Archive for November, 2006

A Hero Sleeps

Thursday, November 30th, 2006

I figure people in the U.P. in Michigan are nice. That’s a crass generalization and I know it is prone to error, but I’m sticking to it. I’m adopting it as one of my personal prejudices, without apologies. I’ve met some of them, back when I lived in Detroit, roaming across the bridge past Sault Ste. Marie. They’re just plain nice.

Please join me in extending your best wishes to the family of Army Sgt. 1C James A. Priestap. And while you’re at it, just as a mental exercise…try to envision what it’s like to stand guard with enemy snipers around. Snipers who actually have the wherewithal to get some sniping done. Knowing they’re out there looking for things to snipe.

We got thousands of men like Sgt. Priestap out there right now…men and boys, who understand this fully and volunteer to serve anyway. Follow the link above, and you can write just an encouraging word or two to be passed on to his family. Just something to think about.

Dark Times

Thursday, November 30th, 2006

Historians look back on the thousand-or-so years between the fall of the Roman Empire and the Renaissance, and call them the Dark Ages. This is because science took a back seat to sectarian issues, and y’know, the big “we” didn’t do a whole lot. History during that time, for the most part, is a bunch of people bonking each other over the head and taking land back after it was taken away from them by some other guy bonking someone over the head. No cool theories about gravity, not much going on with communications or the written word, no real value placed on the acquisition of new information.

Well, there’s bound to be some similarly derogatory name invented for the twenty years or so in which we’re living right now. Our handicap, however, is not so much cognitive as it is cogitative. A thousand years ago, people weren’t too good at, or too keen on, acquiring information; nowadays they get ahold of it, and for the most part just jerk off into a wet paper bag when it comes time to figure out what the information means. The whole thing has some hope, just a faint one, of making sense to you only if you live in these times. To a future generation looking back, it is sure to be unexplainable, just as the things people did a millenium ago, to us, are incomprehensible.

A perfect case in point: The letters page of the Sacramento Bee from yesterday (third one down) (link requires registration). The burning of the six Sunni Muslims as they were leaving prayers over the long Thanksgiving weekend. Supposedly, in retaliation for attacks on a Shiite slum earlier, someone doused a family of Sunni worshippers with kerosene and set them alight. Iraqi police stood by and did nothing. Some other folks who tried to put the flames out, were stopped by the attackers. The Sunni Muslims burned to death.

Well, Flopping Aces has been looking into this and finding more and more and more problems with the story. You can get started on the whole sorry saga here. As of this writing, it’s probably most accurate to say the Associated Press has been working with the Iraqi police to try to verify the story — and, collectively, they’ve hit a rough patch. It would not be a departure from the realm of the undisputed, to go a bit further and say some parts of the story have been proven false. Like for example the employment status of a certain “spokesman” who got the whole story going.

So as a supporter of the war, I’m getting this finger waggled in my face about how I voted for it therefore I own it. But the basis for this argument is based on pure bullshit. Easily-detected bullshit. And furthermore…assuming the Sunnis and Shiites are fighting in something that could be called a “civil war,” since obviously there is some sectarian violence going on, nevermind the facts getting in the way…doesn’t this all just go back to the old debate about people & guns? I get mugged, I get shot, I get killed, who’s to blame. Society, or the asshole who pulled the trigger.

What is the argument being made with all the talk about civil war? People are killing each other and it’s America’s fault? That’s laughable. People were killing each other before we invaded. Is this all supposed to support some thesis about how Iraq was a lot better off when Saddam was in charge? If so, why has it become so rare that anyone has the balls to just come out and say that. Someone like Jonathan Chaitt, who thinks we should put Hussein right back in.

Or is it just that our hands are dirty. That it’s better to have people killing each other without our involvement, than with our involvement. Hey, it’s an argument worth making, all I ask is that when people make it they have the honesty to admit that is the argument they’re making. Is that too much to ask? Maybe we should come up with a name for this. They think everybody should behave like the cowardly citizens of Hadleyville in High Noon. That’s it. The Hadleyville Paradigm. The dictum that civilized people, when bad guys come around, crouch in their living rooms and peek out from closed shutters.

