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Dictator Morgan Fixes the Economy

Monday, October 8th, 2012

What would I do? Besides the obvious…repeal ObamaCare, pass a real budget, and drill-here-drill-now. What other steps could I take if I were King-for-a-day?

Well it turns out, the things I would do, from the straightforward to the silly, are all things that are highly unlikely to ever happen, even though in all seriousness they would probably work pretty well. If there’s a lesson to be gleaned from this, it is that we are tying the knot for our own hangin’. Here it is, in Letterman Top Ten form…

10. You know where you can stick your global warming, “climate change,” or whatever it is today.
9. If you’re really that concerned about some other guy’s tax bill, you can’t vote.
8. Radio stations cannot carry more than 1 ad a week containing the phrase: “Find out if you qualify.”
7. All female politicians wearing pantsuits 60% of the time, or more, must resign immediately.
6. ADA reform.
5. Payroll tax holiday for 180 days.
4. No boutique fuels.
3. You can’t tax ammunition.
2. You can’t tax beer.

And the Number One thing that Dictator Morgan Freeberg would do to fix the economy…

1. The tips you leave for Hooters waitresses are tax deductible.

None of it will ever see the light of day. We’re way too enlightened, too sensitive, far too infected with a raging case of GoodPerson Fever.

This, I think, is divine punishment on us. I really do think that. Consider the cause-and-effect here: We have GoodPerson fever. We have it because there is a preciousness, an economic value, in these silly little things we can do (and not do) to show what wonderful good people we are. In basic economics, a commodity is precious when it is rare, so the unavoidable conclusion is that we are starved for opportunities to prove what good people we are.

So we act all uppity and hands-on-hips-ey and butt-hurt-ey when we see bad things. Which is why I’m particularly partial to Items #7, #3, #2 and #1. They are confrontations against cultural quirks we have allowed to set in…quirks that, at first glance, don’t seem to really exist or, if they do, are harmless. Well, they exist and they’re not harmless.

This thing, that thing, some other thing we used to ritually do…each of which carries some incremental impetus to potentially make our economy take off just a bit…we don’t do it anymore, or we seriously hesitate, because we’re afraid of ticking someone off. That’s the truth of it. GPF is killing off our economy. And the other truth is, if more of us were genuinely good people and were more worried about staying that way, than proving it to a bunch of butt-noses who need to be minding their own business, we wouldn’t have GPF in the first place.

Hiding Under a Bush

Monday, October 8th, 2012

Robert at Small Dead Animals wants to know how to discuss things with an Obama supporter. Brave man. I know this is above my pay grade when I see the phrase “gotten us into” included twice in the short paragraph he includes, to clue interested readers in on what the problem is:

Obama hasn’t gotten us into this mess, which is the worst recession since the 1930′s, and based on the fact that much of the collapse revolved around lack of regulation in the housing loan business, there’s no quick fix. Once people started losing their homes, it has a domino effect. George W. Bush is the one who got us into two wars, gave tax cuts, and added medicare benefits without EVER including them in his budget. Obama got the hand he was dealt. And I can tell you that the Republicans have done absolutely EVERYTHING they can to stop every effort he makes to get the economy back on track.

Maybe that’s the best way to deal with it, I dunno: “What if George W. Bush started agreeing with Barack Obama on everything?” Well check that, no it wouldn’t help matters any, all it would do is illustrate the obvious: These people are obsessed with faces and names, they don’t care about the content of any ideas, which is the very first step to caring about what ideas work and what ideas don’t.

The whole thing is just silly.

“Hey look, the debt is unsustainable. You took in this much, you spent that much…”

“Oh yeah, well Bush got us into, blah blah blah blah blah.”

(Long, incredulous pause, then more slowly…) “You took in this much…you spent that much…”

“GEORGE W. BUSH!”

(Longer pause…)

Maybe cheesecake is the answer after all.

You know, I guess if the point is going to be made that someone has to talk to these people because the survival of the civilization we know depends on it…probably the best place to start is with the “there’s no quick fix” thing. Not because there’s some easy diplomacy there — there ISN’T, because the Obamachron’s ego is wrapped up tightly around every sentence, every syllable — but because it’s the most delightful and pure bundle of silliness out of the whole thing. Yes, it might look like an attack. Yes, that will send the other party into defense mode, which isn’t helpful. But it simply cannot be allowed to let stand.

It reminds me of: “Why do you let your daughter interrupt you when you’re on the phone with me?” “She’s four!” Um, yeah…that is a correct fact, I don’t see what that has to do with anything. It is equally correct that “there is no quick fix.” Why do people assume that just because these simplistic statements are correct, they somehow invert the very truths that make up the universe in which we live? Hocus pocus, and we’re suddenly back in Joe Biden’s alternate reality of “must spend money to keep from going broke.”

The oasis is so far that we will die of thirst before we get there, therefore we should head in the opposite direction…you know, even that analogy makes too much sense to fit, since we live on a globe that is round, and that plan would eventually work, die-of-thirst and trans-oceanic travel considerations notwithstanding.

I suppose that’s all just a bunny trail. It never ceases to amaze and fascinate me how people use nonsense to prop up other nonsense.

Commenter dashing recommended a link to a video showing a timeline of the financial & housing crisis. I think it’s this one. I’m pretty sure, without checking, there’s a progressive “debunking of the urban myth” that addresses this. After all, it threatens them. That’s why they don’t want us watching Fox News, right?

Tenebris says: “They could find the guts to pass a budget, rather than hiding under a bush.” Heh. Funny!

But ultimately, what we’re really seeing here is Thing I Know #401. People who refuse to work with details don’t fix things. The recurring theme has nothing whatsoever to do with ideas that bring good results, or ideas that do not; it isn’t about ideas at all. Said theme is only concerned with: Strip these people over here of any influence at all, give as much influence as you can to those other people, over there. Put it all in a big snow globe and shake it all about, and things should work out more-or-less okay. If that had anything to do with ideas, there’d be some thought given to: Duh, hey, waitaminnit that’s exactly what got done in November of ’08…we’ve been down this road already. Well I suppose “Republicans have done absolutely EVERYTHING they can to stop every effort he makes” is included to preemptively dismiss that most obvious point. But by “some thought” I’m referring to something a bit more focused and disciplined than, anticipating an obvious point and including a catchphrase to preemptively shunt it aside.

Some kind of concern for outcome is what I mean. It’s entirely missing here.

The concern is all being systematically piped to that other thing discussed above, the stripping influence from some individuals and elevating the influence of other people. These vocal myrmidons are the “useful idiots” of those other people. I know this for a fact, because I get the e-mails. Michelle and I are having our anniversary…can you send three bucks in right now…it’s me, Michelle, Barack’s birthday is coming up can you kick in five…get on the social networking sites, and say this stuff. We’ll need your help in November, vote out those Republicans, they’re stopping the really cool ideas we have that I don’t want to talk about right now.

Useful idiots, using up the last of their usefulness.

I don’t know what’s more pitiful and pathetic: The name “George W. Bush” is still flying about thick & fast this late in the game, or, they’re setting up the talking point that President Obama only had a friendly Congress for the first one hundred thirty-three days. Um, hey…that is the length of time President Obama got to deal with a Senate with sixty senators on His side, a filibuster-proof super-majority. Modern Nero has to have that in order to get anything done? And His ostensible supporters are admitting to this?

That one seems to me like something that would be better left unsaid.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News.

Eight Painfully Obvious Rules That Are Hard to Follow

Saturday, October 6th, 2012

People on the left say the economy is turning around. People on the right say the economy will turn around, as soon as Romney kicks Obama’s butt. Whichever one’s right, the economy can’t keep sucking forever, and we’re going to have to re-learn these things when we pull out of “punch the clock, suck my thumb, hope gas prices don’t go higher” mode and actually do some impressive, real things again.

1. DO NOT play the “one foot in front of the other until we get there” game; make a list of the whole thing, stem to stern. The temptation is to say “I can keep two or three things in my head, no problem,” but by the time you get up to four or five things, this natural ability is being exhausted and if there is a failure event, it will have to do with leaving something undone, resulting in failure of the whole project. Besides, without defining the list you can’t define the stature of any item within the list, like for example, is this the highest priority item to which we should be attending right now. In fact, you can’t make a qualified statement about any item at all, dealing with superlatives, without an understanding of the complete body of work, nor can you sequence these items in any way. So make the list.

2. If the project is more complex than a list, make a matrix. This means, for each item, there are multiple things to be done. Tracking progress is therefore a two-dimensional endeavor, with a width and a height. This provides definition for what you are doing with each item. Without this “horizontal” definition, working from a simple list where a matrix would be more suitable, there is exposure for you to realize late in the game you haven’t been processing all items the same way and then you’ll have to burn off your time playing catch-up with some kind of self-audit, the product of which will be some kind of two-dimensional matrix anyway. So you might as well make it in prospect rather than in retrospect.

3. Understand that when things possess meaningful differences relative to one another, they are not the same and should not be treated like they’re the same. This is, perhaps, the most difficult rule to follow out of the eight.

4. Understand that when the differences are irrelevant, then for all practical purposes, the things being compared are the same. They should not be treated like they’re meaningfully different. (Words like “meaningful” and “meaningfully” are important, since all things in the universe are unique in some way, the question that arises is: Are the differences meaningful with respect to what you’re doing.) This is, perhaps, the second-most-difficult rule to follow out of the eight.

5. Understand your effort. There are three high-level classifications of effort: Creativity, preservation and destruction. They are not interchangeable. You have to sort these things out according to the end goal, since some things are created for the purpose of destruction, and some things are destroyed so that other things can be preserved. Your effort pays the price, as your likelihood for success diminishes, when you start to become confused about what it is you are trying to do.

6. Understand how to achieve excellence, and align your personality with what it is you’re trying to do. There are four high-level classifications of ways to achieve this excellence, and the job you’re doing drives your effort to achieve excellence: 1) Extraordinary achievement that doesn’t cost anybody else anything. 2) Extraordinary achievement that results in consumption from a finite resource, at a cost to your competition. 3) An extraordinary amount of activity, or time, exhausted without any catastrophic events encountered. 4) There is no way to achieve excellence in this job, the best you can be is adequate. When people cannot achieve excellence in what it is they’re trying to do, it often emerges that their personality is a good fit for one of these four things, and their job demands excellence through one of the remaining three.

7. When solving problems, solve the “big” problems; look for trends. Make a statement of the problem and don’t be afraid to use the word “whenever” if it fits the situation. Example: “My computer speakers are popping” would indicate the amplifier, speakers, sound card or cables require replacement. “My computer speakers are popping whenever the fan across the room is plugged in” would indicate something else is the throw-away item, and might in fact be a fire hazard. It’s important to identify the problem correctly if the objective is to implement a correct and effective solution.

8. Evaluate ideas from others, as ideas. Demand specifics. Just because someone speaks “with great weight” or “seems to know what he’s talking about,” doesn’t mean the idea is any good. In fact, it’s well established that very often the truly bad ideas come from the “smartest guy in the room,” for the simple reason that the human dynamic doesn’t make it likely that such ideas are challenged, or confronted with any social necessity to improve or evolve.

Everyone with a brain knows these rules apply. Everyone who thinks on it diligently for any length of time at all, understands these are necessary for basic quality decision-making. For driving decisions that are more likely to achieve the desired result, than a decision about the equivalent situation driven by a random-chance process. The challenge is to stay true to them when you’re actually working on something. Examples abound of bright, smart, talented and capable people failing to do this, and what follows is an accounting of tiny little fails becoming bigger ones.

Memo For File CLXXI

Friday, October 5th, 2012

So Wednesday morning, before the big debate, I followed through on my big fancy plan. I shook up the schedule and by a quarter to four in the morning, I was swinging on to the freeway entrance ramp with my mountain bike strapped to the back of the Honda. Destination, Angel Island. The woman can’t join me in things like this for another couple of weeks, the manly thing to do is check it out by myself ahead of time and see what there is to do. I’ve lived here quite awhile by now. Should’ve been to Angel Island already.

Driving that early in the morning, I’m always blown away by the pack mentality of people, especially when the trucking flow is on the light side and the freeway is pretty much an empty parking lot. Big empty spaces, interrupted by small dense “flocks” of cars. I wonder if they know they’re doing it. I was particularly amused by the fellow who was speeding by a good ten miles an hour, until he got right on my ass and hovered there, clearly frustrated. I was in the second of four lanes, all empty, and he just hung there like a cow who encountered a bail of hay and didn’t know what to do. I shifted right and he proceeded onward. Californians.

Tiburon, where the ferry terminal is located, is very much like Petaluma it turns out: Sleepy. My schedule was not a good fit here. I arrived about 5:30 and ended up finally grabbing a plate of chow a little bit past eight. My one chore between that, and the departure of the first ferry at ten o’clock, was to move the car from two-hour parking to an all-day arrangement, this was accomplished by nine. Having managed that, I took to exploring Paradise Drive, probably about as far as the park on the North side of the peninsula. I recall thinking at 9:43, alright I really should turn around now and maybe I’ve already screwed up my schedule…but, it worked out, I managed to double back and walk my bike on to the dock at 9:58. The ferry ride itself is a cash proposition and the boarding is quick. This particular line has no space for cars; bicycling and walking, that’s all you get. Simple. Inside of five minutes we were watching the pier recede, making good time over the water.

