, 2013

Conventional wisdom says the pomp and ceremony have something to do with the duty of the President spec’d out in the United States Constitution. Specifically Article II, Section 3, which says

He shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient…

The circus clown show we see today, therefore, may trace its roots back to the founding. We make a mistake in assuming that this means it’s faithful to it. We should be reassessing this. To coin a phrase, we “need a national dialogue” on it. There’s been an awful lot of patchwork replacing the original quilt here.

The President does not tell Congress what to do, for starters. You can read “recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary” in a lot of different ways, but “recommend” is something you do when the other guy has the final say. Our current President doesn’t seem to understand this, although to be fair about it, the perversion started long before we ever heard about Him.

Also, to continue to be even more fair about it, the damage Obama is doing to the country typically results from an unhappy situation in which He really is the best president for our times. So our problems with Him, really have to do with the problems of our times. Implicit in His job as He understands it, and to be realistic about it His understanding is not a problem of misinterpretation by any means, is: Drag the country leftward, as far as possible and as fast as possible. Flank the enemy. Out-maneuver all who will oppose You, outnumber them, geld them, pressure them, bully them, dilute their influence.

This previous November, it was established that a slim majority of the country likes this. Or, a slim majority of those who bothered to show up to vote, anyway. That’s something. We still have a governmental system filled with checks-n-balances though, and those checks and balances are there for a reason. If President Obama wants to make Congress’ votes go a certain way, as opposed to simply supplying recommendations, He can always run for His old seat in the Senate.

But, of course, there are television cameras. When politicians appear in front of television cameras, they use the appearance to swing the public toward their point of view, to put the pressure on their opposition in the most contentious matters. That is what politicians are going to do. Every time. It’s just a fact of life.

And so it could very well be that if we could have a “do-over,” with the constitutional verbiage left the way it is and all politicians and cameramen and news producers acting on their incentives the way they do, but the history scrubbed clean, we’d end up precisely where we are now. And, a hundred times more, with a hundred more do-overs. That could very well be the case. But if it is, then it isn’t cause for celebration.

In our system of governance, the President is not a dictator. He is not even the star of the show. You do realize this, right? In our system, He is merely one of several players. The Constitution grants Him this monopoly in the discourse for a time, based on the premise that He is working in concert with the rest of the executives and legislators. It’s no different than the pilot of your aircraft, in fulfillment of a part of his duties as Captain, “monopolizing” the sound space for a minute or so while he addresses you over the P.A. system. If he has some kind of conflict with the co-pilot, or the stewardesses or whatever you call ‘em nowadays, or the deck crew or the luggage crew or the fuel crew, and uses this sound-space monopoly to settle that conflict in his favor, then obviously that would be an abuse of the system. I mean, I can imagine all sorts of scenarios for that, and some of them are quite entertaining. But it still is an abuse of the system. Improper utilization, for something other than its designated purpose.

Well, that’s exactly what we’re seeing happen here every year.

So why the applause?

“Anything It Pleases”

Wednesday, February 13th, 2013

We are fast approaching the stage of the ultimate inversion: the stage where the government is free to do anything it pleases, while the citizens may act only by permission; which is the stage of the darkest periods of human history, the stage of rule by brute force.

Ayn Rand. Prophetic, no?

She came up with something else, too. Atlas Shrugged, p. 507 in my edition:

“I have a question to ask about Point Seven,” said Kinnan. “It says that all wages, prices, salaries, dividends, profits and so forth will be frozen on the date of the directive. Taxes, too?”

“Oh no!” cried Mouch. “How can we tell what funds we’ll need in the future?” Kinnan seemed to be smiling. “Well?” snapped Mouch. “What about it?”

“Nothing,” said Kinnan. “I just asked.”

The Middle Class

Wednesday, February 13th, 2013

As you look over the State of the Union address, one weird thing keeps jumping out at you: “a rising, thriving middle class.” The democrats talk a lot about this, and they always have. Their comments seem to indicate that the middle class is something that has to be “grown,” and that this growing is essentially the same as the thriving. That would be at odds with my best guesses, since I’m initially inclined to think a “thriving middle class” would be one on which its members enjoy a higher standard of living, and a “growing middle class” would be one including more people.

This seems so important to the ideas they’re trying to offer. Why don’t they get more specific about what they mean?

Of course, I know what they mean. They mean dependency class. You’re “middle class” in the sense that you’re never going to have too much money, but you don’t have anything to worry about because democrat politicians are going to make all your problems go away at someone else’s expense. “Growing” would mean more people are in that class, thus beholden to democrats. That’s the goal.

“Thrive” seems, to me, to be a point-of-view thing. The politician wants the class to thrive, so that he can get votes. Quantity has a lot to do with that, of course, since it’s all about votes. But it also involves other things. To someone who’s actually part of the class, there’s a delivery to be made, in that the politician will make life extra-safe and fleece lots of money from rich people, to make these problems go away, so “thrive” there would have to do with the standard of living for those who are in this middle, dependency class, living at the expense of others. Taking it all into account, thriving would be something done by this implied contract: The middle class swells, and the people within it don’t want to leave the class or vote for any Republicans, because they’ve got it made. That would be the thriving.

But this isn’t what Americans talk about when they use the word “thrive.” Americans want to thrive by making and keeping money, period. The point to this would be to open up options, and achieve independence. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if our politicians used the word “independence” as often as they use the phrase “thriving middle class”? But if you make enough money that you can open up options and achieve independence, you’d no longer be middle class, certainly not part of the middle class they have in mind.

