Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

DJEver Notice? LXXX

Saturday, July 6th, 2013

em•pa•thy (n.):

2. the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another…
He felt great empathy with the poor.

My lately-arriving epiphany here is two-fold:

One, this is testable. Or at least it should be. If you can truly understand and be aware of someone else’s thoughts and feelings, then you should be able to predict what they’ll want and what they’re going to do, just like a real science should be able to predict things. But — a lot of people who have empathy, in fact lots and lots of empathy, can’t even come close. Their concern for “the poor” might be genuine, but if you talk with them about it for a little while, you see some of the things these poor would want to do, the empathic folks can’t see coming. Like, for example, put in a solid day’s honest work for that “minimum” wage, or choose their own health insurance plan. Although their so-called “empathy” might be sincere, and qualify for the dictionary definition in every other way. The word therefore describes two different things: An honest desire to feel the pain of others, in service of some kind of goal to ease that pain and/or to keep more of it from being inflicted — and, access to a conduit of unspoken communication involving true and more useful understanding. The former might not necessarily be able to predict behavior, although the latter can. These things are disconnected, because another outside observer might be able to boast of superior results in predicting behavior of the target, even though he wouldn’t, to coin a phrase, piss on him if he was on fire. Also: Both these qualities are valid things to assess, and to comment-upon, so I’m reticent about labeling one “false” and the other one “true.” It’s just another word being abused by our language, by being deployed to describe two things; the situation is nothing more and nothing less than that.

Like, For Example, Working at HootersTwo: Apart from being disconnected, these two qualities being described by a common word are disjoined. Find me someone who offers bushels and bushels of the one, better-than-even-odds he will be wholly lacking in the other. E1 times E2 equals K. That is my true “didja ever notice” moment; I try to think of someone I’ve known who, as they pondered my various plights or someone else’s, showed ample measures of both kinds. There are very few examples, although the bar is lowered in situations that are especially dire. The guy holding on to the sagebrush to keep from falling over the cliff, probably doesn’t want to die, that’s an easy call to make. It’s after the crisis is averted that we see, those who have the greatest “don’t want anything bad to happen to that guy” empathy, are most sorely lacking in the “predict what he’ll want to do” empathy.

Feminists are a great example of this. All those women feeling empathy for other women, crusading tirelessly for their ability to “choose”…sooner or later they run into a woman who says “Thanks for giving me the choice, now I choose to have the child, stay home, and raise him into a strong, capable man who will make me proud, while my husband works.” They have no idea what to make of it. Truly bewildered. Baffled. Like a spoiled and sheltered pet puppy coming nose-to-nose with a deer for the first time…except…the dog learns about the deer. Militant feminists can’t even reconcile their tiny little world with the occasional spectacle of a woman who cherishes her choice, and uses it to choose things the feminists would never have chosen for her.

A lot of liberalism is like that. But this is a phenomenon much bigger than liberalism.

Daniel’s Post-Independence Day Thoughts

Friday, July 5th, 2013

Blogger friend Daniel Summers, that is…

I’ve got a good bit on my mind this morning. I held back from posting anything negative about our nation yesterday. “Happy Birthday America – you suck!” just seemed inappropriate.

However, our nation does have many, many flaws. I’m not ready to discard her, by any means; but I see, at nearly every turn, her people and her government making the wrong decisions, and continuing her slide towards mediocrity and insecurity, under the guise of improving both. In nearly every issue, the underlying cause appears to me to be the same – an inability to dispassionately, rationally evaluate a situation, policy, etc. on its merits alone. This is displayed on both sides of the political divide, where talking points and comebacks are slung back and forth, and seems to be what passes for civil discourse. It isn’t!
America is not beyond hope. We must change course, though, or we will find ourselves swimming in self-induced mediocrity, while we are crowing over how advanced we are. To get God’s blessing, we must turn to Him; to elevate civil discourse, we must teach reasoning.

Reasoning, to me, represents a great deal more than just the dictionary definition. In my world it is an object-oriented exercise, starting with a vision, from which is derived one or several objectives. To service the objectives, we gather facts, and then we infer from those facts what is really going on. Once we figure out to our own satisfaction what’s really going on, we reconcile that with the objectives and from what we figure out what to do.

This provides a lot of opportunity for rational, reasoning people to disagree, with neither side of the disagreement doing anything irresponsible, intellectually lazy or insincere. They could have different visions, or they could share a common vision but labor toward different objectives. They could be looking at different facts; they could be looking at the same facts and from those, they might arrive at different conclusions about what’s going on. In my experience, it is very, very rare for any two sides to share common visions, objectives, facts and conclusions and then disagree about what is to be done; by the time your compass or ruler passes through that many plot points, the rest of it is usually pretty clear and there’s not much arguing left to be done.

But argue we do. From that, I conclude — see that? I just did it! — there is much disagreement about what comes before. The discussions that ensue don’t go there very often, though, and I believe this is because of what frustrates me…and it seems to be frustrating Mr. Summers as well. Our “national ability,” if you will, to slog it out earnestly about our differences in visions, objectives, facts gathered and conclusions inferred, is in a state of decline and has been for quite some time.

And I think if we could pie-chart-plot it, with honesty somehow restored and then measured, we’d find much of the culpability in the first stage, the vision. People support different objectives because they nurture different visions. If we could somehow fasten that Up! dog collar to ’em so that a sincere statement of the vision could be vocalized, with or without their consent, we’d be hearing an awful lot of the same thing: I want my team to win and I want that other team to lose. I agree with Daniel there’s a lot of that on both sides of the divide. And I also agree that if it passes for “civil discourse,” it shouldn’t.

I recall years ago one of my managers got into a scuffle with another manager, and demonstrated his written-communication prowess in the e-mail. His message was structured in the following way: “I want (something anybody else should want, who gives a hang about the business). In order to do that, I need to (blank), and in order to get that done, I need you to (thing the other manager was refusing to do).” Copied to a zillion and one people. This is not effective for diplomacy, cooling down a tense situation, or anything of the like…but again…vision, objective. The writer of the e-mail made a conscious decision about whether that was part of his priority scheme or not, and decided to go for the jugular. Agree or disagree about that part, you have to admit that the way things are executed following that decision, make sense in their own way.

Maybe that’s not good for a corporate environment. Or, maybe it’s good only for “hill I wanna die on” situations, that have been deliberately and diligently adjudicated to be past the point of easing tensions. But in politics, I think, it would be much more appropriate, and much more often…perhaps all of the time, for the foreseeable future, until people stop equating politics with sports and instantaneously leaping to support their “home teams.” These are thoughts that should be in abundance, and instead, are in short supply — disgracefully short supply, at times, I would say. “I want (what’s good for all of us); to do that, I need (blank); therefore, we must (blank) (unless you have a better idea you can offer).”

I hope, by July 4th next year, we can get back to some of that.

How to Thank a Soldier, by George W. Bush

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013


Soldiers love getting hugged because most of them are big softies deep down.

Four Things Every Man Should Be Able To Do

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013


Pretty low bar. Building a fire, running a mile, changing a car tire, dividing up a bill.

“But what about the people with asthma or polio or something?” you may be asking. “Does that preclude them from becoming real men?” And my answer is, of course, “No, but trying to piggyback on their disability so that you don’t have to run a mile is a decidedly unmanly thing to do. Now get going, Devon, or whatever your name is.”

That one’s like having an itch scratched. Why do some people work so hard at being losers? So sick of the “oh, but what about” thing…

Happy Independence Day

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013

The Un-Definers

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013

Those who were in favor of un-defining marriage are now sanctimoniously inquiring if any noticeable damage has resulted from their victory last week. The answer to the question is in the affirmative, although they’ll never acknowledge it; the damage is gradual, cumulative, and it comes from many other efforts to un-define many other things. I refuse to call it a “conspiracy,” for now, because my consciousness is not too hospitable to the concept of conspiracies. I have learned too much about human deficiencies to accept those, most especially about deficiencies in discretion and deficiencies in coordination. But I will accept an “epidemic.” We have an epidemic lately of frenzied efforts driven toward detaching words and phrases from their accepted meanings. As a result of this, we have sexists calling non-sexists sexists, racists calling non-racists racists, and purveyors of huckster phony “science” calling others “gullible” for showing valid but unwelcome skepticism.

