Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Mother of Flags

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

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

From here.

Largest Prime Number Yet

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

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

From this

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

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

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

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

A Wish…

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

From the brother-in-law…

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

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

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

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

“You crafty bastard,” said the fairy.

Full Face Tattoo

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

*sigh*

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

Hope it all works out…

Hat tip to Boortz.

I Made a New Word LXII

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

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

Anti-Science (n.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cross-posted at Rotten Chestnuts.

It’s Raining Spiders

Monday, February 11th, 2013

From Gawker.

Best Sentence CXXXI

Monday, February 11th, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Red Hot Nickel Ball on Block of Ice

Monday, February 11th, 2013

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

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

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

The Picture Becomes Clearer

Saturday, February 9th, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Twenty-First Problem

Saturday, February 9th, 2013

Hawkins has an article out this morning that is pure gold

20 Reasons America Is Becoming An Increasingly Nonfunctional Society

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

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

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

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

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

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

The New Age of Falsity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, February 8th, 2013

That quote’s from about eight minutes in.

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

“So God Made a Liberal”

Friday, February 8th, 2013

Hat tip to Barracuda Brigade.

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

Friday, February 8th, 2013

Preach it, Stossel.

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

But they better not use steroids.

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

And I’m loving this rant against lotteries:

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

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

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

Dependence

Friday, February 8th, 2013

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

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

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

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

There’s a word for this:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Chief nodded in agreement.

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

The Chief stared at the official, then replied,

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

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

Differences

Tuesday, February 5th, 2013

From the twenty truths that are absolutely non-partisan, or damn well ought to be

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

Those two, #8 and #9, are perhaps the most difficult truths to recognize in some situations, out of all of the twenty. They are also, perhaps, the most important.

And our friends the liberals seem to take exception to them, especially #8. I’m reminded of one of Vice President Biden’s famous “gaffe that we’re not sure was really a gaffe” gaffes:

“And folks look, AARP knows and the people with me here today know, the president knows, and I know, that the status quo is simply not acceptable,” Biden said at the event on Thursday in Alexandria, Va. “It’s totally unacceptable. And it’s completely unsustainable. Even if we wanted to keep it the way we have it now. It can’t do it financially.”

“We’re going to go bankrupt as a nation,” Biden said.

“Now, people when I say that look at me and say, ‘What are you talking about, Joe? You’re telling me we have to go spend money to keep from going bankrupt?’” Biden said. “The answer is yes, that’s what I’m telling you.”

This is troubling, because Biden’s nonsensical thought here is at the very axis of the flywheel that is modern liberal thinking: To avoid losing all of our buying power, we must burn it away. And, after watching liberals for a time, the neutral but thoughtful observer must entertain the idea that, perhaps, something should be duct-taped to the end. Like, “and it doesn’t matter how we burn it as long as it isn’t on defense.” But Biden’s idea, which is foundational to the liberal ethos, irreconcilably contradicts non-partisan-truth-eight, which is foundational to all responsible thought. Different things are different. Things are not the opposite of what they are. You don’t keep from going broke by spending more money.

Biden’s boss, and His followers, have now engaged for a very long time going through the motions of building something new, creative, game-changing and amazing. It is difficult to define what exactly it is they are building. But both they, and their critics, would have an easy time defining what it is they want to destroy. In some cases they wouldn’t even disagree that much about what it is, they’d only disagree about the after-effects. But when you can define what you’re trying to get rid of, but you can’t define exactly what it is you are creating, the time might have come to admit you’re engaged in a destructive process rather than a creative one. But they won’t do this. So here, again, we run afoul of truth #8. Creating is creating. Destroying is destroying. Those two things are not the same. They are opposites, and no practical or effective thinking can proceed from a fundamental error in confusing a thing with its opposite.

I’m seeing with the global warming hooey there is a lot of dogmatic doctrine, an awful lot of “supposed to” involved. A group of concerned citizens has been logging in here under a common user account, trying to educate us on the danger, but this education doesn’t involve too much real education. Conflict arises when I say, I find this thing certain but this other thing questionable. The group does not say, “you are not allowed to question it,” although I get the impression they’d like to. But they do say, “you have to look at the science FIRST.” Failure to do so, means I’m not thinking on the situation critically. Isn’t that funny? They are not alone in this. Accepting something uncritically, is the first step toward critical thinking. Again, truth #8. Effective thinking cannot proceed from a fundamental error in confusing a thing with its opposite.

Liberals often castigate conservatives for being “inconsistent,” supporting the death penalty but opposing abortion. This is something I’ve never understood entirely. It makes no sense. My tentative theory is that liberals “think” out loud, in order to produce a desired effect, namely to convert low-information centrists into liberals. They’re like vampires. So if they “think” something that works, they’ll just keep thinking it a lot more until the time comes it doesn’t work anymore…they seem to suffer cognitive dissonance, but they don’t meet the criteria for it because they’re not really holding the contradictory thoughts in their heads, they’re just routing them straight to their mouths. Here’s the deal: The unborn baby has not done anything to anybody, ever. It’s called innocence. When a conservative favors the death penalty, if you talk with that conservative awhile I think you’ll invariably find this is out of a sense of certainty that the convict is guilty. Now you can argue about that, I guess…but…innocence is not guilt. Those two things are different. They’re opposites. What works for one, does not work for the other. So who’s inconsistent?

I very often hear liberals use the phrase “working families” to describe groups of people who do not work, and do not make up any sort of “family.” Whenever I buy a newspaper, in any city, and flip to that paper’s Section B, I get to read about a lot of liberals complaining that the economy is in trouble and something has to be done, because the standard of living is beneath the desirable for some sad sack that they’re interviewing. This sad sack usually does not work. The way an economy works is, you produce something, you get something back. There is productive. There is unproductive. Those two things are not the same. They are opposites.

Some liberals have the letter “R” after their names, unfortunately. I see Congressman Ron Paul just made a complete ass out of himself, by way of a now notorious tweet:


The trouble with this is that it makes a very common lefty-politician/hippie mistake of denying the necessity of defense, and therefore envisioning evil motives in those who provide it. Creation and destruction are important things in the application of truth #8. To those two things, we can add preservation. It can get complicated when we view human efforts this way, because they are often concerned with doing one of those three things immediately, to facilitate some different thing over a longer term. Buying a property and razing an old house to the ground so you can build a new house…that would be destroying something so something else can be built. A military destroys things so something else can be preserved. Just like a weed killer or pesticide for your garden. That’s what they do. They are not random, out-of-control killers “living by the sword.” They are defenders. Those things are different. What works for one, does not work for another.

I see Sen. John Kerry has been confirmed as our nation’s next Secretary of State. Chuck Hagel was nominated for Secretary of Defense, and that’s not going so well. Kerry and Hagel have it in common with Biden, and outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, and a whole bunch of other high-profile types including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Congressman Henry Waxman, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, Department of the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Congressman Steny Hoyer, Senator Patty Murray, et al…there is a certain level of difficulty involved in pointing to any one single thing, or group of things, that these people are known for doing very well. It seems the ones that can demonstrate any desirable talent at all, are all specializing in giving speeches and winning arguments. Some of them are something, as opposed to being noticed doing something. Energy Secretary Stephen Chu is a Nobel Prize winner. I suppose that indicates some smarts, but it isn’t doing something, besides of winning a medal that is awarded by a bunch of people whose names I don’t know, who I’m not going to meet anytime soon, and who don’t have my confidence. To be frank about it, the whole sorry lot of them remind me of Ayn Rand’s description of Wesley Mouch, “…the zero at the meeting point of forces unleashed in destruction against one another.” This causes problems, often. Bernanke, for example, said back in 2007, “The impact on the broader economy and financial markets of the problems in the subprime market seems likely to be contained.” See, there are keen, forward-thinking prophets, and then there are bland buffoons. Which means, generally, clueless dorks. We run into real trouble and end up genuinely hurt, when we pretend the latter are the former. But we should expect trouble, when we regard things as different from what they really are, and make important decisions based on this.