Here’s where the “not a dime’s worth of difference between the two parties” paradigm crashes. There is a real difference of opinion here, a partisan difference of opinion, about the classless society. People move among the classes, pretty much all the time. For those in the lower classes who become middle class, it often involves heartbreak because there are family ties that have to be severed, or at least constricted. Some children are raised to become whelps, dependent on society and maybe addicted to substances, and they have to say “No, I don’t want to live like this, give me a call mom after you’ve cleaned yourself up.” That takes balls. Other people live out their lives in the middle class, giving up their own hopes of ever rising above it, so they can save and send their kids to school, and maybe then the next generation can become upper class. That takes balls too. But real Americans do not dream of a life that depends on the largess of politicians, because politicians do not create wealth, they remove it from others and redistribute it. Americans are more honest than that, at least, real Americans are more honest than that.

It is truly bizarre that the President uses this phrase “thriving middle class” so prominently in His State of the Union speeches, and other speeches, and is never pressed to resolve the apparent contradiction, or even to offer a more precise description of what He means. I doubt that it would go over too well if He came out and said “…because heck, we all know none of you middle class people are never going to work your way out of it, and My friends and I don’t want you to.” Even as it is, this is not unifying talk, because to the half of America who did not vote for the President, it comes off as the sheerest sort of nonsense. “Thriving middle class.” If it thrives too much, then of course it’s not middle class anymore.

The State of the Union, 2013

Wednesday, February 13th, 2013

Our brave men and women are coming home. Because declaring victory over enemies is not something the country needs to be doing, that’s something the democrat party gets to do. See, you have to keep all this stuff straight.

Corporate profits have rocketed to all-time highs, and that’s a problem. Making money is not something American corporations need to be doing, that’s something only democrats should be able to do. Again, keep this straight.

The engine of America’s economic growth is a rising, thriving middle class. That’s the goal. You should rise and thrive, but only moderately.

It is our unfinished task to make sure that this government encourages free enterprise. And I’m here to make sure that task stays unfinished for a good, long time.

The American people don’t expect government to solve every problem. For they know that America moves forward only when we do so together. That’s right, no individual is to be given credit for specializing in anything, competently. Except for Me, of course, and My friends. We built that!

We are more than halfway towards the goal of $4 trillion in deficit reduction that economists say we need to stabilize our finances. Now we need to finish the job. And the question is, how? Dunno. You guys mull that one over while I come up with some new ideas on how to spend money.

The “sequester” is a really, really bad idea. But let’s not take a clue from that, question how we managed to get here, let’s just exercise consistent behavior with the expectation of inconsistent results.

Most Americans – Democrats, Republicans, and Independents – understand that we can’t just cut our way to prosperity. Because spending money is fun! And taking it away from the people who made it, is even more fun!

Our first priority is making America a magnet for new jobs and manufacturing. Because America can’t be a brain trust anymore, that ship has sailed. We’re just sort of winging it now, so America needs to start building furniture and machinery, and compete with countries that build those same things, countries where the cost of living is much lower because they don’t have any liberals. Yup, that should work.

Caterpillar is bringing jobs back from Japan. Ford is bringing jobs back from Mexico. Intel is building a plant right here at home. There are things we can do, right now, to accelerate this trend. Like, keep spending money, tax the snot out of the companies that manage to make a profit, and hope they don’t leave again. I hear that works great in California.

For the sake of our children and our future, we must do more to combat climate change. Yes, it’s true that no single event makes a trend. But we’re going to act like that is exactly the case, and call it “science.” But if Congress won’t act soon to protect future generations, I will, because human activity is heating the planet. Government spending isn’t doing that, though, because that isn’t human activity.

Too many families with solid credit who want to buy a home are being rejected. Too many families who have never missed a payment and want to refinance are being told no. That’s holding our entire economy back, and we need to fix it. Four years without a budget is not holding our economy back, and bizarre new health care regulations aren’t holding our economy back, and the constant threat of ever-increasing taxes on “millionaires and billionaires” is not holding our economy back. It’s those darn banks telling people no.

Leaders from the business, labor, law enforcement, and faith communities all agree that the time has come to pass comprehensive immigration reform. Of course they don’t agree on what that reform is supposed to be all about, but they’re all in favor of that word, which is why we politicians like it so much. Send me a comprehensive immigration reform bill in the next few months, and I will sign it right away.

Tonight, let’s declare that in the wealthiest nation on Earth, no one who works full-time should have to live in poverty, and raise the federal minimum wage to $9.00 an hour. Heck, let’s make it ninety, why not. Let’s offer incentives to companies that hire Americans who’ve got what it takes to fill that job opening, but have been out of work so long that no one will give them a chance. By forcing them to pay a higher minimum wage if they do hire them, and then taxing the bejeezus out of them so we politicians can spend more money. It is this kind of prosperity – broad, shared, and built on a thriving middle class – that has always been the source of our progress at home. Just don’t think about doing so well that you might actually leave that middle class because, know your place. Stay in that middle class and do middle-class thriving.

When any Americans – no matter where they live or what their party – are denied the right to vote simply because they can’t wait for five, six, seven hours just to cast their ballot, we are betraying our ideals. That’s why, tonight, I’m announcing a commission to start messing with the voting experience in America. Because that’s one thing we certainly need, politicians to get more involved in counting the votes.

Thank you, God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.

Mother of Flags

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

Well, that’s a bit silly…but it is kinda cool.

From here.

Largest Prime Number Yet

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

Found out about it from the Mensa newsletter this morning, it’s here.