We have bullies calling non-bullies bullies.

There are boring people calling non-boring people boring.

Still can’t find an Internet-linkable source, other than the one I put together, for Dennis Prager’s wonderful statement of “I’d rather have clarity than agreement.” But I think that gets right to the heart of the matter. Defining things, posed as a question, would be a phony controversy because there really isn’t anyone who is outwardly opposed to defining things. The controversy comes up when other priorities emerge to displace, and Prager has accurately identified the other priority: Agreement. And so we have an epidemic, albeit not a conspiracy, to replace, albeit not eliminate, clarity. The definitions of things. So that everyone participating can be in agreement.

But here is the problem: An exchange is a “win” if, and only if, the asset that is received is of greater value than the thing that was given up in exchange. Isn’t that only obvious? You win in the exchange if you buy low and sell high. Nobody responds to Mr. Prager with a rebuttal of “I’d rather have agreement than clarity,” because I think it is intuitively obvious that this isn’t going to work. Agreement at the expense of clarity really doesn’t get us anywhere. You can’t get anything built with it, and you can’t do anything with it. Except feel smug, and stop arguing. Which means to stop thinking, ultimately, because if you can’t argue then you can’t think.

Because we have turned in the ability to argue & think, we find ourselves surrounded by a great many “phony tests” for things…tests that were supposed to find out, at the beginning, what they ultimately did find, and never did have any possibility of finding anything else — therefore, weren’t really tests.

The IRS investigated the IRS.

The Earth is in imminent danger of…something…due to human activity, which somehow translates to United States activity.

It goes so far as to state that boys are girls:

The Colorado Civil Rights Division has ruled an elementary school discriminated against a transgender 6-year-old child by barring [him] from using the girls’ bathroom.

KDVR reports the New York-based Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund announced the ruling Sunday, and said they would hold a news conference Monday to explain the decision in the case of Coy Mathis, who was born a boy but [is identified by his parents] as a girl.

Those who are looking for damage from the un-definition of marriage, might skim through Severian’s thoughts on the subject. Where we’re heading, is fascism: It’s all for the state, and the state is whatever those-in-charge say it is. Definitions are guardrails. With those guardrails removed, it becomes the place of our “leaders” to “drive” wherever they want. But it is their place to steer the car over the cliff and into the abyss, and everybody else’s place to absorb the impact.

Wherever a disagreement endures across time, and arouses the passions of those engaged throughout it all, it seems we invariably find the real disagreement is about this. The definitions. One side labors to identify and preserve definitions of things, and the other side endeavors to keep those definitions concealed, and remove them from perceived relevance.

One will also find, as one inspects other unrelated issues, that people who oppose definitions of things pretty much oppose them all the time, regardless of what is being discussed. Example: A remarkably high portion of those who seek to un-define “science” to the point we can call “climate change” a science, doubt the existence of God. They seek to “un-define” Him. Logically, we should expect climate-change concerns to be driven by a belief in, not a denial of, God. Meanwhile, whoever seeks to un-define science and un-define God, will also be laboring long and hard to un-define marriage, even though the gay marriage movement has absolutely nothing to do with secularism, or with the climate change political movement that seeks to call itself “science.”

Those who seek to un-define things, are engaged in almost an almost militarily offensive operation — they seek a definition until they find a definition, and when they find a definition they try their best to destroy it. Once that’s done, they seek-and-destroy some more.

Since the definitions are targets to the un-definers, each definition has a certain value as a target. These values are not all equal, and so there is a certain hierarchy to the definition-targets that have to be eliminated. An opportunity to un-define one definition, will be sacrificed for a time so that another opportunity to un-define another definition of greater target-value, can be effectively exploited. No different from bombing one enemy ammunition dump instead of another.

Marriage being an institution, it is an extraordinarily high-value target. You will generally find the definitions that are institutions, have the highest value as targets to the un-definers who are seeking and destroying the targets. Another institution is science. We have lately seen the label “science” affixed to a lot of things that are not science, and this is provable: Science is supposed to be testable. Exercised competently and effectively, it should result in predictability. That name is being used to describe things that do not fit this bargain-basement, minimalist, qualification. “Education” is not education, as you and I know it and understand it (hat tip to Captain Capitalism). “Access to health care” is a phrase we can no longer take seriously. We can’t trust “congressional oversight” because we can see for ourselves how often it’s making…oversights. Now we have “marriage.”

One reason we can no longer take science seriously just because it calls itself “science” — why it so often fails this minimal test of testability — is that it has leaped off the Prager value system, seeking to sacrifice clarity for agreement. Clarity over agreement is an inherently positive process, an inherently inclusive process. Information emerges, you figure out what to do with it whether it’s welcome or not. It has to mean something. This doesn’t lead to good feeling all the time, but it leads to some kind of learning. Agreement over clarity, on the other hand, is an exclusionary, and inherently negative, process. It’s always “whittling,” turning the block into a horse by removing whatever doesn’t look like a horse. Someone is constantly being handed their hat, and told not to let the doorknob hit them on the way out.

Why are the un-definers going after institutions first, as they select their definition-targets? One possible explanation for this is that their real mission is not to destroy all of the definitions, but the society we have built that rests upon them.

They are inherently destructive. They must be. Building things and preserving things, I’ve noted many times before, requires a certain mental discipline that isn’t needed for destruction. Un-defining is, by its very nature, un-enlightening. So destruction is all these people can do. And once they’ve started, they can’t stop.

“What Would Happen If You Gave a Gun to a Slave?”

Tuesday, June 25th, 2013

…they’d stop being a slave, of course. From the video here (which auto-plays when I try to embed it).

Huh, so that must be what they were trying to say in Django Unchained. Hmmmm…maybe not

I don’t own a gun. But if gun control were to happen in America, I would have no problem with it whatsoever. Gun control would probably do wonders here.

Wonder if Tarantino’s had a chance to re-think that one. He’s certainly been given the inspiration to do so.

As for the woman in the video, her opening proposition is an interesting one. “I’m not one of those people who admonishes any American for bringing up the issue of gun bans and the second amendment in the wake of a tragedy like this, I think it’s natural and normal.” Since I’m opposed to gun control, will I be the reasonable guy and at least concede that much?

Actually…no. I won’t concede even that much. It is not natural and not normal, when you look on a problem that is obviously hurtful and urgently demanding a solution of some kind, and your first reaction is “What can we ban to make this go away?” Or “What can we make it harder for everyone to do?” Or cutting through all the bull: “What freedoms can we take away?” When the expansion or preservation of freedom is viewed as the problem, and the curtailment of that freedom must be a prerequisite for any effective solution…or, in some cases, is the solution. That’s not normal and that’s not natural.

Other than that, though, she’s got it. The Second Amendment is not about hunting, and it isn’t about muskets. It’s about freedom.

Think Apocalyptically and Act Locally

Tuesday, June 25th, 2013

Sultan Knish, hat tip to Maggie’s Farm:

For all the talk of apocalypse and melting poles, the environmentalists really only care about your economic activity. Buy or don’t buy. But preferably buy, so long as you’re buying green, or buying carbon credits along with whatever you’re buying.

The sinner fills up on paper towels, but the righteous man buys paper towels with a green stamp on the box. The man of little faith may drive an SUV, and the faithful may also drive an SUV, but the faithful man’s SUV has a bumper sticker warning everyone to conserve something or other. Such hypocrisies are constant, pervasive and little commented on.