StitchingAngel Island is a popular stop-off for Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts, and I was a bit embarrassed, and surprised, that the younger set was making a go of it in the middle of a Wednesday morning. Don’t they have school? Evidently some arrangements had been made. By this time it was a bit balmy for my jacket, and the chosen tee shirt of the day was “One Big Ass Mistake, America.” Which doesn’t quite fit…but I guess, in these times, that’s not seen as vulgar as it would’ve been back in my day. Had I known there would be this many juveniles around, I would have opted for “Re-Defeat Communism in 2012″ instead. There were two other bicyclists on this ferry ride, a couple somewhere around my age, maybe just a couple years senior. When time came to disembark the woman approached me and said, in hushed tones, “I really like your tee shirt.” I hear this a lot back in Folsom, there’s always a daily compliment-count, which month by month is on a perceptible increase. I was expecting the compliment-count for today to be zero since, hey, this is Marin County. And I said so. “Yeah, no kidding,” she said. “Gotta hand it to ya.” Oh well, that’s one. Two, actually, since her husband clearly approved as well.

This means something. Tonight was going to be the big debate. For anyone following this stuff, for whatever reason, the air was thick with suspense.

Regarding the Island, I’m left a bit concerned about what to do without bicycling. I have noticed there is stuff you can do, the signs say so, but I didn’t try it out personally since the bike was my mode of transportation for the day. There is something called a “Segway Tour”; I do not believe this is in the cards. All this technology coming out of The Jetsons, with no hint of the rocket-powered vest I was supposed to have by the 1990′s. A moving platform that does the walking for you? Can’t get past that. Looks like a decline of civilization to me.

I can see why the island is a great place to take kids, though. The military structures out there, abandoned and not-abandoned; they make learning fun. Truly a mind-expanding experience. I pushed onward, on the paved avenue that is the perimeter of the island, past the sign that said, 1.6 miles down 3.4 miles to go. By which time there was a half hour before the first return ferry would leave the island. I had to make a decision here: Stick to my original plan as opposed to hanging around an extra hour or two, loop the island, keep taking pretty pictures — I could have two out of those three. I vacillated on this a bit, and ultimately decided things would be much more exciting for everybody if there was still some exploring to be done, so I used the remaining minutes heading back the way I came. Sissy. Oh well, it’s fun that way.

This time, I didn’t shave things quite so close. I pulled up to a picnic table with the ferry terminal barely within line-of-sight, and started hydrating. As I was about to get going again I heard a voice behind me, “Did you loop it?” It was my two admirers, again. No, I said. It’s my first visit to the island and I’m here for pretty pictures, not performance benchmarks. It was their first time too, but they didn’t bring a camera. I think they said they opted to push on through. Well we got to talking about the nonsense that’s going on; we found common ground in our failure to understand Obama fans, and started comparing notes.

They’re not stupid, we all agreed. Not necessarily anyway. Some of them are actually quite bright. But their way of looking at the world is different.

I realized I had just jotted down the draft of an e-mail a few hours earlier, while it was still dark in Tiburon, waiting for a diner to open. And the subject didn’t have anything to do with national politics; not much, anyway. It had to do with economies. How people go about fulfilling their needs and their desires. There is bartering, in which something of value is surrendered whenever an expense event comes along, and then there is insuring, which means to classify the expense events and get whole classes of such events “covered.” Quoting:

[W]hen you barter, you have to earn, and as long as you’re earning you might as well pull in five clam shells when the bartering transaction for which you’re preparing demands only two or three…An economic model that encourages saving, is in rapid decline, while the replacement economic model that does nothing to encourage saving is in rapid ascension. So people don’t save, and they are not fortifying the mental discipline required to do the saving. They cut costs, and feel this false sense of accomplishment, but they fail to see it as the subtraction equation that it is. So they sacrifice things that are important to them, feel the pain of it, at the end of it the numbers still don’t come out right, then they feel abused, beaten down, get jaded and cynical. As I have these exchanges on Facebook with Obama fans trying to “educate” me on how the Affordable Care Act will make everything all moar-better, I sometimes ask them if they’re under the impression that health care coverage might be in a process of replacing the dollar as our society’s primary legal tender. Cool bike bro, thanks hey you know what, I’m selling it — really? How much you want for it? A year of basic coverage. That’s kinda stiff, I’ll give you six months for it. Make it nine. Sold!

Now what’s wrong with a society in which we’ve been pussified, done away with bartering, and take care of all our expenses by making sure “it’s covered”? I’ve already discussed the savings aspect; nobody has savings because nobody has any reason to have them. Closely intertwined with that is the dependency issue: It isn’t always covered! When there’s an expense, and it’s unavoidable, and no savings and revenue stream to support a line of credit…then you have a beggar. And so we have a future filled with whining, incapable mooching beggars. That is the real Obama agenda, it seems to me: If you try to save for a rainy day, and enjoy some success in doing so, then you’re “rich.” The Obama zombies say, oh no, that’s not true because Obama doesn’t want to punish you until you make X. I’ve been hearing the number “two hundred and fifty thousand a year” quite a bit there…well here’s a question, what’s Y? Meaning, the gross annual income you need [in order] to maintain some assurance that you won’t be a whining, mooching beggar post-retirement. As you’re no doubt aware, Y and X are moving treacherously close together, and Y may have passed X already for a lot of us. So Obama’s target, whether people want to admit it or not, is not “millionaires and billionaires flying around on their corporates jets”; it is self-sufficiency. In intent as well as in ultimate result, His war is against those who are attempting to accumulate the personal wealth needed to simply handle their own problems without bugging other people. In years past, that is what we were all supposed to be trying to do. Lately it is treated as some kind of neurosis, or worse. “C’mon, what’s the matter with you, you have ENOUGH money why do you need more?”

Complicating this is a subtle misunderstanding with just a glimmer of truth in it: “Making sure it’s covered” feels like the responsible thing to do. And it certainly is, when it’s known that a catastrophic event occurring within some set definition would likely be outside of your ability to pay. But I think it is generally understood that there’s nothing responsible about going before Congress and whining that your contraceptives cost too much and you need someone else to pay for them.

Yacht ClubConsider what happened in that particular boondoggle: It was an election year stunt from the very beginning. It was about Congress, not the White House, so whether it worked or not is something to be determined within each district. But overall it’s a huge fail. Main Street understands the difference: There is $300 for Sandra Fluke’s birth control, and then there is $300,000 for liability events with your car insurance. The car insurance liability is much bigger, and it becomes reasonable to say, I’m probably not going to have that in the bank so I’d better get it covered. With the smaller number, let’s face it, it’s just bitching. Wah! I don’t wanna have to pay that! And then there is the very concept of liability…the coverage is in place to keep from screwing the other guy over. Fluke & friends just want to get their jollies. Alright, medicinal purposes or whatever…it’s still their thing. No, I don’t want to buy it for them, and more importantly, Main Street doesn’t want to either. Bottom line: This was one step forward and three steps back for the democrats — and to this very day they think it’s a win.

But here is the point: Our country, today, has a crisis with hard work. We don’t seem to have a good understanding of what it is. There is evidently a whole lot of loud, opinionated people running around, many of them nursing resentments, who see it as what could best be expressed as “suffering that pays something.” Dig a hole, dig another hole, take the dirt from the second hole and put it in the first hole, dig the first hole and put the dirt in the second hole…at the end & middle of the month you get a check. Um, that’s not what work is supposed to be. It’s supposed to have something to do with objects changing states for some purpose to be served. Also, we have a problem with that check. You cash it and pay some bills, buy food, hopefully there’s enough left over to put in savings. Well that part is right…but there’s a massive neglect of human potential taking place here when so many think of it as THE bills. THE this-credit-card, THE that-credit-card, THE heating bill. It’s easy to fall into this trap. And I guess, as long as something makes it into savings, it doesn’t really matter…but it seems people forget the bills do not represent injury, they represent activity. The trap of “paycheck happy face, bills sad face” reduces human potential because it makes it untenable to seriously consider taking on a new bill.

Anyway, my new friends passed the test. They weren’t hateful and they didn’t think all the Obama voters were complete idiots and they weren’t skinheads or racists, they were genuinely tired of the bovine-used-food. On the ferry ride back, we exchanged names, the husband offered me a glass of the bubbly in which they were partaking — it was a celebration of their twenty-fourth anniversary — and the wife said something funny. The reason they came to the island was they had this fantasy about expatriating, buying an island, starting their own country. “One rule,” she said: “Anyone can come, bring your own money because there’s no taxes and no welfare, and don’t be a dumbshit.” Heh heh, I like it. But Ayn Rand had thought of it first, of course…they weren’t up on the story, so I found myself struggling to compress the eleven hundred pages into the two or so minutes left before we reached Tiburon.

The cub scouts were no longer on board, so I relaxed the vocabulary constraints to make it all fit. “So this lady who runs a railway company, who’s not a dumbass, finds she can’t get her shit done without relying on a bunch of dumbasses, and she starts to suspect, at first as a joke, that someone’s going around making all the guys vanish who know what they’re doing…leaving behind a whole bunch of dumbasses. And then she finds out that it isn’t a joke, someone is really doing it, meanwhile the dumbasses keep passing their dumbass laws that make a whole bunch of dumbass problems, which being dumbasses they blame on the wrong things, and use the new problems as an excuse to pass even more dumbass laws…”

Toward SFYup. A prophecy. For the times in which we’re living right now.

So I got their full names, and they must have liked me because when I checked, I found they really exist. They have my e-mail address, assuming they didn’t forget it. I may hear from them and I may not. At any rate, I have a great tip from them on where to find the best margaritas in town.

But it is sad, isn’t it, when the spiral is so out of control that, it starts to become an appealing wedding anniversary activity to indulge the fantasy about the island. I think the sadness has a lot more to do with what’s going on, than it has to do with them, since they are not alone. Atlas Shrugged, as I pointed out, is really not much more than that fantasy. I’ve talked to others who have such a fantasy. I’ve had it. Way back early on in my career, my duties had a lot to do with showing people how to use computers…Reagan was president, I was young, the government really wasn’t doing anything to tick me off yet. My residence fantasy was about the Arctic, way up where you have a midnight sun during the summer and noon blackness in the winter. My house would be four stories high. Three of them underground, plunged deep into the frozen, rocky soil. And there I’d just sit and write stuff, English words for human consumption, code for computers, on fifteen kilowatts or so from my own diesel generators. Yeah…people. People like the dumbass who was riding my back bumper hours earlier, lacking the common sense needed to quit hovering and pass me already. I got good and tired of dealing with ‘em.

What is interesting to learn from all this is: The people who get tired of people, fantasizing about islands and winter-wonderland fortresses and so forth, do not tire of other people who think the same way. And there’s a good possibility we outnumber the dumbshits, so the fantasies about isolation may very well be entirely unnecessary. There is much stress and despair caused by the tactic used by the dumbshits, which they use and use again because it works, of pretending they are the real “everyone.” Everyone knows the Affordable Care Act is wonderful, everyone knows Obama walks on water, everyone knows you shouldn’t listen to talk radio or “hate radio” as they call it. They pretend to be everyone. But they aren’t. They may not even be a majority. They may not be even close to that.

And from all that, I conclude the following: By pretending to be “everyone” when that isn’t really what they are, they are sowing seeds of disharmony and disunity — where it did not previously exist. The easy thought to have is that the people fantasizing about expatriating and buying their own islands, they must be the problem since they’re the ones with the fantasy. At first blush, that does seem like common sense talking. But is it? And is there something to it? I don’t think so; perhaps I’m personally biased, but I really don’t think so.

And now, to the debate: Yesterday morning I was listening to Rush Limbaugh, and toward the end of his program he had someone comment on His Majesty’s debate performance by way of comparing Him to a drone. As in the military plane. I thought this really nailed it: Some people are very bright but, like the drone, they execute their processes within the confines of pre-defined and pre-learned mission parameters. The drone suffers in its effectiveness and suitability for the mission, when it encounters a situation outside of these parameters. Once that happens it will disengage and start flying in circles overhead.

This, claimed the caller, was what President Obama did: He encountered a situation outside of the established mission parameters, disengaged and flew in circles overhead, waiting to be shot down.

SchoolingI think that explains part of it, maybe most of it. Probably all of it. But I’ve got this idea lurking in the back of my head that perhaps being disengaged was in the established mission parameters. Someone got it into the practice notes that, if Obama could look down, with a dejected expression on His face while Romney went on about whatever, the viewers would tune in and see poor little Barack Obama absorbing all this abuse from the rich white guy, and a sympathy vote would be triggered. I suspect that might have been the thinking, and I suspect further: the subtlety involved in discerning this is a tip-off, not that it’s a clever idea, but that it has resoundingly failed. Simply put, people just didn’t see that. That might have been the intent, but that isn’t what it looked like.

And, just like in the Fluke situation…even with the feedback that’s come out, I’m sure there is a mindset within their ranks that this was not a fail, but a glorious success. And the people who feel this, feel it sincerely. Obama really kicked some ass in that debate.

See, there is a truism to all this, where it hooks back to the “make sure its covered” people who want to start a whole new economic system without any actual trade and therefore with no savings: The effect of what they are doing, is to make weakness into the coin of the realm. You get something, because you need it…what you’ve done to help other people is irrelevant to this. This is where the real damage takes place, because when an activity is rewarded you’re always going to get more of it. (Coincidentally, or maybe not, in the third part of Atlas Shrugged this is explored in nauseating detail.) Say what you want about “the rich get richer and the poor get poorer,” the one undeniable virtue of this trade system being replaced, versus the “make sure it’s covered” system that is replacing it, is that the coin of the realm is fastened to the helping of other people…that’s what “work” is supposed to be, not the digging of two holes, but the helping of other people. Remember that? Therefore, it tends to make more of that. As long as people remember what work is supposed to be all about. Yeah, we’ve been slacking off there.