When you go to your mandatory sexual harassment training, the first thing they tell you is something like “these rules are put in place to foster a safe and non-threatening work environment, for everyone.” The second thing they tell you is something like “in determining whether an actionable offense has been committed, it is important to remember that the intent of the accused is entirely irrelevant, and the perception of the offended person determines everything.” When you have to work in proximity to some neurotic, stringy female who is offended by everything, and your boss picked her out and you didn’t, that’s not a safe and non-threatening work environment — especially if her perceptions determine everything and your intentions are entirely irrelevant. So these statements are mutually exclusive. Which is it? You’re either trying to make the workplace safe or you’re trying to make the workplace dangerous. One or the other. Not both.

We have doctors prescribing medication for ADHD, who are essentially using the ADHD as a contrived excuse for prescribing the medication, so that the medication doesn’t have anything to do with any actual disorder, it’s just…how did he put it…”too expensive to modify the kid’s environment, so we have to modify the kid.” Some of these cases are even “diagnosed.” That word is supposed to mean something, and in the past, it has. It meant a real measurement. Nowadays though, as the word “science” is being used to describe a ritual that is faux-science at best, “diagnose” is coming to mean little more than institutionalized gossip. There are clinical measurements. There is institutionalized gossip. Those two things are not the same, they are different.

There are people who help other people. There are other people, who do not do anything to help, not even themselves.

There are people who live self-sustaining lifestyles. There are people who live self-destructive lifestyles.

There is improving the economy. There is spreading the wealth around. Which translates to, a deliberate and premeditated attack on profits. I discussed a few paragraphs back what an economy is, how it works; what is left of that, without profits?

All these things represent meaningful differences. But we seem to be living in a time in which it is undesirable, usually, to recognize differences. The last Secretary of State notoriously shrieked away at a congressional hearing over one of her monumental screw-ups, “what difference does it make?” There is deep psychological meaning here. We are conditioned from childhood to do whatever is necessary to curry approval from females, and it packs a powerful wallop when you can put out an unspoken message of “I’m an old frumpy woman, I’m super aggravated right now, and you’re aggravating me even further.” Because of that, it seems Secretary Clinton’s outburst accomplished what it was supposed to, and took the heat off of her. In addition to which, her statement is an exceptionally apt summary of the thinking of the current time, that nothing is different from any other thing, everything is all the same, all preventative or defensive action is pointless. But it’s very poor form, to say the least, with four Americans dead.

There is a government we have now, staffed at its highest levels with these pasty, unremarkable, mediocre but argument-winning bullies, these caterwauling narcissists. “What difference does it make”-ing their way through everything. Shrieking harpies and bloviating blowhards who can’t think their way out of a paper bag. And then there is a government fitting for this wonderful nation.

Those two things are different. They are not the same.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News.

“Abnegation of Trust”

Tuesday, February 5th, 2013

New York Times:

Every morning on her way to work, Kathy Fee holds her breath as she drives past the squat brick building that houses Dominion Psychiatric Associates.

It was there that her son, Richard, visited a doctor and received prescriptions for Adderall, an amphetamine-based medication for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. It was in the parking lot that she insisted to Richard that he did not have A.D.H.D., not as a child and not now as a 24-year-old college graduate, and that he was getting dangerously addicted to the medication. It was inside the building that her husband, Rick, implored Richard’s doctor to stop prescribing him Adderall, warning, “You’re going to kill him.”

It was where, after becoming violently delusional and spending a week in a psychiatric hospital in 2011, Richard met with his doctor and received prescriptions for 90 more days of Adderall. He hanged himself in his bedroom closet two weeks after they expired.
:
Very few people who misuse stimulants devolve into psychotic or suicidal addicts. But even one of Richard’s own physicians, Dr. Charles Parker, characterized his case as a virtual textbook for ways that A.D.H.D. practices can fail patients, particularly young adults. “We have a significant travesty being done in this country with how the diagnosis is being made and the meds are being administered,” said Dr. Parker, a psychiatrist in Virginia Beach. “I think it’s an abnegation of trust. The public needs to say this is totally unacceptable and walk out.”

Young adults are by far the fastest-growing segment of people taking A.D.H.D medications. Nearly 14 million monthly prescriptions for the condition were written for Americans ages 20 to 39 in 2011, two and a half times the 5.6 million just four years before, according to the data company I.M.S. Health. While this rise is generally attributed to the maturing of adolescents who have A.D.H.D. into young adults — combined with a greater recognition of adult A.D.H.D. in general — many experts caution that savvy college graduates, freed of parental oversight, can legally and easily obtain stimulant prescriptions from obliging doctors. [emphasis mine]

Good old New York Times. Even in cases where they report on something of value, that the public really does need to understand better, they stick to the same old script: Look at this one case that’s guaranteed to grab your attention! Now, very few of them are like that, but what really is a widespread problem, is this other thing over here…so you have to ask the question…why did you select this case study for your story, if it isn’t representative of the phenomenon you want to discuss? Aw well. To sell newspapers of course, silly.

So we have a bit of extra work to do. We have to read the story front to back and say, what was the problem here? And the answer is not Adderall patients hanging themselves. The issue is time.

Medications like Adderall can markedly improve the lives of children and others with the disorder. But the tunnel-like focus the medicines provide has led growing numbers of teenagers and young adults to fake symptoms to obtain steady prescriptions for highly addictive medications that carry serious psychological dangers. These efforts are facilitated by a segment of doctors who skip established diagnostic procedures, renew prescriptions reflexively and spend too little time with patients to accurately monitor side effects.

That “segment of doctors” link takes you to another New York Times article from a few months ago. Let’s click that puppy open. Because that’s where the important stuff is:

When Dr. Michael Anderson hears about his low-income patients struggling in elementary school, he usually gives them a taste of some powerful medicine: Adderall.

The pills boost focus and impulse control in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Although A.D.H.D is the diagnosis Dr. Anderson makes, he calls the disorder “made up” and “an excuse” to prescribe the pills to treat what he considers the children’s true ill — poor academic performance in inadequate schools.

“I don’t have a whole lot of choice,” said Dr. Anderson, a pediatrician for many poor families in Cherokee County, north of Atlanta. “We’ve decided as a society that it’s too expensive to modify the kid’s environment. So we have to modify the kid.”

Dr. Anderson is one of the more outspoken proponents of an idea that is gaining interest among some physicians. They are prescribing stimulants to struggling students in schools starved of extra money — not to treat A.D.H.D., necessarily, but to boost their academic performance.

It is not yet clear whether Dr. Anderson is representative of a widening trend. But some experts note that as wealthy students abuse stimulants to raise already-good grades in colleges and high schools, the medications are being used on low-income elementary school children with faltering grades and parents eager to see them succeed. [emphasis mine]

Your Obligatory Lightworker-Fires-a-Gun Post

Monday, February 4th, 2013

Oh, my. This is strange. Starting at the beginning, Our Nation’s First Holy Emperor-President mentioned that He skeet shoots, all the time. “Have you ever fired a gun?” says the interviewer. He Who Walks On Water replies, “Yes, in fact, up at Camp David, we do skeet shooting all the time.”

This struck some as a bit odd. There followed an awkward exchange at the White House briefing room, in which some reporters asked something like, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot? And Jay Carney replied with an answer that was completely useless, with an pungent undertone of, you’re a doody-head for asking the question…which is a bit like saying today’s day-of-the-week ends with the letter Y, or water is wet.

I’ve removed the video embed because it auto-plays. It’s just Jay Carney doing that answer-a-question thing he does, which doesn’t have much to do with answering questions. You’ve seen him do it once, you’ve seen it a hundred times.