What began as a movement for the responsible stewardship of the earth has been corrupted from the ethical to the fanatical. Conservationism kept humanity in the picture. Environmentalism rages at humanity. Behind its colorful drawings and its dolphin key chains is the vision of a world in which humanity and its fire sticks are the original sin.

That primal rage has been channeled and diluted into a million businesses, into countless regulations and profitable ventures. The new environmentalists are regulatory robber barons like Al Gore, green rent seeking tycoons looking to use cap and trade, and a thousand mandatory revenue streams to fleece both the faithful and the unfaithful. [emphasis mine]

Nobody ever actually says buying a different kind of light bulb and unplugging your cell phone will make the difference between the planet’s continuing survival and its imminent doom. They just use these generalized topic-label terms — “global warming,” “climate change,” “green energy” and others — to link the extinction-level-event concern, with the meaningless but profitable things we’re supposed to be doing about it.

In doing so, they exploit a dry rot that has been setting in to our thinking, for decades: We have been losing, and are continuing to lose, our ability to form effective solutions to defined problems. We’ve lost the instinct to circle back around after a solution has been proposed, and ask that annoying but purposeful question: “Okay, and this changes the likely outcome toward something more appealing to our preferences and more fitting to our vision…how?

We’ve stopped doing this. And someone has seen a way to make big piles of money from that. It’s pretty smart of them.

The Sopranos in Seven Minutes

Sunday, June 23rd, 2013

…all of it. So far as I know.

Hat tip to Maggie’s Farm.

The Bible’s in the Middle

Sunday, June 23rd, 2013

Very astute observations, offering great potential benefit to anyone who hasn’t seen the new Superman movie, along with anyone who’d like a better introduction to Plato, Nietzsche, Popper, et al.

And for those who have seen the movie, it is, as Arsenio Hall said many a time, a thing “that makes you go hmmmm…”

Hat tip to blogger friend Rick.

“No Care Policy?”

Saturday, June 22nd, 2013

Aw, man…

Yeah, that’s good advice. Pack it well, it may not be treated well…

From here.

No Obvious Answer

Saturday, June 22nd, 2013

George Leef at National Review Online notices something interesting at New York Times. Hat tip to Maggie’s Farm.

This interview with Laszlo Bock, senior vice president of people operations at Google, was conducted and condensed by Adam Bryant.
Q. Other insights from the data you’ve gathered about Google employees?

A. One of the things we’ve seen from all our data crunching is that G.P.A.’s are worthless as a criteria for hiring, and test scores are worthless — no correlation at all except for brand-new college grads, where there’s a slight correlation. Google famously used to ask everyone for a transcript and G.P.A.’s and test scores, but we don’t anymore, unless you’re just a few years out of school. We found that they don’t predict anything.

What’s interesting is the proportion of people without any college education at Google has increased over time as well. So we have teams where you have 14 percent of the team made up of people who’ve never gone to college.

Q. Can you elaborate a bit more on the lack of correlation?

A. After two or three years, your ability to perform at Google is completely unrelated to how you performed when you were in school, because the skills you required in college are very different. You’re also fundamentally a different person. You learn and grow, you think about things differently.

Another reason is that I think academic environments are artificial environments. People who succeed there are sort of finely trained, they’re conditioned to succeed in that environment. One of my own frustrations when I was in college and grad school is that you knew the professor was looking for a specific answer. You could figure that out, but it’s much more interesting to solve problems where there isn’t an obvious answer. You want people who like figuring out stuff where there is no obvious answer.

Interesting way of phrasing it, with the “artificial environment.” I’ve often noticed that this special intelligence that is involved in anticipating expectations in other people, is quite different from that other special intelligence leveraged when puzzles are being solved and there is “no obvious answer.” I see it in my own experiences. I tend to achieve my greatest sense of confidence and comfort when I’m solving puzzles, but through the years my efforts have been almost entirely derailed by the artificiality. Just knowing someone is “back there,” expecting a certain response or a certain type of resolution, is enough to break my concentration entirely.

It seems like these two intelligences are more or less diametrically opposed. People who are head-and-shoulders above me in this special group activity of sitting in a room, figuring out what “everyone” is thinking or wants to see — they’re first to anticipate it, I’m the last — team up with me to solve a problem, a no-obvious-answer problem. I invariably find that after I’ve solved the problem on my own, I have to back up and explain to them the basic concepts. And there, more often than not, I fail; they can’t quite grasp what I’m talking about. But the solution works, and a sense of “let Morgan handle this whatever-it-is from now on” sets in. And then we have a meeting about it, and I go back to being lost. Out in front of the crowd, or else falling way behind, but never shoulder-to-shoulder. I suspect I’m far from alone in these experiences.

“Conservatives Are the Mainstream”

Saturday, June 22nd, 2013

I’ve said it again and again and again and again

The moderates stand with the conservatives. People who don’t give a rip about democrats and Republicans, will say — emphatically — no, you can’t do that. If bullies are picking on kids and they get some blowback from it, leave it alone, the situation handled itself. Save your interference for when the bullies are doing their thing and not suffering natural consequences from it, that’s what discipline is for.

The liberals stand alone in saying: Oh, no. Law and order? Can’t have that. Better to have chaos than law and order, if the law and order arrives by means of vigilantism. Better to let the hooligans win. Better to let Gotham City burn all the way to the ground than to have Batman running around doing his thing.

Liberals stand alone here. And yet, we end up doing things their way, time after time.

Lloyd Marcus, writing in American Thinker, notices it too.

The left, assisted by their buddies in the MSM, use a very effective tactic to render conservatives politically impotent. They accuse us of being haters and aggressors, all the while forcing every item on their socialist/progressive list down America’s throats. Conservatives who were simply minding their own business are branded the bad guys.

Conservatives are swiftly becoming an ever-increasingly “silenced majority” — persecuted, intimidated, and bullied into shutting up. Rush Limbaugh says our country is in the midst of a peaceful takeover. America as founded is slipping away daily.
Conservatism wins every time it is confidently and passionately articulated. Ronald Reagan proved that. Suggesting that the GOP has surrendered the New Jersey Senate seat is yet another MSM attempt to dispirit and discourage conservative voters.

Time to dust off this favorite image, and put it up once again…

“Why I Am a Republican”

Saturday, June 22nd, 2013

Bikini Snowboarding

Saturday, June 22nd, 2013

She’s attracting quite the crowd…I suppose they’re making careful mental notes about proper snowboarding technique.

From here.

The Teacher Fantasy

Saturday, June 22nd, 2013

Fifty pics here. Hat tip to Linkiest. Some would be called questionable before a general audience and might not be suitable for the workplace.

Have to agree with the author of the comment noting the lack of teacher-ish-ness about them, maybe it should be called “girls in glasses.” The one I embedded is the most teacherly-looking one, I think…

“Extraordinary Scientific Delusion”

Saturday, June 22nd, 2013

It’s important, because it could be just one out of many. And likely is.

Gerard pointed to one of the best articles I’ve ever seen, a few days ago…

Everyone knows that stereotypes are inaccurate, especially psychologists…
[Many examples, cited by page number]
Except stereotypes are not inaccurate. There are many different ways to test for the accuracy of stereotypes, because there are many different types or aspects of accuracy. However, one type is quite simple — the correspondence of stereotype beliefs with criteria…One can do this sort of thing for many different types of groups.

And lots of scientists have. And you know what they found? That stereotype accuracy — the correspondence of stereotype beliefs with criteria — is one of the largest relationships in all of social psychology. The correlations of stereotypes with criteria range from .4 to over .9, and average almost .8 for cultural stereotypes. The average effect in social psychology is about .20. Stereotypes are more valid than most social psychological hypotheses.

Of course they have to be. If stereotypes were no more accurate than most psychological hypotheses, they’d never make their way into our evolutionary hard-wiring in the first place. “Stereotypes are not accurate,” as a statement, suffers from the same problem as “Torture doesn’t extract truthful information”; the minute you take it seriously, the question naturally emerges “Well then, how is it that either one ever came into common use?”