From this

The lucky number-hunter who came upon it is Curtis Cooper of the Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search (GIMPS), a collaborative project involving thousands of volunteers who sift through numbers in search of primes.

Cooper, a professor at the University of Central Missouri, used his computer to identify the number through software developed by George Woltman, in Orlando, Florida, and the PrimeNet system written by Scott Kurowski, in San Diego, California.

The achievement was no easy task: According to GIMPS, it took 39 days of nonstop computing to prove the prime number is indeed prime.

I remember back when I was in school, I think it was seventh grade. Or was it the tenth. The largest prime number known, back in those days, didn’t take seventeen megabytes to express. It was on a large page, ledger-size computer paper or something, which the teacher then passed around. I did something to smart-mouth off by saying something like “Hey, this ends with a 4″ or some such. Teacher looks up, visibly shaken, “Uh, what??”

A Wish…

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

From the brother-in-law…

I met a fairy who said she would grant me one wish.

Immediately I said, “I want to live forever.”

“Sorry,” said the fairy, “I’m not allowed to grant eternal life.”

“OK,” I said, “Then, I want to die after Congress gets its head out of its ass!”

“You crafty bastard,” said the fairy.

Full Face Tattoo

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

*sigh*

I just have no words for this. And it’s less than twenty-four hours after she met her dream dude, Ruslan.

Hope it all works out…

Hat tip to Boortz.

I Made a New Word LXII

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

Not too pleased with the idea of creating potentially a third thread-that-won’t-die, when I already have two. But this thing needs naming, and it needs naming rather badly:

Anti-Science (n.)

Whereas real science is a disciplined accumulation of knowledge, toward a more useful and complete understanding of the world around us, this is the exact opposite. It starts at the opposite end and runs perfectly backwards. The conclusion comes first, and then as evidence arrives it is compared to this conclusion. If the evidence doesn’t support the desired conclusion, an elaborate anti-treatise will be prepared giving reasons why the evidence has to be discarded. There is an extremely low bar of adequacy for this anti-treatise. It can be entirely an appeal to emotion, or an appeal to authority, a bunch of ad hom attacks, or it can be a complaint that some paper making entirely legitimate points was not properly “vetted” or peer-reviewed, or that its author is “on the take” from the oil companies. Or, has never written up an article that has been published in a peer-reviewed journal. But the common and indispensable element to the anti-treatise is that the problematic information has to be discarded. It is like a lawyer arguing that evidence has been contaminated and is not to be allowed in court.

By way of these anti-treatises that remove information while pretending to add it, anti-science anti-learns about nature and the world around us, by pretending to learn it. It functions exactly the same way as a sculptor creating an image of a horse by starting with a block and removing everything that doesn’t look like a horse.

The “color wheel” is never too far from my mind when I get in these arguments with liberals. When you create colors by way of pigment, you subtract some colors from solid white, to leave a residual which is the antithesis of what you’ve removed. Do it some more, and you leave a smaller residual. When you create colors by way of light, you add some colors to form others. Pigment subtracts, color adds. This turns everything around: You overlay a blue film over a yellow film you get green, so green seems to be a composite color. What a simple experiment, and what a certain result you have. It’s right in front of you, how can you deny it? But in reality it’s the yellow that is a product of the green and the red. Green is not a product, it is a primary color. Things look entirely upside-down when you take things away, as opposed to putting them together.

Now it is certainly true that in real science, certain disciplines have to be followed. That’s where a lot of the effort goes. Entire experiments have to be started over again, with their data sets thrown out, after it’s discovered something wasn’t done quite right. Anyone who’s ever conducted a phone survey, is going to understand this. It can be truly exasperating. But only in anti-science is there this obligation to pretend something never happened, when it did, and even though there is arguably some kind of tainting that happened it still means something. Only in anti-science do things start to resemble a courtroom, in which the judge sternly lectures the jury to disregard the testimony.

The Zachriel objected to my noticing that science was being hijacked, and we had this exchange:

mkfreeberg: But when the theory says something, and practical experience says the opposite, and the science starts to “preach” much like a religious order would preach, that this observed practical experience should be invalidated, discarded, discredited, nudged aside, whatever is necessary to make the dogma come out right…that is an event that has the virtue of being testable.

Zachriel: …modern climate science does not meet your definition of “faux-science”. As we said, climate scientists collect observational evidence, often under difficult conditions, work across multiple disciplines, providing important cross-checks, subject their hypotheses to rigorous empirical testing, publish for their peers, and change their positions as new data becomes available. That’s contrary to your definition.

Line by line, I demonstrated the obvious: Not a single one of these glittering-generality statements about the noble work of the climate scientists, is mutually exclusive in any way from my testable complaint about this chisel-from-the-block-of-marble anti-science, that I called “faux science.” I’m sure counterfeiters do hard work across multiple disciplines in difficult conditions, too. And yet The Zachriel came back with a mixture of squid ink and “not sure what you mean by.”

Observation to be made here — and it is meaningful, for The Zachriel are not alone in doing this, by any means — in the course of denying there is any such thing as this counterfeit science, which “proves” things by taking knowledge away instead of by gathering it…they use this process to make their point. I point out the obvious and they come up with some kind of anti-treatise to “block” the information. Starting with the block, chiseling down to the horse. In exactly the same moment, in the same sentence, as insisting that is not what the climate scientists do.

It’s like yelling into a microphone to deny the existence of microphones.