But “make sure it’s covered” makes need into the coin of the realm. It is bound to result in more people needing more stuff — more weakness, less strength. And, ya know what? It doesn’t do an awful lot for our sense of community, our readiness and willingness and ability to live peaceably with each other, when it gives rise to these retirement fantasies about expatriating and buying islands. Nor does it make sense to put the blame on the people having those fantasies. This is nothing more than a natural consequence.

So…two objectives, one is to reduce human suffering, the other is to foster a sense of community. Two things attempted, in both cases the outcome of the exercise is the precise opposite of what’s intended. Double-fail.

Flying Boot Repair

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012

“As a matter of cosmic history, it has always been easier to destroy than to create. ” — Spock

Was going to keep this thought to myself, but I came across a smug, holier-than-thou editorial about that goofball Todd Akin in USA Today. I have no problem with it in terms of the facts it cites or the conclusions to be drawn from them, my beef with it comes in the form of a question: What, exactly, are we to do with this information?

Ponder that question awhile, and you will have the answer to another question that has been agitating us in the last several years. Why have American politics become so damn contentious? I’ll give you a hint: What really clinched the decision to go ahead and write this up, was the opening paragraph in which the author uses a quote from H.L. Mencken to equate “enlightenment” with…well, he doesn’t come out and say what, exactly, although it is clear that he thinks voting for Claire McCaskill, the Senate seat incumbent and Akin’s opponent, is the enlightened thing to do.

Here is the epicenter of the problem. Such a vote cast, as a result of reading this column (let us assume for sake of argument that the Missouri voter was undecided prior to reading the column) would be based on an idea not of enlightenment, the way I define it, but on sheer lunacy. Let’s see if I can summarize it: Akin’s comment proves he is a sexist pig, that in turn proves there are still some sexist pigs out there, and we have to keep them out of the Senate. Is that the thinking? Because if it is, it does not work very well, does it…we’ve had sexist pigs in the Senate for as long as we’ve had a Senate. If the Senate is to be kept under its current democrat-party leadership — which, to date, suffers from a dearth of tangible achievements it can carry into election season — solely to broadcast some message of goodness about the voters who elect those senators, about the most flattering message we can manage to achieve at this point is “we give a fig about sexism in the Senate, once in awhile.” This is not a trivial point; the underlying foundation for the editorial, its whole reason for being, is that the politics involved in deciding Senate leadership are motivating the Republicans to behave inconsistently. That is the point to this column. It has nothing else to say, other than reporting on the relevant events (idiotic things said by Akin) to buttress that observation. Leaving the question effectively unaddressed: What to do with the information?

Of course it is not the columnist’s job to resolve it for us. But it’s hard to respect the train of thought upon which he has launched us, if there’s no potential in it. Let’s see…we could elect only democrats, who are known for rising above the inconsistency that tends to result from political forces? Eh, that doesn’t work. Is there something else we can decide?

What really sums up the problem here, is a gem I was jotting down early this morning in a discussion with someone about the Affordable Care Act. I’m quite pleased with it, if I dare say so myself; it is not bumper-sticker quality, but it might be plaque-quality.

A lot of this “regulate and tax ‘em so they know how much we think they suck” remedy would work just great, in a universe where everything with a problem could be fixed by simply lowering a beatdown on it…I envision teevee and appliance repairmen wouldn’t exist there, everybody would fix their refrigerators & furnaces by giving ‘em a good kick. But we live in this universe not that one, cause-and-effect is a bit more complicated here.

…and this, I submit, is the great brain-fart of the modern times in which we live. The elections, just like a weekly business meeting, offer us an opportunity to solve problems incrementally and cyclically, revisiting the results of our previous work at regular intervals. It is, therefore, an opportunity to self-test on our ability to think things through rationally. We aren’t doing so hot. Election after election after election, we are discouraged, demoralized, disgusted…

…I notice the people who are most vocal about this disgust, are also the ones most vocal about some kind of “change” which is not distinguishably different from the change that went into effect in the previous cycle. We should face facts: If this was the weekly business meeting rather than the biannual election, then the project manager would by now have dismissed the whole team and put together a new crew. His boss would insist on it. We stink at this.

Why do we stink? Because the vocal ones are living in that other universe. For all the talking they do, they don’t really have much to say, it’s all an appeal to throw the boot at the teevee. My favorite example is, higher taxes and more strict regulation on the rich, greedy, evil corporations who gouge the consumers with their high prices and offshore the jobs. Time after time we see: What do those corporations do in response, do they say “Everyone thinks we suck, we’d better keep the jobs at home and lower our prices so they change their minds”? Eh, no. Nobody even says so. Everybody understands that is not what is going to happen. What is going to happen is, the rich, greedy, evil corporations will say “huh, so it looks like we have some new operating costs.” They’ll slim down their services or their manufacturing to accommodate as best they can — read that as, offshoring the jobs — and then, whatever increased costs they can’t absorb in this way, they’ll pass on to their customers. Precisely the opposite of what we wanted.

Every time. Unavoidable. It is the very definition of suck-ass problem-solving, as suck-ass as you can get, right? If you’re making more of what you wanted to eliminate, complete ineffectiveness would be a dramatic improvement, since a zero is always greater than a negative…so that’s pretty bad. And yet we keep doing it. Well, politics is a great place to repeat mistakes, since all the problems are always caused by that other fellow.

Can’t find the “line tool” in the new version of Microsoft Visio — give the computer a good kick, that’ll fix it.

Lord knows, I can identify with the feeling and the desire. But the simple fact of the matter is, feelings and desires don’t fix things. Deep down we all know this to be true, and we know that if expressing frustration and resentment was all it took to solve these problems, they’d have been solved quite awhile back.

But you know, the years come & go, and I never fail to be surprised with the difficulties that supposedly mature, thoughtful adults have, channeling that basic, basic understanding into their actionable thinking.

Trucker Joe

Monday, October 1st, 2012

Best Sentence CXXX

Sunday, September 30th, 2012

The 130th award for Best Sentence I’ve Heard Or Read Lately (BSIHORL) goes to Gavin McInnes, who is writing in Taki’s Magazine under the title “10 Things I Hate That Everybody Loves” (hat tip to Gerard Van der Leun).

This just says it all:

…I feel the same way about television that prostitutes feel about sex.

Nothing to add. Nothing whatsoever.

Well…there is the matter that the prostitutes are supposed to be paid.

The Trouble With Chick Flicks

Sunday, September 30th, 2012

There are two big ones.

One, and I believe I’m not alone in noticing this: There seems to be a rule in place that if there’s anything in the movie, from opening- to closing-credits, that a man might find appealing in some way then the whole thing is a fail and the producers should not have green-lit it. A bit of focused thinking will show that this is not reasonable and is not to be expected. Think about a movie for kids, made by Pixar or someone who does it equally well…what makes the movie fun? Answer, the filmmakers know that if the kids are seeing it, the parents must have brought the kids, and they put in some wink-wink nod-nod jokes for the parents. Like Mr. and Mrs. Incredible arguing about what off-ramp to take on the freeway, that was great stuff. Also, “Honey, where is my super-suit?” “Why do you need it?” One of my favorite parts of the movie, heh heh. Movies for females do not do the same thing for the males in the audience, even though the males in the audience are surely there…having been dragged there. There seems to be a mode of thinking in place that if the guys are in the audience, they’re expecting to get laid, they probably will get laid, because we’re such geniuses at making girl-movies that work so well as panty-removers…we got Daniel-Day Lewis to sign on, did we not? Case closed. So the guys are getting their fun, hell with them. Well hey, scope definition is usually a good thing, but in this case it doesn’t do anything to make the movie better, and in a lot of ways it makes it worse. Unlike a Pixar movie, these movies are a lot more boring than they need to be.

Two: A good movie has a good story, a good story has a message, a good message can be defined. These movies have messages, but once you define those messages they are rancid. Really, really awful messages. I remember in ’93 I had just moved to Citrus Heights, and my domicile was about a third of a mile away from the local theater. One afternoon I got bored, and saw whatever was playing: The Piano. My reactions were: Wow, that Holly Hunter really does have a great-looking body, she looks fantastic naked, for a height-diminutive skinny lady she’s got a great pair of round hips and perky breasts…and…what the fuck was that about? She screws around on her husband and lives happily ever after? Oscar gold, huh? Apparently so. To this day, I couldn’t tell you why. The plot is empty, the pacing is sluggish, the images are dreary and depressing, and although I don’t swing that way, Harvey Keitel comes across as less of a sexpot and more of a creepy weirdo.

The inescapable conclusion is that for some reason, in ’93 women were drawn to the fantasy of wives screwing around on their husbands with creepy weirdo guys — and living happily ever after. Was there some other appealing point to this? I see nothing else.

Things haven’t gotten much better since then. I stumbled across a great column posted at Pajamas Media written down by long-time blogger pal Cassy Chesser, nee Fiano, about the rom-com offerings that have been chapping her hide. Even by her lofty standards this is great, great stuff. Thoroughly researched and explored, the points made are thought-provoking, and the complaints are…well, I’ve had the same ones, for awhile.

10. The Notebook

Damaging Message: Cheating Is Great!

The lesson here is that, hey, it’s totally cool to cheat on someone if that’s what your heart is telling you to do. It doesn’t matter if it’s right or wrong. If you’re following your heart, then cheat away!
:
7. Hitch

Damaging Message: Men Are Bumbling Idiots

It’s a running cultural joke. It’s everywhere: sitcoms, commercials, even e-cards and internet memes feature this oh-so-funny idea that men are useless and stupid. And while most chick flicks have insulting stereotypes about women, Hitch clearly shows that the men don’t exactly escape unscathed, either.

And, yeah. Entry Number One is exactly what you think it is.

There is another thing I notice going on here: It seems there is a tiny elite group of male actors who have made careers of playing the cuckold. They roughly resemble what, in another era, would have been the ultimately desirable male for the leading lady, but sometime after the early nineties it seems they’ve become the symbol of the “successful” husband who makes his wife quite miserable, not by cheating on her or beating her but by being too reliable and therefore boring.

James Marsden, who was the cuckold in The Notebook, reprised the role in Superman Returns. He’s financially solvent, well-dressed and handsome, ladies, his heart is pure — so run away from him as fast as you can! Sam Neill who is abandoned in the above-mentioned The Piano, for no discernible reason whatsoever, played the same part in Jurassic Park III and Dead Calm. Alright, Nicole Kidman ends up back with him in the end, but there’s a definite sexual tension between her and the badass Billy Zane…Neill is still representing orthodoxy, order, the lack of adventure. The exciting stuff is happening when he’s not around.

Hugh Grant. Do I even need to make up a list for Hugh Grant. I think not. Chatting with Cassy about it, I saw she mentioned Colin Firth. I’m not quite up on his appearances, I must say…King Edward VI in The King’s Speech, the bumbling Doofus Dad in Nanny McPhee, gay guy in Mamma Mia and it looks like he had a part to play in Bridget Jones which I’ve not seen all the way through.

These guys all have it in common that they’re good looking and seem intelligent and capable, but would never be very good candidates in a role like, oh, Indiana Jones, Jason Bourne or James Bond. Something where the good guy’s character is constructed around a permeating element of danger, and should be expected to somewhat routinely kill people. Although, for the latter role it is my understanding that Neill did try out for it once. It cannot be proven, but my impression is that had this gone forward, it would be revealed that Timothy Dalton and Pierce Brosnan were better choices.

Throughout all this, it isn’t often commented-upon that there’s been a sharp decline in movie stories in which a husband proves himself to be unsuitable by way of doing really bad things. If there’s a plot line in the movie dealing with the wife’s pressing need to get away from him and start her life anew, it usually isn’t because he’s an accessory to a crime, or a murderer, or has a plan in place to kill her when she least suspects it — unless it’s a remake of another movie from an earlier generation. Bad has become the new good, and good has become the new bad. Perhaps that is because, if there is one unified-common-ancestor message to all these girl-movies, it has something to do with the head and the heart being in conflict, and a happy ending follows in the wake of the heart winning out and the female protagonist making an irrational and illogical choice. So this genre has degenerated into yet another aspect of our modern culture, in which we celebrate the undefined virtues of stupidity and poor judgment.

And package it up & sell it to women. I guess the thinking must be, they’re sure to buy it, the silly twits. This just reeks of old-fashioned sexism…exactly the sexism I thought we were supposed to be trying to eliminate. The irony.

Beverage Scale

Saturday, September 29th, 2012

Had a cool idea. It’s four years overdue, but better late than never…

Every now and then a “study” will come out that is obviously a joke, proclaiming that beer, wine and liquor provide these amazing health benefits that cannot be acquired anywhere else. Lengthen your life, rejuvenate your skin and hair, embiggen your “wedding tackle” and all that. Well, whether the Obamafans realize it or not, this kind of humor is parody by way of slight exaggeration of what they’re doing when they pull out these studies from Brookings Institution, Economic Policy Institute and Public Policy Polling. In other words, rationalization. The words “research” and “evidence” and “fact” are tortured to fit into a context that isn’t quite suitable, to legitimize a questionable decision to which a commitment was already made anyway, and the commitment was made not for logical reasons but because it was demanded by a personality susceptible to addictions.