So just a little bit of diligent thinking about how things work tells us something is wrong with the stereotypes-not-accurate chorus, and the measurements tell us something is wrong with it too. The chorus fails to find the right pitch, oh-for-two. The article proceeds from there, straight to the point:

Which raises a question: Why do so many psychologists emphasize stereotype inaccuracy when the evidence so clearly provides evidence of such high accuracy? Why is there this Extraordinary Scientific Delusion?

The article then blames the “leftward lean of most psychologists.” Hmmmm, this inspires a lot of thought. Let’s take a look at what might be happening here — I think the problem is widespread, not limited to discussions about stereotypes and not even limited to psychology. So let’s entirely abandon the stereotype issue and look at what’s going on with the institution.

I’m inclined to blame the lefties last, here, and poke around looking for some other causes. Not quite so much because I think they’re blameless, or that I doubt the statement about political leaning within the psychological field. I’m thinking the problem through like an engineer, and I can’t help noticing something: If we could somehow press a magic button, and convert every social science practitioner into a conservative libertarian, there is much of the original problem left unaddressed. We’re told, for generations, that “science” says wet; throughout all that time the correct, measurable and reproducible answer is dry. Am I then to believe the scientists did all their science-ing, found out their cherished beliefs were wrong, and simply chucked the data out the window so they could continue to pursue their impassioned political objective of spreading liberalism throughout the world?

Never blame on malice, that which can be attributed to incompetence. Or, in this case, laziness.

We had on here a certain dissenting voice who sought to prove the existence of anthropogenic global warming by citing the overwhelming “consensus” among “scientists.” This argument was effectively deflated when it emerged there was an inconsistency in defining what exactly a scientist is; at one point, the definition swiveled away from something concerning possession of the proper credentials and affiliations, to “one who does science,” in this case the Eratosthenes after whom this blog is named, with the water-well experiment. These are two different definitions. To argue that they’re not, would be an insistence that the credentialing process seeks to provide an accurate report on who is & isn’t doing-science, which is an idea I don’t think anyone is seriously going to advance or pursue. So it follows that we have a lot of people, at any given time, who qualify for “scientist” under the first definition without qualifying under the second, and vice-versa. This is obviously hazardous to any argument taking the form “97 percent of scientists agree [with assertion] [therefore we know it to be true, since “science” says so].”

My point about social scientists coming up with the demonstrably wrong answer, connects here, through this: I like the one-who-does-science definition better. When we argue about whether or not to believe the science, we seem to be arguing here back & forth about what exactly science is. This all seems strange and surreal to me, since when I was growing up it didn’t seem like there was much ambiguity about it: Science is a process. Because it is a process, we say things to each other like “let’s fix this through the scientific method” or “I don’t think you’re doing this scientifically enough.” It seems the argument that really needed to happen, that never quite happened, has to do with replacing this definition with something about class membership: “All the scientists say” doesn’t have anything to do with a process, unless the speaker is endeavoring to make a point of “Everyone who pursues the scientific process comes to this same conclusion.” That doesn’t seem, to me, to be what they’re trying to say at all. So the question that confronts us is one of: Is science still a process? Or is it a peerage of elites, privileged with membership in some exclusive community, and because of that presumed to be more enlightened than those left outside.

This relates to another concern I see emerging: I was always taught that scientists work differently than normal people, because it is in their job description to toil away tirelessly in efforts destructive to their own theories. This new peerage-science, I’ve noted before, seems more interested in keeping the theories propped up, even punishing those individuals within its membership who challenge the ones that shouldn’t be challenged. The former, classical model of science, would rain down on its own cherished theories with the destructive energy of experimentation, by cumulatively gathering more data; if that data were to be discarded for some reason, the disposal was done because of concerns over the input, and in pursuit of an objective of keeping the experiments clean and therefore reliable. This new science, rather than cumulatively gathering more data, seems intent on a more subtractive model, coming up with newer and progressively more creative reasons for disposing of data because of output concerns — the data do not support the conclusion that is desired, so they have to go. And whoever came up with the data should probably hit the road too; don’t let the doorknob hit ya where the Good Lord split ya. And please hand over your credentials on the way out.

Screwing Around and ScienceSo we have two things here, being described with one word, leading to confusion. One thing is an effort to measure things, validate those measurements, and logically infer from all that the nature of the world in which we live. The other thing is a bureaucratic thing, an effort to build a consensus. In the first of those two things, measurement is the point, and apart from that, the inference process; in the second, it is the consensus itself that is the point. We should not be mixing up these two definitions of “science” because they are not adequately similar, their differences are meaningful — hence the confusion. As anyone who works in statistics knows, a statement of the form “everyone within set X does Y” is only as good as the definition of the set X. Blogger friend Phil has raised this point many a time, that in this case if the set is being culled according to a proper orthodox belief in something, then the statement being made about its consistency in that belief, is reduced to nothing more than an exercise in redundancy. “Everyone who agrees with us, agrees with us.” And that is how, I think, psychology sunk its century of desultory thinking into the statement “stereotypes don’t work,” which is found to be demonstrably untrue the first time someone decides to objectively test it. “Science,” as we know it, hasn’t failed us here. What failed us is something else, masquerading under the label.

How do we tell the two apart? After all, the good, solid, classical, process-driven science has every reason in the world to say: “All the scientists agree such-and-such,” just like this modern, phony, consensus-driven elite-group science. That’s what makes a disguise effective, the disguise emulates something that has a reason to be — that is how a disguise evades detection. But if I make a such a statement about all-scientists-agree, and I’m earnestly discussing the solid, utilitarian, classical science, I should be talking more about the process than about the persons involved. My statement should be one of, “everybody who’s made this measurement has come to the same conclusion.” Your waist size is 36 and your inseam is 34. You parked less than twelve inches from the curb. Your expense report adds up to $1,202.34. In implementation, such a test becomes tricky: The fraudster consensus-scientists are trying to make it look like that. And they can make it look like that. And they do. “Everyone within our distinguished peerage agrees X” may mean…they all measured it. Or, it may mean the matter was put to a vote, and the vote was unanimous. There may be nothing untoward about that, but the scientific value is certainly questionable. Or, it may mean there is an effort in place to expel anyone who says not-X, and if you find a “scientist” who says not-X, or who questions X, rest assured he won’t still be a scientist by this time next year, because we’ll get right on that.

The best way to tell the difference, I think, is: Classical science is a positive process. The cumulative collection of information is unending. Therefore, it is “hungry,” always trying to find ways to get hold of more. This new phony consensus science works according to a negative process; its sustained effort is toward pruning. Sooner or later, someone launches into a dialogue about who must be booted out.

Also, real science writes in pencil, and lightly. It’s always trying to find ways to topple its preconceptions. Everything is tentative.

The phony science writes with ink. Its narrative is unchanging, and easily distinguished: They got their anointed experts into a room somewhere, had a symposium with presentations and workshops and committee assignments and papers, and when it was all over they put out a “bible” of some kind. This is to be taken as the final, definitive word. Oh sure, it’s subject to revisions, but only occasionally, and only by the experts — apart from that, the bible is to be revered as the sacred scripture that it is. If it isn’t revision-time, or if you’re not one of the anointed, then shut your mouth and do as your told, don’t question the bible.

That’s not how science works. That’s how religion works…because religion is supposed to work that way. It’s faith-based. Outside of church, there are other things that work like that; bureaucracies work that way. Right before they are properly ridiculed.

Cross-posted at Rotten Chestnuts and Right Wing News.

Just Another Spoiled, Rich Girl With Daddy Issues

Monday, June 17th, 2013

Yeah, can’t imagine why Han Solo would fly off without taking her along.

From GeeksAreSexy.

Forty Ladies Doing Cosplay Right

Sunday, June 16th, 2013

From eBaum’s World.

No More Docu-Dramas About Henry VIII

Saturday, June 15th, 2013

…because I don’t like ’em. And that includes the most recent one with all the pretty people. The one where the piano-case-sized King with a bad case of Gout is played by that short-haired skinny dude.