That’s why they pay him. Give out useless answers, make it clear you’d prefer the question not be asked, deliver a veiled insult. There’s a lot of that going around. We’re not fond of exchanging information in these times…and Jay Carney is really a man for our times. I’m not entirely sure what his function is, but it makes sense to somebody, so there ya go.

And then somebody — perhaps David Plouffe — had an idea. And so the White House released a photo.

…to go with Plouffe’s tweet…


For those interested in details, Washington Post provides some

The photo, taken by White House photographer Pete Souza, depicts a sunglasses-wearing Obama firing what appears to be a Browning Citori 725, the shotgun wedged against his left shoulder, a pillow of white smoke emerging from the barrel.

I’m finding it difficult to work up my give-a-damn about any of this. We know from President Obama’s position on gun control that He is entirely ignorant of, or doesn’t give a rat’s ass about, some fundamental truths about guns and their useful purpose for personal defense. So He fired a gun before, or He didn’t fire a gun before. Who cares? And “we do skeet shooting all the time” is a lie, or it’s not a lie…again, who cares? He lied about “your taxes aren’t going up” and “ObamaCare is not a tax,” so He’s already a liar. There’s no outstanding question on it.

If the picture is supposed to prove “we do it all the time,” I’d say, if anything, it proves the opposite. If I saw my kid getting ready to discharge a gun while holding it that way, I’d probably intervene and say, let’s work on that posture a bit first. Sure, it’s a bit amusing afterward when the big weapons go flying out of careless hands, especially if it’s caught on video. But, safety first. This shotgun-wielder does not look ready.

No more than this baseball pitcher:

Or this hole-digger:

Or this bicyclist:

Given that pattern, it’s clear that Barack Obama is not a hands-on person. He is not someone you would hire to actually get real work done. He gives speeches and makes people feel good…until they figure out He’s sold them something they wouldn’t have bought, had they been better informed…but that’s His deal. You wouldn’t want Him doing something you actually had to have done. It isn’t even a matter of failing to finish the job, you’d be truly afraid that He’d end up hurting Himself.

I don’t know why they released this picture. I think it was a mistake. But hey, their people are winning all the time, for the moment anyway, so who am I to question it.

Still, I think this was a public-relations folly. It’s the false-consensus effect; I’m sure in the back rooms packed full with Barry’s people, releasing the picture was a can’t-lose proposition. To the rest of the country, it was mock-worthy. Why did they do this, anyway? What’s the upside?

Bookworm notices something interesting here:

Obama was so upset about accusations that he lied about skeet shooting that he immediately released evidence supporting his statement. This sensitivity to his reputation for truthfulness doesn’t square with Obama’s ongoing refusal to release his original birth certificate. Wouldn’t you think that Obama would be more even intent upon proving his veracity when it comes to his constitutional bona fides than he would be about whether he shoots little flying saucers?

Likewise, Obama has never seemed interested in refuting conservative sneers when it comes to his much vaunted, but completely unproven, academic record. Obama and his friends say it’s good, but conservatives say that his spoken fund of knowledge is inconsistent with good high school and college grades. Wouldn’t you think that Obama would want to refute this conservative smear against his integrity?

Given the peculiar absence of evidence about the circumstances of Obama’s birth and his academic qualifications, especially when compared with his immediate and triumphant proof that he’s handled a gun, one might be inclined to think that Obama hasn’t defended himself in those areas because he can’t. That is, he cannot prove that his birth certificate comports with his statements about his life history (whether it shows he was illegitimate, another man’s child, or born outside of the US) nor can he prove that his academic records do not support his, and his supporter’s, claims about his intellectual acumen and accomplishments.

I know that, with Obama’s reelection, the time for harping on his birth (never mind its possible constitutional implications) and his schooling (which really is irrelevant by now) has long passed. Still, his differing responses to these different attacks on his integrity are thought-provoking, if nothing else.

I’m sure Bookworm is not going full-tilt Birther. I’m certainly not; there’s no evidence to suggest Stanley Ann Dunham was ever in Kenya, of which I know, and as Neal Boortz has pointed out several times, it is traditional for babies to be born somewhere in close physical proximity to their mothers. But the observation remains a valid one.

Barack Obama’s people are preternaturally obsessed with winning arguments. We’re now going into our fifth solid year of watching them being confronted with that old, old problem for the revolutionary, which might be stated as: “Okay, your revolution is successful and you are in charge now — start fixing everything.” They are doing much worse than simply failing to meet the challenge. They’ve shown, time and time again, they got nuthin’. With the enemy vanquished, they have to keep re-fighting the fight they’re supposed to have just gotten finished winning.

Which leads to a lot of bad decisions being made. But with the showing-the-proof thing, we get this split behavior, and I dunno maybe it’s simply reflecting the random, haphazard, unstable thinking at the top of the organizational pyramid. On this thing over here you get this Jay Carney answer of, no you cannot see the proof, and there’s something terribly wrong with you for asking; on that other thing over there you get this “proof,” along with a smackdown of — THERE! There’s your proof! Eat it! EAT IT!!

And while they’re basking in the afterglow of their victory, high-fiving each other, the more normal-thinking people out here in the real world…you know, the ones who can hold shotguns, and shovels and picks, and throw baseballs…are going, “What the fuck is this?”

Reminds me of the “Bernie” scene from The Incredibles.

Photographic evidence. Okay, you “win.” Bernie.

Obama fired a gun. Point for your team.

Weird. Just…weird.

“Ordinarily”

Sunday, February 3rd, 2013

A great many liberal arguments begin with the word “Ordinarily.” I do not mean to say they are actually worded in this way; what I mean is, to state the sentiment behind all that is said on the left side, you very often can…and, more often than not, will be forced to…adhere to the following template:

“Ordinarily, you are correct, we should [follow some rule that is common sense and non-partisan in nature, or damn well ought to be, but would not be friendly to their specific proposal here]…HOWEVER, we must consider…[statement of situation of community, or some sad-sacks within it, in order to arouse an emotional, and therefore non-reasoning, response]…therefore, in this isolated case, we must [deviation from rule, which involves investing power in one class of people over some other class of people].”

A lot of their positions, both foreign-policy and domestic, follow this. Ordinarily, for example, yes of course we cannot expect greater harmony to endure among the races if they do not go through life playing by the same rules. However, we must consider the history these people had to go through. Therefore, we must confer special rights on them.

Notice the triumvirate: Ordinarily, however, therefore. Notice, also, that the “therefore” completely contradicts, as opposed to satisfying, the concern acknowledged under the “ordinarily.” This is significant: The “however” did not come up with some exceptional situation at work here that would mollify or obviate the concern; it didn’t even come close to doing that. The whole triangle is a cow-catcher argument, of “just don’t worry about it, m’kay?” that just nudges the concern off to the side, before trudging onward. Forward!

We see that with our favorite discussion of climate change: Ordinarily, yes, climate science is more concerned with the present state of things, than with identifying future predictions, and it darn sure well falls short of saying what policy changes we need to make. However, climate calamity blah blah blah endangered species blah blah blah life as we know it blah blah blah. Therefore, we must raise taxes on energy, give lots of power to the United Nations, and call it “science” even though we know it isn’t.

Ordinarily, you’re right we should expect a student at a prestigious Georgetown law school to pay for her own personal upkeep items; however, war on women. Therefore, yes, students who have been strangely afforded educational opportunities that were never available to you, should be spared from the personal expense you yourself have always had to meet, and we’re going to whine and cry on their behalf until it works that way as if some BasicHumanRight has been denied to them.

Ordinarily, if we’re going to claim to follow the Constitution, we’d be obliged to follow it…however, when they ratified that Second Amendment they just had muskets & stuff, besides of which those Founding Fathers were just a bunch of powdered-wig-wearing slave-owners who pooped in buckets…therefore, we’re going to have to make an exception here. An exception that involves our “leaders” protecting themselves and their families with guns, while you’re not allowed to do the same.