What we’re seeing practiced with anti-science is not science at all, but modern liberalism. Information is treated as a contaminant, with the weird understanding in place that true wisdom is a vestigial remnant to be left standing, like the horse, after all the undesirable knowledge has been stripped away. Yes, our friends the liberals seem to think you are wiser when you know less. And learning, therefore, is a disciplined process of forgetting. Once one achieves wisdom in this way, by forgetting enough stuff, one is supposed to see the light and spread the knowledge around, by dissuading others from ever learning in the first place, what the original “learner” spent all that effort to forget. I know. Quite bizarre. But it explains quite a few of the things they do.

Cross-posted at Rotten Chestnuts.

It’s Raining Spiders

Monday, February 11th, 2013

From Gawker.

Best Sentence CXXXI

Monday, February 11th, 2013

Dyspepsia Generation takes the 131st award for BSIHORL (Best Sentence I’ve Heard Or Read Lately).

The reason why ‘progressives’ (statists, really) love trains and hate cars is that cars go from where you are to where you want to go, whereas trains go from where the statists think you ought to be to where they think you ought to want to go.

He links to a Slate article with a map on it, which is a bit scary if you live anywhere on the Pacific Coast North of the the Siskiyou pass and want to get anywhere.

I’m recalling the write-up I did last week on this ambition toward dependence…not independence, but dependence. Some among us, particularly those who put an almost religious enthusiasm into their belief in evolution, seem to harbor a dream of evolving from being a whole working thing, to being part of a working thing. I’m very slow figuring this out, even though it surrounds me apparently, because I just don’t relate to it and I can’t understand it.

StatismI linked, there, to the George F. Will article about trains which says essentially the same thing that Dyspepsia is saying. So, I’m ready to buy off on this: Liberals don’t give a crap about people getting anywhere any quicker, or the high-speed rail systems becoming viable. They want the individuals to be at the mercy of the centrally managed system, with all its flaws and foibles. That’s the point. Question is, why. Do they want to create more aggravation? That seems improbable.

It isn’t a lust for power, as I understand lusts for power. Most of the high speed rail advocates harbor no ambition at all, to actually run the system. Nor do they seem to envision themselves as stepping in to any kind of role where they could trade favors for other favors, as an extension of the power that comes from the many being impacted directly by the decisions of the few. But, issue by issue, they seem awfully fond of this many-impacted-by-few configuration. They never really get away from it. Ever. The wheel-of-people, with a tiny hub and a massive bunch of things around the rim. It is central to everything they do, or propose to do, every idea they have.

People should become capillaries. Mere nodules of things danging at the ends of vessels delivering vital-whatever…barely significant, completely connected to the host system, but not terribly consequential to its continuing existence, while the host is all-important to the capillary. A relationship somewhere between symbiosis and parasitism, such that the host must be concerned about the totality of the capillaries, but not rely on any one of them.

But there is a hierarchy to this: If anything happens to Obama, the country is certainly screwed. But if a fate befalls a bunch of other Americans, then What Difference Does It Make.

I’ve noticed before, in quite a few places, that ants and bees work this way. There is a queen, which becomes almost a living part of the nest itself, and for the rest of the bees or ants becomes functionally one and the same with the nest. And then they toil. And they are absolutely expendable. Whereas the queen does not, and is not. Liberals want us to live like insects.

Current operating theory: They are not trying to put us in this configuration in order to accomplish anything else, specifically. They are simply motivated to live this way. It is their comfort zone. Bzzz, bzzz, bzzz…

Red Hot Nickel Ball on Block of Ice

Monday, February 11th, 2013

From Gerard, who says “because we can, okay?”

I can just hear my Mother saying, “So now you know, and you’ve made a mess. Clean it up!”

Wonder what would happen if the ice block didn’t have that crack in it. I see that’s how all the water managed to find its way out. They should try that again with a bigger block.

The Picture Becomes Clearer

Saturday, February 9th, 2013

Recalling, once again, the two most important and elusive items from my list of twenty things that are absolutely non-partisan or damn well ought to be:

8. [blank] and [blank] are meaningfully different; what works for one does not necessarily work for the other.
9. [blank] and [blank] are functionally equivalent; they are not different in any meaningful way.

Former Vice President, and losing presidential candidate, Al Gore says Hurricane Sandy was caused by avoidable — and predictable — damage to the environment, by humans.

Current President Barack Obama says this is not the case. Those two positions are meaningfully different; they are not the same. They are mutually exclusive from each other.

Anthony Watts has picked up on this. Actually, that isn’t quite right. The Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow, or CFACT, picked up on it and put up a billboard about the clear contradiction, and Watts accentuated the problem by conducting an online poll.

This has liberal blogger Ed Darrell in an absolute tizzy. In a move that would do Hillary Clinton proud, he’s lunged for the “taken out of context” excuse. Oh, and he’s provided the context. And I got a mention, too! Only by Christian name though, no link. But that’s okay. It’s nice to have a purpose.

Here’s the observation I’d like to make: It is true that, when you see these quotes given the way CFACT has put them on the billboard, they contradict each other; and, when you see them in “full context” the way Ed has offered them, you might say they no longer contradict each other, they reconcile with one another the way he says. You might say that. You might feel that way. That’s the key.

Go read President Obama’s statement — but — top to bottom. Go on. I’ll wait.