Although it must be said, I certainly appreciated the pulchritude of the Anne Boleyn actress very, very much. No question about it: That is a babe. Hey, it’s a cable-network produced show chock full of historical inaccuracies, and hot young pretty people. There are definitely advantages to be found.

Natalie DormerThe problem is that the King’s Great Matter, as a significant event in the history of Western civilization, exists not as an origin of something that came later, quite so much as a consequence of other things that came earlier. History’s like that, you know: Things happen because other things happened earlier. Another thing about history is that we are very often left with a big plate of mess, along with historians arguing endlessly about what was real, what wasn’t, what’s provable, what’s questionable. We just don’t know.

But the point to a Henry VIII docu-drama is always the same: Eww, these sexist pig men were a bunch of selfish jerks.

It’s like watching The Daily Show. You’re supposed to take it seriously while it’s motivating you to get angry at, or hate, or act smug and morally superior to, somebody. But then when there is a provable mistake in the record or in the logic, all of a sudden the whole “docu-” part of it pops, like a birthday balloon, and you’re the one with all of the problem because you’re taking it seriously. It’s fiction loosely based on history, you big dummy.

Had a discussion with this with one of my Facebook peeps, who is not part of the problem, because she absolutely does know what she’s talking about. But, you know, my point stands:

…[W]hen the audience watches it and decides King Henry isn’t behaving according to acceptable ethics in our modern day & age, and neither is Cardinal Wolsey, or Thomas Boleyn, or any of those other disreputable characters, they’re not thinking of it as fiction, they’re getting all twisted off at REAL people.

And I don’t care about real dead people too much, but the “fans” end up laboring under the mis-impression that they’re learning something about history….I see people getting actually upset about certain things happening, that actually didn’t happen, or didn’t happen the way they were presented. They don’t know what’s certain and what’s questionable, and don’t care.

There’s also probably a gender divide taking place here. See, to a man, what we see happening is “You’re supposed to get all upset at these guys because they got married for purely materialistic reasons” and our reaction is something like…uh, don’t understand the concept of getting married for materialistic reasons. These days, guys marry into obligation and debt. Also — it has always been socially acceptable for ladies to get married for materialistic reasons, right up into the moments in which I am typing this sentence. See: Clinton, Hillary and Obama, Michelle, along with many others.

So I think the chicks get a lot of enjoyment out of this when the dudes…well, as always, we’d prefer something with tits, guns and car explosions.

If you want to watch a story that is a work of fiction loosely based on real historical events, ya know, this guy named Bill Shakespeare actually put a lot of time and effort into that stuff. There’s just no call for watching this bit about the fat slob with the six wives over & over again.

The way I see it, there are centuries and centuries of things going on, all related — they go on, they culminate in this one little drama about the fat pig who was lucky enough to be born into all this power and wealth, and who wants to get a divorce and still be a good Catholic. Kind of like any old Kennedy asshole. This causes a split with the Catholic Church, which drives many events that came afterward…but what came afterward isn’t explored in equivalent detail, and neither is the antecedent. The conclusion I have to reach is that this isn’t really about history, it’s about getting all ticked off at men who got married for practical reasons.

Which was acceptable then, and isn’t now. But then again, it’s rather silly to scowl on the practice with supercilious disapproval now. Kids and wives are liabilities, not assets. Liberals made them that way. So men don’t get married for security and prosperity. From the financial side of things, they get married for expense and risk.

But as I pointed out, above: It has always been okay, and is now, for women to be married for pragmatic reasons. It has also always been a pretty solid plan for them to do so, one very likely to achieve success, with little to no risk. And for the most part, is now, although that last part may be on something of a downslide, since I’m not sure how appealing a financial prospect is the average bachelor during Obama’s man-cession.

That all having been said, and I think what follows speaks for most thinking human males: I find it difficult to condemn fictional constructs of men who’ve been dead for half a millennium, when that’s just the way things worked all over the place, with the upper crust types anyway, since Roman times and before. As a modern man, I don’t understand “get married for power and wealth” — that whole concept predates me. And I can’t join in on the “two minutes hate,” which seems to be where all the passion is invested.

And I really don’t understand the types who gather around, cluck their tongues in disdain at King Henry and Thomas Boleyn, and turn around and say “Hillary for President in 2016.” T’heck??

“…While Calling Themselves ‘Progressives'”

Saturday, June 15th, 2013

Zo is calling-out the modern, “acceptable” racism.

To think of your own racism as somehow okay, or even “progressive” or tolerant, just because the hostility is going in the opposite direction, is kind of like saying you’re not beating your wife because you’re using your left hand or something.

At 6:39: “But to those who say that I wanna be white, and say that I’m a sell-out for liking rock music — you want racism. You’re addicted to being angry about it. You don’t want racism to end. You validate your existence by convincing yourself and others that you’re a victim. And you get your rocks off by lashing out at other people, wanting to drag others into your misery. And you attack people who refuse to be shackled to misery with you.”

Most Excellent Tweet

Saturday, June 15th, 2013

Good things coming out of 140-character-land, I see. Should start a running-search for Tweet Of The Year, or TOTY.

This one would go in the funnel to be sorted out later with all the other contenders, I think…

NSA Slow Jam

Saturday, June 15th, 2013

To coin a phrase, “make no mistake.” And while we’re at it, “let me be clear.” The author of the wonderful bullet points in the previous is not me, but The Virginian…I didn’t do anything but trip across it, and I only managed to get that done because American Digest got to it first.

Anyway, The Virginian is a place you should add to your regular reading if you haven’t done so already. Good stuff there…some of it is links, some of it is thinks.

Thought this one showed some decent quality.

“If Palin Had Become President”

Saturday, June 15th, 2013

How’s that for flame-bait? From The Virginian.

Hat tip to Gerard.

  • Palin would not have dismissed the Black Panther intimidation lawsuit that the government had already won.
  • Palin would not have seized two auto companies and give them to her cronies in and out of the UAW.
  • Palin and her supporters would not be claiming that her opponents were racists for disagreeing with her policies.
  • Palin would not have tried to block Boeing from building a factory in South Carolina as a gift to her union buddies in Washington state.
  • Palin would not have toured the world apologizing for America.
  • If Palin Were President

  • Palin’s Homeland Security Department would not have classified patriots as security threats.
  • Palin would have expanded oil and gas exploration on federal lands instead of reducing it, make the US even less dependent on foreign oil.
  • Palin would not have allowed the Pigford suit to be settled that gives billions of dollars to “farmers” that never farmed.
  • Palin would not have shipped thousands of guns to Mexican drug cartels so that they could be found next to the bodies of murdered Mexicans and American agents.
  • Palin would not have encouraged the IRS to harass Tea Party groups.
  • Palin would not have encouraged the IRS to illegally reveal the names of contributors to conservative groups to Liberal organizations so that contributors could be harassed.
  • Palin’s IRS would not ask groups seeking 501(c)4 status about their prayer life.
  • Palin would not have passed a national health care bill that is a 2000 page “train wreck” and that threatens to destroy America’s health care system.
  • Palin would have focused on reducing unemployment as it skyrocketed instead of wasting a trillion dollars on green boondoggles.
  • Palin would have known that in today’s regulatory state there is not such thing as a “shovel ready jobs” program.
  • Palin would not have spent a trillion dollars to prop up state and local government employees when private sector employees were losing millions of jobs.
  • Palin would not have handed out “Palin phones” to welfare recipients.
  • Palin would not have attacked Libya, without congressional approval, turning it into a rogue state.
  • Palin would not have allowed her ambassador to Libya to be slaughtered, along with three US service members, and told would-be rescuers to stand down.
  • Palin would not have blamed a demonstration that did not occur caused by a video that no one saw for the attack by terrorist in Benghazi.
  • Palin’s UN ambassador would not have gone on national TV to lie about the terrorist attacks in Benghazi because she would not have broken Libya in the first place.
  • Palin would not have been stupid enough – or naive enough – to support the Islamist take-over of the Egyptian government.
  • Palin would have given encouragement to demonstrators in Iran when they went to the streets to protest a fraudulent election.
  • Palin would not be giving the Islamist regime in Egypt billions of dollars to keep it in power.
  • Palin would not have told Putin to wait till after she was re-elected because then she would have more flexibility.
  • Palin’s appointed officials would not be lying to congress and the American people when they are not invoking the Fifth Amendment against incrimination.
  • Palin would not be sending Secret Service agent to her critics’ homes demanding to do a search, go through his medical records, his computer, his cell phone and pretty much anything else, and then threaten to come back and confiscate his guns if he “stepped over the line.”
  • Finally, Palin would have taken responsibility for the things that happened while she was President instead of telling us that she only read about it in this morning’s newspaper.

