Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Doll Tragedy

Sunday, May 26th, 2013

One of my Facebook peeps posted this last night, and I thought it was great. It gives the first-person accounting of a playground incident that amounts to a clash between parenting cultures, the Helicopter-Mom culture and the “other.” It occurs to me, perhaps there needs to be some kind of a name to describe the other. An acronym, maybe? “Intervention For Emergencies Only,” I.F.E.O.?

Just like voting for Barack Obama — people of all shapes, colors, sizes, backgrounds and origins, once they do some good, quality left-brain thinking, will usually come around and say, Yes, I can see what is wrong with what we’ve done here and it’s silly for me to deny it. I see what’s wrong with the Helicopter-Mom brand of parenting. The problem isn’t getting them started thinking about this. The problem is getting them to finish with it. Infuriatingly, there’s always this “but” afterward, and following that you can almost hear the blood rushing into the right-brain artsy-fartsy touchy-feely part of the gray matter. Then, there follows some kind of muttering about absolute safety and feel-feel-feel, then, conclusion: We have to keep on keepin’-on. As far as the one indisputable point you’ve managed to make, Mr. Reason And Common Sense, which is “How is the kid going to learn to do a goddamn thing?”, we’ll just have to plug along and hope it somehow all works out. Cross that bridge when we come to it, or something.

And that’s when “Playground Mom” decided she had enough because she walked briskly over to him and said “You need help sweetie? Give me your hand.”

I was furious but not exactly shocked since I had seen it building to that point for the previous 10 minutes. But I still wasn’t about to let it go without addressing it.

“Excuse me, but he doesn’t need your help and he’s fine. I’m his dad and I’m right here.”

“Well clearly he does need help because he’s about to fall,” she said in full condescending mommy tone.

“Maybe, maybe not. But either way he’ll be fine. I can parent my own kid.”
:
Look, you can parent however you want but I have multiple problems with what happened. First of all, it’s just another in a long list of examples that show some moms think they know everything — especially compared to dads. To openly step in and insert herself with me — the kid’s actual parent — right there? Maybe she would’ve done the same to another mom, but I doubt it. It’s a shitty attitude and I’m unbelievably sick of it.

Second, we are raising a generation of kids who know nothing about taking risks. Even on the monkey bars and playgrounds of America, the minute they hit some turbulence and adversity mommy and daddy are there to rescue them — and give them a trophy in the process. It makes me ill.

As he writes and I read, this guy’s preaching to the choir. I don’t understand the Helicopter-Mom thing, even though I’ve been trying to figure it out for years. I’m forced to rely on process-of-elimination, which among other things, is a tell-tale sign that I’ve failed at all other approaches. Also, it only works when the list of possibilities to be eliminated, starts out as an exhaustive one, covering everything.

So let us exhaust:

One. Helicopter-Mom parenting, say what you want about it, is a sincere effort. These are good, caring moms who don’t want their own kids or any other kid to get hurt. When in the course of their tireless efforts to Prevent Bad Things From Happening, they end up shielding the kid from everyday exigencies and challenges, and over the long haul deliver to adulthood one incapable weak pussy whelp after another who can’t do anything for himself, that is an unfortunate side-consequence but by no means is any part of their central focus or intent.

Two. Helicopter-Mom parenting is all about raising one incapable pussy whelp after another who can’t do anything for himself. In other words, things this time are exactly as they appear. We are looking at a battle between the sexes. It is a war against manhood and masculinity, that’s why you’re seeing this saturated female aggression around it, it’s there by design, and men had better wake the fuck up because it’s very late in the battle. And thanks to the politically-correct forces of vengeful feminism, the gentlemen are still sleeping. Or silent, which ultimately is the same as sleeping. We’re acting like fatherhood is replaceable, because we’ve been given a lot of messages that it is — and it isn’t. The consequences are disastrous, on the scale of tragedies you see only when there was some fighting that had to be done that didn’t get done.

Three is a midpoint between One and Two. It is more complicated, but I think it the most likely. This is only natural since both One and Two, while they have merits, are caricatures; caricatures very seldom mesh up well with real life.

Consider where, for the last forty-five years or so, feminism has failed in our evolving society most resoundingly. It has succeeded in ending careers and proving its destructive power, to such a great extent that it has made generations of honest people afraid to test it, and then, conversely, afraid to mention it or acknowledge it in any way. Even though everyone who’s paid the slightest bit of attention knows how it works: Say the wrong thing, and you’re gone. Whoever lifts a finger or utters a word to try to save you, is also gone. That’s how “shunning” worked back in the olden days: “You are to be shunned, whoever does not shun you is likewise shuned, whoever does not shun he who did not shun you is also to be shunned.” So the older established generations fear feminism, because we all have to make a living. The younger generation grows up hairless, chestless, and idea-less, standing up for nothing. Whenever an American Castrati ends a supposedly-declarative statement with a “…??” that’s a victory for militant feminism. But — in the very young, those who haven’t gravitated toward one world or another, here is where feminism fails. When they try to take the gender out of playtime, during the toddler-age. There’s no reason in the world, feminism scolds us, that our retrograde, patriarchal, oppressive society couldn’t be teaching girls to play with guns and shovels and hammers and drawing supplies, and boys to play with dolls.

Feminism is a big flop here. It achieves a patina of legitimacy only through the exceptions to the rules: Yes, some boys do like to play with dolls. Some girls are gifted at drawing. But the effort to reshape and remold the future generations through the remaking of the toddler, has fallen on its face time after time.

Wiring at work. The boy-toddlers are given Barbie dolls. They point the dolls at each other and yell “bang!”

Here’s an irony: I’m in the middle of attacking feminism, and what you’re about to read is me essentially repeating a lot of catchphrases straight from feminism, thereby highlighting it’s inherent, internal, unworkable contradiction. The female half of the species has been created to — or evolved to — create, preserve and protect as part of its instinctive drive. The male half can’t even fully understand this. Nor is it our place to do so. We only barely comprehend it enough to meet it, charm it, seduce it, couple up with it, build a life with it, and do what we can to protect the protectors. It is how the human race has always worked: Momma protects baby, Daddy protects Momma. Okay, feminists aren’t quite jiggy with that last part. But they’re certainly wild about that male-female-protection business when it has to do with the male finding out what the female wants, and bringing it to her.

But it all means this: Girls play with dolls. The playing with the dolls has a lot to do with practicing the acting-out of their maternal instincts, later on once they are of mothering age.

Think about what a doll is. Think about what it does. It does what it’s told, although it has needs. Some dolls even shit their diapers. It isn’t self-sufficient in any way; if they built a doll like that, there’d be no point for anyone to own it. Some dolls are told to do certain things; they do them, unquestioningly.

And there may be exceptions to this, but: Generally, dolls don’t learn. Maybe that’s a big part of the problem right there.

No, the dolls stick to what is expected of them. The ones that can speak, say what they are expected to say. They are zero-surprise devices. And they have big gorgeous eyes. They need protection.

So for my exhaustive list, my third possibility is a hybrid between One and Two. The desire to protect the child is sincere, solidified since the mother’s own toddler-years playing with dolls. But the playing-with-dolls ritual has done nothing to invigorate the mother’s emotional maturity, nor has anything else that came afterward, too much. She limps along in life with the emotional intelligence of a nine-year-old. That’s why, when you point out the obvious that “Your kid won’t reach adulthood capable of actually doing anything useful” you get back this useless, platitudinous, purely ornamental “Yes, I can see what you’re saying there” followed by the ever-present “but” followed by the disgusting glurgey nonsense followed by the so-we’ll-just-keep-on-keepin’-on. That’s what people do when they are emotionally immature. They go through the motions of discussing things rationally, with reason and common sense and logic, until such time as the logic veers off in a direction that isn’t to their liking. Then they mumble a bunch of buzzwords and go on doing what they were going to do anyway.

So this third, more realistic possibility is that the helicopter-mom really does want to prevent bad things from happening to the child — but there’s a conscious-versus-subconscious thing kicking in there. The statement “yes I can see what you’re saying” about the benefits to rough-and-tumble tough-love parenting — that is also sincere. But it will never win out. EVER. Because there are two personalities sharing the same body there, and the over-protective one that smothers the bear cub, and keeps it from ever learning to pull its own fish out of the stream, will always win out.

I’ll finish this by noting something that applies to all three of the possibilities I’ve considered: Across the board, the only remedy possible, other than allowing the tragedy to continue, is for someone else to intervene.

I’m not optimistic about this. It is contrary to what our society is inclined to do, contrary to what it has been doing. The pushy female would have to be told no. That would be a change of direction on a scale nothing short of revolutionary. We’ve shown ourselves to be capable of revolutions, but not often. And not like this. But if nothing else, the writer of the article shows it is possible to think globally while acting locally.

Is it in us? Time will tell. Everything depends on it.

Not About the Nail

Saturday, May 25th, 2013

From Rodger the Real King of France, by way of Gerard.

Words Most Abused by the Left

Saturday, May 25th, 2013

1. Tolerance
2. Fairness
3. Equality
4. Inclusion
5. Science
6. Open-minded
7. Egalitarian
8. Stereotype
9. Oppressive
10. Non-threatening
11. Diversity
12. Everyone
13. Skeptic
14. Nuance
15. Progressive
16. Environment
17. Hate speech
18. Abuse
19. Torture
20. Greed
21. Assault (weapon/rifle/gun)
21. Wealthy
22. Any tangible noun that ends with “ist,” or intangible noun that ends with “ism.”
23. Undocumented
24. Working (family)
25. Worker
26. Right(s)
27. Ethical
28. Transparent(cy)
29. Landmark
30. Theocracy
31. Common sense
32. Safety
33. Fascist/ism
34. Mainstream
35. Forward

Cross-posted at Rotten Chestnuts and Right Wing News.

Memo For File CLXXX

Friday, May 24th, 2013

Dennis Prager has said “I’d rather have clarity than agreement.” There doesn’t seem to be any place on the whole Internet that I can link to really give a good context for this, so I thought I’d just jot down what I know about it in a blog post, and then make this the place. There is a lot of wisdom packed into those few words. They are worthy of preponderance, post-ponderance and mezzo-ponderance.

It’s an important thought to have, too. It explains maybe two thirds, or perhaps more, of the human conflicts I’ve personally had. So many times per year I find myself asking for clarification about something, and half a heartbeat later I find myself in the middle of some kind of tempest. Melee. Imbroglio. Mess. Which is supposed to be all my fault. Last time it happened was Friday, May 10th, in the middle of the afternoon, about six hundred miles from here.

I can’t add too much more to “I’d rather have clarity than agreement.” But I can add something. And what I have to add, is this:

It shouldn’t be a necessary thing to have to point out. But, it is. Because it’s necessary to point it out in some contexts, we know there are some people who go the other way: They’d rather have the agreement than the clarity. If nobody felt that way about it, you wouldn’t be able to cause conflict simply by favoring the clarity.

We can go further than that: If these people would prefer agreement over clarity in some specific situation, they didn’t start off that way when the situation came up. No, take this to the bank, they’ve been building on that preference for awhile. Probably all their lives. Consider all the everyday things you need to do when there isn’t full agreement, that you’re spared from doing when there is agreement. When everyone assembled agrees, you don’t have to do…inspection. Introspection. Substantiation. Challenge. Response. Proofs. Rebuttals. Qualifications. Inductive reasoning. Deductive reasoning. Argument framing. Hypothesizing.

So you see, nobody ever says “I’d rather have agreement than clarity.” They just chafe at the idea of doing any real, flippin’ mental work. They mimic, and they chide others for failing to mimic properly.

When there is agreement without clarity, nobody has to admit they don’t know something. This is hazardous. The beginning of the acquisition of all knowledge is “I don’t know.” You have to admit you don’t know something, in order to learn whatever it is. Last time I had to do that was not two weeks ago; it was more like half an hour ago.