Come to think of it, Obama fandom has a lot of common traits with substance abuse. Perhaps they should call it “Obamaholism.” I’m pretty sure if you could identify the synapses that tend to get clogged up after a period of excessive imbibing, and then correlate it to the neural pathways that are in deteriorated shape when you dissect the brain of an Obama supporter, you’d find they’re the same ones.

Anyway, my idea was this: Days, weeks or months, or any other period of time within the Obama presidency could be rated according to a single question: How drunk could you get, and manage something as competently as President Obama is governing the country? The running average, from what I’ve been able to determine, is pretty damn high. How much can you drink before you can’t get up anymore, and when you try to, you end up flat on your ass? Somewhere around there.

Obama’s just like the drunk who’s about to piss himself, as everyone else at the party is rolling their eyes, shaking their heads, and exchanging worried glances as they try to figure out where his car keys are. He thinks every sound He makes is continuing evidence of His amazing talents — just like a drunk; nothing is ever His fault — just like a drunk; He is ignorant, in textbook-case Dunning Kruger style, of His own ignorance, just like a drunk. It doesn’t consciously register in His consciousness that there are some people who find Him annoying, because like a drunk, He has this feeling of hostility against their opinions and therefore against their consciousnesses, therefore of their very existences…consequently, it also doesn’t register to Him that, where He had worn out His welcome with just a few yesterday, there are more who are tired of His routine today, and there will be even more tomorrow. Just like a drunk, He thinks as long as there are some people around who still appreciate Him, that means everybody does, and if they don’t then they should.

Bill Clinton was somewhere around a six pack of beer with a couple whiskey chasers. He figured he was the life of the party, and some of us were tired of it from the very get-go, but it was a case of cultural conflict — and our ranks did not grow over time, by much anyway, because Bill Clinton really was “the life of the party.” His singing was off key but as long as a lot of other people wanted to sing along with him, and did so, it didn’t really matter. He stumbled around, occasionally bumping into a wall, and took credit for a lot of things when it was obvious he didn’t know enough about what he was doing, but a lot of people found that charming because it was understood he didn’t take himself that seriously.

Trouble with Obama is, the whole “flexibility after the election” thing. He is just going to get more and more overbearing — and drunk — because He knows damn good and well, He’s so polarizing that there are people who don’t like Him and are never gonna, and other people who completely love Him and are always gonna. His solution to this is to deliver a lot of speeches to try to make it so that His admirers are more influential, and those who have caught on to His bull squat, are less influential. Doesn’t that capture the essence of just about every Obama speech there’s ever been, lately? “These people should count, those people should not.” And how many thousands, perhaps millions, of words has His Majesty burned through to deliver that simple thought? It is increasingly and cumulatively embarrassing because the word-count of this drunkard garrulousness is increasingly and cumulatively mounting.

At this point, He is managing things with barely greater competence than a drunk who has passed out, in the sense that He’s giving speeches.

And, He is not the life of the party. He is a problem. He is the drunk from whom the car keys have already been taken, and He’s trying to grab them back. This party stopped being fun, for everyone in attendance, quite some time ago.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News.

Sharing the Housework Makes Divorce More Likely

Friday, September 28th, 2012

A “slap in the face for gender equality.”

“What we’ve seen is that sharing equal responsibility for work in the home doesn’t necessarily contribute to contentment,” said Thomas Hansen, co-author of the study entitled “Equality in the Home”.

The lack of correlation between equality at home and quality of life was surprising, the researcher said.

“One would think that break-ups would occur more often in families with less equality at home, but our statistics show the opposite,” he said.

The figures clearly show that “the more a man does in the home, the higher the divorce rate,” he went on.

So there is a correlation.

Well actually, I do have some experience with this, and it was in the context of an actual marriage. Which ended. Very quickly. And my experience backs up the reverse-correlation they did manage to find: Me “helping out with the housework,” and her finding it unsatisfactory (looking in to the bathroom and muttering “what did you do?”) were chapters tucked into a far broader narrative: The useless clueless husband would take his place somewhere midpoint in a snaky, twisty, dizzyingly-long Congo Conga line of persons, places, businesses & things conspiring to make her life miserable and give her “migraines.”

I think a lot of guys have been there. “What did you do?” followed by yet another disgusted, sad, raspy sigh, followed by “nevermind, I’ll just do it”…um, yeah…you can feel your zest for taking on life and eagerly confronting its challenges, getting sucked right out of your body, like a too-thin milkshake being sucked up a straw. As for the ungrateful bitc bride, I’m sure her feeling of disgust was, and is, quite genuine. Just a bad situation all around.

I don’t wish to pick on the gals here, but this condition within modern wives is not exactly as rare as ice cubes in the Sahara. And not as cherished either. It resembles the sand in that setting, both in abundance and in consequential value.

Point is: The help-with-the-housework thing is not having the desired effect, because it is, in itself, an effect and not a cause. It’s a spurious relationship. These are women who should be alone. They never wanted to be married in the first place, because they never wanted a relationship with a real live grown man in the first place. They wanted a pet, or a stuffed animal. That’s their maturity level.

Oh yeah, and I’m sure the guys have some culpability in this too. My experience is with females and I can’t contribute an informed opinion outside of that, so if a female blogger with a more eventful marriage history wants to write that one up, she should consider herself welcome to do so.

Hate Your Job?

Friday, September 28th, 2012

From Cheezburger.

“It Failed Because It Was Passed”

Friday, September 28th, 2012

The niece of a former co-worker seems to have matured a bit, or cooled down, and unblocked me for the time being, and we’re having this exchange at the Hello Kitty of Blogging which is somewhat non-volcanic for the moment and I’m trying my best to keep it that way.

How’d I do?

You know, I’ll just come out and make an observation on this directly:

I’m seeing this talking point repeated over and over, it’s clearly being disseminated from a central point somewhere: An indictment against Republicans/conservatives for promoting policies different from, and resisting the policies promoted by, democrats/liberals.

And now I’ll state the obvious.

It’s only reasonable to point that out when the policies promoted by democrats/liberals have been enacted and have been successful — or alternatively, when everything is miserable but the policies were not enacted. Just those two situations; outside of that, this isn’t persuasive. Things the way they are, the policies were rammed through and the results stink on ice. And you know what, because of this issue with the situation not fitting the pitch, I don’t think it’s even persuasive. I don’t see anyone repeating it anywhere save for people known for maintaining some phobia over a prolonged period of time, that Republicans are going to establish a crushing American theocracy (by restoring religious freedom) or a crushing new American aristocracy (by allowing productive people to keep more of their money so they can create jobs). So this pitch hasn’t found passion with people other than people who had the passion in the first place. It isn’t persuasive.

Also, opposing other parties/ideologies, is what parties & ideologies are *supposed* to do. If you believe in what you’re promoting you are supposed to resist efforts toward the opposite. I’m trying to explain that without making it sound insulting/condescending, but, like duh. I mean it’s been true for just generations and generations.

In fact, if the worst thing you can say against a political party is that it isn’t knuckling under & rolling over for the other political party, I’d interpret that as: You haven’t got much to say against them. On the other hand, what have they got to say that is substantial against the guy running for re-election? Lots! It’s like Paul Ryan said, the policies didn’t fail because they weren’t passed, they failed because they were.

The comments by Congressman Ryan being so referenced, were captured in this clip:

“It is true that President Obama, he had a lot of problems not of his own making. But he also came in with one-party rule and the chance to do everything of his own choosing. The Obama economic agenda failed not because it was stopped, but because it was passed.” (Applause.)

It is clear to me the White House, and the publicity team interwoven with & surrounding it, is promoting a message that certainly did not begin with President Obama…one that has long been associated with electoral politics. We’re not getting the results we want, because the other party still has some power and this explains ALL of your suffering. But like I said above, that is a situational argument; it doesn’t fit when the situation is not right.

Perhaps what could make it actually persuasive is if they could come up with something they wanted, but did not get. Now I’m sure they can come up with something if they’re cornered and that’s the only way out. But how tortured would it be? And so far they haven’t even tried. I’m picking up the vibe that they don’t see the need and they don’t see the point. There are too many Obamapologists who will just repeat it, mindlessly, if the jungle-drumbeat is started of “Wah, we’re being defeated again, those guys are making it hard, get them out of the way”…even when it doesn’t make any sense to be claiming that as an excuse. They get the word out anyway. The Obamapologists pick it up and re-circulate it anyway.

This may be having a net-negative effect. President Obama already has a reputation as a whiner and an excuse-maker. It’s a damaging reputation because it isn’t just the strident, rigid, uncompromising Republicans who feel that way about Him. It is a perception that has bled over into “middle” America.

I think He knows this; I think, if He had a good counterargument to offer against what the Congressman has said, someone on His team would’ve offered it by now.

“Not a Real President”

Friday, September 28th, 2012

“Newt at his best,” says Weasel Zippers. And I agree, it’s certainly right up there.


This whole thing with The View, it’s quite indefensible. Provided, I mean, one concedes that the presidency has something to do with things above & beyond public relations. That’s what big-eared Nero has been doing, right? Just P.R.

Fundraisers, golf, vacations. Now you could make the case that some of these things are legitimate expenditures of time…not a strong case, but you could make the case. That’s a different thing entirely from saying President Obama is managing His calendar, and the priorities upon it, in any kind of a proper way. Speaker Gingrich is correct, President Obama’s just not being serious.

Modern NeroFrankly, I’d rather have thirty years of presidents like that fool Todd Akin compared to four years of an Obama.

This attitude…this “In what new creative ways can the country worship Barack Obama today?” thing…four years ago it was just annoying. Four years ago it was just a tell-tale sign that our free press had abandoned the critical thinking involved in its obligation to us.

Now, it’s nothing short of dereliction of duty.

It’s a problem many years in the making. It’s been building outside of politics. People say “Omigosh, I’m just SO busy!” and you’ll notice it’s always the same people saying that. And they don’t act like busy people. They don’t have heads crammed chock silly full of the details they’ve managed to cram in, as a first step to getting the things done with what meager amounts of time they’ve managed to scavenge…like genuinely busy people do. There isn’t any great variety in the things they do manage to get done, from one week to the next. None of that desperate, productive-as-can-be-managed juggling you see truly busy people doing. It’s pretty much the same stuff attended, and the same stuff neglected. The months come in, the months go out, it doesn’t change.

What that stupid catchphrase means is “Omigosh, I suck at managing time.”

Screw this glory hound. Once again, I see that if I agreed with President Obama on each issue He has, He would remain among the worst presidents ever. Because He spends too much time screwing around, and He isn’t effective. He just plain sucks.

Memo For File CLXX

Thursday, September 27th, 2012

This one is making the rounds…

Although you can probably ignore the Facebook-page credit on the bottom, the sentiment is much, much broader than that particular website. They never got spanked and got trophies for participating…and they’re in charge. What kind of experience awaits us as a result?

Well the trophy is an unearned reward, and the not-spanking is the suspension of a consequence. I might expect to see the things I’ve become conditioned to do, because I won’t get what I want if I don’t do them — not being reflected in what the leadership does.

It has been my experience that I often encounter these “shift-from-foot-to-foot realities,” these pronunciations of what’s going on and how it all works that are based on objectives. Therefore, the objective is consistently serviced even though fidelity to principles, and reality, is not; the objective is far more important. And so reality yields like warm putty in a firm hand, because it must. Case in point to illustrate what I’m talking about there, the Voter ID law thing…”Should things be proven? Is it good and necessary to prove things…” And the foot-shifty no-spanky automatic-trophy people say Hell Yes! And, No. Yes to the Republicans proving things before they can pass their Voter ID laws (even though the voters want those laws), and no, by nature of the very argument itself, to the idea of people presenting credentials proving their ID when they show up to vote. Yes and no! We know what we know, and we don’t want it. Therefore, you have to prove everything. And these other people don’t have to prove anything.

This is more than lack of discipline; it is also lack of basic set-arithmetic concepts. It’s a surreal experience arguing with these people. They seem to think the super-trustworthy set of person called “voter” doesn’t include any of these scurrilous sneaky set of person called “Republican,” the two classes are unrelated and non-intersecting. Well they don’t say that, but they must think that in order to advance the yes-no prove-and-not-prove assertion…and with such certainty!

ObamaCare is another example. There’s this quote running around lately from Ben Stein, that I haven’t been able to track down or verify: “Many of those who refuse, or are unable, to prove they are citizens will receive free insurance paid for by those who are forced to buy insurance because they are citizens.” Now I’m sure some of the people who defend ObamaCare, out of passion or as part of a profession, who would take issue with that “forced to buy” thing even though (assuming the quote is correct) it’s completely true. But the law is constitutional only because it isn’t “force” — remember that? No no no, it’s a tax that Congress has imposed on a defined class of citizen who is uncovered and hasn’t bought any insurance…a regulation would be unconstitutional, a conditional tax is constitutional. But it’s not a tax, it’s a rule. Which would be unconstitutional, therefore it must be a tax. Shift from foot to foot.