The toughest question that never got answered is, “Just what are these ‘extreme policies’ of Sarah Palin?” Her critics, be they Obama fans or be they something else, can’t field that one.

But more important than that, I see a lot of people are missing the point: Many potential presidents right about now, would not have done these things. Much of the problem is partisan, in that it is in the nature of democrats to obsess much about what’s being said when it’s all over, how loud each voice is, and who has the last word. It’s worked well for them, so why should they stop. But the real issue is this “transparency” thing. We can’t really have any with a democrat in charge. Implicit in all of these bullets is the unstated extra, “If President Palin ever made any movement in any of these directions, the media would light her up like a fucking Christmas tree.”

But, Obama gets to do what Obama wants to do. For now…

Update: Welcome Instapundit readers. Writing credit for the bullet points goes to The Virginian.

“Child Saves Society From mom’s Bad Choices”

Wednesday, June 12th, 2013

Perfect headline from Comment #3, handbanana, 6/11/13 23:09.

Suffolk County police say the ex-boyfriend entered the Selden Road home of the teenager’s mother and confronted her and her new boyfriend around 4 a.m. Monday.

When the intruder threatened the woman with a handgun, her teenage son intervened and stabbed the man, police said. The intruder was pronounced dead at Brookhaven Memorial Hospital.

Comment #1 from bagger1 isn’t a bad summation either.

Male Nihilism

Wednesday, June 12th, 2013

Wow, that Brother-in-law is really on a roll. Look what else he found:

Of course, this inspires shudders, winces and face-palms. But what else? Speaking for myself, it inspires thought…in no small part because, for many others, I know it inspires positive reactions, squeals of delight even, or at least smiles. Those skeletal-looking, “anger just beneath the surface” bitter smiles from the moonbat types.

Show me a thousand Hillary Clinton supporters, I’ll show you a thousand people who are pissed about something. That holds doubly true for supporters of a ticket like this. No, really. Put Hillary Clinton in charge of a job you want to get done with success? There may be a lot of people who want to go through the motions of it, and act it out. But that isn’t something you’d really want to do. What would you have her run? Where’s her track record of success? Anywhere? No, there’s only one reason to back Hillary. You’re angry about something.

And you want something or someone destroyed. Taken down a peg or two, at least.

That’s true of Michelle, and it’s true of a lot of people who’ve accumulated significant and meaningful power over the last six years or so. In fact, I identify that as the epicenter of all our problems: We treat, as creative and constructive geniuses, or soothing healers, people who are nasty and destructive — never created, or constructed, or soothed, or healed a damn thing. And never will. We lie to ourselves about who is building, or is inclined to build, something great and grand.

Our elected leaders have not been elected to lead. They’ve been elected to be mean and nasty. To bring injury to the “right” people, and to conceal things.

In the case of Hillary and Michelle, they have something else in common: The irony of standing as an icon for womens’ strength, capability, sense of independence — and nastiness — after having achieved everything in life by way of marrying the right fella. If feminism means the same thing that it meant back in my childhood, it must have become awfully imprecise about things, awfully sloppy about things. But I don’t think it means the same thing it used to mean. I think it has come to sustain a prolonged war against men and manhood, to keep fresh that lust for revenge within it, keep the adrenaline flowing there. To stop the sense of reason from settling in, as it typically does in human conflict. To keep the irrationality preserved. To keep that “new car smell” in a deteriorating, fifty-year-old hulk that never had it, and always stunk.

Which brings me to this (hat tip to Linkiest):

There was once a time when men used to be real men. When they dressed with style, when they had a certain honor code they followed that involved treating not only their elders and each other with respect, but women alike. Unfortunately, those days are far-gone — a thing of the past. What we have now is…to be quite honest, I’m not sure.

There are of course certain men out there who still have their affairs in order, but we are few in number. What people are most often subject to is the company of boys who are refusing to grow up and man up — boys who prefer to play with their toys than to do their part in bettering society, the human race and the world as a whole. These poor excuses for men have the bodies of adults and the mentalities, as well as the social outlook of toddlers. Horny toddlers, but toddlers nonetheless.

It’s all about character — or in this case, the lack of character. Something has been happening during this era dubbed the “information age.” Social media platforms have taken away the need to interact face to face, taking away the need for actual interaction. This is great in many regards: you can now keep in touch with friends and family all over the world from a handheld device.

Men WTF HappenedHowever, much of the interpersonal confrontations are now also taking place online. People no longer feel that they have a need to meet in person to discuss their differences; they can now troll each other online. People are using the Internet as a shield, hiding behind IP addresses in order to speak their minds. The Internet acts like beer-muscles. It makes you believe that you are stronger than you actually are, making you more aggressive. There is nothing wrong with being aggressive when circumstances require it.

Personally, when my fight or flight response mechanism kicks in, I always go with fight. It’s not by choice; it’s just the way that I am wired. Online, people have no need to run away because they are already in hiding — so they always choose to “fight.” Although the fighting they do is just about as significant as the fighting I do when I play Call of Duty.

The same interaction from beneath cover can be seen when we look at the intercommunication between men and women. It is no secret that both men and women alike have sexual urges. Men, however, feel the need to get off more often than most women. So instead of having to spend the time to meet a real woman and have actual sexual intercourse, they watch porn.

Instead of going out into the real world and meeting women, they stalk women on Instagram. People now date online as well. It’s much easier to talk to a woman online than it is in person—or rather, it’s not that it’s easier. Both are just as easy, but for some reason, men now prefer to hide their faces behind their monitors. (Every time I use the term ‘men’ in such context I quiver) It’s out of fear and laziness. Men have become lazy pussies. I don’t even want to use the word pussy because it brings to mind women, who nowadays have much more character than men.

There are many reasons for this. We have to start by recognizing presences and absences, just as there technically is no such thing as “cold,” only the absence of heat. We are not seeing the presence of something new. What we are seeing is the absence of something old.

What’s missing? The men and the boys have lost their sense of vision, because there is no vision to be formed. Think about all the ways a man can make a positive difference, in reality as well as in fiction. It has been done; it has been done recently; but, wherever it has been done, it has been loathed. It’s either been eliminated, or targeted for such elimination.

How does a boy distinguish himself in school? Well let’s see now: Apart from the negative variety which is easy, the getting into trouble, he do the positive by raising his hand and nailing the correct answer that has eluded everyone else. He can walk up to the front of the class and write the correct answer on a blackboard. He can achieve the highest score in the class on a test. He can do spectacularly well in some athletic pursuit. It is my understanding that the first two of those four have been entirely eliminated, and I’m not optimistic about the third because it’s been awhile since I’ve heard of such a thing — seems everyone with bragging rights about “first in the class” is either female, over thirty-five years old, or both. Have our schools lost the willingness and ability to brag about a male student achieving the highest score? I don’t know. Doesn’t seem like we have too many opportunities to test that. Now what about the athletic achievements? Those still happen. And, yes, people are fighting that. Ask anyone with an opinion about Title IX, and you’ll get back an earful. Wherever a male has an opportunity to achieve something positive, that must have cost a female something, somewhere, so we have to get rid of it.