This seems to be related to another eternal-question, having to do with Process v. Outcome. The Google search, from what I can tell, nets a whole bunch of results that all seem to have something to do with inflated eggheads extolling the virtues of process elevated above outcome. Some even go so far as to say that the more modern thinkers, fixated on process, are more likely to conduct mind-expanding experimentation, and arrive at a better final result. I guess I’m old school — seems to me they aren’t giving a fair or accurate consideration to the whole concept of “outcome.” When we consider these two values in the context of “which one is better?” we must necessarily start with the premise that to favor the one, places the other in jeopardy. In other words — to really weigh them against each other, we have to ask the question “Is it better to follow the correct process and achieve a crappy outcome, or is it better to achieve the desired outcome by straying from the established process?”

Those of us who have dealt too much with an intrusive and inefficient government don’t need to think twice when we answer that. There is a phrase to describe the process-over-outcome thinking: “The operation was a complete success, the patient died.” It refers to the bureaucrats, and the bureaucracy-minded, following their precious rules and losing track of the objectives. The thing to ask yourself is: What if you’re the soon-to-be-dead patient? What’s going to be important to you?

I detect a parallel, perhaps a very important one, between the Prager clarity/agreement divide and the pop-psych process/outcome divide. Based on all I’ve seen of it, it seems to me that the clarity is valued by people like me who elevate the suitability of the outcome above dogmatic fidelity to the defined process, and the agreement is craved by those who are committed to the process at the expense of the outcome. I think they’d agree, that the benefit from doing it their way is a quicker and easier assessment of whether the right pathway is being followed. It’s a lot like the range chief at my local firing range insisting on an orange or yellow action flag be inserted in the pistol and rifle actions whenever the range is called cold. It makes the inspection easier, and therefore quicker and more effective, therefore safer. But with all those desirable deliverables, let’s not kid ourselves, the achievement is made through slicker thinking involving lower effort. A lot of times, like at that firing range, this is entirely appropriate. Deep thinking is expensive; how much deep thinking can you afford?

But with the more elaborate and unorthodox challenges in life — and that is, arguably, what life is as far as we humans are concerned — a question arises: If the outcome at the end of it all is, that the patient dies, then who cares? And the answer is only obvious: The patient! He isn’t going to want lower-effort thinking, and who can blame him?

Thing I Know #401. People who refuse to work with details don’t fix things.

“Star Trek” Writer Apologizes For One of the Best Scenes in the Movie

Friday, May 24th, 2013

Telegraph:

Damon Lindelof, the writer of Star Trek Into Darkness, has apologised to fans for the scene in which…

Wait, wait, this is all wrong. That article is a stupid article because it doesn’t include any pictures of its subject. How are we supposed to know why the writer “apologised”? And what’s up with that spelling? Silly Britons.

Let’s go here instead.

Alice EveWho was it that said, ‘it’s better to beg forgiveness than ask permission’? Well, that little maxim for life must have been at the very forefront of Star Trek: Into The Darkness writer and producer Damon Lindelof’s mind this week when he issued a heartfelt apology for including a scene featuring Alice Eve in her underwear. Needless to say, Alice Eve looks very good in her underwear, but that doesn’t necessarily mean she has to conduct an entire scene in it.

It doesn’t? Who says? Actually, in this case it does…I will get to that later on.

Katy Brand, author of this second article — and I’ll bet just just a great and fun person to invite to parties or something — continues:

Using his Twitter account (of course, what else?) Lindelof sent three tweets in a row:


Well, in terms of this newly discovered mindfulness, we could start with learning to spell ‘misogynistic’ – if that is indeed a word – you know, just as a gesture, but let’s not pour cold water on his efforts yet – after all, you applaud the toddler if it gets the poo near the potty the first few times, don’t you?

Um, yeah. You know, we might as well quote from a “tweet” of my own, from before tweeting was done, because I’ve got a feeling we’re gonna need this one:

[Thing I Know #] 52. Angry people who demand things, don’t stop being angry when their demands are met.

Something else I’d like to get out of the way before we go further. I can’t prove it, but I’ve got a feeling Katy Brand doesn’t look as good in her underwear as Alice Eve looks in her underwear. And, let me go out even further on the limb and speculate: That’s what we’re really arguing about here. That, and one other thing: When it’s thought of as a solution to any & all problems to simply require the good-looking women to cover up all their skin, that’s a sign that idiots are in charge.

Damon Lindelof has already written for all kinds of small- and big-screen things like Crossing Jordan, Cowboys and Aliens, and probably many other visual works in which perfectly nice-looking and even gorgeous women go running around in clothing that covers everything. Which, by the way, does very little to inspire any sympathy for him as far as I’m concerned…the hasty and “heartfelt” apology doesn’t do much to improve that. Both look to me like exercises in caving in to jealousy. But this “Katy Brand” scold is doing a great job of proving out, not only how those jealousies work, but the wisdom & truth in TIK #52. Lindelof obviously has a lot of work ahead of him before he can win her over, and that’s assuming he ever can, and my money says no on that.

I really don’t see why the movie people even bother. I’m still not clear on what the complaint is. Since when are movie scenes criticized for being “gratuitous”? Especially the ones that last thirty seconds or less? Because of the visuals? Have these whining whelps seen what’s going into movies lately? Have they seen some of the visuals? Have they seen how ungodly long some of the scenes are that are completely lacking in purpose? Seriously, if that’s the complaint — and, I’m pretty sure it isn’t — “Alice Eve in her underwear” doesn’t even rate. It doesn’t even make the list of noted offenses. It’s lost in a sea of much better examples, even within the Star Trek universe.

Here is an example of what I’m talking about here. For the record, the producer who pushed this scene did apologize for putting it in. And, should’ve…

Back to that first link: It includes a phrasing of the question that evidently was strong enough to launch Lindelof into this spate of backpedaling and apologia. And seems to have been intended to do just that:

Why is Alice Eve in her underwear, gratuitously and unnecessarily, without any real effort made [to explain] as to why in God’s name she would undress in that circumstance?

Holy crap. Someone’s upset! Okay, for those who have not seen the film and might not be up on this “Carol Marcus” character:

Let’s start with the beginning. The new Star Trek series is a semi-reboot. The reboot vehicle which came out four years ago, of which this one is a sequel, includes a storyline which continues at the end of the classic Star Trek time line with all the plot points intact and all the characters developed in the way we’ve seen up to that time. One of them falls into a black hole, emerges at the other side in the distant past, then a bunch of things in the past are changed which essentially causes a new “universe” to be created. It’s a ham-handed, but at the same time rather ingenious, way of kicking things off with a blank slate but with the opportunity to re-imagine characters that have been developed before, with new events in their lives.

If you’re thinking something like “Yeah, I’ll bet they’re just doing this so they don’t have to go to Star Trek conventions and answer endless questions like ‘why would so-and-so do X if Y happened to him back in such-and-such?'”…I’m thinking, you’re probably not too far off the mark.

Enter Carol Marcus, who appeared in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan over thirty years ago. In awkward-looking ugly Mary Tyler Moore slacks. The legendary Captain James T. Kirk had a kid with her. But we never got to see any of that going on, or the “courtship” that would’ve led up to it, we only saw Kirk and Dr. Marcus dealing with the “here and now,” back then, after the kid grew up to become an adult and a Doctor himself. The actress who played Carol Marcus was visually appealing enough, but with much of her feminine appeal removed post-seventies-feminist style. Simply put: We never did get a chance to see what got things going. What kicked in Kirk’s “warp engines.” What got him thinking with the little head.

But, if I were Mr. Lindelof, I wouldn’t have said that. Asked the “why in God’s name” question, I would have said something like: “She wore underwear because the movie’s rated PG-13 and we couldn’t show the boobage. Next question.”

By the way — again, for the benefit of those who have not seen the film. The comments that there is some kind of exploitation taking place here, or “mysogeny” or as the writer himself might say I guess? The idea is completely absurd. I suppose people see what they want to see, especially when they’re caught up complaining about something…but it’s like this. Somehow the idea is gradually put together, as they very often are in Star Trek and always have been, that so-and-so is going to have to approach such-and-such and do some kind of thing. A hasty argument ensues about “No you can’t, it’s too risky and you’re too valuable,” and the person who has to do the thing, the person who came up with the idea, and the person who wins the argument all end up being the same person. Here, it’s Carol Marcus. But she isn’t attired properly, so she orders Captain Kirk, who up to this point has been doing all the ordering, to turn around. Then she strips, he peeks, and she starts berating him and ordering him to turn around again. Simply put: She is taking charge. And that’s where the camera clicks in that screen cap you’re seeing. She’s laying the smack down, while not wearing too much by way of clothes, and the much stronger, taller, fully-dressed and better-established male character of superior rank is replying with “uh, yes ma’am” or some such stuttering, sputtering, deferential type thing.

Kirk has all the advantages. But Marcus is establishing supremacy within the scene nevertheless. That was the point.

It’s exactly what feminists want, in addition to being a perfectly solid as well as amusing foundation for the relationship that develops later. Well, they’re still not happy. If there’s one area of achievement where the feminists really excel, it’s got to do with “still not being happy yet” with something. Boy, they’re like the Energizer Bunny that way…a complaining, bitching, grouchy and unhappy mechanical bunny, that never stops. Being unhappy.

So alright, it’s an exaggeration to say this is “one of the best scenes.” But the reports that the scene is entirely lacking in purpose, are simply not true. I don’t know why one of the writers is agreeing. Writer or not, he must be approaching it from a position of ignorance, or else (I consider this more likely) he’s engaged in fantasy and falsehood, spouting silly things, as part of some effort to climb out of a hole. I can’t speak to his motivations too much. I only know I like my answer better. “She’s wearing underwear because we’d have to go for the R-rating if she wasn’t.”

Uh, you unpleasant nags do realize, don’t you, that he’s going to have to be getting her pregnant at some point soon, right? Heterosexual coupling. Breeding. It’s coming. Might as well start throwing the hissy-fit now…

Update: Context. Once you appreciate the historical context, you appreciate how silly the complaint really is.

Steaks

Thursday, May 23rd, 2013

A how-to guide at IziSmile.

Hat tip to Linkiest.

I Made a New Word LXV

Thursday, May 23rd, 2013

Lerner-itis (n.)

Mental illness triggered when the patient finds other people are forming opinions about him that he doesn’t like.

The patient starts to behave irrationally, handing out orders to people about what to think and what not to think.

The reasoning seems to be, since the subject of concern is the reputation of the patient, that reputation becomes the property of the patient, and the patient should be able to mold it and shape it as he pleases. Of course, to find oneself at the center of controversy or criticism and to be unhappy about it, is only natural. But mentally rugged and healthy people respect the opinions of others. Lerneritis seems to come from an inability to acknowledge that other opinions might endure, even if the subject of those opinions doesn’t happen to like them.

We got a glimpse of Lerneritis when Lois Lerner, Director of the IRS’ tax-exempt department, testified before Congress about singling out conservative organizations applying for the tax-exempt status. Or…didn’t.

Lois Lerner might win the legal battle but she’s prolonging the political war.

Instead of simply taking the scorn of lawmakers for a day, repeatedly invoking the Fifth Amendment to avoid self-incrimination, and then moving on, she chose defiance.

And her bravado has prompted House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) to say she has waived her constitutional right to not comment.

Now, he plans to haul the director of the IRS’s tax-exempt department back to the committee for questioning.

Lerner Cartoon“When I asked her her questions from the very beginning, I did so so she could assert her rights prior to any statement,” Issa told POLITICO. “She chose not to do so — so she waived.”

Lerner shocked the committee room in the opening moments of Wednesday’s hearing by delivering an opening statement denying any wrongdoing and professing pride in her government service.

“I have not done anything wrong,” said Lerner, who triggered the IRS scandal on May 10 by acknowledging that the agency had singled out conservative groups applying for tax exemptions. “I have not broken any laws. I have not violated any IRS rules or regulations, and I have not provided false information to this or any other committee.”

Beyond that, she refused to answer the committee’s questions, immediately triggering a debate among panel members over whether she had just voided her Fifth Amendment rights.