Jon Stewart has been doing The Daily Show for sixteen years now. If he says something outlandish that would get a serious commentator in trouble, it isn’t supposed to count because, joke. Ha ha, get it? Why are you taking the show so seriously, whatsamatter with you? Don’t you know it’s comedy (obligatory sneer)? Oh, but the Daily Show viewers are most knowledgeable while the Fox News viewers “know” the least — read that as, Fox News viewers suck the most at repeating back the talking points to which the survey takers are accustomed. Okay, so the show isn’t supposed to be taken seriously even though, if you watch it, you’ll be among the best informed. Millions and millions of opinionated Americans can’t, or won’t, recognize the contradiction let alone take any steps to work it out. Of course they won’t. Working it out might involve conceding something. It’s quite out of the question.

Based on these observations, I opine that we do not need to be “afraid” of the world run by people who weren’t spanked, and got trophies just for participating.

We’re there.

“There is only one helpful suggestion that I can give you: By the essence and nature of existence, contradictions cannot exist. If you find it inconceivable that an invention of genius should be abandoned among ruins, and that a philosopher should wish to work as a cook in a diner — check your premises. You will find that one of them is wrong.” — Prof. Hugh Akston speaking, Atlas Shrugged, Part I, Ch. 10, p. 308.

Building and Destruction

Wednesday, September 26th, 2012

Wisdom from my Hello Kitty of Blogging account. I probably should’ve put it here instead, in the first place. It’s too short for a post but too long for a Thing I Know:

If you are to be cursed with abject stupidity in all things save one, and in that one thing you will be compensated with superior wisdom but it can only be one thing, and you get to pick it, you should pick: The ability to tell creative efforts from destructive ones. If you are a wise savant there and an imbecile in all other things, you will be money-ahead.

Not only is that a more important strain of good judgment than all the others, but it is elusive and fleeting. A lot of people are missing it. They see other people building things right in front of their eyes, and they’ll swear that person is a destroyer, but cannot coherently name anything he’s destroying. And they see someone else destroying something, again, right in front of them, and recite some brain-dead litany about the wonderful things that destroyer is “building.” But they can’t name what exactly it is that he’s building.

The loss of the ability to tell building apart from destruction, is the great tragedy of our modern times.

On the Five Fiat Industries

Wednesday, September 26th, 2012

fiat (n.):

1. an authoritative decree, sanction, or order: a royal fiat. Synonyms: authorization, directive, ruling, mandate, diktat, ukase.
2. a fixed form of words containing the word fiat, by which a person in authority gives sanction, or authorization.
3. an arbitrary decree or pronouncement, especially by a person or group of persons having absolute authority to enforce it: The king ruled by fiat.

Every now and then an industry is identified according to some good or service which is, or is seen as, crucial to the continuing survival of the people who live in our or evolving society. A narrative starts up that there is an untenable difficulty involved in acquiring the commodity in question, which endangers peoples’ lives and health, and we need some more rules.

The rules, in turn, introduce greater difficulty involved in acquiring the commodity in question than any difficulty they manage to obliterate or obviate or circumvent and, annoyingly, it seems nobody notices. Quite to the contrary: A new narrative starts up that capitalism has completely bolluxed things up and we need a second wave of rules. And then a third, on and on it goes.

Our smaller regions are divided up into laboratories, and the rules are refined further at that lower level. The laboratories with the more stringent rules suffer from the greatest discomfort with regard to the identified problem. And, annoyingly, again nobody seems to notice.

We’re having a friendly inter-family spat about whether one of our senior members would be well-served by taking an extended holiday from “hate radio.” I should add that I can see the merits in the argument presented by the other side — the senior member offers a lengthy history of distraction, and some failure at modest efforts, which seems to arise from distraction — but I’m seeing the proposal as…oh, let’s see, what was the metaphor one of my old bosses used: “unable to generate the lift to overcome the drag.” Because 1) the senior member is gonna do what he’s gonna do, so who cares what anyone else says, 2) this looks to me like a matter of taste and an exercise in micro-management, and 3) to be forward and frank about it, I have become leery and cynical of the attitude of superiority felt by people who don’t pay attention, over those who do.

Anyway, our e-mail exchanged drifted to some vague generalities about fine, precise details. No details in particular, just a high-level suggestion, unfounded, that some low-altitude navel-gazing and financial planning would change my attitude about government-managed health insurance. I replied:

I’m losing my interest in this specialized knowledge. I’ve come to look at it as a gimmick. I’m more interested in viewing things from a high level. Zooming out. Here’s an example of what I mean:

Imagine a spreadsheet five rows tall, six counting the header. Down the side, label the rows based on industries that have been, to some extent, nationalized. To make sure everybody can have everything they want when they want it. Those evil capitalists have been removed from these markets, or isolated from them. I think of five things: Education; health care; oil/energy; legal services; rents.

Across the top let’s identify some problems. Problem one in col. B: Suppliers cannot reach consumers, and at the same time, consumers cannot reach suppliers.

Problem two in col. C: The commodity price is vastly greater than it was a generation ago. And it can’t be chalked up to inflation.

Problem three in col. D: People don’t really know what it costs to provide the product…they don’t have a clue.

Problem four in col. E: When people do pay for their consumption of the product (or produce some coverage for it)…in actuality, what they’re paying for is somebody else’s consumption of it. And nobody cares. In other words, the market is saturated with freeloaders and we’ve managed to adapt…by not giving a fig about what things really cost.

Problem five in col. F: Nobody wants to start a practice of providing the commodity. If a student is exceptionally talented and can order up his own meal ticket, he probably won’t graduate into this field. In other words, the field no longer attracts the more desirable candidates.

Five rows high, five columns wide. This matrix is COMPLETELY FILLED IN.

Meanwhile, crap I just buy for myself, I know what it costs, I pay what they used to pay plus a reasonable rate of inflation. For that money, I attract the most talented practitioners that can be found. Buying paper clips. Putting new tires on my car. Magic of the free market…but in all these industries the government has “fixed,” all five problems abound…it’s gotten to the point that I should just expect to run into them. All five. That says something.

So, without bothering to read up on the particulars, yes I do consider myself an expert on what has gone wrong. It really doesn’t take much study. Just take in the information, recognize what it means, think on it logically.

I’m pretty sure food is next.

The five have it in common that the profits associated with them, have been identified as some persistent evil that must be banished from our society, and these efforts to so banish have failed. True, we have installed some very complicated machinery. But the profiteers remain. Where people make a profit from health care, legal services, education/tuition, rents/mortgages and oil, the tendency is that they make huge, enormous profits. The only people in these industries who maintain some more rustic standard of living here, are the ones who are positioned closer to the work that actually helps people. The ones who score the fatter paychecks are the ones less dedicated to the industry itself. It seems the biggest names are of the “hatchet men” who drift in to reorganize some agency or company, and wouldn’t know the thing being provided by the company from a hole in the ground. Except for the education/tuition one I suppose…prestige is important in academia. But the people at the top of the rent-control scam are not landlords. The people at the top of the health care food chain are not doctors. The people at the top of the oil monstrosity are bureaucrats and speculators. They may never have seen a drop of oil in their lives.

But my main point is: Access has not been improved by these rules. Quite the opposite. There is a new crisis associated with the access to the product, measurably exacerbated from the situation as it existed before. That is true of all five. Every two, four or six years our politicians run for re-election pledging to “fix” the problems associated with our access to these services. And again. And again.

Meanwhile, if I want a tube of toothpaste I know where I can go to get it, and I’ve got a pretty good idea what I’m going to pay for it. If someone tries to charge me double that, or provide an inferior tube of toothpaste, I’ll just go buy the damn thing somewhere else. So they better not screw with me. Coffee, toilet paper, milk, plumbing services…oh, people do need these things, and it’s pretty often you hear about someone paying more for them than they’d like to.

But you’re not going to travel back twenty years in a time machine and tell the people there “I had to pay $3.54 for a gallon of milk” and really make their jaws drop on the floor. What year was that, future-man? Twenty twelve? Yeah, uh huh…that sucks. But whatever. Two-fifty in our time, three-fifty in yours, that’s about right.

But tell ‘em what’s going on with any of the big five, and their eyes will get as big as dinner plates.

Our counterproductive habit of fiat-izing and nationalizing the industries upon which we depend the most, has completely filled in my 5×5 matrix, it is twenty-five-for-twenty-five. The bureaucracy is like a lawnmower making tall grass into short grass, in that you can tell where it’s been by way of a simple glance. But it leaves in its wake not short grass, but chaos and wreckage. We don’t seem to notice or care. There is a discernible difference between the experience involved in buying milk, and the experience in buying legal services or gas: People bitch about the price of all these things, but nobody is truly terrified of complete and total financial devastation, arising from the need for milk.

Thing I Know #408. You can’t aspire toward success if you won’t spot the fails.

“SNL v. the Facts”

Wednesday, September 26th, 2012

Oh…my…GOD…

Not wanting to be overly-dramatic here. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised at this point. But they’re taking their so-called “comedy” from things that actually took place, and then inventing fiction about who was involved.

Don’t tell me, lemme guess lemme guess: It isn’t fitting for me to call this out because “it’s a joke, get it?”

Yeah, ya know what…I think I get it. I get it just fine.

This Is Good CIII

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

Steven Goddard explains:

Most lefties suffer from a mental illness where they feel the need to control other people in order to protect themselves from their neurotic fears.

They hate it when people won’t play their games or play by their rules. It makes them feel even more out of control than they usually do.

Ooh, that’s good…very, very good.

The “puppet on a string” arrangement always looks good to the guy who’s going to be holding the strings. Or thinks he’ll have that job.

Ed Darrell Agrees with Crazy-Lady Sarah Silverman

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

For all his other faults, Ed’s a classy guy or at least, in certain specific ways, I can appreciate the honest effort he puts into trying to be one…and it’s giving me the giggle-snorts watching the identity crisis that ensues when he finds vulgar-vagina-monologue gutter-trash-talk “comedienne” Sarah Silverman echoing his talking points about voter ID. Lay down with dogs, wake up with fleas, that’s what’s going on here. Commentary in the video is extremely not-safe-for-work.

Comment thread explodes, as it tends to when I lower myself into participating in it…although I’m not the only one presenting my point of view, nor am I the first one. He’s getting spanked again. It’s all either silly, or redundant with my sensible comments that sum up the entire situation thusly:

It comes down to one question, Should things be proven? Is it good and necessary to prove things, when the integrity of the voting process is at stake?

Just a little consistency is all that is needed. If it is not necessary to prove things, then people can vote without presenting anything to prove they are who they say they are…until such time as laws are passed saying we don’t do things that way anymore. Because of fraud. Which, ya know, according to the rules, doesn’t have to be proven and your repeated demands for proof are what everyone already knows they are, just a bunch of distracting noise.

If things should be proven, on the other hand, then the Republicans need to prove there’s fraud before they can say there is fraud…until then, there is no fraud because they haven’t proven it. But just in case, to be consistent…people should prove they are who they say they are, when they vote. So pass the voter ID laws already. Without proving anything. And that’s alright. Again, your demands for proof are just so much noise.

If you wish to press the double standard, and say Republicans have to prove there’s fraud before they can do anything about the fraud, but the fraudulent voters don’t need to prove diddly-squat when they cast their fraudulent votes, well then…what that would show is what we’ve all known all along, you can’t make a democrat idea look like a good one without applying a double standard.

Those are the three options, with their logical consequences. There is no fourth one.

After that, all the rest of it is just repetition, partisanship and noise.

Distrust of the Media

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

…it’s at an all-time high. A clear majority perceives bias.

From the article:

Partisans continue to perceive the media very differently. Seventy-five percent of Republicans and conservatives say the media are too liberal. Democrats and liberals lean more toward saying the media are “just about right,” at 57% and 42%, respectively. Moderates and independents diverge, however, with 50% of independents saying the media are too liberal and 50% of moderates saying they are just about right.

Summarized at CNS News:

Only 8 percent of Americans say they have a “great deal” of trust in the news media, according to a new Gallup poll.

That is down from 11 percent a year ago and is a record low for the 40 years that Gallup has been polling on the question. [emphasis mine]

Hat tip to Boortz, who adds:

Who is the most trusting the ObamaMedia? Democrats. There’s a real shocker. Goes with the territory, I guess.

Democrats are going to trust the ObamaMedia because people tend to gravitate toward news sources that confirm their beliefs. Therefore, their love affair with Barack Obama is simply confirmed by consuming the daily drivel that is passed off as news.

Kavita Channes’ Venice Beach Shoot

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

Lots more from here.

Instructions, Not Requests

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

Every “good” (sleazy) salesman is taught to tell and not ask. Treat the customer like a child. Too many promising sales fall through because the salesman had the courtesy to seek the customer’s blessing before doing something; if you issue instructions to the customer, rather than requests, you can get things sold that otherwise never would have been.

We’ve seen over the years that this is the way our current President works. He talks a lot about “national dialogue” when it’s a schtik that will get Him out of some kind of trouble, and He’s very fond of playing Himself up as some kind of conduit through which the concerns of the common man can be sent into the beltway so that they, at long last, have an effect on big, important things. But have you ever considered what things would look like if this were really true? Have you ever stopped to consider what it would look like if Obama started a national dialogue every time He wanted something done? As opposed to informing us lowly peons of what He has decided is the right answer? What if Obama was a question-mark — as He ritually presents himself — instead of an exclamation-point?

Would you like your new president to have a special logo? How about an “Office of the President-Elect,” should we have one of those?

Should we implement the DREAM Act?

Do you think, when we spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody?

Would you like your president to bow to foreign dictators?

Trillion dollar budget deficits aren’t something we really care about…right?