In case you haven’t been keeping track, I’ve just covered everything. Didn’t take long. Anyplace a male might have an opportunity to make a positive difference, and achieve recognition as a result, our advanced and lately-evolving society has recognized this as a “cleanup chore” of sorts…an unfinished one…with the cleanup effort following inevitably, and quickly, and enthusiastically. It’s a mess — clean it up.

This gets into the one complaint I’ve had about the James Bond reboot. On the whole, I like the reboot project. I like it a lot. It’s more realistic than the “classic” James Bond, more creative, more energetic, more fun to watch, and Daniel Craig is a natural fit for the role. One problem though: In seven years, all that James Bond has managed to do in terms of “saving the world” is stop one terrorist from blowing up one plane. That’s it.

In context of James Bond, I don’t have too much of a problem with that. In context of our evolving culture and how James Bond is changing, and what it says about men, there is a problem. It’s a huge problem. The problem is this: Daniel CraigThat hackneyed cornball plot about James Bond discovering an orbiting laser satellite that will destroy all life on Earth, shrugging off his continual vodka-martini stupor and rousing up some momentary concern about his fellow human beings, to disable the radar jamming device so our brave military men can find it, and get in a huge “Thunderball” good-against-evil brawl, and a final mano-a-mano confrontation with the bad guy…that’s the one thing missing not only from the movie franchise, but from the male vision within our culture. For that reason, although I do like the Daniel Craig movies, I’d rather see James Bond shooting down poison globes with a laser in a space shuttle, than playing “Home Alone” with the bad guys at his old family estate.

At its most glamorous, on-screen, it means stopping a nuclear bomb before the timer reaches zero, or blowing up nuclear submarines before they have a chance to launch missiles at Washington and Moscow so that the superpowers would be fooled into starting World War III. At its most common, it means simply having a beneficial effect on something. Not as part of an “Occutard” movement, or yammering away about one’s support for gay marriage. But more nobly, as an individual. Just a dude who recognizes an approaching disaster, or merely an injustice, and thinks independently and capably to do something about it.

That’s exactly what we want our girls and women to be doing. Somewhere along the way, though, encouraging them to do this has somehow come to mean discouraging men from doing the same thing. Or, looking at any opportunity for the males to be so encouraged, and treating that opportunity as if it’s some sort of a problem.

The mind of a child, be it male or female, is a practical device. It works according to visions. When it detects that there’s a vision for it to screw up at something, commit some transgression, violate protocol, and as a result be singled out for scolding and ostracism — the natural response is for it to withdraw. That effect is counteracted if it can detect a vision for its success…which, in the case of the males, is missing because we’ve been getting rid of it. Systematically, meticulously, and with a vigor that is renewed with each rising sun, for generations now. And that’s my explanation for what this author has been seeing lately. He’s not imagining it. Our boys have been pushed into collective thinking, because they’ve received the message loud and clear that if they pursue any effort as creative, independently-thinking individuals, there’s no opportunity to self-distinguish except by screwing up. Blending into the crowd is the very highest prospect for them. The absolute zenith of potential male achievement is being completely ineffectual.

In fact, it’s worse than that. When our popular culture does hold aloft some stellar example, one that happens to be male, all the sense of definition falls away like feathers off a molting bird. Let’s try it: Bill Clinton! What’s his achievement. Well…he survived that impeachment business, and under him the economy was not a complete disaster. Okay. But what did he do? Here, the Bill Clinton fan has to start homina-homina stammering, maybe groping and flailing about, rather predictably, for a change of subject. Clinton lied his ass off, cleverly, like a lawyer, in such a way that he couldn’t be caught. Started debating the meaning of “is” and so forth. Regarding the strong economy, we haven’t got a clue what he actually did, and one quickly suspects that neither does Bill Clinton. Is any of this the kind of thing you want to teach your male child how to do?

In the case of Barack Obama, there’s nothing to talk about. He’s just Mister Wonderful and you’re not allowed to question it or else you’re some kind of racist. From one democrat administration to the next, we’ve gone from weak supporting arguments, to no supporting arguments at all.

And the guy in between is hated and loathed, of course — because he actually did something about Saddam Hussein besides make a bunch of speeches. He acted. You see, that’s exactly what I’m talking about: A male figure made a decision, acted to achieve a beneficial result. That’s a toxic poison, somehow, and we’re all supposed to want to get rid of that. You do know the real reason, don’t you? Because the definitions are too stark and clear; they make too much sense. A male, seeing a problem, making a decision that isn’t consensus-driven — and fixing it.

Somehow, a feeling has set in that we just can’t have that. Well, the boys are paying attention as they grow up and enter adulthood. And as a result, we end up with some adults that aren’t really adults. They’ve learned that a neutral effect is the best thing a man can have on something.

Why did they learn that? Because we’ve been teaching it to them. We, as a society, have been working very hard at it.

Related: Blog-sister Cassy managed to find a portfolio of pregnancy portraits that is absolutely cringe-worthy. I see a connection between that, and what I’m talking about here. Look at the “dads.” The super-creative photographers, or someone, managed to find something for the dads to do in the pregnancy process. Yay for them, but they seem to be completely unaware that the father figure already has a role here. It isn’t a trivial one. Patriarch of the household is an all-important role. But since we can’t acknowledge that, the result of this ignorance is, ultimately…awkwardness, at best. And I do mean at best. Look at the very worst of the pictures. What they all have in common is that the dude is doing something in the picture, and what he’s doing doesn’t have very much in common with what he’s supposed to be doing at this time.

How to Open a Beer

Tuesday, June 11th, 2013

From here, thanks to the Brother-in-law for the find.

Fifty-Six Percent Says No Problem

Tuesday, June 11th, 2013

…with the NSA tracking the phone records thing.

Why such outrage going on in the Bush era, with things that pale in comparison to what’s being done in the Obama era that meet with majority-approval?

Part of it could be illusionary. The Bush-hating people have always been a loud bunch, eager to make their numbers look more formidable than they really are. And it doesn’t seem to me like the questions on this survey are good ones. I myself think of this privacy-versus-security balance to be a delicate and finely parsed thing; it should be settled by the language in the U.S. Constitution; that language is hard to apply to modern situations, although it is well established in our system of laws that there’s a certain sequence to elevated investigative and prosecutorial privileges based on suspicions formed and then validated by some independent judicial authority. The questions do not parse things that finely so it’s difficult to determine how I myself would answer, therefore I’m not sure what 56% means exactly.

But it’s a cinch that anything that sounded like “wiretapping,” up to January 20, 2009, wouldn’t net a 56% approval.

And so we have people who approve of Obama doing exactly what they think makes George W. Bush some kind of a “war criminal” or some such — and much worse. They do not self-identify as liberals, I don’t think.

And there is a problem. Our nation’s “centrists” are not centrist, although they think they are. Furthermore, they seem to be sincerely frustrated that other people start “labeling” them as “left-wing” or “liberals” or “Obama fans.” They hate the labeling…but they can’t seem to understand how they’re bringing it down on themselves.

Somehow, the “truth” has set in that if you want to maintain your indie status and don’t want to lean one way or the other, but the situation requires just such a leaning…leaning left is safer. Now, why is that? Perhaps my perspective is skewed, but it seems to me it has to do with our social understanding of “moderation.” I can think of some ways to measure this. I’m still hearing Sarah Palin criticized for “her extreme positions,” and when I ask for specific examples of this I never get any back. This provides additional foundation for the idea that people are forming opinions about certain identifiable names, and they’d like to pass off this surface appearance that they’re forming the opinions based on something substantial but they’re really just doing it to impress others. Putting it more simply: They just don’t know what they’re talking about. They’re clueless.