After that, the article linked strays into legally murky territory. And I’m not a lawyer. Then again, that wasn’t a trial. At any rate, it seems we’re about to learn something about the Fifth Amendment. I’m glad to see there’s an amendment in the Constitution that the Obama administration happens to like.

Had some wisdom to share about this mental illness, yesterday, on this issue over at the Hello Kitty of bloggin’

I have noticed a certain behavior in some people for awhile, aptly represented in Ms. Lerner’s comments about her taking the fifth, and having done nothing wrong, et al.

It has to do with the person’s reputation. The thinking seems to be, “since it’s my reputation, that makes it my property, and people should think only the things about me I want them to think. I can simply order them not to think about all the rest.” Which, of course, is not really the way it works…

I’ve also said before that, as an advanced civilized society, we do a great job of “diagnosing” certain mental ailments where they don’t actually exist, and failing to diagnose things that arguably are real illnesses. This would be an example of the latter. You have to be mentally ill, on some level, to think you can simply order people to have the perceptions of you that you want them to have.

If we could simply start diagnosing this illness, and start extrapolating patterns and trends, we might find the afflicted represented disproportionately among persons who have achieved some measure of authority and power, but not all of the authority & power they want. And they are at the extreme ends of the power spectrum: directors of units within agencies that award, deny and revoke tax-exempt status, and other people who have hardly any power at all. But in all cases, wanting more. Guarding the personal reputation with a bit too much jealousy. Unhappy, unfulfilled.

Yeah, I’m not sure you can cut it that way legally. It certainly doesn’t work, out here, in the world of reason and common sense: “I’ve done nothing wrong, and I refuse to answer any questions.” Which is it?

Cross-posted at Right Wing News and Rotten Chestnuts.

Pedophile Disembowled in Prison

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

Newsflavor:

A prisoner who bragged about his offenses was disemboweled in prison on Saturday.

For many criminals, especially those who sexually assault people, it’s often in prison they are made to suffer for their crimes. Many men are raped, sexually assaulted, or murdered in prison. Mitchell Harrison (23) a serial sex offender, Saturday found the latter awaited him.

When Mitchell Harrison was sentenced to four years in prison for raping a 13-year-old girl he seemed proud of his crime. Harrison was sent to the notorious Frankland Prison, home of child killer Ian Huntley (who last year had his throat cut). When quizzed by other inmates, Harrison would brag about the intricacies of his sexual exploits (this the third time he was caught for sexual offences on minors). It’s this bragging that is thought to have ended his life.

On Saturday morning, having made makeshift weapons out of toothbrushes and razors, two inmates at Frankland prison confronted Harrison in his cell, slit open his stomach, and to ensure he was dead pulled out some of his internal organs onto the floor, essentially disemboweling him.

The two men (as yet unnamed) aged 23 and 32 then cleaned themselves up, went to eat breakfast, then turned themselves into officers for the crime, which at that point had gone undetected.

Funny how some things have a way of sort of working themselves out.

English Flag Might Offend Muslims

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

Examiner:

FlagThe centuries old flag of England has been rejected by a local town council on the grounds the red cross on white background English colors may be “inappropriate” and “offensive” to Muslims, as reported by the on-line news portal The Bristol Post on 16 May, 2013.

The town council of Radstock in Southwest England, has elected to pass on purchasing a new flag of England, correctly known as The St. George’s Cross.

Councillor Eleanor Jackson, a university lecturer and teacher, stated that due to the English national flag was used by English troops during the Crusades of the 11th, 12th and 13th centuries just possibly could mean the beloved English Red & White may be seen by some as offensive.

As Councillor Jackson stated:

My big problem is that it is offensive to some Muslims but even more so that it has been hijacked by the far right.

My thoughts are we ought to drop it for 20 years.

Jackson failed to mention the Crusades were in response to the initial Muslim invasion of the Holy Land.

“We’ve received some anonymous complaints about X” is one of the lowest-of-the-low among sneaky bureaucratic weasel tricks. “I can envision a possibility in which a hypothetical X might be offended” is the next step down.

Wasn’t there a Queen of France named Eleanor, about that time, who made a break for it and started fornicating with some young punk kid named Henry, eventually marrying him and becoming the Queen of England? Wonder if the French found that offensive. The two kingdoms did start going at it in a more-or-less constant state of warfare for some three or six centuries, depending on what sorts of uneasy peaces you think might count for something. Perhaps the good university teacher should’ve changed her given name.

B.A.S.D.S.M.T.O.T.W.D.

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

I think I like this.

An all-out assault against the WAGTOCPAN. Go get ’em! Folsom has it worse than most places. Everybody looks like they’re receiving instructions on the formula for an antidote that will save humanity, or missile coordinates for the satellite that’s about to wipe out all life on Earth.

But those conversations are really all about: “Whaddya you doin’? Me? Aw, nothin’ much…whaddya you doin’?”

So let’s crack down. Yes, if it saves just one life then it’s worth it.

Mean Liberals

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

So the producer and co-creator of The Daily Show, Lizz Winstead, made a bad joke about the Oklahoma Tornado hitting a red state. “This tornado is in Oklahoma so clearly it has been ordered to only target conservatives.” Then she apologized and backpedaled like crazy in the best self-deprecating manner should could rustle up, once she found out that real people were getting hurt and killed.

There’s a great case to be made that this isn’t sufficient to let her “off the hook.”

I tend to over-think these things. Maybe this is one of those times I shouldn’t be doing that. Winstead made a “funny” joke before she figured out people were going to be hurt, so it was outside of her intention to wish ill on anyone, or to make light of it once the worst came to pass. She owned up. Let’s move on. Right?

Um…not so fast there. This Daily Show producer being a dark-hearted evil monster who laughs at dead children, is not the focus of my concern and it never has been the focus of my concern. When someone says something stupid like that, it isn’t even my default presumption about what’s going on. I’m more worried about just the thoughtlessness of it. I’m not worried about whether her horizons were broadened once she realized she made an ass out of herself — although maybe I should be, since in her Twitter feed, post-backpedal-moment, I don’t see anything along the lines of “I learned something.” I’m upset that she had to have them broadened in the first place. She didn’t see Oklahoma citizens as “real” people or something? I mean, that was the whole point of her little quip, wasn’t it?

In fact, I think my own horizons are the ones that just got embiggened here. Let me explain that: I’ve often made the point that it isn’t safe to generalize among liberals too broadly. They all push bad policies, but the “elite apathetic” types push the bad policies because they don’t care that the policies hurt people, while the “common ignorants” presumably have the very best intentions and want the best for their fellow world-citizens; they just don’t understand how awful and wretched the policies are. And so, I’ve rationalized, the liberalism we see is simply a sales transaction, from the few cynical psychopaths to the many low-information voters.

It’s a good rationalization. It’s a friendly rationalization, since it makes it possible for all of us to start to find ways to get along. And there’s truth to it, which indicates there’s a need for it: I do know some liberals who are good people. They’re misguided, of course, and by seeing things this way I can at least try to find ways to un-mis-guide them without cheesing ’em off. Try to.

Problem: I don’t know how to file Winstead into this.

Second problem: It isn’t just Winstead. There are quite a few like her.

What’s the difference between being a dark-hearted Jezebel and being a thoughtless bitch? It’s the difference between the active and the passive. I don’t think Winstead really wanted kids to go missing by the dozens and then turn up dead. She just wanted to get her little joke out there. No, I agree the apology doesn’t let her off the hook, because when you really mull it over awhile you see it’s one of those apologies for getting caught. She made a very hateful remark, which was worth making because it was hateful against the right people. And, I’m picking up that it was very important for her to get it out there, toot-sweet, before someone else thought of the same thing and beat her to the punch. That does seem to be when the bad judgment comes out.

Can I pigeonhole her with the genuinely well-intentioned liberals who just want to be kind all the time? The sweet, cheerful Aunt who’s been voting for democrats since Roosevelt, and finds a way to change the subject whenever you point out that logic and history agree the minimum wage exacerbates unemployment for young people? And here’s my dilemma: I don’t think I can. It isn’t fair to the Auntie, who at least gives a shit. Lizz Winstead obviously doesn’t. She, along with the people like her, are all too busy being “funny” and making their “jokes.”

So I guess, with this new experience in my rear-view mirror and a bit of introspection and “exospection,” we need a new middle-tier. We have the generals, think of those as Barack Obama’s inner circle right now, the people who figure out absurd silly things like: Pass this gun control bill, pass ObamaCare, pretend John Kerry is the best Secretary of State we could possibly have…based on God only knows what kind of motives they’re hiding from everyone else. There are buck privates, who might have wonderful intentions but don’t know a damn thing and can’t be told anything, the dear old aunties. In between we have, dunno what “rank” we’d give them, Staff Sergeant or something? The “noncoms.” They aren’t at the bottom of the food chain, because they get this thrill out of making their “jokes” which are really nothing more than efforts to tell others what to support, what to oppose, what to think. With little punchlines at the end, so they can pretend what they just said is some kind of a “joke.”

But they don’t formulate what they’re selling. They don’t decide what that’s going to be; they’re not “brass.” They just pass it along, bludgeon others into believing in it and supporting it.

They’re not funny. They’re just plain mean. Just not actively mean. They’re passively mean. The truth is, they really don’t give a crap about dead kids, if while the kids are alive they happen to be living in the wrong, red states. They care about looking like they care, so they can keep their good reputations. Which they can then use to sell the agenda. Formed and shaped by the brass, to the kindly old buck-private aunties, who genuinely do have and maintain this compassion for kids and other human beings, that these noncoms only pretend to have.

The top tier is the apathetic, the bottom tier is the ignorant, and this middle one is both. We have to acknowledge it’s there, because there is a danger that these buck-private compassionate aunties might, after a time, be “promoted” and lose their compassion. That’s the trouble with these noble, glorious movements that are supposed to change the world: Sooner or later, this drive to help people who need the help, checks out. And it’s replaced by this other darker ambition to lock the sites on the opposition, and blast away. Beat them. Vanquish. Win. Grind ’em into the dirt. Really show ’em what-for.

I don’t want to pretend to know a lot about this Lizz Winstead person, because I just heard about her for the first time. But with this charge-and-retreat thing she did here, she’s not that hard to read. She has rounded that bend. She’s not alone. It’s been growing, as a big national problem, for a long time.

Well…That’s a Bit Trippy

Monday, May 20th, 2013

Just scraped the following image off Google Earth, Street View.

Oh yeah, and that’s cute, the image hosting service calls it “meatpump” from the local filename me-at-pump.jpg. Go on, get yer minds outta the gutter…

Anyway. The make/model of the coupe is not immediately recognizable. Sure looks like Bessie, with that distinctive, out-of-time, late-eighties “compact cars are still sort of compact” body style & shape. And that’s exactly where I used to fuel up, that very pump. That stall, that pump, that side. “Please pull up to forward pump,” the signs say, and since I was just learning to drive I always took that literally. That’s over three decades now, I have always pulled up to the forward pump.

The wife says it isn’t me, it’s a Honda Accord and not a Toyota Corolla. On closer inspection, it looks like she could be right. There’s a certain bulbous shape to this that I don’t recall from the 340 thousand mile iron chariot. B-u-u-u-t…there’s the other stuff. The hubcap design, for example. Very distinctive. Bessie had those. Not too many other cars did. This one does.

There’s a dude next to it, pumping the gas. Sure looks like me.

This coming Saturday we have a double-date. We’re meeting another couple at this very spot. We owe them a steak dinner, because the communist won re-election last year. Going to spend a couple nights at our favorite oceanside vacation spot. Last two or three years have been a bit rough, so we haven’t been going. Now that we’re cornered into it, I’m looking forward to it. Kinda need this break.