Ordinarily, we should feel great resentment for having to live within our means while our government doesn’t have to, however…fiscal cliff. Therefore — what was that you were saying about everyone else having to live within their means? I forget.

Ordinarily, we should support our allies and Israel is supposed to be an ally. However, Palestinian babies being carpet bombed, besides of which, we should be deeply ashamed of our own history, therefore

Ordinarily, yes if we want the economy to get better, the first step toward that would be to make it alright for people to make money. However, so-and-so made such-and-such money last year and only paid this much…therefore

The list goes on and on. It isn’t much of an exaggeration to say that most, perhaps all, liberal arguments follow this. In fact, liberalism itself follows the template. Ordinarily, yes if we want to make the decision well, we should endeavor to make it logically rather than emotionally, howevertherefore

Liberalism is the ideology of darkness, because it stands alone, divided from reasoned centrists as well as conservatives, in declaring information to be a contaminant. It regards its audience to be better informed if it has never been told things harmful to the liberal agenda in the first place (as opposed to, hearing of the antagonistic argument, and then being informed of some reasoned rebuttal). This is just another way to censor the information, to distract from it. As anyone knows who’s bothered to trek out of town, onto a hilltop, to go look at the stars — light itself can pollute the visual experience, become a distraction against the effort of detecting other light. That’s exactly how this works. The “however” is like one of those phosphorus bombs The Batman throws down when the cops, or the crooks, are closing in and he has to make his hasty getaway. That’s the maneuver. ++POOF++, and, uh where’d-he-go??

Cross-posted at Rotten Chestnuts.

“Will…”

Sunday, February 3rd, 2013

Me, about three weeks ago…

And that gets into a fifth perception-discrepancy that arouses conflict, the perception of time. Liberals do not view time the same way normal people do. But that is truly a post for some other day.

Looks like the time has come. The Limbaugh Letter arrived last night, and on page twelve there’s a critical review of the Affordable Care Act, starting off with some bizarre quotes like “lower costs for young adults” from an official fact sheet, “How Health Insurance Reform Will Help Young Adults.”

As we around these parts noticed last year, and many times since then, libs are awfully free and easy with that word “will”:

…[A]s humans are warming the globe, and this warming will cause disruption of agriculture, inundation and salinization of arable lands, increased desertification, mass extinction, human migration with its attendant political destablization, and as this is avoidable, most people would combine these scientific findings with their personal morality to try and find solutions, especially as those solutions are readily available, and have many other salubrious effects. But that’s just ourselves. We happen to be rather fond of the little apes you call humans. Call it a peccadillo.
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[D]eveloping nations will have to learn to control their emissions too. Ignoring the legitimate concerns of each nation will never lead to joint agreement. The obvious solution is for the developed nations to develop and export new technologies to the developing world. And that is what is going to happen. However, the longer the delay, the more expensive the solutions, and the more damage done to the environment.
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[T]he sooner people address the problem, the cheaper the transition and the less the damage to the environment.
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The accumulation of carbon currently in the atmosphere is primarily from the U.S. and other industrialized countries, not China. China is emitting much less than the U.S. per capita.

However, all countries need to begin making the transition as soon as practical.

Like Severian said,

I’m trying to recall the last time I’ve heard a liberal say “I don’t know” about any matter of consequence. Ask ‘em where the nearest post office is or the price of rice in China, and they’ll happily admit ignorance. But ask them what we should do about genocide in Darfur, or the regulation of the entire world economy, or the navy’s defensive doctrine on the Pacific rim, and all of a sudden they’ve got all the answers…. [ellipses in original]

Of course, in a sophisticated world economy like what we have today, it is very rare that a consumer is directly involved in acquiring the thing he wants to consume. This makes it worth the effort to categories the commodities according to how much we care about the bringing, once they’ve been brought. A gold ingot or a share of stock, these things are fungible, entirely interchangeable with their equals, possessing no sentimental value. If you have the gold ingot delivered to your front door for some reason, once it’s there all you care about is that it’s there. Maybe the guy lost it while he was bringing it to you, and then found it again. As long as the delivery is made, it doesn’t matter to you. Such knowledge might affect your decision to order another ingot by the same means, but that’s out of scope, this order is complete.

French Toast isn’t like that.

A lot of other commodities are not like that. Information isn’t like that. It’s much closer to French Toast; you want to know what happened to it while it was in the process of being produced, before you consume it. It can be important.

Especially when predicting future events. The example under our inspection is health care costs being lowered. In this case, and many others, liberals are absolutely sure of what is going to happen. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sibelius demonstrated the mania anew a few weeks ago on the White House website:

January is the perfect month for looking forward to new and great things around the corner.

I’m feeling that way about the new Health Insurance Marketplace. Anticipation is building, and this month we start an important countdown, first to October 1, 2013, when open enrollment begins, and continuing on to January 1, 2014, the start of new health insurance coverage for millions of Americans…
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The Marketplace will offer much more than any health insurance website you’ve used before. Insurers will compete for your business on a level playing field, with no hidden costs or misleading fine print.
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There is still work to be done to make sure the insurance market works for families and small businesses. But, for millions of Americans, the time for having the affordable, quality health care coverage, security, and peace of mind they need and deserve is finally within sight.

But reality says otherwise. Note that this article is nearly three years old; we’ve had our warning for awhile now.

One of the promises of Obamacare has been that it would reduce health care costs. The day after the House passed the Senate’s version of health care reform, this headline says “Health Care Companies Pull Stock Market Higher.” Clearly, money is being bet on health care costs increasing, putting more money, not less, into the health care sector.

That should not be surprising. In a free market setting, individuals decide how much they want to spend on various services, including health care. With increasing government control, spending on health care will increasingly be a political decision, not the aggregation of individual decisions. Health care companies already have their lobbyists, who pull for more generous reimbursements. Consumers (the elderly on Medicare, the poor (and increasingly middle class) on Medicaid, etc.) will exert political pressures for more benefits. Political allocation of resources will surely increase costs.

Taxpayers won’t like the idea of higher taxes, already a part of Obamacare, so expect the bulk of the increased cost to push the budget deficit higher. Essentially, Congress has looked around the world and decided they’d like to shape our public sector to be more like Greece. At least, by not being on the leading edge here, we can see what’s coming.

The post contains a link to the original article, which doesn’t work anymore. But there are other copies lying around the Internet, like here for example. The article makes a lot of attempts to explain the stock price up-tick. It contains a lot of rosy language about a “string of improved economic reports,” which hasn’t aged very well, and there are a few litanies about uncertainty being lifted. This can have a buoyant effect on stock prices. But the logic remains: When the stock price goes up, there has to be demand. Demand means, someone is putting money in. Why would they be putting money in if they thought the industry, as a whole, was going to be sucking up less money? Is this more of the liberal fantasy about businesses being regulated into more profitable operating models, which left to their own devices, they wouldn’t be smart enough to reform on their own? Or was it a matter of these investors believing in that, and that’s why they were buying the stock?

If that’s your explanation, you can keep it. Yes, I could be wrong…but…I don’t think that’s it.

I previously identified time as one of the five pillars of STACI, the implicit guarantee that liberal ideas will always fail. Indeed, the evidence that they’re winning most-to-all of the elections lately, is our assurance that liberals never apply the same policies toward their own objectives that they insist the rest of us apply to ours. When they run political campaigns they behave like perfect little war-hawk, take-no-prisoners, “yes this IS the hill I want to die on” conservatives. I’ve often had the view that this one paragraph I scribbled together about the time thing, deserved more attention.