How about a half-billion dollar loan to Solyndra, is that a go?

Do you think we should tax capital gains at the same rate as W2-status paychecks, so that Warren Buffett’s secretary never pays a higher rate than he does?

I think it’s time to get rid of manned space flights. What say you?

Should we front-load the taxes on ObamaCare to make it harder to figure out whether the plan pays for itself?

Do you think business owners built the businesses that…uh…y’know, they built?

Do you think we should return the bust of Winston Churchill to the United Kingdom?

Do you think marriage is a union between a man and a woman?

Should Catholic hospitals and charities be forced to provide abortifacients and contraceptives in their health plans, in contravention to their religious principles?

Did the Cambridge Police act stupidly?

Would you like a re-designed American flag?

And my personal favorite: Is the private sector doing fine?

Now with some of these, if you look in some places, you’ll find quite a few of your fellow citizens who will answer “Not only yeah, but hell yeah!” They’re out there. But…not nearly enough to push such a question over the top, were it to be asked in any kind of a respectable nationwide poll.

And here we come to what Barack Obama really is. He is a device. He is a mechanism, to put ideas through that are so bad, that they cannot be “put through” in this way without the benefit of such a magical device. The device He uses is His race. Hillary would have used her sex. John Kerry and Al Gore would have used their ultra-sophisticated ultra-highbrow nuance, their vaunted intellectual ability to “think in shades of gray” as the saying goes. Meaning you’re just a big ol’ slope-foreheaded dummy if you can’t see the wisdom.

Bill Clinton used his charisma. As in: Who gives a flip about the merits of the argument, when this guy walks into a room he lights it up and the ladies just love him, so who cares what you have to say.

Post-Dukakis, the democrat party has been consistently looking for this quality as they choose their champions. Some flavor of false cachet. Some cynical device to make sure arguments are won, always, even when they should not be won. That way, the ideas can mutate and migrate into ever-deepening depths of nuttiness, to such an extent that they make no sense whatsoever, and still have a shot at getting through and hopefully sticking.

Barack Obama is really nothing more than a machine, designed and selected for the purpose of selling ideas that are so bad that a less capable and less sophisticated machine would not be able to get them sold. Merely re-posing these ideas in question form, vividly shows how unsaleable, and how bad, these ideas really are.

Folsom’s War on St. Pauli Girl

Sunday, September 23rd, 2012

Ah, that poor cashier at the grocery store. The one who made the mistake of asking us if we were able to find everything okay, when the answer was no.

I try to build my theories about what is happening based on what I know to be true, and I try to confine them to what I know to be true. But, of course, that is not a realistic way to go about living life; sometimes we have to use inductive reasoning. And Folsom, for all of its blessings, does have this serpentine infestation writhing just beneath the surface, this way of thinking that says “I’ll bet this offends somebody, and you know what will make me an extra good person is if I get rid of it before I wait for anyone to actually complain about being offended.”

Salute!I do not know if that has anything to do with the extraordinary difficulty lately in finding St. Pauli Girl, a bitter-tasting, mid-range bottled ale that is typically stacked in the cooler right between the Becks and Heineken. I know the Becks is still there and the Heineken is still there. They are similar in content but lack the attractive and buxom young beer wench on the labels.

Without STP, an entire beer-and-wine aisle is pretty-young-lady-free. Insecure women can look all up and down such an aisle, and not be reminded of the truth that men appreciate the look of pulchritudinous young females. You know what, I’m going to go down on a limb: I think that’s the motivation. Well, I think sales are down, for some reason. I think it’s a combination. I think sales are down and there’s a pretty girl on the boxes, so the inventory managers are saying what the hell let’s just get rid of it.

Which means I have to say something. Well, I advanced my conspiracy theory to the cashier. I mean, why not. It’s probably right on track. I cannot remember the phrasing I used. I made sure it was extra polite, using good manners like my mother taught me and everything. I did not use the word “piss” as in “piss the feminists off,” and I did not use the word “ass” as in “store managers kissing their asses” and I did not use the phrase “sand in their vaginas” or anything like that. I’m not going to be like that smug prick who browbeat the Chick-Fil-A lady; one must remember the cashier in this situation is just like the cashier in that one, just doing her job. But I did point out, in some way that adhered to all the rules of class that eludes me in the moment, that it wasn’t just this store, there’s something city-wide going on. And it’s annoying me. And I think the pleasing visage of the beer wench has something to do with it.

Now, if there was another beer I liked better that didn’t have a pretty girl on the boxes & labels, I’d buy that other beer. But beer that doesn’t have that Germanic bite to it, grosses me out, frankly. Makes me think I’m drinking urine or something. Chimay Grand Reserve is good once in awhile, but absent a special occasion, the experience is lost on me. If I was a billionaire I still wouldn’t feel right about it. And it’s too sweet, I get tired of it.

There is something else going on in Folsom, and in other places: A perceptible mindset that says, you’re a good person if you remove something that has caused offense, and you’re an even better person if you remove it before anybody steps forward to complain — effectively inventing a class of offended-person that may or may not actually exist. At least, I hope such a person does not exist. I don’t want to live in a world in which beautiful women, and facsimiles of same, must be concealed from view because someone is offended by it all. That would be quite awful. Especially with Oktoberfests going on this time of year. Do we really need a new cultural-protocol that says, the delightful experience of imbibing good beer should be disassociated in the public’s mind, from the spectacle of a pleasant looking female bringing it to you? Who thinks that would be a good move? Whoever that is, I don’t want them making any decisions about anything that have to do with me.

Perhaps this is for the better. I’d probably be in better shape, literally, if I shifted more toward wine, and limited my purchases of the ale to something more occasional, and at WinCo which still stocks my preference and manages to undercut everybody else. Slimmer waist, thicker wallet, those are good things. But I’m not happy about this at all. I don’t like complaining about things, and I detest the idea of having to complain in order to counterbalance somebody else who’s complaining about the opposite…especially if that somebody-else might be a phantom, living rent-free in the beverage-inventory manager’s mind.

“Nobody Gives a Damn Anymore, People”

Sunday, September 23rd, 2012

Nothing to add.

Hat tip to Maggie’s Farm.

Memo For File CLXIX

Sunday, September 23rd, 2012

Inside the election/campaign season as well as outside of it, I am seeing a persistent trend: People with loose lips and loud voices running around (in the case of social media, those are obviously figurative expressions), clearly fancying themselves as capable thinkers who have managed to come up with the final solution or solutions to the problems that ail us — and when you talk to them a little while you find out all of what they have to say can be summed up in a statement taking the form “[so-and-so] should have no more influence than [he/she/they] already have had up to now, they should not have any more from this point going forward, and they’re probably overdue for some kind of a beat-down.” That is all they have to say; nothing more.

The comment I saw that primer’d this detonation had to do with “rich white men,” to which I objected out of personal umbrage. I am, after all, sixty-seven percent of the way there. Much of the world’s population would be well-justified in opining that I’ve crossed the goal line: White, adult, male, and in all the ways that really matter when you get down to it, richer than snot. Ahem, maybe I have a personal bias in so observing, but it remains true nevertheless does it not? There is coming up with a good solution to all of our problems so that they’ll stay solved — and then, there is making sure rich, white men are ostracized from any further discussions of influence as the loathed “guys who made the problem in the first place.” Those are two different things; they are not the same. I don’t think we can solve our problems merely by proscribing against which demographic classes should be able to affect our approaches to them.

I remember my Mom used to tell me when I was very young, something of Thomas Edison saying “Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration.” It took me a lifetime of professional and amateur try-fail-try-again to learn what I could’ve learned in a couple minutes’ time, simply by reading some of Edison’s other comments: This has to do with deductive reasoning.

During all those years of experimentation and research, I never once made a discovery. All my work was deductive, and the results I achieved were those of invention, pure and simple. I would construct a theory and work on its lines until I found it was untenable. Then it would be discarded at once and another theory evolved. This was the only possible way for me to work out the problem…I speak without exaggeration when I say that I have constructed 3,000 different theories in connection with the electric light, each one of them reasonable and apparently likely to be true. Yet only in two cases did my experiments prove the truth of my theory. My chief difficulty was in constructing the carbon filament…Every quarter of the globe was ransacked by my agents, and all sorts of the queerest materials used, until finally the shred of bamboo, now utilized by us, was settled upon.

That is some hard work — if for no other reason, than the bushels and bushels of energy that have to be sunk into trying the thousands of (failed) theories. And, the logical thinking that has to go into each one, ultimately unrewarded, save for the incremental knowledge gained by the understanding that yet another theory did not work.

My realization in Anno Domini Twenty Twelve: This is what people on all points up & down the ideological spectrum, are trying to avoid. That’s a problem. People are trying to get it done on the cheap. “Get it done” meaning: Propose a solution, which may or may not pan out, and end up with lots of community esteem from being the hero. There is an excess of this “drive-by problem solving” in which people want to have their names fastened to a statement consisting of, “Here’s how to fix it once and for all, you just [blank].” Then someone else puts the work into implementation. If it works, the drive-by “here’s what you do” guy is a big hero. If it doesn’t, he’s still the big hero for suggesting it, it must not have been implemented right. If it’s implemented and the situation actually gets worse, he can still be the hero because someone else must have bolluxed it up.

It’s an understandable temptation. The trouble with it is, it leaves us with an acute shortage of real problem-solvers. Fewer people who are willing to stop their steed, dismount, attend to the problem, learn all they can about it and say “Okay, based on my learnings, here is what I think will fix it…and I’m going to stick by and own these results, for good or for ill.”

That isn’t happening, and we see the effect of it on the solutions being proposed. They don’t have to do with problem-solving. They have to do with alienation. “Rich white men made the problem, don’t elect any more of them, vote for Obama.” We’ve had four years to see that’s not the solution but people are still sticking by it. They like to go through the motions of learning from experience. They just don’t want to do any of it; it’s way too much work.

Update: Perhaps my pontificating in the above paragraphs is unclear. Perhaps I can bring things into focus by way of an example. Here is one of the best ones in recent memory: Warren Buffett fixes the deficit in five minutes!

I could end the deficit in five minutes. You just pass a law that says that any time there’s a deficit of more than three percent of GDP, all sitting members of Congress are ineligible for re-election. Yeah, yeah, now you’ve got the incentives in the right place, right? (Laughs)

I shouldn’t be too tough on the billionaire after whom the “Buffett Rule” was named…even though, it is my understanding that he lacks the resourcefulness to figure out where to send his excess tax payments. After all, he is worth a good deal more than I am.

But the fact remains: If you do think it is that simple and you do want to do something about it…you could run for Congress. I’m sure if Warren Buffett were to run, he would win, and from the lower house he could propose such a rule. It would likely get very far. It might even pass, and stand. Would it really solve the deficit in five minutes? Only then would you find out.

But the point is, he didn’t do that and he won’t do that. It’s so much more fun, more socially-uplifting, and more risk-free to just shoot the bull. Too much fun to do this drive-by problem-solving. This pull-pin-walk-away problem-solving. Which leaves the problem unsolved, and in all likelihood, exacerbated. But who cares, right?

He’s not the only one with this problem.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News.

The Decline of Manliness in All Sorts of Things

Saturday, September 22nd, 2012

The rigid & frigid brand of feminism has long had a good answer for anyone daring to stand up for the concerns, privileges and rights of men: They simply reassert their monopoly on victimhood. They don’t wish to acknowledge that men can ever deserve anything better than what they get, so they don’t want anybody else to acknowledge it either. Human nature is vulnerable to suggestion, and a real man is reticent to complain about the hand he’s been dealt. It’s inherently, and cumulatively, unmanly. So this works. They mock any sympathy toward anything masculine, and if all else fails they recite the canard about how men treated women like property “for five thousand years.”

Well lately we see a lot of clues that if we cannot stand up for men, then maybe it is fitting to stand up for manliness.

First things first: If I was an Al Qaeda terrorist, I’d be loving life right now because all the death and destruction I’d be raining down would be the fault of some silly YouTube video nobody’s seen. The American President, Himself, said so many times. So cool beans! I get to do whatever I want. It’s a social disease, Officer Krupke, deep down inside me there is good, there is good!

Second things second: I am, frankly, a little bit appalled at the news reports talking up the fly-by of the space shuttle, with the emphasis on (imagined) little kids staring at the aircraft with eyes the size of dinner plates, fantasizing about becoming pilots someday. You want some news, here’s some news: This occasion was the precise opposite of the way it’s been presented. The shuttle was “flying by” on the back of another plane, on the way to the wrecking yard. Well, museum. But same thing. It was a symbolic journey as well as a practical one: Death of America’s space program, as we have known it. This was a funeral procession.

And: I’m buying a handgun. In California. There are quite a few reminders in the process that this is something I’m expected not to do.

Margot the Reel Girl is upset about the head tilt in her daughter’s school pictures. She perceives the girls are being taught to be submissive. I don’t know if there’s anything to this or not, it comes via word-of-mouth from her daughter, and it seems the (male) principal says he was asked to tilt his head so she could be reading a bit too much into this. At any rate: I do not want to live in a world in which men and women are exactly the same, and I don’t think I’m the only one. Furthermore, if you can force me to live in such a world, I’m only going to take swifter and more enthused notice of a woman from the outside who looks like a real woman. That goes double for the teenage boys whose hormones are in a state of effervescence. So this is a campaign that cannot win.