Yeah, yeah, you know what the Hadleyville shutter-peekers are going to say. They’re going to say if I believe so strongly in this war, I should be over there fighting it, and since I’m not it proves I’m some kind of hypocrite.

Problem with that argument: One guy goes over to fight the war — just one — and the argument is defeated. Forever. You need only one Marshal Will Kane to walk the lonely streets, and the Hadleyville shutter-peeker is reduced to the position of saying, “he shouldn’t be out there, he should be in a living room, pretending not to be home, peeking out from between shutter slats just like me.” And everyone’s going to understand this is a ludicrous argument, fitting only the Darkest of Times. It’s going to look like exactly what it is: Someone taking the easy way out, getting nasty because other people are taking a more courageous stand, thereby making him look bad.

And so instead, they’d rather talk about people like me. That, too, looks like exactly what it is: A distraction. It is an argument that must be inconsistent, and must everlastingly stay that way. I think we need to do a lot of things. I think we need to cut some taxes, and yet, I’m not running for Congress. Does that make me a hypocrite? I think the United Nations should be doing a lot of things differently, and yet if they have elections whereby I’m given the opportunity to energize this opinion into action, I’ve missed every single one. Does that make me a hypocrite? I like beer. I am not in the business of brewing beer. I have not put any of my investment dollars into beer companies. Hypocrite?

No, it really comes down to law and order. How long do we think bad guys should have, to just run around being bad guys? Saddam Hussein had twenty years before the invasion even got started. The shutter-peekers, picking up all this enemy propaganda and old-wives’-tales and urban-legend-gossip, and translating it into some argument of “we never shoulda done it” are trying to support a position that twenty years was not enough. Saddam Hussein should have had unlimited freedom to be a bad guy — forever. Which means all of the bad guys should have that long.

Shutter-peeking, forever.

And note, it’s an absolute position. Much was done before the invasion of Iraq, to get other countries “on board” with it, to justify it with broad factions of people with disparate interests in human rights, weapons threats, etc. Seventeen resolutions ignored! Surely, it’s an absolute position to take, that this is somehow not enough; it’s a moderate position to take that y’know, maybe seventeen is enough, and it’s time to do something.

Future generations are sure to look back and raise the question: If the war is going so badly that the shutter-peeking can be made, somehow, to look good…wouldn’t this have been possible while relying on true things? Why all the urban legends? Why the propaganda?

And if anyone asks me, I’m going to have to give an answer to the effect of…well, even though a few years after the invasion we’d been snookered by an awful lot of stuff…somehow, at the end of 2006, verity was an attribute that still didn’t have a lot of value for many people. I don’t see any way around giving that answer. I hope nobody asks me to explain it. The best I can come up with, is that truth has a connection with justice; you need the former to get the latter. If what you want is anarchy, just bad guys marching down the streets of Hadleyville, while shutter-peekers peek out their shutters and hope the bad guys get bored and walk away — maybe this has an effect on you. Maybe this causes truth to not have much importance for you.

Maybe it comes down to that: justice through boredom. What is the attention span of a bad guy? Do bad guys get bored and stop being bad guys? Is boredom an adequate substitute for Gary Cooper? Can we have an orderly society in which, whenever there’s trouble in the town, we just come up with some arguments as to why it doesn’t concern us and then shutter ourselves up in our living rooms, until the bad guy gets bored?

Yeah, it does make sense. Facts wouldn’t matter too much to someone who thinks that way. Come to think of it, there’s only one question on which such an ostrich-type shutter-peeker would have any interest whatsoever, all others being trivial: Is he gone yet?

The Top 10 Hottest Animated Disney Women

Thursday, November 30th, 2006

ElastigirlAh, now this is my kind of thing. Here we have a genre that is understood to be G rated and oggling at the coquettish star material is decidedly inappropriate…or expected to be inappropriate, anyway. Nevertheless, time after time the message has been concocted, passed to the parents on a covert channel squarely over the kids’ heads, and someone has taken the effort to pick up on the signals and compare them from one movie to the next. Mirror mirror on the wall, who’s really got it going on?