The future, to them, is as clear as our own past is to us. Clearer, even. There’s no Rashomon Effect; you ask a hundred liberals what the climate will do over the next century, you get back more-or-less the same answer. But the past, on Planet Liberal, is murky, much like our own future is to us. Detroit elected a bunch of lefty politicians and the place went to Hell, but of course, the truth has to be more complicated and nuanced than that — even if it isn’t. Even though, as you take the time to look into more and more metropolis cities that dogmatically elected liberals everywhere for generations at a time, the result is constant, and after a time becomes rather predictable. It doesn’t matter. Things are still foggy.

Like the narrator says at the beginning of Braveheart, “Historians from England will say I am a liar, but history is written by those who have hanged heroes…” See, that’s part of the problem. When it comes to crafting an argument, on Planet Liberal quantity trumps quality. Say it enough times from enough different directions, and after a time it becomes true that Franklin Roosevelt singlehandedly brought an end to the Great Depression. Not only that but you become an idiot, and evil too, for even daring to question it.

If I were a Republican strategist, trying to implement my doctrine of driving a wedge between liberals and casual-consumer-of-news centrists they are trying to recruit, I would concentrate my resources toward the perception-of-future thing, and away from the perception-of-past thing. Liberals muddying up the past, making simple things appear complicated and complicated things appear simple, sound like they know what they’re talking about. And the stuff they’re saying, is just repetition of what’s been heard many times before already, so it certainly sounds true. It isn’t immediately revolting to the low-information voter. The same cannot be said about the liberal waxing lyrically about future events, how it’s all going to go down. The lack of uncertainty about any of it, that thing Severian was talking about — it’s just creepy.

I believe this is the hole in their armor. Because they don’t think there’s anything wrong with this; they think they’re scoring points, coming off as confident and strong. But I think, on average, they’re freaking people out. Again, lest I be guilty of the transgression I reveal in others…I’m fully aware I could be wrong about this. But it would be nice to see it tested.

Cross-posted at Rotten Chestnuts.

Last Man Standing

Sunday, February 3rd, 2013

Had a thought for the Hello Kitty of Blogging, but figured it wasn’t quite as appropriate there, it’s more fitting as a blog post.

Conservatism does have a problem but “how to connect” is not it. The problem it faces is one liberalism hasn’t even had to face.

Conservatism is a reluctant involvement in politics by people who have been cornered and forced to make the time for it, who’d rather be spending that time building things that pull in the money. The people who make up conservatism, therefore, are accustomed to conversations where: If the other person gets up and leaves, you have failed. THAT is the problem. Politics, as we have seen over the last few weeks, to several years, works the other way. If the other person gets up and leaves, that makes you the last-man-standing, and now you can have everything the way you want it because the other person can’t even vote “present.”

Therefore, American politics looks like this:

Liberals say “We demand the country think of creative forces as destructive ones, and vice-versa.” The task for conservatives is to show up — to say, “No, things are what they are, they are not their opposites, so we’re not buying into this nonsense.” But then, get back to creating things. When the other side doesn’t have to do any such thing. And the conflict is resolved by way of last-man-standing.

Why the Global Warming Agenda is Wrong

Friday, February 1st, 2013

A year and a half old. But it’s still good.

I like the pen this guy’s using. Very reliable, readable, and doesn’t seem to smudge.

“Have You Taken Any Action Yourself?”

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

I’ve noticed this. A lot of true-believers in global warming, drive much bigger cars than mine. Have bigger teevee sets too.

Too Complicated

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

tl;dr.

In an adventure about buried treasure (real), pirates (made up) and clues (too complicated, it turned out), the temptation is to talk like a matey and tell the world: The cap’n says to quit yer foolish searching because the booty’s not there now. The laddies who put it in the ground dug it up and gave it away.

The tale began in 2009, when two men from Brooklyn, Vincent Bova and Damien Eckhardt-Jacobi, hid a chest filled with 10,000 one-dollar coins and released eight videos featuring Muppetlike creatures playing pirates who dropped hints about where the loot was. Mr. Bova and Mr. Eckhardt-Jacobi said that whoever found the money could keep it.

Despite the best efforts of treasure hunters who searched for almost three years, no one did.

We’re becoming a nation of Detailphobes. Have been becoming that way for awhile now. It’s a crisis.

Reminds me of something P.J. O’Rourke said:

Nowadays we can hardly count our blessings, one of which is surely that we don’t have to do all that counting—computers do it for us. Information is easily had. Education is readily available. Opportunity knocks, it jiggles the doorknob, it will try the window if we don’t have the alarm system on.

Interception

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

Like magic!

Fighting climate change may seem like a Hail Mary pass, but the New Orleans Super Bowl Host Committee is running a play, called Geaux Green, to tackle the emissions from the big game between the San Francisco 49′ers and the Baltimore Ravens. The Committee also developed a game plan for fans to block their own emissions from blitzing the planet’s atmosphere.

The electricity used by the Superdome, team hotels and other Super Bowl related venues will total approximately 4,500 megawatts and make Earth the receiver of 3.8 million pounds of carbon dioxide pollution. That gas release will be intercepted by the purchase of carbon credits at three different locations.

Fans can get some anti-climate-change game time by buying carbon credits to offset the pollution footprint they create when going long to travel to New Orleans. The Geaux Green website provides fans a means of calculating their carbon pollution and buying credits to sack their emissions.

Armchair carbon quarterbacks can get in the game too. The Geaux Green website features a game in which fans can vote for which NFL team has the most environmentally friendly fans. Participants are encouraged to pledge to run eco-friendly plays, such as using fluorescent bulbs, carpooling or planting a tree.

Hat tip to Steven Goddard. Your purchase of carbon credits will intercept your gas release. Coolness!

Mkay. So this is the part where we all say “Okay, this doesn’t have anything to do with saving the planet, it’s a prestige/status symbol for some, and a racket for others.” Right? I mean, this is not the way people behave when they really think something important is at stake. Not with the “tragedy of the commons.” Okay, let me make it even more obvious: With competition, you go “hooray, those other guys aren’t getting with the program, we’re going to cream them.” With a looming crisis, the tragedy-of-commons type of crisis, you say “hey, you other guys…get with the damn program!” This, according to its own propaganda, is the first of those two. Not the second of those two. But you’re supposed to log on and see which “side” can pull ahead.

It’s all science-y. And junk.

Denver the Guilty Dog

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

Software Engineering and Politics

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

Oh, dear. Steve Yegge, at Google, last summer:

Last week, after nearly a decade of hurling myself against this problem, I’ve finally figured it out. I know exactly what’s been bothering me…I won’t keep you in suspense. Here is the thesis of this looooong essay…Software engineering has its own political axis, ranging from conservative to liberal.

Quoting Piglet: Oh, d-d-dear dear dear.

Everyone in the software industry who does stuff related to programming computers falls somewhere fairly precise on this political spectrum, whether they realize it or not.

Put another way, YOU are either a liberal or a conservative software engineer. You may be more of a centrist, or maybe an extremist, but you fall somewhere on that left/right spectrum.
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So what’s a Software Liberal slash Conservative?
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It’s easiest to talk first about conservatives, and then define liberals in terms of what conservatives are not. This is because conservatives tend to have a unified and easily-articulated value system, whereas liberals tend to be more weakly organized and band together mostly as a reaction to conservatism. This applies to both real-world and software-world politics.

So we’ll start with an operational definition of conservatism, from Jost et al.:

“We regard political conservatism as an ideological belief system that is significantly (but not completely) related to motivational concerns having to do with the psychological management of uncertainty and fear.”
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Conservatism, at its heart, is really about risk management.

Similarly, liberal views are often associated with youth, with idealism, with naivete. In the corporate world, we think of startups as being prototypically liberal — in part because they’re setting out to change the world in some way (and liberalism is traditionally associated with change), and in part because they have to go all-out in order to hit their scheduled funding milestones, which can justify cutting corners on software safety.
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The crux of the disagreement between liberals and conservatives in the software world is this: how much focus should you put on safety? Not just compile-time type-safety, but also broader kinds of “idiot-proofing” for systems spanning more than one machine.