That’s 150.2 miles, from this spot (I reset the trip odometer when I fill up, don’t you?) to where you pull in, check in, haul your own luggage up to your room, soak your ass in a hot tub and watch the ocean waves crash up against the seashore. I know every single inch of that trip. It slices through the wine country in Napa Valley like a hot knife through a stick of butter. Mrs. Freeberg and I are going to be “tour guides,” of sorts, on this thing, and although everyone’s political opinions are not quite exactly the same — did I mention we’re really, really looking forward to it?

Back to the image, though: No it probably isn’t me. But it’s still creepy…

Update: Photo must be aged by a few years, which raises the likelihood somewhat. The gas station stopped being a Shell and started being an Arco AM/PM, quite some time ago.

Movie Titles That End With a Number

Friday, May 17th, 2013

So my blogger friend Cassy linked from her Facebook page (somewhere) to a Buzzfeed article about 43 things that will make you feel old. The content of the list didn’t impress me that much, and truth be told it was awhile before I clicked it open & actually went through it. Cassy, who’s pretty much a whole generation newer than me, griping about feeling old was good enough to get the job done.

Things make me feel old all the time nowadays. So I didn’t think too much of it. Then I saw an ad for this:

Something terrible has happened here. I haven’t said anything about it because my first instinct with things that are entirely outside my knowledge limits, is to keep my mouth shut. No, quit laughin’, it’s true. Once I learn a little bit about it, I start to sound off with the questions, at least the ones I have a trace suspicion won’t sound entirely idiotic, and that’s most of what you see here. I’m not there yet with the Fast & Furious franchise, but I think I’m there with the overall “sequel” phenomenon.

Its beginning can be legitimately debated. And we should have that debate: A case can be made that it comes from decades and decades before my time, but this starts to deteriorate a bit with some more definition. And as we recognize the problem, which I’ll get to in a bit — this is a rant you’re reading, let’s be clear about that — our sample set starts to shrink. From Russia With Love, sequel to Dr. No, is the earliest big-box-office example that comes to my mind. Yeah yeah, it’s a sequel only in movie land, where the order was reversed from the books with “Russia” coming before “Dr. No,” let’s get that out of the way. But it works as an action/adrenaline-junkie vehicle, at least within its own time.

But there are no numbers in the title until The Godfather: Part II. Apart from the number, here we find a meaningful event in that the significance has shifted: The movie has appeal because the audience wants to find out what happened to all these characters. So why would we not consider this to be the ignition-point of what we’re seeing today. Well, I do have some reservations about that. There is no book, so far as I know, called “the Godfather Part II.” But the literary format of the story continued afterward to flourish, with its own set of plot points that seem to have at least occasionally inspired what happened in the film. So while the producers of the sequel were motivated by profit, the supply-demand equation for story delivery is different; the story is there, waiting to be told. This sets it apart from what I consider to be the actual start of the problem, Jaws II. This would be the beginning of the era of: Huh, that made quite a bit of money, let’s see if we can make some more.

Superman II would arguably fall outside of this…although Superman III does not. So let’s firm up the definition a bit: At the time the decision is made to “green-light” the sequel, the story & plot are not firmed up as well as the recognition of the audience that has already demonstrated its interest. Shortening it somewhat: The decision to go ahead is driven by, or at least made easier by, the reduction in financial risk due to the prior creation of this new franchise. Ramifications: Creating the sequel becomes less of an expression of creativity, than an expedition to go “round up” some dollars that are known to be out there. We did not see this problem in the early days because back then, it was done with flair, quality, class, and a sincere desire to entertain. There was a built-in audience for Rocky II, but given that its predecessor enjoyed any success at all, how could there not be? The producers were simply giving the audience what it wanted.

By this time, we come to an era in which the most profitable and quick way to make a movie, was to make it a date movie, and the best way to make a date movie was to make it about horny and drug-addicted teenagers getting hacked to pieces by crazy people. So the Roman Numeral phenomenon completely exploded with the Big Three: Halloween, Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the Thirteenth. Revived, lately, in Scream and Saw.

And this is where the dry rot starts to set in. We come now to my complaint:

Like any old geezer looking down his withered old nose with disdain on what the newer generation is doing — I understand, I’m not the first — I am full of worries about something I realize isn’t actually any of my business. I am worried about these roman numerals. I’m fretting over their true purpose. I fear that purpose has been whittled down to nothing more than serialization. As in, without the number there, people might wrongly assume they already saw the film that’s just coming out. This would mean we’re living in this strange resurgence of what I saw in my youth. Not the movies, but the commercials on Saturday morning during the Bugs Bunny Show, in which the narrator would urge us to “collect all of them!” (In my house, that was a complete non-starter, as “collect all of them” was something those rich kids did, across town. But anyway.) I’m worried that is the only point left to these title-numbers, so the audience can make sure they’ve collected/seen all of ’em.

The installments, from what I can tell, are not immortalized by key plot points like “Apollo Creed dies in Rocky IV,” or “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is the only James Bond movie without a happy ending.”

The installments, in other words, have become fungible. Just like vegetable oil, one gallon being indistinguishable from another.

Or maybe I should say, Mountain Dew. The roman numeral simply says, “Yeah we got more,” and little apart from that. You need Mountain Dew case #6 if you’re done drinking Mountain Dew case #5.

I recall that chubby kid in the photography class I flunked back in ’83, monopolizing the conversation to try to beef up his nascent social skills…I suppose he was a bit further along there than I was…expressing his sense of wonder about a promotional shot of Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader riding an elevator together. “Whoa,” he said…”I’VE GOT TO SEE THAT MOVIE.” So, yes. There’s certainly a shift taking place here. It’s a big one, big enough we should be taking note of it, whether we like it or not. And no, I’m not happy about it, although I suppose there’s no need for me to be.

I don’t know this subject matter very well because I’m not following Fast & Furious. I could be wrong about this “fungible” thing in that context. In fact I know there are some caveats to this, at least. Six is supposed to be “the one with The Rock in it,” right? And I’m sure some of the stunts are new. But that was true of the Expendables sequel as well, and…well ya know, I’m thinking it takes a bit more than that to justify a sequel. At least in my mind.

Take it for what it’s worth. I’m just an old coot who was around at the beginning of it (I think). But I’m a sad old coot. I think, across the decades, I’ve seen something start out as an honest and fine art form, and wither down into something like a grocery delivery of something sweet, sugary, loaded up with caffeine and calories and not much else.

Yielding to the Older Prejudices

Thursday, May 16th, 2013

Ezra Klein writes:

On Tuesday, it looked like we had three possible political scandals brewing. Two days later, with much more evidence available, it doesn’t look like any of them will pan out. There’ll be more hearings, and more bad press for the Obama administration, and more demands for documents. But — and this is a key qualification — absent more revelations, the scandals that could reach high don’t seem to include any real wrongdoing, whereas the ones that include real wrongdoing don’t reach high enough.

I think I’d like to nominate that “key qualification, absent more revelations” bit as perhaps the most insincere sentence fragment to appear prominently in print in this calendar year. Although the year is still young.

Klein is known to me to put up this kind of facade, persistently and often: An energetic, driven but impartial and cool-headed force of good honest old-fashioned journalism, always ready to let the information continue to stream on in, following the path wherever it may lead. But in the end, the answer is always more liberalism. Funny, that. What else would you expect from the founder of JournoList?

Later on, in his obituary for the scandals whose vital signs he perceives to have flat-lined, he begins his closing remarks:

I want to emphasize: It’s always possible that evidence could emerge that vaults one of these issues into true scandal territory. But the trend line so far is clear: The more information we get, the less these actually look like scandals.

What a wonderful job he’s doing of pretending to be the opposite of what he really is, doing the opposite of what he’s trying to do. “It’s always possible that the patient may start breathing. Excuse me, you’re standing in the way of my embalming machine.”

This brings to mind something I was writing lately about a personal matter:

Preconceived notions carry great weight in proportion to the weight of evidence that arrives after the preconceived notions have been formed. Again, thinking can be done well or poorly; if it is done well, the evidence enjoys a great likelihood of upsetting or even toppling the preconceptions. And this is what I try to do when I write about what I [think that I] know, and why it is that I think I know it. I look for opportunities to topple my preconceived notions….I think it is a healthy sign when what is learned subsequently carries great weight, and the first impressions carry little — that is a sign of responsible thinking. What I seem to be seeing here is the opposite: The preconceived notions enjoy a great likelihood of remaining standing, even undisturbed entirely. The newer evidence must yield to the older prejudices.

Seems almost “Kleinerrific” prose — we’re both going through the motions of doing the same thing. One might almost ask, who am I to critique him?

The difference is, I’m sincere; and it isn’t a matter of opinion, it’s measurable. Perhaps we’d all be a little bit more mature in our methodology of inspecting this, if we had better words for describing all this, besides racially-charged words like “prejudiced” and “open-minded.”

To do a good job defining this, we have to do a good job defining the situation. The complaint, overall, is the way I described it in this other matter: “Preconceived notions carry great weight in proportion to the weight of evidence that arrives after the preconceived notions have been formed.” The situation in which it becomes “measurable,” is one in which this lately-arriving evidence packs a real wallop. That’s when the sickness becomes testable.

Those afflicted shrug, and say “so what?” Uh, but waitaminnit…this means something.

Of course it isn’t fair to say “Alright, such-and-such happened, now you are obliged to do a hairpin-turn and start agreeing with me.” Grown-ups aren’t obliged to think anything at all; that isn’t how we decide complex issues after we’ve had a chance to mature. On the other hand, it is reasonable to expect some doubts to be raised. In the case of the IRS scandal, the talking point earlier this week was that this was the work of a “few rogue agents” or some such, and by yesterday the Treasury Secretary fired the head of the IRS. Obviously, Klein thinks that’s an empty, “throw a body to the sharks” maneuver that means next to nothing. Alright…that could be correct. It’s possible. And he’s certainly entitled to his opinion. But it’s an incongruity with the earlier talking point that the malfeasance was committed by a few low-level flunkies because, even if you’re looking for a body to throw to the sharks, why go for the head of the IRS if there was any truth at all to the “flunky” argument?

We therefore have a difference of opinion, resulting from Klein’s idea that some kind of critical summit has passed and is now in our rear-view mirror, and if a “real” scandal has not materialized by now then…well, it’s time to get out the toe tag and the embalming kit. Well, from where does he get that? It seems so odd that we should receive confirmation on Wednesday, or at least near-confirmation, that we’d been lied to on Monday or Tuesday, and by Thursday Klein is proclaiming the scandal dead.

The issue is not final opinion, but certainty. Klein seems so certain. If it isn’t a fair point that his mind should be changed, it’s certainly a fair point that he should have doubts he doesn’t have.

Ah, but he did mention that he’s still waiting for more information to come in. Twice! Yet, his march to the desired opinion of “nothing to see here…for now” hasn’t changed course. It hasn’t even slowed down. And there is the focus of my complaint: Contradictory evidence does come in, and the progress toward the desired conclusion is entirely unchanged. It isn’t modified in bearing or in vector. It doesn’t change course. It doesn’t slow down. It doesn’t even skip a beat.

I recall a bit of LAN administration training I attended, in which the time-synchronization among servers in a distributed database was described in great detail. I thought this was absolutely fascinating. And I suppose the analogy is a stretch for anyone who hasn’t worked in the field, but against my better judgment, I’ll proceed: Before the servers communicate with each other about “my information update is newer than yours, for it was made at HH:mm:ss.hh,” they first engage in this bit of dialogue about what time it is. Makes sense when you think about it, right? You have to have a unified understanding of what time it is before you can measure who has the newest update. And so the database system presumes that server times, for whatever reason, get knocked off. The servers therefore conduct negotiations. And in this, they have different “weights” because they are assigned different roles in the overall system. Some servers are “reference” servers, existing for no reason other than to keep time, and they enjoy the benefit of “infinite” weight: All other servers, with different ideas about this what-time-is-it question, must yield, while the reference server’s understanding of the correct time remains unmodified.