It’s even original. And, where it is called-for, tasteful; due consideration is given as to whether Ariel might be underage. And Jessica Rabbit wins the top spot, as one would expect.

One of the readers posts an interesting question: “Do Pixar babes count now that Disney owns Pixar?” You know, I don’t see how they couldn’t. Pixar has indulged in the “toss this joke at the parents and go over the kids’ head” thing far more than the parent company has, and some of the Pixar babes are just…wow. Elastigirl, of course, stands alone as the only female cartoon character who distracted me from what was going on in the rest of the movie.

And it goes without saying: Once we branch out into the world beyond Disney movies, nobody is on par with “Alice,” Dennis Mitchell’s mom. Yummy. But that almost gets into a different subject.

Whiskey…Tango…Foxtrot… IX

Wednesday, November 29th, 2006

Jonathan Chait: Restore Saddam Hussein back to power.

Up until now, this has been a joke. A sarcastic one. Like, okay mister wise guy, whaddya think we should do, put Saddam back in? Now we got Chait saying we should look at doing exactly that.

I’m still the opposite. You know that joke about the lawyers in the bottom of the lake? Whaddya call five of them…a good start? That’s how I see Saddam right now. The fucker’s a good start. If our execution has been flawed, let’s do a detailed post-mortem on everything. And then let’s test the post-mortem process by taking down the next asshole, and the next one and the next one. Keep practicing until we get it right.

Our situation with sociopathic world dictators who are possibly dealing arms to terrorists, or trying to get into the position of doing so…is exactly the same as our situation with people talking on their cell phones. Or people playing their car stereos way too loud. Or women walking dogs. Or kids on razor scooters. Or four-wheel-drive trucks driven by people who live in the city and don’t need 4WD. Or people buying lottery tickets when the jackpot is over 50 mil. It’s exactly the same as those, albeit more lethal…

There are too fucking many of them. There are so many representations of the one class, it’s a form of pollution. The damage done by the whole, is greater than the sum of the parts.

And so allowing for the whole “Saddam was not a threat” thing and the “Iraq was better off under him” thing…and I’m allowing those only hypothetically, and only with the snarkiest of sneers…I must call Mr. Chait’s attention to the issue of flooding a market already flooded. Murderous dictators all the world over, venomous vipers all across the world’s stage, are so damn plentiful in 2006 that we need to start charging a license fee for applicants. Just nevermind the danger — or threat — posed by each one of them. They’re overcrowding us.

Really, if I wanted to become a tinpot dictator and start selling WMDs to terrorists…I’d be worried sick about starting a new career in a saturated market. I’d probably name my banana-republic country “AAAAA” so it would be listed in the terrorist yellow pages first. Chait has shown himself to be blissfully unaware of the problem at hand, without even trying to.

Hastings Down

Wednesday, November 29th, 2006

Alcee Hastings will not be the chairman of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

This gets into one of those “Republican or Democrat, ya gotta admit” things. Like…we got a problem. A big one. To whom did it make sense that a federal judge impeached for taking bribes, should be up for this chairmanship in the first place?

Once again…this new, Democrat-controlled 110th Congress is supposed to be riding in on their white horse, to save us from the Republican culture of corruption. Now that they’re in, they want the plumb jobs to go to…whom? An unindicted Abscam co-conspirator, and an impeached federal judge. Where’s the innocence? Where’s the snow-whiteness? I’ve heard of bait-and-switch, but this is a little ridiculous. Turkey leftovers are still in the fridge, and our “new” government is looking pretty scandal-slimed already. How are things going to look a year from now? How concerned should we be?

It’s Just Like Heroin

Wednesday, November 29th, 2006

Oh, boy…even a klutz like me is way too smart to comment on this one.

GossipBut I’m not above linking to it in my blog. Which nobody reads anyway, so this can’t possibly lead to anything bad.

Women talk three times as much as men, says study
By FIONA MACRAE Last updated at 13:39pm on 28th November 2006
Women talk almost three times as much as men, according to the research.

It is something one half of the population has long suspected – and the other half always vocally denied. Women really do talk more than men.