Hmmmm. Well, there is definitely something going on here. Although the last time I heard of this being explored, it was with the Microsoft metaphor about programmers falling into the categories of the Mort, the Elvis and the Einstein. and after reading Mr. Yegges’ essay, the Mort/Elvis/Einstein triad still makes more sense to me. I’ve seen the conservatives and the liberals, in software development I mean, and I think the most liberal among the liberals would agree that it’s much cheaper to prevent a mistake than to go back and fix it, in spite of your zeal to change the world. If there is a split, the split is in prioritizing the resources. And software developers are constantly disagreeing about how to prioritize resources. They do what the boss says, in the end, but it isn’t always completely intuitive how that’s going to work, or what the rationale is. It’s like no two snowflakes being alike.

Still, he’s on to something I think. I see even the dissenting viewpoint doesn’t entirely disagree, any more than I do…

It seems that the political labels of “liberal” and “conservative” were picked not for their meaning, but rather for their connotations, as political views are perceived to be 1) very stable, part of a person’s self-identity and (therefore) hard to change, 2) inherently polarizing, and 3) difficult or impossible to evaluate objectively. Again, these do not apply to software engineering. For example, probably like many engineers, I am clearly a liberal on personal and small projects, and a conservative on larger and more fundamental ones; so much for the idea of a core identity. As for polarization, it may be prevalent in internet echo chambers, but I have not seen much of that in my professional life, especially when working with experienced engineers. When they do have objections, those objections are grounded in engineering. This leads to the third point, claiming that the approaches can not be compared objectively. This one is the most pernicious of all, because it provides an escape hatch from arguments with substance on what is an engineering decision.

I think his thesis might work much better for the management of a complex software development project. Read that as, the coordination of team-based implementation efforts, initiated after the resources, delivery dates, and user acceptance test requirements have all been defined. You know — the boring stuff. Conservative management would involve project management, with project charters, requirements documents, design documents painstakingly cross-referenced back to the requirements doc by explicit & implicit requirement number, test scripts also painstakingly cross-referenced back to requirements, testing logs, regression tests, regressions on the regressions…

This works much better, because it matches up the clarion battle cry of the political liberal, word-for-word, with that of the software development liberal: “Hey, I just had a spiffy idea! When do we get to the fun part, where I tell everyone what to do, and then they go do it?” And, likewise for the conservative: “Eh, that’s fine, but before we even get to whether your idea will work, we’ve got all this other stuff that has to be of some concern to someone, like delivery schedules, budgets, all the other stuff people were working on before you walked into the room…”

And the liberal says again, repeating by rote, “Aw, that’s boring! I want to get to the fun part, where I tell everyone what to do, and they go do it…”

Regarding the more exciting, proof-of-concept stuff, I suspect I may be having a difference of opinion about what’s going on in the political realm, because of our different ideologies there. See to me, if you have an awesome new idea in real life, and you think it would be such a great idea to proliferate it throughout all of human existence because you see some real potential for improving the lives of others, and you see that because you’ve used it in your own efforts first — that would make you a conservative. To be a liberal, you would have to depart from this situation. You’d still have the outside-the-box idea, you’d still have an honest and altruistic desire to improve the lives of others, but the core essentials of your idea would come from “those people over there are doing that thing one way, and I think they should be doing it a different way.” The conservative idea comes from a presence of direct, real-life, practical experience, and the liberal idea comes from a lack of this.

Because of that, I notice the people we call “conservatives” are often more concerned about outcome than about following a certain process, whereas the people we call “liberals” are more concerned about the process than about the outcome. Realistically, though, nobody really cares at the end of it what process was followed as long as the outcome was reached. There are a lot of exceptions to this, but they all have to do with expanding the periphery of how we define “outcome.” This is worth noticing because, in my experience, when there is real conflict among software engineers, that is how it usually breaks down, and the process/outcome conflict does have its counterpart in the political realm. On the liberal side of inspiring a new vision, the desire for proper process often drives all of it. I would cite green-jobs as just one example, although there are many others.

The conservative side of this, both in software development and in politics, is merely an extension of Habit 2 of Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Begin with the End in Mind.

Begin with the End in Mind means to begin each day, task, or project with a clear vision of your desired direction and destination, and then continue by flexing your proactive muscles to make things happen.

Again, in conflict after conflict, we see the conservative has a bullet point for such a vision and the liberal is missing this. This is not hard to demonstrate at all. Go to a large city managed by liberals. How is their budget doing? How is crime doing? How is the job situation doing? How are properties doing? They’re all disasters, on average. Is that because the liberals managing the city want them to be that way? Absolutely not. They say they want the best for their city’s citizens, and they mean it, very syllable. Their priorities may be in question, but the well-being of the citizens is certainly a goal…somewhere, in their list of goals. The problem, apart from the graft & corruption, is that they don’t work toward the goals. They don’t begin with the end in mind.

Characteristics of Psychopaths

Monday, January 28th, 2013

Must blog this

1.) Has no conscience.

2.) Manipulates people by “pulling strings” or “pushing the right buttons” .

3.) Is perceived to be “sticky”, “slimy” or “slippery”.

4.) Is a “control freak”.

5.) Is a “serial bully”. Has one main bully target at a time. Once he loses control of that bully target, he feels compelled to find another bully target very quickly to sink his claws into.

6.) Has an exa[g]gerated sense of self-importance, thinking that the world revolves around him. This is known as “egocentricity”.

7.) Is a “fantasist”.

8.) Glares at people with piercing eyes. Women have been known to mistake this for sexual magnetism.

9.) Would unexpectedly say very hurtful things.

10.) Consistently apportions blame to others when things go wrong, regardless of how logically an explanation was given – “whipping boy” – “fall guy”.

11.)Twists and distorts facts to his advantage.

12.) Jekyll and Hyde personality. (Incidentally, Robert Louis Stevenson’s fictional character was inspired by a real life psychopath that he had met but obviously the fictional character was an exaggerated version)

13.) Applies his distorted sense of reality (psychosis) to others, accusing them of faults and weaknesses that are actually his own. This is known as “projection”.

14.) Inability to accept responsibility or blame for his actions. He is always “in denial”.

15.) Can get vicious if cornered.

16.) Spin a “web of deceit”.

17.) Has a “hidden agenda”.

18.) Has a “selective memory” – remembers your mistakes but forgets his own.

19.) Seldom plans for the long and medium terms, believing himself to be immune to the consequences of his own actions.

20.) Takes the credit for other people’s work. This is known as “plagiarism”.

21.) Demands absolute loyalty. Only likes you if you do exactly what he wants, therefore attempting to reinforce manipulation.

22.) Tries to make you feel guilty (“the guilt trip”) if you protest about doing what he wants you to do. For example, saying to you “You are causing me so many problems because of your selfishness.”

23.) Often exhibits an unusually high level of charm. Commonly uses flattery to win people over so they can be manipulated.
24.) May have an impenetrable veneer of charm, or “superficial politeness”, that makes it very difficult to ask pertinent or searching questions that would reveal his true self. For example, he may constantly crack jokes or dwell on pleasantries with no substance, discussing the weather for example. A psychopathic veneer of charm may manifest itself in organi[z]ations by using glossy brochures and marketing that portrays things in an idealistic way that has little bearing on reality – “charm offensive”.

25.) Happy to dish out criticism or abuse – not happy to receive criticism or abuse – “do as I say, not as I do”.

26.) Makes an audible noise when walking around, such as humming, whistling, singing, making duck-noises or clicking fingers.

27.) Uses frequent hand movements when talking.

28.) Gives you a sense of being “talked at” rather than being “talked to” when the psychopath engages you in conversation.

29.) Inability to understand irony.