And that is my critique. The original, preconceived notion, first impressions formed during the “how do you do” stage of meeting people, or even before — the ideological leanings, if any are in effect. They become “reference servers,” enjoying this infinite weight. A bunch of Ezra-Klein-babbling is spewed about waiting for new & newer evidence to trickle on in, but it’s just a bunch of pablum.

Bottom-lining it: I do not care if such people tend to agree with Klein, or if they tend to agree with me. I am worried when people like this, decide important things. I would rather have imbeciles in charge. I’m dead-flat-ass serious. I would much rather have the important decisions that really matter, placed in the hands of someone with an I.Q. limited to about 85, but capable of forming an honest opinion and then changing it if new information merits — than a child prodigy with a genius-level intellect, who’s so smart that he “knows” what he wants to know before he’s gathered a shred of evidence to support it, and can write all sorts of chiseled prose to justify it later on. That second guy may be the smartest guy I’ve ever met. But he scares me.

I fear people who can fool themselves this way. And I have good reason to: They’re human. Humans are unique, in this way. We’re so smart that we can lie to ourselves. No other animal can do this. A jaguar, getting ready to pounce, can’t lie to herself about when & where she can do do the pouncing for the best effect. She starves to death if she does. All other “dumb” carnivores have this “problem.” But we humans are spoiled rotten; we pay for drinking water and we can have it delivered to our doorsteps. With that much higher standard of living, comes the option of lying to ourselves about things, if we decide that is what we want to do. And I don’t ever want to be that “smart.”

It’s like having a souped-up sports car with an engine that can tear the concrete in half — but no steering wheel. What good does it do you? How does it help you to have a better than average talent for figuring out what new information might mean about what’s going on, if you lack the mental discipline to actually use it? What good is horsepower without an adequate sense of direction? Or perhaps in this situation, we should say — with too much of a sense of direction. When you aren’t really taking the information in, or if you are, you aren’t allowing it to have any influence over the outcome, without allowing yourself to draw the benefit from it; making exactly the same decisions you’d make if you never came across it. That’s exactly the same ultimate result of never running across the information in the first place, isn’t it?

Update 5/18/13: Some trouble for the “scandals that reach high don’t include wrongdoing, the ones that include wrongdoing don’t reach high” line.

“They’re Gonna Look Good Next to Us”

Thursday, May 16th, 2013

Well YEAH in the sense they look one hell of a lot better than you, you disrespectful cretin.

NYMAG:

Who are these Umbrella Marines I’ve been hearing about since a few minutes ago?
During a Rose Garden press conference with the prime minister of Turkey this afternoon, it began to rain heavily, at which point President Obama requested the assistance of two nearby umbrella-wielding Marines.

That seems like kind of an awkward request — did Obama make any sort-of-jokes to lighten the mood at all?
Yes, he made about three sort-of-jokes: “Why don’t we get a couple of Marines — they’re gonna look good next to us. Just ‘cuz I — I’ve got a change of suits, but I don’t know about our prime minister. There we go. [Gestures to press, which did not get Umbrella Marines.] You guys I’m sorry about.”

Video here. That jerk-of-the-thumb motion is a nice touch.

This is the mindset that made the Benghazi disaster possible, I’m thinking. And I’ll tell you why I think that: In public at least, President Obama has shown a borderline-obsession of sorts with decisions that, assuming they are indeed coming after some lengthy status quo of doing things the opposite way, you could make a plausible case that what came before is boneheaded moronic pig-iron stupid. If only you could make such an observation, that whoever came before thought it was a great idea to do things the other way. This is a pretty good example, right here. For generations parents have worried about their kids “having the common sense to come in out of the rain.” So this isn’t the first time we’ve seen President Obama investing all this pride in the meaningless, little things. It isn’t even a judgment call, really, it’s just an insult wrapped up in a straw-man argument, against nobody in particular: It would be an idiotic move, wouldn’t it, to have a couple of statesmen in expensive suits standing out there getting soaked to the skin.

I don’t think Obama wanted to stay dry, quite so much as He wanted yet another chance to play the part of the late-coming voice of reason. Hey! Leaders of the free world shouldn’t be getting so wet that they look like they swam laps with their clothes on! Once again — I agree with Him, assuming there was some disagreement about exactly that. But once again, I don’t think there was.

If only our President were so decisive about the bigger things. The tougher things, where both sides of the issue can make some legitimate arguments.

Alright, He does that too. Not with “let’s go help those people in Benghazi.” But, “Planned Parenthood is here to stay.” So that’s a bit more of a delicate and convoluted judgment call. But, that example isn’t a good one, since the lefty ideological position is crystal-clear.

So He can be a late-coming voice of reason just splashing all the rest of us in the face with a cold sprinkling of common sense…so we stop acting all dumb & goofy, since we’ve never seen any other way to be until our new Holy Prophet came along…or, He can be an ideological warrior.

Sure wish He knew how to actually lead. That’s four good Americans who’d still be alive today.

I sense Obama is losing His touch for P.R., as well. Since we’re going to be needing a five dollar coin pretty soon, maybe this is the image that should go on it. Talk about tone-deaf. He really did think this would be a good image, didn’t He? Just amazing.

Maybe I can float that one as an idea, just to see how far it gets. Think they’ll get an artist commissioned before they figure out this might be another backfire in the making?

Brick Wall People

Thursday, May 16th, 2013

Defined here.

And…being demo’d, for the benefit of anyone who wants to see it in action…over here.

Here’s your embed…

They must have the final word. Will not tolerate any disagreement. If they have the authority to back that up, it’s a disaster because you can rest assured they’ll make a whole lot out of that.

They know everything, actually, at least while they are in the process of deciding something. Especially when they’re brushing off a question about it. And the things they know, they know for an absolute certainty since the first questions they brush off, are the questions that have to do with lack of likelihood, or inconvenient and contrary evidence.

The “know nothing” moment comes along when it all turns to shit. As reliable as the following sunset. But at least that’s more honest than the previous know-everything event, because what they’ve been doing is the authoritarian-decision-maker version of copying an answer off your classmate’s paper. Some of them are well “educated” in the sense that they’ll be happy to walk you through the steps of the decision-making process, but when you listen to it all awhile you see they’re really just repeating back what they’ve been told. If you raise a dilemma about some contradiction you’ve found, or a rational inquiry about “how did we get from this identified problem, to that other thing as a proposed solution?” — they just start at the beginning and repeat it all. Those are the more intelligent ones. But their intelligence, applied to the problem at hand, amounts to very little more than a capacity for memorizing details and repeating them back.

So, they don’t actually know anything. You often haven’t very long to wait to see some among them bragging about not knowing anything.

They want to decide everything. They’ll accept nothing less.

They are the policymaking equivalent of that asshole who wants to drive in the left lane, and poke along ten to twenty miles under the speed limit.

“Impervious to Shame”

Wednesday, May 15th, 2013

Two in a row smacking Mister Wonderful upside the head. I don’t relish it, but there’s catch-up work to be done…

In the first months after the Benghazi attack, the most urgent question, and one only rarely asked, was “What were Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton doing during the seven and a half hours between the initial emergency communications from Benghazi and the final American deaths?” A negative answer was provided in February by Leon Panetta: they were not engaging with their subordinates; they were not contacting anyone to discuss options; they were giving no orders for action; they remained entirely uninvolved.

We are left to speculate about the positive answer to that question. Were they sleeping? Curled up by the fire with a good manifesto? Playing poker with Huma and the gang? Practicing jokes for a fundraising speech? Your guess is as good as mine.

And none of these guesses really matter in the end, compared to the looming horror that attends any of thepossibilities, namely this: the president and secretary of state of the most powerful nation on Earth are impervious to shame.
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Walking home one evening, you hear men across the street shouting for help, as they are in the process of being overwhelmed by a gang of thugs. You walk away, unconcerned with their cries or the sounds of bats smacking down on their flesh. You do not call the police or volunteer any assistance. You go to bed and sleep well. The next day, and each subsequent day, you carry on with your life of fun, friends, and self-indulgence, never giving a second thought to the men who died because you did not care to help. If a neighborhood reporter asks you about the crime, you put on your gravest voice and say, “Gosh, that’s so sad; I hope they find the creeps who did it.”

That is what Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton did on September 11 and 12, 2012, and what they have continued to do in the months since. God save a nation in the hands of men and women with souls of this nature. For a man without shame or the capacity for the most primal forms of fellow-feeling is a man who has no internal, self-imposed limits on what he might do to achieve his ends. If the suffering of others is absolutely nothing to him; if literal cries for help do not stir in him painful feelings that can only be alleviated by prompt action or, failing that, by interminable days of shame and self-loathing, then there is nothing — apart from pragmatic calculations — to prevent him from doing anything that seems to serve his ends. For it is the awareness of the rightful existence and potential suffering of other men that serves as our internal limit.
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Creatures of such failed moral development are currently, unthinkably, the most powerful men and women on the planet. We are sometimes given to wondering, in the face of one or another of the progressives’ assaults on individual freedom, natural rights, and human dignity, how they cannot see what inhuman conditions they are imposing on their fellow men. The problem is worse than that. As Benghazi teaches, these monsters, unlike their hypnotized followers, do see what they are doing, but they are simply incapable of giving a damn.

Pretty polarizing stuff. But…let’s not kill the messenger. The situation is polarizing by its very nature. The author of the article didn’t create the situation, he’s just writing about it. The creating of the situation was done by President Obama and Secretary Clinton. Oh yeah, and the people who attacked…well, let’s not go into that again.

The point is, this is where the Obama defenders are going to say something like “Yeah, but Bush…” This is what I want to inspect up close. This is where the real polarization happen. Everything in the article is true, and reasonable, and makes perfect sense. Obama voters know this, and when they say “But Bush” it sounds like a comparison. The polarization increases and the gap widens, because of course the comparison doesn’t hold — George W. Bush made a move with the military that some people didn’t, and don’t, like. That’s something he’s supposed to have been able to do; presidents do all sorts of things that are disliked by some of the citizens over whom they preside. Sleeping like a baby while others within that citizenry are being violently killed, that’s a completely different thing.

Actually, when you really think about it, they’re opposites. George W. Bush acted, Obama and Clinton did not. Maybe this is yet another one of those deals where we’re not really arguing over the true epicenter of disagreement. I’ve often thought so.

Maybe this is the epiphany that can help heal the divide, though: “But Bush did this other thing” is not a comparison. I don’t think so, anyhow. I think — it’s a loophole. The person mentioning Bush voted for Obama, and you’ve committed this sin of saying something that makes perfect sense and so, therefore, you are accusing them of having elected a psychopath. What they are doing with the “But Bush” thing is merely providing their excuse. They’re not comparing, they’re saying “I’m not a psychopath, even though, as you accurately point out, it looks like I voted for one.” Number 43 did all these awful terrible things, and they just had to replace him with someone.

Perhaps we can all start working toward a peace, and a sort of new getting-along, by acknowledging that people who fit what’s being written about here, can be & often are elected by people who don’t fit. That can certainly work, I think. But there needs to be some conversation about whether the snookering could work a second time. Liberalism is a sales pitch from the apathetic to the ignorant, as I’ve said many times before. So if the divide is to be healed, perhaps that is what has to be discussed: Are they still ignorant? Has the lesson been learned, or not?

Obama Don’t Know

Wednesday, May 15th, 2013

It’s a theme that keeps re-emerging over and over again…

Throughout Barack Obama’s tenure as President of the United States and throughout every major scandal during that time period, nobody important has known anything important about anything…important. Every time a new scandal breaks, the White House comment is “we found out about this through news reports,” “we need to wait for all the facts,” and of course, “this was just a few low-level employees in X-state or X-city, nobody in Washington was involved.”

There’s a pretty good list of examples underneath it. Just poking through it and counting the items, I can’t prove it, but I’m inclined to think the list is non-exhaustive. Although what did make the cut, supports the thesis reasonably well.