In fact, women talk almost three times as much as men, with the average woman chalking up 20,000 words in a day – 13,000 more than the average man.

Women also speak more quickly, devote more brainpower to chit-chat – and actually get a buzz out of hearing their own voices, a new book suggests.

The book – written by a female psychiatrist – says that inherent differences between the male and female brain explain why women are naturally more talkative than men.

In The Female Mind, Dr Luan Brizendine says women devote more brain cells to talking than men.

And, if that wasn’t enough, the simple act of talking triggers a flood of brain chemicals which give women a rush similar to that felt by heroin addicts when they get a high.

Hmmm, hmmm, hmmm…pull pin, walk away…

Rangel Makes Sure We Don’t Forget

Wednesday, November 29th, 2006

At the beginning of this month, I said

It’s one of the few things that remain consistent about our liberals. You can receive their help, or their respect. Never, ever, both at the same time.

It was a wrap-up to my comments about “the Kerry thing.” You know, about how our troops in Iraq are out there because they didn’t make themselves smarter. This blog, which nobody actually reads anyway, makes an effort to form opinions based on facts…which means we try to find out why we’re supposed to think the things we’re supposed to be thinking. We don’t take the words of others for it. Not unless we have to. We try to find source documents. Download clips and see what’s in ’em. Which is awfully inconvenient to some…and John Kerry’s “botched joke” was a perfect example of this.

One of the favorite phrases we use here at The Blog That Nobody Reads, is “instructed to believe.” It is our position that our society, here in North America in 2006, is in big trouble — because that is what people do nowadays when they discuss politics. They instruct each other to believe things. Republicans are corrupt, Saddam Hussein was not a threat, Kerry botched his joke, Clinton did not have sex with that woman, military service is a barrier to being a decent public servant, military service is a prerequisite to being a decent public servant, marital infideility is irrelevant to being a decent public servant, the Founding Fathers were not Christians, etc. etc. etc.

Well, Kerry-botched-joke-gate shows, if nothing else, how incredibly important it is sometimes to “instruct others to believe” things as opposed to laying out a solid argument based on evidence. Because when you watch the film clip from beginning to end, or even from beginning to just a few minutes in, you find something that poses problems for the “Kerry meant something else” crowd. Namely, that the asshole didn’t mean anything else. He meant to make fun of the troops. He really did want to deliver the punchline, exactly the way he delivered it, word for word. And the crowd thought it was the greatest thing since sliced bread.

Now, if you’re loyal to the Democrat cause and yet you’ve committed the sin of viewing the video clip, you can still reprogram yourself to be a good Democrat by rationalizing things away. It’s easy if you try. Kerry…alright, he didn’t botch his joke after all. But he meant to botch it, and forgot to. Or maybe he does have this disenchantment with the military, and he does think the troops actively serving are a bunch of stupid dolts. And maybe the crowd in Pasadena just ate this shit up. But if he was pandering to a bunch of liberals who loathe the military, he was doing it by mistake…and if he was doing it on purpose, so what? It was an isolated incident. The Democrat party doesn’t harbor any such misgivings against our military. It reflects on nobody save the guy who was supposed to represent the Democrats the last time they tried to take the White House.

Well…Charlie Rangel created a problem or two for that kind of rationalization when he said…pretty much the same thing Senator Kerry said three weeks earlier. Rangel instructed us to believe that Iraq was a place for people who don’t have options in their career prospects. “If a young fellow has an option of having a decent career, or joining the Army to fight in Iraq, you can bet your life that he would not be in Iraq.” Once again, liberals come out circling the wagons…just the move-on-dot-org types, the Fahrenheit 9/11 watchers, not the elected representatives. Once again…what he said was true, so so what? You can’t prove what he meant by it anyway. And it’s true. Everybody knows it. And he doesn’t. Again, we’re buried under an avalanche of righteous indignation, flinging spittle, and cognitive dissonance. Liberals insult troops — and in retaliation, our liberals get all uppity and angsty, while the troops quietly go back to getting their jobs done.

Well, the American Legion is actually doing something about this. Token stuff, to be sure, but at least they’re doing something.