Back yet? See, this is typical of the way Obama gives His speeches. “Wet…BUT…dry.” An unworkable contradiction, and yet He makes it work. But how does He do that? The answer lies in the audience selection of His speeches. If you do your thinking like a grown-up, putting your feelings on the back burner and envisioning the problem as one involving hard thinking skills and STEM curricula, you’re left wondering, WTF? You know why that is? Because you’re not the kind of person He is addressing; He’s talking to the immature types, who feel their way around life’s problems rather than thinking their way through them. So when He’s done speaking, it feels like it all works out…even thought it doesn’t. President Obama just took fact, reason and logic, and flipped ‘em topside, like a pancake. “We can’t attribute any particular weather event to climate change…I am a firm believer that climate change is real, that it is impacted by human behavior and carbon emissions…in my first term, we doubled fuel efficiency standards on cars and trucks. That will have an impact.”

So let’s bottom-line it. Ed managed to make the unworkable contradiction go away, by quoting some more from President Obama, because President Obama habitually talks in circles. Keep on quoting until you come to the next elegant hairpin turn, and the contradiction is all worked out. Who cares about what those annoying mature-adult-thinkers noticed: Al Gore says human activity caused Hurricane Sandy, Barack Obama says that isn’t what happened. Thing That Should Be Non-Partisan #8: Different things are different, they are not the same. What works for one does not work for the other.

Steven Goddard notices something else about liberal logic. His example is the LAPD nutcase who’s out assassinating his former fellows, and he summarizes the health, or lack thereof, in liberal thinking:

• Police are evil, abusive, hateful, violent, racists who can’t be trusted. Therefore they are the only ones who should be allowed to have guns. Citizens should not be allowed to own guns, because the police will take care of them.
• Dorner believes that the only way he can clear his name is by shooting people with his gun, but citizens should not be allowed to own guns to defend themselves from psychos like him.

I have previously noticed — on this subject, I have neither the time nor the inclination to go chasing after my previous links, of which I’m sure there are many — that liberals are engaged in a curious sort of a dance. They feel like they are in the process of building something, and what they’re building is very grand and big. But their specific efforts are destructive. They cannot define what it is they are building, exactly, although they can certainly define what it is they are trying to destroy. And their opponents would not be able to define what it is the liberals are trying to build. But their opponents can certainly, just as easily, define what it is that the liberals are destroying. So it’s more-or-less settled, even though few will state it outright outside of the nutcase crazy right-wing-blogs, that liberals are primarily destructive. They aren’t creating anything, they’re destroying things. We all know it, we just aren’t allowed to mention it in mixed company.

And nobody labors under a heavier burden of this obligatory cognitive dissonance, than our friends, the liberals. They have to act like they’re creating something. While they work hard to destroy things.

I think this warps their brains. To disregard non-partisan-thing-number-eight with regard to creative-versus-destructive efforts, is to entirely rupture it. I think, from that point forward, the “thinker” has stripped himself of this vital ability to tell things apart from other different, in fact oppositional, things. From that point forward, wet is dry, up is down, North is South. Ed Darrell just proved it. Keep President Obama talking until He comes up across the next hairpin turn, and the contradiction is all worked out.

Did human activity cause Hurricane Sandy? Al Gore says yes. President Obama says no…and yes. So there’s no contradiction here, move along. Just a bit more of this useless rhetoric, this disorienting mumbling, and everything is made right. Things are the opposite of whatever they are…because we say so. And look how sophisticated we look when we give our speeches!

You can’t build anything real, that actually works, thinking this way. But you can certainly grab hold of a lot of power. And, you can destroy things. Destroying things takes a lot less intellectual discipline than building things.

The Twenty-First Problem

Saturday, February 9th, 2013

Hawkins has an article out this morning that is pure gold

20 Reasons America Is Becoming An Increasingly Nonfunctional Society

1) …children born out-of-wedlock…
2) [widespread]…dependence on the government…
3) Our legal system encourages frivolous lawsuits…
4) Leeching off more productive people has become much more acceptable…
5) The mainstream media has become so partisan for the Democratic Party that it’s not significantly different from a state-run media…
6) Americans have lost confidence in our institutions
7) …Americans have become more alien to each other and share less and less cultural experiences…
8) Our [celebrity culture is] almost universally hostile to conservatism, Christianity, and traditional American values.
9) We have stopped breaking up monopolies in this country…
10) …Christianity in this country is slowly retreating from Biblical principles, the Public Square, and American life in general.

I do a lot of outlining, probably more outlining than actual writing, and I’d be proud to have done a job like this. Every item on the list fulfills a definable and distinct purpose, and not suffering too much from any functional overlap with other items.

However, it is missing something, probably because the focus is grounded in our government, the law, the economy and our spiritual culture. As I was reading through it I had this sensation of an itch not quite being scratched, as beneath a cast when the metal coat hanger won’t quite reach. Some of what he has included in his list, I think, could be thought of as mere effects, manifestations of a common cause that didn’t quite make the cut.

It’s got to do with the left side of the brain, where we do our logical pondering. Without bothering to wordsmith it at all, I’d state it like this: We’re doing our thinking like idiots. Okay let us wordsmith it a little tiny bit: We’re doing our thinking like large children. If it is possible to think through something in a “rowdy” way, unorganized and undisciplined, then on a nation-wide playing/thinking field, that is how we are doing it. We put chaos in our thinking, when the thinking more properly relies on order.

I mean both kinds of thinking. Pillar I to Pillar II, the opinions inferred from the facts; and, Pillar II to Pillar III, the things-to-do to be produced from the opinions. The individuals do it at the individual level, with some doing a good job of it and some doing a lousy job. The society overall can do some of this thinking. And it’s doing a piss-poor job.

Victor Davis Hanson has an article out this week too. It is the missing piece of the puzzle, and it fits flush on all sides. Further wordsmithing of what is written immediately above, however badly needed it might be, becomes redundant. Let’s go on to the next weekend chore, Hawkins & Hanson have got this thing wrapped up.