Goddard found an amusing way to summarize it all:

Things Obama doesn’t know:

He doesn’t know that he was running assault rifles to Mexican drug lords
He doesn’t know that he was using the IRS to attack political opponents
He doesn’t know that he has been wiretapping the press
He doesn’t know that he let Ambassador Stevens die, and then lied about it the families of the victims
He doesn’t know that he has tripled the deficit
He doesn’t know that he is the most divisive president in US history
He doesn’t know that his pastor of 20 years i[s] an America hating racist

Things he does know

All scientists agree that CO2 is going to kill us all

You don’t know whether to laugh or cry…

On impeachment, Rhymes with Cars and Girls notes that across administrations, scandal after scandal, we as a country don’t seem to be mulling things over quite right…

It happens every time. Any time there’s a scandal or misdeed, the first thought of the Incumbent Defenders is ‘oh noes what if the other side says this is impeachable’ and the first thought of the out-of-powers is ‘hey maybe this is impeachable and we can finally get him?’

And so of course in the meantime there is no room for serious discussion let alone actual contemplation of the actual things that these people in our government did: target political enemies for extra tax scrutiny, and lie about the cause of an attack on our country to prevent electoral embarrassment.

The Crimson Reach and I have a slight disagreement on what is the right way to mull it over. Although, I suppose, his view is more realistic and practical than mine.

Wheel of FortuneI am weary of pragmatism being placed before altruism, seemingly, from my perspective if from none other, at lightning speed. Republican or democrat, I’m sure all presidents are going to have political enemies in positions of power, and it’s important to me that politically weak presidents be held to the same standards as strong presidents. Okay, not really — in the sense that I acknowledge this is never going to happen. Politics is political. Weaklings die early on and die hard in political things. It’s in the dictionary definition, I think. People who “shouldn’t” come out on top, do. Is it too much to ask, though, that we can minimize the effect? We certainly demand it out of our representatives that they pretend to debate these cases based on the merits. Seems to me, if we don’t demands substance behind the symbolism, then we’re pretty much demanding that all our representatives have to be liars.

Which, later on, we’re going to want to complain about it. And boy howdy are there are lots of people who like to! But you don’t get to complain about the house being on fire if you’re the one pumping gasoline.

So, a little honesty please. If the point is that impeachment charges should not be brought, let’s hear all about Obama’s innocence. Or, if He’s guilty, how strong the nation is and how capable it is of surviving the stewardship of someone who, we know now, we can’t trust about anything anywhere…who’s never going to know anything about anything that’s going on, if & when it turns to crap. Let’s hear how we’ll get through it all just fine and that’s why we shouldn’t make a big deal out of it. I’d really like to hear those arguments right about now.

But I don’t want to hear about how damaging it would be for Republicans. Or, Obama will politically survive anything and we all have to get used to it.

English language fails me as I try to describe how little I care about either of those. I really couldn’t give a fig. I don’t care of Barack Obama is made of stainless steel and will never be hurt by anything, ever, or if the impeachment process is so damaging to Republicans that it leaves a big smoking crater under ’em. Neither one of those is even making a blip on my radar. We all like to think we’re smart about how politics works; makes us feel like we’re up-to-speed on things. Maybe we all like to feel like we’re Kevin Spacey’s character in that new cable series, I dunno…but the zero-altruism thing is getting old, folks. Right’s right, wrong’s wrong, and it seems to me we’re reaping the harvest of failing to care about that whole fundamental right/wrong thing, in years past.

And, yeah I know. Biden. I do care about that a bit more. But my comments hold, about giving evil a pass. We all know it’s wrong, I’m tired of it, I don’t think I’m the only one. When there’s no longer an up-side to sticking to the previous course, ya gotta make a change.

Six Little Words…

Monday, May 13th, 2013

…could have spared us from forty or forty-five years of silly stuff like this.

At 3:15 or so it sounds like she says she has “no problem with it” if a white figure is used to represent ignorance. So I guess her objective has more to do with pro-black than anti-offense. Which is alright on some level, I guess, but…at 4:55: “That is a stereotype that you white people have put in peoples’ brains and continue to perpetuate.” At that point it slips off the fry pan of silly into the grease fire of objectionable, offensive, hypocritical, deplorable, and lady-are-you-out-of-your-gourd.

You can’t claim to be fighting some unfair generalizations while making use of other unfair generalizations.

Well I suppose you can. But you go down that road without me…

The six little words that could have stopped all this nonsense are, “That’s one interpretation; there are others.” Because those words were not spoken at the critical time, the demons were let out of Pandora’s box, and years later we find ourselves living in this strange little dystopia of the Could-Be-Construed-As standard. If one found a reason to be offended, then all should be, and there’s something wrong with anyone who isn’t.

The Councilwoman’s feelings are all-important. The feelings of the girl, who it seems ended up crying because of the public humiliation, don’t matter for squat. To be offended is to be right. All others must yield.

I don’t think so. I really don’t.

Old School, New School

Sunday, May 12th, 2013

From Bird Dog at Maggie’s Farm.

One World Trade Center

Saturday, May 11th, 2013

Hat tip to Anne Thompson, by way of BroBible, by way of Linkiest.

Make Sure the Nice-Looking Women Are Covered From Neck to Ankle

Thursday, May 9th, 2013

It’s not the dress code of the Taliban…well, not unless you believe in a “West Taliban.” Which is a belief I’m starting to have.

It is the answer consistently provided by the weak-minded, in response to just about every problem under the sun. In this case, the sexual-assault arrest of the Chief of the Air Force’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response branch, which makes it clear at least to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel that the military needs “cultural change” or something…hmmmm…

Well, when the officer in charge of sexual assault prevention is arrested for sexual assault, yes something is heap-big busted. With all respect to the brave men and women who attend to sexual-assault-prevention for a living, both within & outside of the military, the first thought in my head is — spin it however you want, the job is to pester people about things that may or may not be consequential, now what kind of personality do you think that’s going to attract? In other words, in my view, the haranguing is what leads to the problem. You’ve got people who are there to do whatever the organization exists to do, in this case, military stuff. “Kill people and break things,” as they say. And then you have other people who are there to do something else, namely, to create problems for the people who are there to attend to the primary goal. Okay, let’s say to “monitor and educate” them. To put up some barricades. Hoops for them to jump through. Which is not to say the entire exercise is illegitimate; the point is, the arrest is a tip-off to me that things have gone too far.

Which I guess is why I’m not running the military. Hagel sees what happened, and his answer is to double-down.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has ordered a close-up and comprehensive inspection of all military offices and workplaces worldwide to root out any “materials that create a degrading or offensive work environment.”

The extraordinary searches will be similar to those the Air Force conducted last year and prompted officers to scour troops’ desks and cubicles in search of photos, calendars, magazines, screen-savers, computer files and other items that might be considered degrading toward women.

The inspections will now target soldiers, sailors and Marines. They come amid heightened concern about sexual assault in the military and a new Defense Department report that suggests more than 70 troops every day experience some type of sexual assault.

I find this infuriating in so many ways. I’ll confine my remarks to the most obvious objection: If I’m in the military and using a computer, it’s very unlikely that a picture of my wife in a swimsuit on one of our vacations as my desktop background, is going to inspire me to sexually assault someone. If it does happen, the vacation-picture is probably not what caused it. Real men don’t assault women.

And there’s the rub, you see. Implicit in a message of “bring sexual assaults to a stop by restricting images,” is another message logically derived from the first, that all men must be sexual aggressors, ticking time bombs just waiting to be set off like a bull seeing a red cloth. It’s the old feminist trope about all men being potential rapists.

Make-women-wear-more-clothes, in real life and in images, comic books, cartoons, film — someone should compile statistics on this little plan-from-idiots that keeps bobbling to the surface. It’s tried a whole lot, and it never seems to yield good results. No, that doesn’t mean you can have good results whenever the nice looking women are stripped down to nearly-naked. Although I wouldn’t mind trying that, but in general, there are no shortcuts to good results. That’s why they’re valued. But whether the goal is to bring sexual harassment/assault to a stop, or to get more people to watch a movie, or to make feminists stop complaining (!) — I can’t help but notice whenever the answer is “women wear more clothes,” the achievement always falls short. Naturally, I have to wonder why the solution continues to be proposed, especially when we deal with problems that have nothing to do with it.

But Hagel is SECDEF and I’m not. Going to make those military work environments G-rated. And, the pinups have to come down. This creates issues: What if Rosie the Riveter’s image was still affixed to everything? That’s a pinup. Whether it’s “degrading” seems at first like a no-go, but it’s really a subjective matter of judgment, and those are always hazardous during these all-or-nothing sweeps.

What if the guy making the first round of audits says an image can stay, and the second one says something different? Or vice-versa?

So time will have to be spent on this. And I’m going to go ahead and assume, some tiny, petty questions are going to become sinkholes for rather massive amounts of this time.

Somehow, though, I’m sure it all boils down to my country being safer, in ways I can’t quite understand…

Seriously, I don’t want to make a new rule that all the women have to be running around in skimpy underthings. “All” means “all,” however easy that may be to forget sometimes, and there are some women I just don’t want to see that way. But I’m getting excessively tired of the reverse, the pinhead-solution that “they should all wear more.” Yeah, it does remind me of the Taliban. That’s the thinking. “If men can see her cleavage, earthquakes might happen” and what-not. So that’s annoying, because I think of it as anti-American, and rather twelfth-century. But also, it’s annoying because it seems to be associated rather permanently with failure.

It’s deteriorated into a “red flag,” of sorts, that imbeciles are in charge.

Benghazi One Hundred Twelve

Wednesday, May 8th, 2013

The White House’s response to the Benghazi hearings is the same as it always is, with regard to each of those very few things in the news cycle that aren’t flattering to the White House: You shouldn’t be paying attention to it, and there’s something wrong with you if you do.

The White House said the Benghazi hearing on Capitol Hill Wednesday is covering old ground, and is the result of efforts by some Republicans to politicize the Sept. 11 attack on a U.S. diplomatic post in Libya.

“There are attempts to politicize this,” said White House spokesman Jay Carney.

Carney spoke as the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform held a hearing on the attack last September that led to the deaths of four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens.

I say, there’s something wrong with you if you expected any other reaction. It’s always “old ground” when it makes them look bad. These are people accustomed to telling others what is & isn’t worthy of their attention, and getting away with it. These are the kids who told their mommas they were just putting the cookie back in the jar…and, that worked for ’em. Now they’re all grown up. Completely unprepared for anyone with the temerity to say “Excuse me, but I’ll ask the questions here.”

Right now I’m on news blackout, for the most part, building a wine rack for my wife before we leave town for Utah.

For the foreseeable future — and this may change, very soon, since I understand these hearings are holding a lot of surprises for many — all I have to say about it is wrapped up in Thing I Know #112:

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

DJEver Notice? LXXIX

Wednesday, May 8th, 2013

First Lady Michelle Obama apparently wants to tie New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s fat-removal surgery, somehow, to her “Let’s Move” campaign.

First lady Michelle Obama didn’t directly address New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s decision to have weight-loss surgery in an interview that aired Wednesday, but she said his struggle shows why her “Let’s Move” exercise program is so important.

“I think that’s a very personal matter,” Obama, who has made tackling the nation’s obesity crisis one of her priorities, said on NBC’s “Today” when asked about Christie’s lap-band surgery. “It’s something between the governor and his family, and I try not to comment on people’s personal choices. I think Governor Christie is terrific and you know, his family is wonderful, and I wish them the best.”
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But Obama did say people’s struggles with weight as they get older is an important reason to tackle childhood obesity.

“There are millions of people like the governor who struggle with adulthood obesity, and that’s one of the reasons why I think ‘Let’s Move’ is so important,” she said. “Because we want to start working with kids when they’re young, so that they don’t have these challenges when they get older.”

Sometimes, when I disagree with the Obamas it’s because I oppose their various agendas. Sometimes it’s because, unlike their target audience, I can see those agendas. This time, what Michelle’s talking about is dumb, stupid, not even sane, doesn’t make sense. Having layers of fat carved off you & sucked into a tube doesn’t have anything to do with moving. You have to hold still for that, last I checked.