Yesterday we had quite a spectacle in the wake of Mitt Romney releasing his tax return(s). I suffer feelings of proxy embarrassment pondering what numbers and percentages register on the scandal-o-meters of his antagonists…and in the press…but let’s review what they have to say at a high level, ignoring the evidence they’re using to try to prop it up: There is some grrrrr! outrage (yawn) in Romney having paid a mere one dollar out of seven when he makes all that money, he should’ve paid more. In their world, this is exactly the kind of guy who should be disqualified from running the country or anything else, he was fabulously successful, took less punishment for that success than these nattering nabobs think he should’ve taken, and somehow found a way to make it all legal. That’s their world. In mine, this is precisely the kind of guy we want running big, important things. Not for his sake, but for everybody else’s. This is the picture of a desirable leader. He put his hands on something, made it into something positive, then a bunch of ankle biters came after him and tried to nip his ankles…he outran them. Followed the rules doing it. Gave a bunch of what was left over to charity. Um, hello? What more do we want? Yet some of our so-called “countrymen” complain, and don’t describe the nature of their complaints, the rest of us are just supposed to fill it in for them. Okay…I’ll make a point of trying to get around to doing that for you.

These five observations all have one thing in common: They constitute, and manifest, an unwarranted and unproductive assault on manliness. Not on men, you’ll note. I cannot undertake to define any single man, or group of men, demonstrably harmed in any of the above (with the possible exceptions of the late Ambassador Chris Stevens and his staffers.) This is not about people and groups, but about cultures and expectations. We are not expected to do things like what Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins did when they landed on the Moon. I’m sure a girl coulda done it, and my point has nothing to do with the fact it was an all-male voyage — my point is that this is manliness. Why does a man climb a mountain? Because it is there. Sending men into space, to actually land on heavenly bodies, is just the next step beyond the mountain.

But that was then, this is now. We are effecting a retreat. In the long-term future, it is destined to be recorded in history as a temporary one; that American president who came after the two Bushes, the Kenyan one with the logo, stopped things up around 2012 and they get started again in [blank]. So how temporary? If Denny’s is offering you senior discounts, you are unlikely to see such an effort again — how about your grandchildren? This should bother people more than it is bothering them, I think. We’ve seen the beginning of a dark age and we do not know how dark it will be or how long it will be.

September 11 of any given year is now “Fuck With America” day. Lately, no serious effort has been put into practice to make it not so. The ramifications are rather terrifying, depending on who you are and where you need to be traveling. Our President’s response is not only an assault upon manliness but upon logic and common sense as well. He wants all these mad props for having done away with bin Laden, but when the weird-beards are agitated into a state of murderous rage (which, hey let’s be honest, that’s their whole reason for being anyway) His first move is to blame it on a YouTube video. Typical unmanly, nightmare boss: Something good happens, hog all the credit, something bad happens find a scapegoat. Then go play golf.

Are feminists trying to get rid of any images of females being submissive? Or any images of females being agreeable & pleasant? “Both” must be the only sensible answer to that question, must it not, if they haven’t put any thought into telling the difference and want to push ahead with their crusade anyway? And have you listened to a strident and proud feminist giving a speech lately? For a thought exercise, listen with some “manliness” by putting yourself in the shoes of a man who is married to it and has to listen to it day and night. Yikes, gives me a headache just thinking about it. But we’re not supposed to think about things that way anymore. Someone made a soft, unspoken and unwritten rule that when a woman’s tone of voice is corrosive, we’re obliged not to notice, as long as she’s shattering the glass vessels and window panes expressing a politically correct feminist sentiment.

The handgun thing, of course, has been debated to death. What is not mentioned so much is that dangerous things are good for kids. At least, that’s been my experience with parenthood. Time comes to get the kids in a serious frame of mind about things, it can be a little bit tough. Or very tough. But, with the arrival of a little bit of maturity, and a desire on their part to not hurt others or get hurt themselves, it comes naturally. Yes, they do have what it takes. I feel sorry for kids who are raised all the way up into adulthood never having worked or played with hot molten lead, or bows & arrows, or sharp knives, or explosives. Yes, their judgment is not all the way there yet, that’s what adult supervision is for. Maybe that’s what we’re really arguing about. Maybe the cultural split is with whether parents should be bothered with having to supervise their kids.

And, the tax return thing: We’re having an argument there about whether success is success. When things degenerate to that level, we are entertaining a quibble about Aristotle’s Law of Identity. That is not a good thing, because that demonstrates that one side of the argument is refusing to see things for what they really are. Do we really want to be governed by people who are not capable of making a success out of anything, or if they do happen to blunder into success, end up losing their shirts over it? That is the criteria? Really? I would then have to ask what exactly it is that we’re trying to do. Does anybody know?

In the final analysis, manliness is pretty simple. It’s all about finding something constructive to do after you roll out of bed, and using your brain as you get it done. That’s it. It doesn’t have much to do with actually being a man (although it should); women can be, and some are, quite “manly.” Climb the mountain — just because it’s there. Build good things, and build things that build other good things. Don’t destroy things, unless those are things that would destroy good things. In which case, make sure you get it done right and get it done the first time. Acquire your equipment before you need it, and maintain it properly so it is there for you when you need to use it. Live and let live. Prosper. Donate. Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s, but stand up for your rights. Choose your own charities.

The percentage of Americans who say the country is headed in the wrong direction was last reported, within a casual Google search, to be sixty-one. It has been hovering between sixty and eighty percent for a good long time now. Well, I can tell you why that is: People crave a reason to be. They are not satisfied with an existence in which their own job is safe, and through that job they get medical benefits and don’t need to know what the pills & treatments actually cost, but the job lacks a definable purpose. Even the ones among us who value security over opportunity, and would give up that opportunity at a moment’s notice to make everything just a little bit more extra-extra-super-duper-safe — they share this instinct too, they’re just bad at figuring out what it is they really want. My experience with buying the handgun proves that. The wiring in our circuitry, as a species, drives our desire to go to bed at night with a sense that something is better than it was when we got up that morning, and it’s better because of something we did. We all want that, even if it involves a little bit of risk.

The Utopians are now in high gear on their acceleration ramp toward this perfect society in which everybody gets what they want when they want it, and there’s no reason for anybody to do anything. There is not much remaining to be done, in fact, and because of this they are now enjoying the fruits of their labors. It’s not that sweet, as it turns out. The temple is built, the mortar is all hardened and all the bricks are in place, all that remains is to remove the scaffolding and start taking pictures. But we can see, already, that the reality is not as pleasing as the blueprints. We do not like this new structure and we cannot live in it, for the architecture is formed around a vision of the people, and the vision of the people is as something lacking purpose, just sort of milling about. Like a pestilence of sorts. A pestilence that requires health care and vacations and union cards or something. And it clashes with our instinctive desire to see ourselves as something better.

Regardless of party affiliation, we all have it in common that we have a desire for our tomorrows — along with reasons for those tomorrows.

The Vaginization of America is complete. And it is a fail.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News.

On Needing to Take a Break From Politics

Saturday, September 22nd, 2012

This catchphrase is flying thickly and swiftly through the air lately, which is understandable and one is tempted to associate it with sensible moderation, wisdom and maybe trace amounts of the courage to speak out. But, something funny: It’s 45 days before the election. That doesn’t gel. It’s like getting sick of a Rocky movie right before the final bout.

I’ve lost faith in the honesty behind this complaint. I keep thinking — this is not the making of a decision every day, or even every week; it is the exchange of ideas in advance of making the decision only once. So you say you’re sick of politics; well, you aren’t sick of making the decision, what you’re sick of is weighing the pros and cons. That and maybe having your teevee schedule interrupted. Being reminded that something is happening, that life is not static. That, some time ago, you did indeed emerge from your mother’s womb and life involves a bit more than bobbing around in a sac of warm amniotic fluid.

I think these are liberals talking. They’re putting on a good show of trying their very best to make up their minds between the two candidates, being concerned centrist/moderate types; but, I think these are people who voted Obama/Biden in ’08 and they’re gonna vote that way in ’12. They’re “sick of politics” because they’ve gotten wind of the realization that their decisions stink on ice, and there’s no way they can polish the turd.

Apathetic liberalsAnd I’m lacking the hard data I can use to prove it, but I have the distinct impression that these are people who have gotten “sick of politics” before. And, in the months since then, have been anything but sick-of-politics; have gotten a real charge out of boring the ever luvin’ snot out of the friends, family and co-workers about how terrible it is that Ann Romney’s blouse cost so much money. These are people who have invested their emotions, their excitement, their energy adrenaline and ego in an argument which they now realize they cannot win. They are “sick of politics” because they have a renewed awareness, now, that they have painted themselves into a corner. They are wishing the election was today because every one of the 45 days ahead makes it less likely that their guy can win. And they don’t want that. They want Romney to lose…they want it all over…but most of all, they wish to stop being reminded that they have what is needed to make mistakes. They fastened their whole outlook to the Obama presidency and it’s turned sour, which is a constant reminder that they are fallible.

I made this observation on Facebook, an experience which shocked me in terms of the number of likes that came flying in, and how swiftly. Seems I’m not the only one who’s been noticing.

A lot of these people are not Judeo-Christian, which makes them very proud of course. But, maybe there’s a connection between their secularism and their extreme discomfort with staring down their own imperfections, eyeball-to-eyeball. The parable about The Fall of Adam is an important part of this religion, perhaps the most defining part; it says that mankind is flawed. It is a corruption of blood, we are all descended from him and so we are all tainted. There’s something healthy about that: “Yes, you’re broken, now are ya over it yet?” And so our task becomes one not of seeking perfection, but rather of seeking continual improvement.

One might say that’s a relaxation of the goal, and a higher goal is always better. It’s a case of the perfect becoming the enemy of the good. Whatever else might be said about it, the pious sinner who strives for this continual improvement, knows exactly what to do with his own sin: Get a do-over, if the situation permits it, and in any case resolve to do better from that point forward. In other words — learn. The mere mortal who aspires toward perfection, on the other hand, doesn’t have the first clue. All he can do is deny, deny and deny some more, and then when denial is no longer possible his whole world is up-ended.

Others, from what I’m noticing, are sports fans. I myself am not one and oh, I find that to be so rich…words cannot describe. Do these people have any idea how tedious their favorite time of the year is, for those who are not into it? I cannot even begin to fathom these people. I really can’t. I mean, what…you only want to pay attention to things that have absolutely no impact on you whatsoever, directly or indirectly? Unless you make a bet with somebody? While the politicians decide where the rest of your money goes.

Or — what else? The teevee thing? Can’t wait for it to go back to American Idol, Amazing Race and feminine hygiene product commercials?

Fine. Tune out, drop out, go get stoned somewhere. But…why do people who don’t pay attention, so eager to browbeat everybody else into not paying attention?

How to Build a Middle Class

Friday, September 21st, 2012

Was thinking about combining this into the previous, since I see this as a consequence of where that kind of thinking takes you. It is a subtle connection, but it does exist. Ultimately, I thought explaining the connection would be a more concise and better-worded exercise if I split things up.

Andy Kessler writes in the Wall Street Journal:

In his acceptance speech at the Democratic convention in Charlotte, N.C., this month, President Obama said, “We believe that when a CEO pays his auto workers enough to buy the cars that they build, the whole company does better.”
:
Let’s go back. Henry Ford is popularly credited with inventing the middle class by doubling his workers’ salaries to $5 per day in 1914. A multiplier for the economy, right? Wrong.

The year before, Ford revolutionized manufacturing with the moving assembly line, slashing automobile build times to just 90 minutes from 14 hours. That’s productivity. It allowed Ford to reduce the price over time of his Model T to $290 from $950. Demand took off because it was far cheaper than the cars made by his 88 competitors.

By 1927, 15 million Model Ts were sold to people (most of whom did not work for Ford) and businesses that retired their horses and used these new automobiles productively to lower their own costs, fueling a boom. Raising wages was a byproduct, not a cause. From Ford Motor’s corporate website about the wage increase: “While Henry’s primary objective was to reduce worker attrition—labor turnover from monotonous assembly line work was high—newspapers from all over the world reported the story as an extraordinary gesture of goodwill.”

But 98 years later, the Obama administration still doesn’t get it. According to an Aug. 15 article by Paul Tough in the New York Times Magazine, the administration’s economic team during the financial crisis—Lawrence Summers, Tim Geithner, Jason Furman—”was carrying around this list of multipliers” from Mark Zandi of Moody’s Analytics. A dollar spent to cut corporate taxes would grow the economy 30 cents; make the Bush tax cuts permanent, 29 cents; extend unemployment benefits, $1.64; food stamps, $1.73. “And food stamps was always at the top. That had the largest multiplier.” This is economic malpractice.

Food-stamps recipients are up 70% in four years, to 46.7 million. But, surprise, we haven’t seen that “virtuous cycle.” Jobs build the middle class, not handouts or pay diktats.

What is creepy and dangerous about this is that it is reality-immune. The “true believers” get things their way — stimulus is passed, unemployment benefits are extended, food stamps are distributed. The statistics show that this is not having the effect predicted. And so reality must be bludgeoned to fit the contours of theory, rather than the other way around.

Thought this comment was a good one:

They think money can be redistributed to groups with no direct involvement earning it to create more economic activity than the money they just gave away.

What is conveniently spun out from the argument is that ‘return’ follows either the product, or the effort…You earn AFTER you succeed creating something which represents more value to others than they give you for it. Not before.