The New Age of Falsity

We live in an age of falsity, in which words have lost their meanings and concepts are reinvented as the situation demands. The United States is in a jobless recovery — even if that phrase largely disappeared from the American lexicon about 2004. Good news somehow must follow from a rising unemployment rate, which itself underrepresents the actual percentage of Americans long out of work.

At the same time, we are supposed to be relieved that we are in a contracting expansion, where fewer goods and services are proof of a resilient economy. In our debt-ridden revival, borrowing $1 trillion each year is evidence that we don’t have a spending problem.
:
At key points, whole controversies vanish without a trace…
:
We can scarcely remember now that the country tore itself apart over the waterboarding of three confessed terrorists, as it snoozes through its government blowing apart 2,500 suspected terrorists…
:
An ambassador and three other Americans were murdered, ostensibly because of an anti-Muslim video whose producer still languishes in jail in California. The party line was that Libyan demonstrators, irate over that Internet production and out for a walk one evening, brought along their GPS-guided mortars and machine guns to spice up a demonstration at our consulate. Things can always get out of hand, when a right-wing chauvinist makes a hurtful video.

In this age of fakery, what is legitimate dissent? Is it Hillary Clinton attacking an administration in 2003 (“I’m sick and tired of people who say that if you debate and disagree with this administration, somehow you’re not patriotic…We have the right to debate and disagree with any administration”) or Hillary Clinton nine years later, as an administration insider, turning on her interrogators in an effort to deflect inquiry (e.g., “Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided they’d go kill some Americans? What difference, at this point, does it make?”)?
:
Suddenly our troubles are blamed on those now known as the 1 percent, who make more than the new moral cutoff line of $250,000 per year. These public enemies are fat cats and they use corporate jets. Worse, they don’t build their own businesses, and they profit when it is no longer time to. They make money way beyond the point where they should have stopped, they don’t spread their wealth, and they don’t pay their fair share. Sometimes we would almost imagine that they worked for Citigroup, vacationed at Martha’s Vineyard, or used insiders to cash in on cattle speculations. Millionaires are rightly grouped with billionaires, who have 1,000 times the money, but they are not the same as thousandaires, who have one-1,000th the money.
:
There are apparently two sorts of wealthy people: those on the left who reluctantly make big money and seek hyper-profits and tax avoidance as means to a noble social end, and those on the right who eagerly seek needless profits and tax reduction to enrich themselves and not society.
:
“Impartial moderators” in the media used to go through the motions of declaring that their intertwined Washington marriages or their prior partisan employment did not affect their objectivity; now they don’t even make the effort. If in 2008 Gwen Ifill had a hagiography coming out about candidate Barack Obama, as she was pegged to moderate the vice-presidential debate, by 2012 Candy Crowley had no inhibitions about fact-checking Mitt Romney — and only Mitt Romney — in the middle of his answers, even though her interruption and editorializing were less factually accurate than the statements by the object of her scrutiny. Again, there are no rules per se; the question is who has good intentions and who is without them. The facts follow accordingly.

The finish is strong. He’s been spiraling around the 21st thing, at at the end he nails it and busts it wide open:

Why do now live in an age of so many meaningless things?

Our elites in academia and the media have some culpability. Thirty years of nihilist postmodern relativism — no absolute truth, just constructs based on race, class, and gender privilege — have finally filtered down to the popular culture. An obsession with celebrity also has meant that we increasingly worship the antics of the wealthy and famous and decreasingly worry what they had to do to obtain or maintain both.

In the new progressive age, the exalted ends of equality sometimes require that the means of achieving a place on the public stage should remained largely unexamined. If there is no consistency, no transparency, no absolute standard, then it is because the task of fairness is hard and occasionally requires extraordinary sacrifices for the greater good. And to the degree that someone is deemed cool, then cool trumps most everything else: Google executives don’t outsource. Rappers are not misogynists. Green apostles don’t have conflicts of interest. And men in camouflage with assault weapons don’t just kill less than 1 percent of those Americans lost each year to gun violence, but account for all sorts of vastly more evil things that we cannot even begin to describe.

Not to toot my own horn, but the “diseased thinking leads to diseased morality” aspect of it is something I called, awhile back. And, it should be pointed out, Isaiah beat me to the punch by an even more impressive stretch. I suppose it doesn’t really matter who said it first, or who said it better, it’s a point that deserves more attention in any case. And it’s rather sad that the years keep on ticking by, while the problem only gets worse.

“If You Don’t Accept Excuses…People Stop Giving Them and They Look for Solutions”

Friday, February 8th, 2013

That quote’s from about eight minutes in.

Hat tip to the Weasel Zippers, who’d like to know if “any of it sunk in.” They might be talking about that character off on the left side there, smirking, grimacing and occasionally squirming.

“So God Made a Liberal”

Friday, February 8th, 2013

Hat tip to Barracuda Brigade.

“Ban This! Ban That! Ban This and That!”

Friday, February 8th, 2013

Preach it, Stossel.

Teams buy high-tech equipment to get better results. Doctors prescribe all sorts of special medications if an athlete is injured. Competitors try dubious vitamins and “natural” food supplements.

But they better not use steroids.

The public supports this ban, but they rarely think it through. Why are steroids bad but eye surgery OK? (Tiger Woods did that to improve his vision.) Athletes will constantly try new ways to maximize their strength and endurance. Why is government even involved?