Alright, she’s not saying otherwise. So let’s just agree that her tie-in to the Let’s Move campaign is tortured.

Now, I’m actually not opposed to the idea of telling American kids to get off their fat ham-quarters and get moving. I like the message. And while I have libertarian misgivings against First Couples telling America to do things like eating fewer carbs, learning to read, running, moving, et al — can’t find any of this stuff in Article II, ya know — I acknowledge that some of my fellow citizens do look toward the leaders for this soft, parental-style “leadership” and I bow to the reality of it. If they do have this de facto “duty” to tell us how to live our lives, there are worse messages than the one Mrs. Obama has chosen. And, I think it’s good when First Ladies have causes.

Laura Welch Bush’s cause was literacy. She did a lot of book-reading for photo ops. She also, as President George Bush told us time and time again, had been a librarian. I’m inclined to think, although I can’t prove it, that when the photo ops were over and the cameras were all packed up and bussed away, that First Lady Laura Bush kept reading now and then.

Anybody see Michelle O climbing a rock wall or jazzercising lately? Or maybe just sling a hula hoop around on her curvaceous hips?

Again, to repeat: Not saying it’s a bad message.

It’s just a little embarrassing that my First Lady has to find a proxy to get it delivered. I recognize that with my lifestyle over the last year, I lack the proper standing to criticize others for being sedentary. I object to yet one more example of “Do as I say, not as I do,” and posturing, and phoniness. It’s really all getting rather tedious. The tortured segue from Gov. Christie’s surgery is really just another straw on the camel’s back.

No Sh*t, Sure Lock

Monday, May 6th, 2013

It’s about four years old, but I just discovered it…

Suitability for a mixed audience is debatable.

Junk Degrees and the Gender Divide

Sunday, May 5th, 2013

Dangit, I can’t find it. Sometime late this week, Friday evening maybe, I saw an article about girls and women being unfairly burdened with the majority of college degrees that are found to be worthless. For awhile now the girls have been kicking boy-butt in the paper chase overall, but the degrees are losing value. Even worse than that though, if you start looking at which degrees are more likely to actually count for something in the hard sciences — called STEM degrees, for science/technology/engineering/math — the guys are still keeping all those for themselves.

The alarms sounding off about the oncoming college-degree bubble-bursting are by now becoming a constant thing. Some have managed to find, with a little bit of research, a measurable skew to the problem:

I spent the [morning] laughing and being intrigued by a book called Worthless: The Indispensable Guide to Choosing the Right Major by a guy named Aaron Clarey…The book takes aim at “Big Education” and in non-PC terms lets the reader know what is happening inside higher ed. Clarey has a wicked sense of humor and his graphs and charts just add to the fun. There is one that shows the breakdown of what he calls “worthless degrees.” “Nearly 70% of worthless degrees are awarded to women” he states along with a chart showing the breakdown of 68% of women to 32% of males who get these worthless degrees. Worthless degrees include those such as Women’s studies, sociology, philosophy, psychology, education and the liberal arts and humanities. In other words, those majors that avoid math.

It does seem to me at times that colleges are becoming finishing schools for women. I wonder if this is why many men avoid them?

The Clarey book is here. I may snag that.

This guy even goes so far as to say: Stop requiring the degrees.

As a male child-of-the-seventies, I have no problem seeing what’s been happening here at all and I can sum it up in one word: imbalance. Not discrimination, I have to emphasize. Discrimination and imbalance are as different as justice and revenge. You’ve heard the saying that justice, unlike revenge, has to make sense to someone who isn’t involved. Well, discrimination typically only hurts the person who is a victim of it, while imbalance, which can be a long-term result of sustained discrimination, brings harm to the organization practicing.

For fifty years give or take, our organizations and institutions have kept a sharp eye out for any practices, patterns or trends, that might indicate the girls are getting a raw deal in something. Any indicator that the same thing might be happening to boys, just doesn’t seem to interest anyone who’s in any position that matters.

So the girls are finally way ahead of the boys in enrolling in college, and completing degrees. Yay, let’s have a parade with confetti and everything…but…when it’s found the degrees are worthless, it is once again an occasion for hand-wringing and a new round of self-inspection in how we’re victimizing the girls. Again. Ah, but the victimization is real and not imagined. Having a worthless degree hurts, you know. What is to be concluded from this, over the long term, other than that sycophantic thinking is a lousy remedy for helping females, or anybody for that matter?

Meanwhile, the Drug War on Boys continues.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported this week that nearly one-fifth of high school-age boys have been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Doctors eventually medicate two-thirds of them. The diagnoses represent a 41 percent increase over the last decade.

The primary gateway drug for teenagers isn’t marijuana or beer. It’s prescription medication. As the New York Times piece breaking this story points out, feeding a child a daily diet of Ritalin increases the chances of dependency, anxiety, and psychosis. Sports once channeled the energy of testosterone-fueled teens. Now our overprotective culture complains of the dangers of sports as it fills children with chemicals.

“First, do no harm,” a med school lesson so basic that even high school dropouts know it, gets tossed down the memory hole by script-happy doctors. As any street pusher will tell you, it’s all about the Benjamins.

Silly, selfish boys, hogging all those practical and effective degrees. How dare they. They can’t even get through fifth grade without medication.

The medication explosion is both a cause and a symptom of the forced female-friendliness. It is a cause because drugging a boy so that he can pay attention to what he’s being told, is a different thing entirely from drugging a boy so that he will engage the problems and make effective decisions. Our drugs yield passive, not active, participation. This difference has deep meaning. I wonder why more people don’t make something of it.

And it’s a symptom because — again, I speak from personal experience — participating in any class structure that is female-friendly, when you’re a boy, is boring as snot. That, too, is another deeply meaningful point that people don’t talk about as much as they should, if they really want to make the situation better, and I’m left wondering why.

It’s difficult for me to use actual English words to describe the utter lack of respect or sympathy I have for people who claim to have difficulty capturing the attention of boys. Oh, I suppose I can relate to it a little bit. The problem comes about when they conclude that it can’t be done, and it’s time for some little blue pills. Have you ever taken a gaggle of zoned-out boy kids outside, and moved the subject matter around to something they want to learn? It’s quite a striking effect. Think of an old metal three-pound coffee can filled with mice, with a blowtorch put under it. It’s like that — but reversed, approach instead of avoidance — lots of writhing and jostling as everyone struggles to get a look. What we should be studying here, is not what drugs force the boys to concentrate on girl-stuff, but what subject matters bring about this writhing and jostling and sudden interest.

Remote control seems to have a lot to do with it. And not just with the teevee. The male mind seems to be inexplicably drawn to apparatus that allows him to do something, way over here, which produces a direct change in the situation, way over there. It’s somewhere deep in the brain, near the stem; may have something to do with how we produce urine, I dunno. But whether it’s piddling on the leaf floating on the river from a high bridge, or dropping a rock from an even higher bridge, or changing the channel, or target shooting, or hunting, or fishing, or detonating an explosion, or flying a remote control boat, plane or helicopter — or just tossing a nickel into a drinking glass across the room — males like remote stuff. We’re not allowed to notice this in our new, polite society, because we’re not allowed to notice differences in men and women, unless they’re differences that make the women look good.

And we’re not allowed to notice things that make boys bored, and want to zone out. If you’re noticing the opposite, though, something that turns off the chicks, annoys them, frightens them, bores them, repels them in any way, then that’s noble. You’re solving a real problem. And, you should prevail. But if the boys are bored, well who cares. But you know, after a few decades of this micro-evolution, with the classes becoming ever more female-friendly, and further & further cleansed and purged of anything the chicks might not like…to the male mind they get very, very boring. Again, words cannot express. We could use the movies as an example. Men who actually enjoy being around their wives will take them to see Titanic, The Notebook, The English Patient, even the latest Barbra Streisand Farewell Tour. But a Twilight movie crosses the line into “I’ll do anything for love, but I won’t do that.”

Well, when it works for the movie house, it works for school. If the clock and the window are the most interesting things to watch in the classroom, there’s a problem.

During the period discussed, we’ve become quite fond of giving women “equal rights.” We’ve been a bit slower with equal-responsibilities. That, too, may be a source of the problem: It’s easy to stand up and say “I’m for more women going to college” but it isn’t quite so popular to say “When women go to college, they should choose a vocation that will lead to good, strong livelihoods, so they can pull their weight” — even though that’s what we’ve been saying about boys for, literally, hundreds of years.

Why We Need High Capacity Magazines

Saturday, May 4th, 2013

Via Gerard.

But our Senior Elder Statesman Vice President says, “If you need more than 10 rounds to hunt…you shouldn’t be hunting. If you can’t get the deer in 3 shots, you shouldn’t be hunting. You are an embarrassment.” That’s become a very popular sentiment among lefties, I notice. Maybe Biden got that one going, or maybe he was merely echoing it. “You shouldn’t need thirty rounds,” “You don’t need more than ten rounds,” “If you can’t bring the deer down in three shots you need to pack it in.”

Conservatives think, liberals feel, and it feels like you’re being competent when you pull these litmus-tests against the other guy’s lack of competence — on the spot, out of your rear end. That’s enough! Five shots, if the deer’s still up then you need admit this game isn’t for you!

Feel. That’s the key. It makes them feel like experts…even if they’ve never even seen a gun up close in their lives.

But when I feel, I try to make sure my thinking takes priority over it. And so — I think it’s scaring the stuffing out of me even hearing these arguments, let alone pondering the implications of those arguments carrying the day. For two reasons. First, as the video makes it clear, when there’s more than one assailant, all of a sudden seven-to-ten shots isn’t that much.

Second…I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a hundred times, because it’s true. There is a certain number of “rounds” a gun has to hold in order to be a deadly weapon capable of ending a human life, or altering it forever. And that number is one. Some gun-rights advocates consider the magazine-capacity limit to be among the most logical and persuasive proposals to be offered by their opposition. I strenuously disagree with this. It doesn’t even begin to make a lick o’ sense. The whole thing is a silly bunny trail. First test of a rational proposal is, can you define its objective — so what’s the objective here? Make a gun that’s safe?

Ladies-and-gentlemen, boys-and-girls, guns aren’t safe. They are life-threatening and deadly. They’re supposed to be.

Guns are like car insurance, in the sense that (in this context) you hope you never, ever have to use them. Those who do their responsible thinking, as opposed to feeling, realize “I hope I never have to use it” is meaningfully different from “I don’t want it to be effective if I ever have to use it.” This is merely paying due respect to Item #8 from the twenty things that are non-partisan, or darn well ought to be. And isn’t that just common sense? Hey, maybe that’s the way to explain it, to people who need to have it explained: Limit the gun to seven rounds, you might as well give your auto insurance agent a call in the morning, and let him know you want your comprehensive limited to seven grand. That way, (somehow) we’ll all be safer.

Really, it’s the exact same idea — this would be paying due respect to Item #9. Neither proposal makes more or less sense than the other. Limit the personal defense sidearm, limit the car insurance policy. Fact is, limits don’t make us safe. They don’t make anybody safe, anywhere. Limits limit. They impose constraints. That is all they do.

DJEver Notice? LXXVIII

Saturday, May 4th, 2013

People who think like adults argue like adults; therefore, people who want to think like adults, are obliged to argue that way. It can be tough to do sometimes. First thing to keep in mind is that you have to engage the ideas and not the people pushing them. What tends to get you bogged down here is pattern recognition: It is an entirely valid argument to say, for example, “I notice women who push the crappiest and silliest radical-feminist ideas have hyphenated names.” Certainly it is not politically correct, but if you think you’re noticing the trend because the statistics would support it, and not just because instances of the trend make a deep emotional impression on you, then it’s a valid pursuit to call it out & ponder what it might mean. But it’s teetering on a brink because the line between pointing that out, and saying some very silly things, can be fuzzy. “All women with hyphenated names have very silly and crappy radical-feminist ideas” would be an invalid generalization, clearly unfair to hyphenated-name women who happen to have sensible ideas. As well as a disservice to the person thinking it.