If we’re really looking to stay “sensibly” centrist, approving of moderate positions and excoriating extreme ones, it occurs to me that you can’t get much more extreme than: “It’s alright to have our agencies spy on American citizens only when our guys are running things.” That would seem to me to be about as extreme as they come. And it isn’t the right-wingers pushing that, it’s the left-wingers pushing that.

And the so-called “centrists” backing them up. Which would mean our centrists aren’t really centrist; they’ve become extreme. What’s tragic is, they’ve been fooled into being that way.

Why I’m Against Gay Marriage

Tuesday, June 11th, 2013

This should have been a blog post instead of a remark on my “wall,” over at the Hello Kitty of Blogging…things just go that way sometimes…

If gay marriage were all about providing equal rights, I’d be all for it. But it isn’t about that. Just like “raising the minimum wage” isn’t about raising anybody’s wage, when you really think about it you see it’s all about outlawing jobs that pay below a certain amount — “gay marriage” is a proposal to muck up a definition. That’s what it is, it’s an attack on definitions of things.

Do we need to muck up, or remove, definitions of things. Well let’s see now:

“Health care” is not health care, and “access to health care” now means making it harder to get hold of health care, right?

“Immigration reform,” often thought by many to have something to do with some kind of “fence” somewhere, increasingly seems more and more synonymous with “amnesty.”

“Global warming” isn’t happening. It’s rather silly to say we should be getting all excited over something called “climate change,” although that isn’t stopping anyone, it seems…

“Working families” aren’t. And don’t.

“National Security Agency” isn’t providing much by way of security, and actually we’re not even allowed to know what exactly it is they’re trying to do.

“Internal Revenue Service” isn’t providing the kind of “service” you’d actually want.

“Reality television” isn’t, and everybody knows it.

Nobody seems to even know what “green energy” is. Nobody seems to care. They sure like to tell other people what not to do, though.

I notice the definitions deteriorate most quickly and most surely in those parts of our shared life & culture that receive the greatest attention/activity. Starting with “coffee.” Is anybody actually drinking REAL coffee anymore? You can pay $5 a cup for something, but I’m not paying that for coffee…

Speaking of paying for things. Do we even know what an “economy” is at this point? What about an “economic recovery”? In this Age of Obama, I’ve seen a lot of things called “economic recovery” that I don’t think are that. When I do see some economic metrics reported they’re almost always accompanied by the word “unexpected,” and I don’t think we’re all in agreement about what that word means either…

And I’ve been saying for a long time, we’re doing a bang-up job coming up with “disorders” that aren’t. And failing to label & diagnose things as “disorders” which, I would argue, really are.

Which brings me to the word “bullying.” It’s being stretched completely out of shape, applied to things that aren’t bullying. Those who seem to be most often excited about the whole concept of “bullying,” very often forget that it is a long-standing tactic of bullies to convince others that the people they’re bullying are the ones doing the bullying to them. The bullying I remember from my youth had a lot to do with deception. Either that’s changed, or it’s working very well…I think it hasn’t changed, and it’s just working a lot better.

And that’s why I want the definition of marriage to stay as it is. Something should. Until the day comes that we can communicate with each other again and achieve real confidence in what we’re talking about, we need a break from re-defining things. We’ve changed enough, and done enough damage, for now.

Progressives: I’m Taking Your Ball and Going Home

Sunday, June 9th, 2013

Maybe I should put that headline in quotes, since I didn’t write the title or what follows.

Submitted from Soozcat, wife of Captain Midnight, in an off-line. Enjoy!

When our niece was still in grade school, we decided it was time to teach her about money and budgeting. Captain Midnight planned ahead, cashed out an entire paycheck, and brought home the money in bills and coins. We spread it out on the kitchen table in front of our wide-eyed niece and asked her, “So what could we do with this money?”

“Disneyland!” was the first word out of her mouth.

We agreed that, yes, we could take this money and go to Disneyland with it. But there were things we needed to take care of first. We put 10% of the money aside for tithing. Then we removed our monthly rent payment. Next came the costs of various utilities: electricity, gas, water, Internet access. We set aside money for groceries, money for gasoline, money for clothes. And we made a little pile of money to pay for things we liked to do: eat out once in a while, go to the movies, visit the beach. There was hardly anything left over to pay for a Disneyland trip.

Fortunately, our niece was old enough to understand what we were trying to demonstrate. She already knew that things cost money. She had deduced, from our frequent mentions that we needed to pay the bills first, that responsible people pay what they owe. And she realized that, as fun as visiting Disneyland was, it was even more important to have a warm, secure, well-stocked home to come back to afterward.

Of course, we needed to wait for our niece to be old enough. Had we tried teaching her about money when she was less mentally mature and more prone to expecting instant gratification, she might have seen all that cash on the table, thrown a fit and demanded that we use the money to go to Disneyland RIGHT. NOW. It wouldn’t have mattered that none of it was her money, nor that we needed it to pay for crucial services — Disneyland was calling to her, and she wasn’t getting any younger.

It occurred to me recently that, when it comes to tax money, progressives never grow out of this rapacious mental stage. Tax monies are there primarily for their personal gratification — to fund untested pet projects, to dole out more pork products than a salumeria to the usual suspects, and presumably these days to wiretap every man, woman and child in America. And if any’s left over, it gets laundered and finds its way into their bank accounts. The idea that these monies are not inherently theirs never seems to cross their minds, nor does the concern that they should first take care of their constitutionally mandated responsibilities. They want Disneyland and they want it now!

And if you dare try to curb their spending, they’ll threaten to shut off the water, power and telephone so they can keep paying for Disneyland. In fact, they do this so consistently that it’s become something of a cliché.

To illustrate, let’s take an example from a decade ago. In Washington state, licensing fees for car tabs were alarmingly high. Local citizen and political gadfly Tim Eyman proposed an initiative, I-776, to lower the car tab license fees to a more reasonable $30 and gathered enough signatures to put it on the ballot. It passed, and a King County Superior Court judge promptly tossed out the initiative, claiming it was unconstitutional, so it went to the State Supreme Court, who ended up overruling the lower court and upholding the people’s vote. At the time of the ruling in I-776’s favor, King County Executive Ron Sims — presumably furious about losing *his* tax monies to this upstart — sourly stated that the people had voted in favor of less police and fire protection.

Catch that last bit? Sims, a consummate career politician, was not-so-subtly threatening to hurt the voters for choosing to rein in public spending of their taxes. You might not know this if you don’t live in Washington, but the tax monies gathered by car tab fees were earmarked specifically for road improvement, public transportation, and the billion-dollar boondoggle known as Sound Transit, the light-rail system that seems to shrink ever smaller and cost ever more. NONE of those taxes were ever earmarked for vital services such as police and fire — that was just Sims being a bully, saying to the voters, “If you don’t play this game by my rules, I’m taking your ball and going home.” He was threatening to cut off the utilities so he could keep going to Disneyland.

This nonsense is still going on. Late on May 23, an 18-wheeler on southbound I-5 clipped the edge of a bridge over the Skagit River in Washington; a section of the bridge collapsed, sending cars into the water. Fortunately no one was seriously injured, but as of this writing the bridge is still out of commission. It’s caused major traffic problems along this stretch of I-5, as the downed bridge was the only major river crossing in the area. It will need replacing, and soon. There are many such “problem” bridges in Washington that need to be repaired, and when the media came calling to ask questions, most politicians blamed the go-to scapegoat, President Bush, for not investing in vital infrastructure. For some reason no one — not politicians, not the media, not even Joe Sixpack — seems to be asking the obvious questions: If the U.S. government spent SIX TRILLION DOLLARS in 2012 alone, how is it that none of that money went to fix structurally outdated bridges? Was it really crucial to invest in Obamaphones and food stamps instead?

But hey, Disneyland first! So says King Toddler, Owner of All He Surveys, and King Toddler must be appeased at all costs. That’s just how it is for progressives. They want what they want, when they want it, and if you dare to protest their use of your money — then they’ll really make you pay.

Cross-posted at Rotten Chestnuts and Right Wing News.