30.) He can’t be trusted. Breaks promises and breaches matters intended to be in confidence.

31.) Stabs you in the back.

32.) Fakes sincerity with great conviction. For example he may be profusely apologetic, if he is caught red-handed doing some misdemeanor, but then do the same misdemeanor the next week if he thinks he can get away with it. He is incapable of a sincere apology.

33.) Lacks tact.

34.) Is not a team player – he acts autocratically.

35.) Is two-faced.

36.) Hates people who are more talented than he is as it shows up his own inadequacies which he may in turn “project” onto that person.

37.) Flies into a rage over a small problem – “nit picking”.

38.) Lacks any kind of personal depth.

39.) Has a beaming, charismatic and even messianic smile. Any politicians spring to mind ?!

40.) Gets others to do his dirty work – “attack dogs” or “hatchet men”

41.) Changes the rules frequently but denies the inconsistency.

42.) May plunge into detail about something without appreciating that you don’t know the context.
43.) May express anger because you don’t know something that he assumes you know but there is no reason why you should know it and no-one has told you.

44.) Interprets criticism of himself (even constructive criticism) as a personal insult or personal attack.

45.) Expresses anger at emotional outbursts from others.

46.) May use the word “I” frequently in conversation and with emphasis.

47.) May use expressions such as “I’m just looking after number one” or “I was just following orders” as an excuse to justify abuse.

48.) Rarely gets depressed.

49.) Is more concerned about the welfare of an inanimate object than a human being. For example, if he witnesses a person col[l]iding with an inanimate object and hurting themselves, he may be more concerned about possible damage to the inanimate object.

50.) Likes to find out about or observe other psychopaths. For example, likes to watch Hollywood action films with psychopathic characters or read books about psychopathic historical characters such as Napoleon. Perhaps this partly explains why different psychopaths often use similar “scripts” for their deceitful practices

51.) Never remembers his own emotional outbursts or denies having them.

52.) Sees things in black or white – something is either all “good” or all “evil”. Does this remind you of any politicians?

53.) Lectures you endlessly until you agree. For example, think of the tendancy [sic] of dictators to give speeches that go on for hours – this is “extreme lecturing”.

54.) Unusual or abnormal sense of direction.

55.) Has little interest in making any effort to make you feel comfortable, unless he is manipulating you.

56.) They can express remorse when they lose control of someone they are abusing. This is just a form of self-pity as the psycho now has to go to the trouble of “grooming” a new target.

57.) Makes forced loud laughter – belly laugh.

62.) Has an abnormal “startle response” – doesn’t jump or startle when we would. This is documented by professionals, but not well known among the public.

63.) Abnormal sense of smell. Psychopaths may not smell things we can or not as well as we can (olifactory sense). This seems to be verified by research of psychosis variations. Excessive use of colognes, aftershave or perfumes.

64.) Normal people may sense or feel the presence of “evil”. It permeates from the psychopath. We react with nausea, fear, and we often say “Oh, he doesn’t mean that”. It is often intangible and something we can’t really define.

65.) Loves giving explicit details of gory operations or violent incidents that he has heard about, for example in films or on TV.

66.) Thinks that normal rules of society don’t apply to him – he is somehow exempt. He is not concerned with right or wrong for his own actions – only with whether he can get away with doing something without being caught. However he may insist that others adhere to strict rules of his making.

67.) May show an odd fascination with fire, weapons, drugs or alcohol.

68.) Throws out items normally kept. Has no items or discards any with only ‘sentimental connections’.

69.) May have a commanding physical presence.

70.) Drives recklessly.

71.) Obsession with neatness and tid[i]ness.

72.) May be cruel to animals, for example, stamps on worms.

73.) Thinks that it is necessary for someone else to fail for him to succeed. He will often make sure that someone fails by using deceit. A psycho manager may engineer failure in an employee by overloading with work or setting impossible deadlines.

I’m loving those graphics. And I’m loving #53…let us repeat it…

53.) Lectures you endlessly until you agree. For example, think of the tend[e]ncy of dictators to give speeches that go on for hours – this is “extreme lecturing”.

That’s President Barack Obama, pretty much every day. The inquiry is planted in there a couple times, I think, about “does this remind you of politicians?” Why yes, yes it does.

During her “testimony” a week ago, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton managed to demonstrate characteristics #1, #2, #3, #6, #7, #11, #13, #14, #15, #18, #19, #22, #27, #35, #44, #52 and #66. Nice job Hill.

This Is Good CVI

Sunday, January 27th, 2013

Blogger friend Buck

This happened in the very distant way-back, at a time long before my moral code was firmed up, signed, sealed, and delivered.

Mmmm, hmmmm…his story makes me think of some of my stories. How did the Hon. Congressman Henry Hyde put it, as a “Youthful Indiscretion” I think. Buck’s phraseology is as elegant as it is tasteful, in its own way.

The young man’s vision is to take big steps, while he walks in the right direction. The old man’s vision, knowing that he faced the wrong direction back then, is to take bigger steps than he took before…while muttering oaths against his younger, more foolish self, that to the immortals have become tedious as they have been muttered by others, countless times before, without so much as a single syllable of meaningful difference.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could learn to do right by ourselves, as well as by others, before we even learned to walk? But I suppose then that life would become crushingly boring.

The Winning Witch

Sunday, January 27th, 2013

Uh oh. I’m about to get in trouble again, the way I always do…by noticing the wrong things. One Brent Budowsky jots down a thought, predicting a future groundswell…

I now predict that if Hillary choses not to run in 2016, which is certainly possible, liberals will begin a gigantic movement to draft Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) to run for president…

Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Warren. They haven’t got an awful lot in common, besides their positions on issues which are going to be on average dogmatic-intractable hardcore proggy left, and their proclivity for saying stupid things. Which is true of everyone in the lefty power structure. And about twenty or thirty percent of them are female. So Hillary and Liz must have something in common that makes them so valued besides being lefty, female, and saying dumb things. What could it be, I wonder?

It causes useless conflict when I opine about looks, and so I shall not. I have never understood the incendiary reactions, but looks are not the issue anyway. Perhaps, if Hillary and Liz got prettied up, maybe went on a makeover show, they’d lose their appeal. There’s no way of knowing for sure. But I’m sure they’d lose just as much appeal if they lost their voices.

HillaryI see Hillary was very popular at the beginning of that silly “hearing” last week, but she was much more popular at the end of it, which tells me something. The progressives are anxious to see, not quite so much certain personalities, as certain spectacles. They have an event in mind they want to have happen. They want to see an argument take form, a contentious confrontation, involving one of these witchy women. And then they want the witch to win the argument so they can say “don’t mess with her!” It’s true, Hillary “won” this argument by saying something exceptionally stupid, even by her standards. But I think the winning was the thing. Look at your friends the libs right now; they’re really jazzed about Hillary, as they haven’t been for years. During which time, Hillary’s said dumb things every time she’s opened her mouth. So that, too, tells me something. It must not be the crap coming out of her mouth, it must be this perception of winning.

And it seems to be, although perhaps I’m just imagining this, a racial thing. Maxine Waters and Carol Moseley Braun have served in Congress a combined total of 26 years if my math is right, and they’re both very good at being unappealing and unpleasant, habitually given to saying very silly, stupid things. So they should satisfy the criteria as well as Clinton and Warren, but it’s clear that they don’t. So. Female, ugly and unpleasant, saying idiotic things all the time, winning, and now we have white.

Oops, I said I shouldn’t mention looks. Okay, just the unpleasant. The appeal is not that men don’t want to see her naked. The appeal is that we don’t want to be in the same room with her. That is the much-sought-after attribute. She makes us want to leave the room. “I never left her presence without a sigh of relief,” I think is how Queen Victoria’s son Edward VII described his relationship with her. Like Barbra Streisand; we find out she’s giving a concert and our wives want to go (a bullet I’ve thankfully dodged), and we suddenly get food poisoning. Real and unfaked, albeit self-induced, food poisoning if that’s what it takes. Any wad of oxygen we’re burning, we don’t want this hollering ditz burning the same wad of oxygen. Ever. They come in, and if the option is available to us, we go out.