And I’m loving this rant against lotteries:

Running lotteries is one of the more horrible things our governments do. The poor buy the most tickets, and states offer them terrible odds. The government entered the lottery business promising to end the “criminal numbers racket.” Now states do what the “criminals” did but offer much worse odds. Adding insult to their scam, politicians also spend our tax money promoting lotteries with disgusting commercials that trash hard work, implying that happiness comes from hedonism.

I’ve heard so many variations of that Ben Franklin quote about purchasing temporary safety at the expense of essential liberty, since Congress first began discussing the PATRIOT Act.

It’s sad that, at the end of that decade-long stretch, I’m seeing so many of my fellow citizens in a high dudgeon about new laws, looking for things to ban. They don’t even seem to want to acknowledge any kind of a trade-off.

Dependence

Friday, February 8th, 2013

Spent yesterday bike riding around the Cupertino / Mountainview / Menlo Park area. I was thoroughly beaten down and exhausted by the end of it, by which time I’d been at it for over twelve hours including the long drive. This distresses me greatly, because my bike computer showed just over forty miles and my daily record is twice that. The most likely conclusion to be reached is it’s seasonal out-of-shape-ness, which isn’t so bad. Next most likely conclusion is that I’m getting older…which is dreadful, of course, because that means it’s the Grim Reaper getting ready. Maybe not breathing down my neck, but getting closer. I’m sure as I get out more, my endurance envelope will be pushed, like it is every year, and by Labor Day I’ll be up to my old records, maybe breaking some of them.

Common sense says, though, that it isn’t all of one of these things and none of the other — it’s a combination. Winter blahs, and age. There is also the fatigue that was going on when the bike was stationary, strapped to my trunk. I-880 turning into a parking lot. Zero miles an hour. Take it from me, the legs may not be pumping and the butt may not be taking a pounding from your seat, and perhaps your bod isn’t working its way through the fluids…but it still wears on you. It wears on you quite a bit.

The real story here is the vivid cultural contrast that came to my attention once I was pedaling around looking at the locals in action. People-contrasts fascinate me. I’m not sure why. Like Uncle Wally used to say, “Morgan, the world is divided into two kinds of people; the kind that go around dividing everyone into two kinds of people, and everyone else.” Let me explain the contrast I saw. I get upset with myself when I pull out the smart phone to make sure the road leads to where I think it will lead, and then find out yes, there was no need to question it in the first place. That really bugs me. It isn’t just because the GPS app runs down the battery quicker than anything else, which it does. For the next mile or two, all I can think about is: Before I had a GPS app, I wouldn’t have needed to do that. What about people who still don’t have smart phones? Are they better with their directional senses than I am? Wouldn’t they have to be, later if not sooner?

Maybe I should go explore some vast, new, uncharted territory and leave the goddamn thing at home?

There’s a word for this:

at·ro·phy
:
degeneration, decline, or decrease, as from disuse: He argued that there was a progressive atrophy of freedom and independence of thought.

This is in a stark contrast to what I saw all around me. Not only systems everywhere you looked, with the growing personal reliance on them, but an eagerness to embrace that individual-to-system relationship and the growing dependence that goes with it.

This is not a new idea, or realization. Two years ago, George F. Will wrote about “why liberals love trains“:

So why is America’s “win the future” administration so fixated on railroads, a technology that was the future two centuries ago? Because progressivism’s aim is the modification of (other people’s) behavior.

Forever seeking Archimedean levers for prying the world in directions they prefer, progressives say they embrace high-speed rail for many reasons…The length of the list of reasons, and the flimsiness of each, points to this conclusion: the real reason for progressives’ passion for trains is their goal of diminishing Americans’ individualism in order to make them more amenable to collectivism.

To progressives, the best thing about railroads is that people riding them are not in automobiles…The automobile encourages people in delusions of adequacy, which make them resistant to government by experts who know what choices people should make.

So yesterday’s epiphany didn’t have to do with progressive/collectivist masters cudgeling the human-cattle onto the cattle cars to be managed and moved around. It was more about the human-cattle’s tolerance of the situation. The eagerness to accept it, in fact. And not to avoid paying for their own birth control, or any other burden, but rather — if I’m understanding this desire correctly — because it is seen as the next stage of human evolution.

Some people think this is really cool. Sometimes right before they make dreadful movies that disappoint everybody:

Early in The Phantom Menace, Obi-Wan tells Boss Nass, “You and the Naboo form a symbiont circle. What happens to one of you will affect the other. You must understand this.” This line perhaps best encapsulates the entire arch of The Phantom Menace (TPM), if not the whole Star Wars (SW) saga. Symbiotic relationships, which Qui-Gon Jinn defines for his young ward Anakin Skywalker as “life forms living together for ultimate advantage,” are an underlying theme of the movie. The interconnectedness of all things is perhaps the definitive idea behind the Force, that mystical energy field which binds the galaxy together.

Last place I worked, made a point of mounting hand sanitizer dispensers on the walls of the corridor, so that people could take a squirt on a whim. It was supposed to be about preventing the spread of germs, and thus, sickness. I’ve always had trouble accepting that. You can pick up a bottle for yourself, for under a buck. Keep it in your purse if you’re a chick, or in your desk drawer if you’re a dude. Problem solved. Why does there have to be yet another system, forming yet another symbiotic relationship with the humans benefiting from it and subject to it? You could make the argument that with preventing the spread of germs, the whole thing is about prevention and practice, and with the dispensers mounted on the wall people are more likely to use them. This makes sense. I think there’s some of that going on. But I also think, the system/individual symbiotic relationship is the point. Some people have to have it. They lust after it. They crave it.