There is solid math behind a $16 trillion debt and the $5 trillion of it during the last four years. We’ve been paying out for evaporative ideals.

The people in charge right now don’t seem to see money as any kind of an effect. There is a sort of ideological split here. The ones on the left, representing consumers, see money as a causative agent: We have to get money so we can buy X. The ones on the right, representing the producers, “the ones who sign the front of the check instead of the back of it” as the saying goes, see money as wealth, and the wealth is a consequence: It has been produced by an effort.

The leftists decry the unfair/uneven distribution of the money…which is needed to buy X…but since it is primarily an effect and not a cause, it is being “distributed” the way any other effective residue is distributed. Light is an effect of the lamp. The light in the room will be unequally clustered about the source of it, which is the bulb in the lamp. Heat is an effect of a running engine. The heat in the car will be unequally gathered about & within the engine block. This is only natural.

Since they view money as a cause and not as an effect, they are reality-immune to points like Kessler’s “raising wages was a byproduct, not a cause.” It isn’t that they’re too dumb to see it or even that they refuse to consider it; their mindset won’t allow them to seriously entertain it. The “workers” were paid twice as much — why? Kessler has explained it, linked it to productivity, which makes sense and he’s discussed each step, logically and well. In the progressive narrative, the “why” is: Henry Ford said it should be so. See, we’re not agreeing on the strategy because we’re not seeing money the same way. Conservatives see it as merely an indicator, a telltale signature of something more complex going on underneath the surface. Much like the dorsal fin of a shark. Or, the heat signature of a plane. The money follows an energy that cannot be seen, and the energy is flowing as people produce things.

The progressives, representing the consumers, see the money as the real thing. It is, in their world, more like the water that irrigates the plants, and they’re constantly dreaming up creative new ways to seed the clouds.

Homework

Friday, September 21st, 2012

I recall in seventh grade I got completely hooked on trigonometry. I found it liberating because it was completely evident how such skills could be used in practical, everyday life. The only problem was, in seventh grade we weren’t supposed to be working on trigonometry, we were supposed to be working on something else. (I think it might have been the most fundamental lessons in algebra, the “find x” stuff, which I found to be interesting and challenging for maybe half a day, and the class proceeded to spend several weeks on it.) My recollection is that my school career proceeded this way, with my grades all over the map while I read ahead in the book to the practical stuff I’d actually be able to use. Occasionally a concerned teacher would take me aside and give me The Lecture, having discerned that I could do better. Now and then, a fellow student would do the same.

I also have a recollection of one of these students, polar opposite from me on the popularity scale — which is to say she was on top of it — taking the time to badger me into givin’-a-rip. One of the straight-A, ASB President, lots-and-lots of extracurricular activities types…almost certainly prompted by the teacher. I recall my genuine astonishment that somehow, in this conversation, it emerged that her command of the concepts was simply not there. The high achiever of the class, that is. What she did not actually understand about this, was positively mind-blowing.

Thirty-five years later it’s still blowing my mind. Maybe I should have made a lifelong study out of this.

I have so many unanswered questions about this, first and foremost is: What exactly is it we’re seeing, here? Why do so many students like this have straight-A’s when they…well, to coin a phrase…simply don’t know what they’re doing? Is this cheating? These seem like such good, honest, respectable clean-cut kids, now and in yesteryear. And the answer is complex. I think a simplified version of the correct, overly-complex answer would be a “no,” at least it isn’t a conscious cheating. I think what we’re seeing is a confusion between honest education and mimicry. I have other recollections of an occasional “extra credit” challenge coming up. Why, now that I think about it, I had such a thing happen at work a few months back: Find the encryption keys and then unscramble the message. This kind of thing would pop up now and then at school all those years ago. The assignment would — uniquely — challenge the students’ grasp of the concepts that were taught. Outcome would count for everything and process would count for nothing.

The clean-cut, social-apex, straight-A, ASB President kids would gasp, their faces visibly tinted, and immediately begin “collaborating.” In a big panic.

Morgan, true to form, would dive into this “extra credit” with a huge sigh of relief, like a drowning man finally gulping some fresh air, while his “real” work went only partially finished.

It seems to me that the greater the number of students failing such assignments, the more smug the teacher’s attitude. I infer from this that the takeaway was supposed to be that the learning is never complete, you should struggle with this subject and struggle some more, because even though you’re getting straight A’s you’ll never have it mastered. They were most smug on the occasions on which I was the only one turning it in correctly completed, but that had nothing to do with me because their cachet as teachers was not fastened in any way to my own as a student. I think the lesson was simply: Look how hard and complicated this stuff can get. Now, go back to reducing those fractions we have five more pages to go.

Salute!End result: The entire semester’s “learnings” are reduced down to something like a choreographed dance number. The students that “know” the most will be the ones showing the most unfailing fidelity to the dance steps, although that is demonstrably not any kind of elite “knowledge” since everybody knows what those dance steps are. Extra credit that tests genuine knowledge is an exception. It should be the rule. That’s what homework used to be all about: Zero social interaction, zero opportunity to emulate others, just full-on demonstration of understanding of concepts. Whatever happened to that?

Now, how this ties in with Jessica Alba and the rest of the Hollywood/not-so-Hollywood dipshits saluting President Obama with junk written on their hands:

We must begin with the realization that the “mimicry equals achievement” mindset in our school system did not leave me, rather I left it. The mystery is why the kids who shared my experience were, or at least appeared to be, in the minority. Is a changing perspective with changing priorities not supposed to be what maturity is all about? Are you not supposed to become more concerned with the practical side of things? But the process-over-outcome students were more “successful,” visibly in the majority, and were at least consistent. This is, after all, the way Kindergarten works. Teacher gives a cue, the students then show what good students they are by following it. There is this mindset dominating our educational system that says, this is what education is. Command of the academic material? Command of the concepts? What of it? And it becomes more extreme over time.

Example: In my day a “times table” was something you started out with, way back in fourth grade or something, and you stuck with it a little while until multiplying single-digit numbers became second nature. By the time you get into middle school, someone asks you “what’s four times six” it will become a knee-jerk process to answer 24, and you will have already been ’round the block on all these interesting mathematical quirks like, five times five is one greater, because n^2 is 1+((n-1)*(n+1)). The times table will have helped you get a start because you’ll have the ability to envision all this stuff in your mind. It is a springboard into the world of multiplying two-or-more-digit numbers; that’s how I see it, anyway.

Reviewing my son’s work with his teachers, my girlfriend and I made the discovery that kids today are working from much larger times tables, and for longer — not to get a start, but to continue onward. And it seems they aren’t being tasked with making their own. The tables are printed, laminated, and the kids are considered to be unable to get their work done if they happen to lose them.

And what I’m picking up from it all is this: “Knowing what you’re talking about” has subtly switched places with “giving the right answers.” And we see it in the ink-hand saluting slobbering Obama fans. They can tell us ObamaCare will balance the budget. And that Clinton left a huge surplus when he left office…if you quiz them on the hows, it ends up being embarrassing for everybody concerned. They haven’t got a clue. Oh, it’s painful to watch. They stammer out a few syllables about “it costs less to treat an illness in the early stages, or as a preventative measure…” and drone on from there into a disintegrating, dissolving, incoherent hot mess. How did Clinton fix the budget? Dunno. He’s Bill Clinton. Something wonderful, something amazing.

I’m also picking up that — and this may be right, it may be wrong — this all got started shortly before my school career (class of ’84, meaning something happened in the mid to late sixties) and the trend has accelerated since my time. The teachers are doing it, but they’re not to be blamed, I think the problem is lack of parental involvement. The educational institutions are thinking too small. They’re mired in the world of “Find a question, find the answer, put the answer in the back of the teacher’s book, ask the student the question and compare the answers.” Comparing answers is a swift, economical process. But the core mission of the educational establishment — assessing and building upon the student’s grasp of the concepts — has been neglected and is being further neglected.

And so we have these Obama zombies. They think “We’re all in this together” is an adequate substitute for knowing what you’re doing, knowing what you’re talking about.

Well, why should they not think that? They’ve been taught that every single day between K and twelve. And into adulthood as well. What can you do, in our ultra-modernized society, realizing success if and only if you really know what you’re talking about? Look around; there isn’t much. It’s scary when you think about it. Yes, the mechanic needs to know what he’s doing when he puts the lug nuts back on your car, or else the lug nuts will fall off and the garage will hear about it. But — again, procedure. Reattaching the lug nuts has been scripted. The mechanic follows a script. Maybe he’s made it his business to understand the concepts behind reattaching lug nuts so he can be the best mechanic he knows how to be…but he doesn’t really have to. He can follow steps.

Well what of it, you might say. The steps are the correct ones, and if for some reason they aren’t, they will be revised. Besides, Freeberg, there really is only one way to properly reattach the lug nuts so everyone should be doing it the same way anyhow. You’re complaining about nuthin’. And you’d be completely right, except for one thing: Properly understanding a realm of technology, beyond following the sequentialized steps, is essential if one is to build on it. What is it we like to complain about, when we’re done complaining about high gas prices and high unemployment and Al Qaeda attacking our embassies and old people can’t get their medicines: America losing her competitive edge. We came up with Penicillin and the light bulb and the automobile and the airplane and, ya know, maybe those days are all behind us…Germany is doing this, China is doing that, technology companies are knocking down Congress’ door to raise the work visa allowances so they can hire smart, talented young people from overseas who know what they’re doing.

The lesson we’re learning the hard way, at the expense of our youth and their future opportunities: Life occasionally assigns these knowledge-of-concepts-demanding extra-credit challenges. As homework. When there is no opportunity to do any emulating or collaborating. Peer interaction won’t get you anywhere and neither will memorization of a blessed script. And…we’re pulling down a long string of F’s here. By choice.

The “Omigaw Can You Believe What He Said” Argument, and Other Tiny Thoughts

Thursday, September 20th, 2012

Every time I buy something at the pharmacy I feel my ears reddening with a whole new anger toward those who think “big business” has made health care resources harder to get hold of, and a new and heavier dose of government involvement will somehow fix this. How long does your memory need to work, in order for you to realize that government meddling isn’t making the meds any cheaper? Two years or so, right? Seems that’s how often the politicians promise to fix the problem once-and-for-all.

Thankful for what you have dept.: According to those blueprints for the 47,000 sq. ft. seven-building dream mansion, my 20-speed sixteen-pound carbon frame mountain bikes are gonna be stored on the second floor of the Southwest corner of the estate, with the approach on the opposite side, the Northeast corner…you know, I think I’ll miss the way I have it right now, where I just ride up, pop the garage door open, stash the bike and go have a beer. Of course, the butler will have a cold beer ready for me, along with taking my helmet and sweaty headband from me, so there’s that to consider…and then there’s that swirly slide leading straight down to the hot tub, complete with the costume-changer like Batman had. But there’s something to be said for simplicity. So everybody keeps telling me.

The democrats see it as a problem that so-many-millions of people lack “access to health care,” meaning they don’t have coverage. So their solution: Fine people for not buying some. Is this not the very picture of someone we don’t want making any decisions about anything?

Women in Wal Mart are toads. Women in Target are hot. Women in the ninety-nine-cent clearance superstore are a combination of both. Not a mix — rather, some-of-these and some-of-those. It’s rather fascinating there are so few in-between types, none at all really.

The people who want Mitt Romney to go away are relying a great deal lately on arguments that begin with “Omigaw, can you believe he said.” Reminds me of when Newt Gingrich said women shouldn’t fight in combat because they can get infections. I think this is a hand that can get overplayed, though. If memory serves, those who were knowledgeable were divided about whether Newt was right about the feminine inconveniences of trench warfare, but Mitt was completely correct about 47% not paying taxes. And I think people are starting to notice that our left-leaning friends have a sort of “Ostrich approach” to truth; which is to say, when it’s inconvenient, they can make it go away simply by being conspicuously offended by it.

So the Obamapologists are trying to get out the vote by pledging allegiance in pictures, writing things on their hands first? I thought they didn’t like it when people wrote things on their hands. Wasn’t it just yesterday they were saying Sarah Palin is stupid and unsophisticated for writing things on her hand?

“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.” — Winston Churchill

Rush Limbaugh said that if the average liberal had to choose between making deadly radical Islamist extremism go away, or American conservatism go away, he’d hit the button that would obliterate American conservatism and leave the Islamic radicals running around wild & free. I think he’s right.

When you think about it, a 2008 Obama/Biden voter making the decision to vote Obama/Biden again in 2012, is about the best argument possible against evolutionary theory. Damn dogmatic religious fundies.

Innit funny? “The Rockford Files” has a completely different tone from Dukes of Hazzard, Wonder Woman and The Incredible Hulk…but the bad guys are completely interchangeable. Three-piece suits, mutton-chop sideburns, flare-leg trousers, nice dress boots, .38 snub nose revolvers. And idiots. You could mix-n-match them from show to show, and nobody would ever notice.

We’ve got a lot of people walking around, as free as you and me, laboring under the impression that if they encounter a new idea and they have so much as the faintest flickering between their ears that the idea is a stupid one, then that must be the case, and they do not need to inspect it any further. This is a mistake. I’m sure if you thawed a caveman out from a block of ice or woke him up from suspended animation, and gave him a calculator, after a few moments of inspection he’d conclude the calculator is stupid. He’d probably be as sure of it as anything else in his caveman life. Ever. Calklater not heavy, I hit animal in head with calklater, animal not fall down so what good it??