“Bitch,” I believe is the slang. A repellent woman, worst mother-in-law you can possibly imagine, with a voice that pierces. Sounds like an annoyed teacher dressing down an annoying and slow third-grade student who just broke something by being an idiot, or got on her last nerve in some other way, BUT ALL OF THE TIME. If it was possible for you to load a voice into your gun, there would be a law saying you couldn’t have this one. (And probably made by some woman who uses that voice, ironically enough.)

Yes, there are quite a few people running around who get angry and upset when I notice this. I’m told it is “sexist.” To me, the sexism is in this idea that women who are “qualified” for positions of power, somehow have to lack pulchritude. I’m the one who believes it is possible, maybe, for a woman to be gorgeous, helpful, soothing, wise and influential all at the same time, what’s sexist about that? But this is something we all need to notice, and it’s a problem we need to solve. These “winning witches” posses sub-random decision-making ability, which means on average, they make good decisions less often than a process for selecting from the same options, driven purely by random chance. You’re less well-off asking them what to do, then you are flipping a coin. We cannot habitually elevate such silly broads to the highest levels of authority attainable, for a period of time to be sustained as long as this weird fad staggers on, like a zombie, and expect not to endure negative consequences. People with power should be able to make decisions about things, at least as well as a roll of the dice. Isn’t that just obvious?

Fun DateMaybe this unfortunate trend will come to a stop if we call it racist. Can we do that?

I go out to a shopping mall or sidewalk event or coffee shop or whatever…maybe go down to midtown, where Sacramento is trying really hard, unfortunately, to look like San Francisco. So maybe I’m missing something because I have to be careful where I step. But here and there, I see a woman or two that might fit this mold. There’s not much occasion to hear how she talks unless she’s yelling at her kids or grandkids. But still, I don’t see it that often. Maybe two or three people out of every hundred. It’s a very, very distinctive look out here in the “real” world.

I tune in on the teevee or the YouTube and hear politicians talk, and it’s more like forty percent. And eighty percent of the ones talking. Awkward-looking, pantsuit-wearing, unappealing, shrill-harpy-voice, determined to steamroll right over anybody else who might wish to say something…and mean. And, way off the charts, in all these metrics. Way, way out there. They make the Wicked Witch of the West look like a fun date.

Someone, somewhere, not only doesn’t mind this, but has an appetite for this. An insatiable appetite. Wants to see more and more of the Winning Witch. Who are these people? And what’s the goal? They don’t want equal opportunity for women who can’t get dates. Again, look at Congress. Mission accomplished. It’s the women who men would want to nail between the sheets, who deserve and should be able to expect better representation. Women who actually wear womanly things, like skirts and dresses. So this is not about politicians being a better reflection of their constituencies.

Whoever these people are who want to see more of the Winning Witch, they have managed to have a lot of things go their way since the Year Of The Woman, 1992. Feminism itself had the wind knocked out of it, when the feminists started defending Bill Clinton and people everywhere figured out feminism had nothing to do with womens’ rights, and everything to do with electing democrats. I’d go so far as to say that effectively killed the movement we knew back then. But this “get more unpleasant and silly women into public office” movement, throughout that time, persevered without even slowing up any. So this isn’t even feminism. It isn’t even liberalism. This is more like a movement to get bad decision-makers into offices where they can do real damage. The ones straight men can’t stand. That do a lot of yelling.

I am reminded of Burt Prelutsky’s famous quote:

Frankly, I don’t know what it is about California, but we seem to have a strange urge to elect really obnoxious women to high office. I’m not bragging, you understand, but no other state, including Maine, even comes close. When it comes to sending left-wing dingbats to Washington, we’re number one. There’s no getting around the fact that the last time anyone saw the likes of Barbara Boxer, Dianne Feinstein, and Nancy Pelosi, they were stirring a cauldron when the curtain went up on ‘Macbeth’. The three of them are like jackasses who happen to possess the gift of blab. You don’t know if you should condemn them for their stupidity or simply marvel at their ability to form words.

I don’t know when he said that. A long time before 2010, the date of this post. It’s clear to me, it isn’t just California that has the problem anymore…although one might argue we have the worst case of it.

I just think, when any faction among us wins as often as this one has been winning, it’s not too much to ask that they be honest with us about what it is they’re after. What do they want? I mean, really?

Update: On the racial angle: Neo-neocon reprints a perceptive comment

I’ve always thought that subconsciously, Liberals are racists. Not that they hate people of other races – quite the contrary – they truly love them. But they do think that people of other races are inferior and therefore unable to make it on their own. So they do whatever they can to help them (with other people’s money, of course). The War on Poverty is a perfect example. So is affirmative action. And 0bama is another.

So the T-P media falls all over themselves trying to help him. They cover for him, attack his enemies, whatever it takes. They project their racism onto their opponents. And the more inferior they think the person is, the more they try to compensate. Hence the completely in-the-tank attitude over 0bama.

The subject is Obama, not the “Winning Witch” persona being consistently plain-looking and white. But, I’ve had this perception too, that the constant cries of “racism” represent not quite so much a scattershot way of making the opposition disappear, as psychological projection.

Jackasses Required

Sunday, January 27th, 2013

Very well-worded comment left over at Legal Insurrection:

In every movement, every revolution…hell, in every PTA, there are two diametrically opposite personalities that, like two poles of a magnet, are needed to make the motor spin.

For every calculating thinker, there needs to be a person of action and fluidity. For every ordered mind, there needs to be a passionate one. For every bomb maker, a bomb thrower. For every Lenin, a Trotsky. For every Bill Bennett, a Rush Limbaugh. Otherwise, any revolution, or movement or PTA bake sale ends up one dimensional, flat and appealing only to a narrow band.

Yes…the “good cop, bad cop” thing.

Incidentally, I find Professor Jacobson to be one of the more well-written and well-thought-out bloggers out there, in fact, this might be the first thing he’s ever jotted down that made me stop and go, “huhwha??”:

The “be happy warriors” theme makes sense at the political level. Look how far Obama has gone on those fumes.

This is in the context of, browbeating the Republicans about working too hard to gin up outrage about Benghazi and Fast & Furious and the like, and not putting enough effort into articulating their cause, so I’m left to envision President Obama as a “happy warrior” for a defined cause. Um…this creates problems. I know Obama likes to be thought of in that way. But when has this ever matched up with reality? Ever?

Actually, if I understand these roles, the “bomb maker” is the articulator of the vision and the “bomb thrower” is the pit-bull character whose talent is in winning all the arguments. Obama is absolutely, positively, the winner-of-arguments. He does not define visions. He puts on a good show of doing this, but listen to Him some time. What’s the vision? Something like “Let Me be absolutely clear, we reject the belief that…” followed by something nobody actually says they believe, anywhere. In short, His speeches say nothing whatsoever. Nothing besides “I’m the alpha dog.”

As Jacobson points out, “the role we and other bloggers play is not necessarily the same as the politicians.” This nails it, I think.

I do believe a problem exists in the sense that conservatives are thought to exude negative energy. It is unclear to me how much of this is coming from within the movement. There is always room for improvement, of course. But, when your whole point is “people should be free” and someone sees that as hateful, you’re probably dealing with someone who isn’t going to see anything as non-hateful except for just a very narrow selection of things they’ve already chosen, and even if you can find some common ground with that, they still won’t stop seeing you as hateful.

Which, by the way, you won’t find that common ground. That’s my prediction.

But the author of the comment is entirely correct. Every movement has an asshole. And it’s an important job.