No wait. You “lust after” and “crave” a romp in the sack, or maybe, the next potato chip in the can. This goes deeper even than that. It is a whole different way of looking at the universe and all the living things in it. It is a whole different way of living life, and thinking about it. It is a different way of envisioning our goals, throughout that life. A different vision for our ultimate objectives. You see, the whole thing is not just about progressives flipping their Archimedean levers. To many among us, an opportunity arises for yet another system forming yet another symbiotic relationship with its individual participants, and the reflex arises: Get it done! It is, to coin another Star Wars reference, our dessssssssstiny.

Isn’t that what all the arguing is really all about? Isn’t that what ObamaCare is all about? Isn’t that what “Don’t need a gun, call nine one one” is all about?

Those “others”…the people across the “net” from me, who are not in the one-of-two-groups that claims me as a member…the ones who would roll their eyes and shake their heads unbelievingly at my idea of trekking out into a new frontier with the GPS device left at home with a “Why in the world would you do that?”…would reply that, once the symbiotic relationship is there, it just makes sense to acknowledge it and be aware of it. This, too, just makes good sense, and I have to agree with it. But I’m not writing of the desire to be aware of it. I’m writing about the desire to form it where it does not yet exist.

I see it as a flaw of thinking, similar to the flaw of thinking in the cargo cults. Picture a caveman living the better part of a million years ago. If he wants honey, he rips open a beehive and just lets them sting him. We are not like that, of course; we buy our honey in the store, and we have toasters for the bread on which we will be putting the honey. And GPS devices. Also, the experience of being stung by every bee in the hive, could easily kill any one of us. We’ve evolved, gained some technology, and allowed some abilities to atrophy. We are “better” — but — the caveman could do some things we cannot do. Just as, back in the day I might have found my way through the woods without a GPS device, and today, I’m not quite as internally capable. I have more stuff. But I am less capable.

Therefore, the thing to try to do — in my world — is to come through the experience with both things: The internal abilities and the cool tools. Both objectives can be serviced, but not at the same time, so this requires tacking back and forth. Isn’t this why people go camping? Some of them? But everybody does not look at these things the same way that I do. They’d say, of the caveman…yes, but we have the honey, and the toaster, and the GPS, we are better people. And the conversation goes circular: Yeah, but the caveman could rip open the nest and just let the bees sting him. Yeah, but we can do more things, we’re better. But he was stronger. Yeah, but we’re better. But he was stronger. But we’re better.

There are people running around out there, who seem to think this is the point of evolution: To build systems, with which we will form these symbiotic relationships, and allow our natural skills to atrophy. They work very hard at it and they pack a whole lot of influence. You see it in the little things. You see it on the bike trails, the way the bike trails are built, the amenities they have to offer. Like, for example, doggy poop baggy dispensers. For me, this inspires the same question as the hand sanitizer dispensers. Why does everything have to be in a dispenser? Why not pack what you need?

So I’m left with two concerns here. One, that the other side is winning. I suppose that’s distressing to everybody, just as it’s distressing to realize we’re mortal and getting older and losing our natural abilities as we get ready to take the dirt nap. In the same way we’re naturally wired to be revolted by death’s embrace, even knowing it’s inevitable, we’re naturally wired to hate to see the other side win…and, look around, everywhere you turn there’s some dispenser. Everything is becoming kiosk’d, or dispensed, or dispensed from a kiosk. The other thing that concerns me is, on this collectivist/kiosk other side of the fence, I’m seeing wrinkles in the logic that simply aren’t going to be ironed out. They are unworkable contradictions. The kiosk-people believe, we are in a process of continual, linear evolution, which makes us more sophisticated, and better, and more capable with every generation. But it is an important and inseparable part of this evolutionary process to become unable to do things for ourselves that, previously, could be done. I’m sure they’d reply that the human capability is not in a state of recession, it is actually in a state of ascension, but the reliance on a common system is being incorporated into it. Strength is not being diminished or nullified, it is simply being relocated outside of the individual. Where it belongs! Or something. Again, there is some good sense in what they say. They have a point, but there is some nonsense in the mix, because the point relies on the notion that self-sufficiency is an irrelevancy, in fact, may be a hindrance.

The trouble with that is that self-sufficiency has a lot to do with this increasing sophistication, this improved state of personal knowledge that they seek. The two cannot be separated the way they seem to think they can. If I do get lost in the woods, I’ll know more about those woods after I’ve managed to find my way without a GPS, than if I’ve managed to do it with one. The knuckle-dragging caveman who doesn’t have a toaster, in addition to being much tougher, knows more about bees than most of us do. You may say we are becoming stronger by externalizing our strength; but it is silly to say we are becoming more knowledgeable and sophisticated, by outsourcing our understanding and knowledge. And they’d never say that. But that’s what their argument is, when you get down to it.

You can even get them to acknowledge it, if you try, and make a point of being politically correct about it:

Indian Chief “Two Eagles” was interviewed by a government official, “You have observed the white man for over 90 years. You’ve seen his wars and his technological advances. You’ve seen his progress and the damage he’s done”.

The Chief nodded in agreement.

The official continued, “Considering all these events, in your opinion, where did the white man go wrong?”

The Chief stared at the official, then replied,

“When white man find land, with Indians running it, no taxes, no debt, plenty of Buffalo, plenty Beaver, clean water. Women did all the work, Medicine Man free. Indian man spend all day fishing and hunting, all night having sex.”

Then the Chief leaned back and smiled, “Only white man dumb enough to think he could improve system like that.”