The salvation is to simply keep a decent and rugged tethering to the facts. Statements with “all,” “none,” “always” and “never” are to be viewed with deep suspicion, and upon receiving the inspection they deserve, will tend to wither and implode much more quickly than most others. Like Obi-Wan Kenobi said, only a Sith deals in absolutes. Of course, that in itself is an absolute statement, so…hmmmm…let’s move on.

For this reason, I don’t like observations like “liberals are stupid” or “liberals are mean.” It sounds like something a frustrated third-grader might say…and, there is the other matter that it isn’t true. Have I not met some liberals who are pretty darn smart? Of course I have. How about nice liberals? That one is a bit tougher, I’ll admit. Certainly I can round up for you a lot of liberals who like to think & say how nice they are, in short order and without putting much effort into it. But you would be well within your rights to say, Try Again Freeberg, it doesn’t count because the liberal is not as nice as he or she thinks he or she is. This would happen quite a few times, in fact you and I would eventually achieve some proficiency in recognizing this muted-down streak of effeminate-male anger, like Captain Hawkeye Pierce getting ready to explode into some self-righteous monologue about whatever. The “aggressively non-threatening NPR male” rage Harry Stein was writing about.

But, at least among the women, there are some liberals who are genuinely nice. One Aunt by marriage, on my Mother’s side of the family tree, comes to mind. These types do genuinely mean what they say when they indulge these fantasies about a “fair shake” for the latest fashionable minority/victim group. They just don’t understand the wretched ultimate effects of the policies they favor as they indulge these fantasies.

Here’s the thing about generalizations, though: Because generalizations fail so often due to their well-understood intellectual fragility, they are, in fact, extremely valuable. That would not be the case if they could be easily debunked all of the time. But contrary to popular belief, they fail often because they can be easily debunked — pay attention to this part, now, it is critical — almost all of the time. Almost. They are like the canary in the coal mine. Fragile, therefore first to expire, therefore there is meaning to be inferred from any situation in which they’re not expiring.

All too often, you take a large group and apply a generalization to it, which upon encountering reality & the facts, implodes almost instantly. But then you carve the large group into smaller groups, reapply, and after a few rounds of division you find the generalization works. Or, at least, you’re lacking in any facts that will vanquish the same generalization again, and you’ll have to allow it to survive, tentatively. This is possibly the beginning of understanding a cause-and-effect relationship. In our example of the genuinely nice liberal, who never seems to be a male, theory: It is more important to males to achieve cosmetic superiority to other specimens, than it is to females, because of the “peacock” attribute of the male psyche. And, the effort to achieve cosmetic superiority to other specimens is exactly where liberals lose their genuine nice-ness, as well as where their credo ceases to make any sense. I’ve criticized them for this many a time, and I’m not done yet: Making a perfect new world in which we’re all equal-equal-equal, to show how much more worthy you are compared to other people? The contradiction is completely devastating, completely unworkable — and not very nice at all.

All of this is a lead-in to my observation that the easiest generalizations about liberals, which crash and burn instantly when we review our factual encounters with real-life, real-smart, real-nice liberals…suddenly find new life when we divide the arithmetic set of “liberals” just a tiny bit. And my “didja notice” moment here is, the number of times we need to divide this arithmetic set in order to give the generalizations a new leasehold on life is: once, into two sets. A simple, clean bisection. I actually noticed this quite some time ago, and have since reviewed the generalization to see if it’s be knocked into the dirt by reality yet again. With that one bisection, the re-pulverizing has yet to occur. Perhaps it will later, but for now the newer set of generalizations seems to be like a good one, and it’s certainly durable.

From this exercise, I perceive two halves. I value this perception rather highly, for if it continues to hold up, it may lead in to a road-map to liberalism’s eventual defeat, at least within this chapter of American history.

You have the ones like the kindly old Aunt, along with the not-so-nice peacock males and all others who aspire to be like her. Somewhere in their hearts there are these good intentions. This is why I’m throwing truly nice people into the same pot as not-truly-nice people, melting ’em all together and calling it a day: They all have it in common that they sincerely want other people, strangers who they’ll never meet, to have an easier time in life. Some of them have mixed motives — “I’m going to look like a better person than that other guy, over there, because I said something positive about gay people” — and others don’t. They favor policies that ultimately hurt the people they want to help. But they know not what they do. One of my favorite examples: Raising the minimum wage. I’ve explained it over and over to them, you’d think the idea would manage to get across: This does nothing to actually “raise” a wage, what it does is outlaw jobs that pay anything below a certain amount, which is being increased. Can we agree on that? I’ve been genuinely surprised to find out the answer is, YES, we can agree on that, until such time as we have to form an opinion about an issue, then the typical response is to just keep clutching to the same opinion they had before. Like a baby to a blanket.

Other examples: Affirmative action in contracting and hiring, to soothe and cool whatever residual racial tensions there may be. The predictable effect is toward the opposite. Raising taxes to cover a city’s, state’s or nation’s tax revenue and budget woes. Showing those dirty, rotten companies how ticked off we are that they are “gouging consumers,” but smacking them with a whole new layer of burdensome fees and regulation. All these policies have a predictable effect more-or-less completely opposite from what was intended, and yet these types will line up to support the same policies over and over again, thereby bringing a lot of harm to the people they claim to be helping.

People in this group claim to care, and on some level they do care. They’re just not thinking things out all the way.

Now, the other group exploits the first group. These are vicious cold-hearted bastards who know perfectly well that Barney Frank caused the housing crisis, Fast and Furious would get innocent people killed, that gun control does nothing to make a city any safer, that when it costs companies more money to bring a product to market they just pass it on to the customer. These people know all about all of this. They just don’t care.

These people are usually employed in some capacity, such that they achieve a higher level of compensation, job security, or both when the wretched policies go into effect and innocent people are hurt by them. Hillary Clinton doesn’t really think it makes no “difference” who caused the attack in Benghazi. Joe Biden doesn’t really think you’re a lot safer if you fire your shotgun twice. President Barack Obama doesn’t really think more lives would be saved by His “extra background checks.” These people are just plain liars. They know the truth is very different from what they’re saying, but they don’t give a hang.

Those are your two groups of libs: The ignorant, and the apathetic. Evidence-impervious, and scruples-devoid. No, they’re not trying to be uninformed, or to hurt people; these are not their central motivations. That’s the whole problem. Both groups have bigger fish to fry.

From all I have observed, liberalism over the last few years has been making some great progress in moving, as they say, “forward.” Battle after battle after battle, in the congressional districts as well as in the nation’s capitol, is resolved in their favor, often with the “progress” locked in somehow so that their opponents can never reverse it, even if there’s a sea-change at some future date. The gun control thing was the first notable exception, at least in the last year or two. By & large, since 2007 or so they’re winning every single argument. And if there is one single reason for this progress of theirs, I would say it is this: The division between the ignorant and the apathetic is hard to pick up. We’re living in a time in which it’s become toned-down, and subtle. It’s so hard to see, that even people who watch politics all day every day won’t notice it’s there; instead they’ll insist on calling the whole movement “liberals.” That matters. Advancing liberalism is really all about sales pitches, from the apathetic to the ignorant. And it succeeds when the ignorant agree to the purchase. The feeling right now is that these two groups are one and the same, so the ignorant have no reason to decline.

I further perceive that the winning streak will come to a stop, and reverse, if and when this division is re-emphasized, highlighted so that it is easier to see. We’re all guilty of being ignorant now and then. But who wants to buy something from some shyster who is obviously hoping you remain ignorant? Isn’t that when you hang up on the telemarketer, car salesman, real estate crook or MLM crony? That’s when liberalism stops; when the ignorant-commoners realize they are not peers with the apathetic-elites, and that the two groups do not share common goals. From that, will come the realization that the policies that are being sold to them, are not conducive to the objectives they want to achieve. But it comes only from that epiphany, which may be sudden or slow. A smooth-talking smiley-faced Republican can’t explain it to them. They have to learn, from their own experiences, that they’ve been sold a bill of goods in the years gone by, and the attempted-fleecing is still taking place.

In other words, they have to learn on their own to start taking a sensibly jaundiced view of things. It’s part of growing up.

The problem is: Too many of them think they’re already doing that, by reciting ridiculous and useless homilies about “Oh well, all politicians are crooks,” as if they are magical incantations that can somehow make bad ideas into good ones.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News and Rotten Chestnuts.

“Her Male Genitalia”

Friday, May 3rd, 2013

The who the what now?

GOPUsa:

Late last year, a parent called the police after her daughter walked into a locker room and observed a naked man using the sauna. According to the police report obtained by Campus Reform, the transgendered man in question, a 45-year-old Evergreen State College student named Colleen Francis, was “sitting with her legs open with her male genitalia showing” with girls as young as six years old present.

Police, however, were advised by the local prosecutor’s office that “criminal law is very vague in this area and it would be unlikely they could pursue charges.”

Oh, how quaint those days when such behavior was considered “indecent exposure.”

Evergreen State College spokesman Jason Wettstein told Campus Reform that the school must “follow a non-discrimination policy with the state.”

From Daily Mail UK:

“Little girls should not be exposed to naked men, period,” David Hacker, senior legal counsel with the Alliance Defending Freedom told Fox News.
:
Th[e] swim coach who called police that day says she did apologize to Ms Francis for questioning her, “bu[t] she also explained there were girls 6 to 18 years of age and they were not use to seeing individuals in situations like this.”

The school has since set up a smaller, isolated section of the locker room for girls to change in, until the matter is resolved.

Unpacified, Mr Hecker has warned the school that should any harm come to the girls affected by this, they will be held accountable.

“Clearly, allowing a person who is biologically a man to undress and expose himself to young girls places those girls at risk for emotional distress and harm,” he wrote to the college.

“Any reasonable person would view this as dangerous to the young girls involved. The fact that this individual was sitting in plain view of young girls changing into their swimsuits puts you and Evergreen on notice of possible future harm.”

The “perfect society that makes everything in life completely safe and free of discrimination, for everybody” runs into a hiccup: If the transgender is protected from discrimination in the way, uh, s/he wants to be, then the little girls are not protected from harm. You let one “guy” into the girls’ changing room, you have to let them all in. And you’ll have to go by the honor system to figure out that they’re really trannies and not just perverts who want to expose their junk to little girls. How else can it be done? You’d have to call their tranny status into question. And if I’m following the rules right, you get to enjoy tranny status the minute you merely suggest you’re part of the protected class, not after you prove you’re in it. So, legal liability. You can’t question the status, because the benefits of the status are enjoyed before the status itself is proven. Honor system. It’s part of the culture that must always win.

But, women who are afraid of the harm/threats/attention/interaction from men, also enjoy infinite special-exclusive-equal-rights status. Especially young girls…as they should! As Mr. Heckler points out, some things are just matters of common sense. Both sides cannot enjoy the privilege of infinite weight. The horse-sense favors one side, political-correctness happens to favor both. So who wins?

My prediction is, one way or another, the school bows out of the business. That’s the typical outcome. You have to change into & out of your suit at home, then drive to the pool. Or, the pool is closed down.

It Isn’t True

Friday, May 3rd, 2013

Yea, blogger friend Rick got snookered, but that isn’t the point. The Currant writes very good satire and a lot of people have been snookered the same way…the point is, isn’t this a fun thing to be thinking about?

Hoo-yah. I’d love to see something like this happen. Love it.

As is very often the case, after watching people argue back and forth for awhile, I come to a realization that the real argument is about something else, unexpressed. Let’s see if I can find a way to express it:

“Shouldn’t all the decisions that really matter, even the personal ones, be left up to an enlightened peerage of wise elders who don’t even know us, but must know something, because they ride around in limousines?”

I am one of many who look forward to some kind of a divorce in the near future. People who respond in the affirmative to the question above, should never, ever exist in proximity to those who answer no. And vice-versa.