American Legion: Rangel Apologize Now

The National Commander of The American Legion called on Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., to apologize for suggesting that American troops would not choose to fight in Iraq if they had other employment options.

“Our military is the most skilled, best-trained all-volunteer force on the planet,” said National Commander Paul A. Morin. “Like that recently espoused by Sen. John Kerry, Congressman Rangel’s view of our troops couldn’t be further from the truth and is possibly skewed by his political opposition to the war in Iraq.”
Rangel was responding to a question during an interview yesterday on Fox News Sunday about a recent study by the Heritage Foundation which found that those enlisting in the military tend to be better educated than the general public and that military recruiting seems to be more successful in middle-class and wealthy neighborhoods than in poor ones.

You see how the liberals get into trouble here. It isn’t that they hate the military…although that does figure into it. But the problem is broader than that. It’s this craving for complete dependence on them, from their beneficiaries. People who depend on the liberal movement, must absolutely, utterly, depend on that liberal movement. Said dependants must entertain hope from nowhere else…or if any of them do, it must be kept a deep, dark secret.

I’d feel so much better about the donks if any one among them said something like, “such-and-such class of person might have a shot at success without us, but we’re going to make sure they have a better shot at it with us.” What a positive message that would be. How little effort it would take, so far as I know, to revamp their whole schtick to be compatible, on the plane of reality, with that simple slogan. What a difference it would have made in the last three elections. And yet, they chose not to do that.

There’s something over in that party that is absolutely incompatible with this. They want pure dependency — 99% is simply not good enough. This makes me uneasy. They’re supposed to be riding in on a white horse right about now, to save us from that Republican culture of corruption. Why do they need the austere, consummate, perfect state of dependence from those whose votes they want? Why is this so important to them?

Theory: A mother may have an affair on her husband, nearly burn her house down, forget to pay the power bill, or commit any one of a number of possible infractions or instances of negligence. Her teenager, engaged in a process of becoming independent, and depending on others, will view such things in a wholly different light compared to her infant or toddler, who depends on her completely. Democrats are planning things…things which will place them in a bad light viewed by their constituents, unless said constituents depend on said Democrats without exception, completely, utterly, absolutely, without compromise. Democrats know this and are thinking ahead. They know they will look bad, later on, to anyone except those who view life through the eyes of a child. This is what makes the unmitigated dependency so important to them.

This is a far-fetched theory. There is no reason to entertain it. Unless — you are taking note of the Kerry/Rangel episodes, and insisting on an explanation. Once you do that, the theory makes more sense. At least…nothing else does. Nothing else, that’s come to my attention, adequately explains this bizarre behavior, where they prize so highly this objective of making people, or showing people to be, completely dependent on them. Where they are willing to sacrifice so much for it. No other theory comes close to plausibly explaining this.

X-Men Creator Dies in Superman Pajamas

Wednesday, November 29th, 2006

For reasons I may explore someday, I’m heavily biased toward DC Comics as opposed ot Marvel, even though Marvel & DC both seem to be run by a bunch of granola-eatin’ liberals. But my reasons for preferring DC have nothing to do, it would seem, with anything in the life of this noted icon who passed away at his home Sunday so I’ll just keep them in a concealed location for now. Maybe in a phone booth or something.

Wearing Superman pajamas and covered with his Batman blanket, comic book illustrator Dave Cockrum died Sunday.

The 63-year-old overhauled the X-Men comic and helped popularize the relatively obscure Marvel Comics in the 1970s. He helped turn the title into a publishing sensation and major film franchise.

Cockrum died in his favorite chair at his home in Belton, South Carolina, after a long battle with diabetes and related complications, his wife Paty Cockrum said Tuesday.

At Cockrum’s request, there will be no public services and his body will be cremated, according to Cox Funeral Home. His ashes will be spread on his property. A family friend said he will be cremated in a Green Lantern shirt.

At Marvel Comics, Cockrum and writer Len Wein were handed the X-Men. The comic had been created in 1963 as a group of young outcasts enrolled in an academy for mutants. The premise had failed to capture fans.

Cockrum and Wein added their own heroes to the comic and published “Giant-Size X-Men No. 1” in 1975. Many signature characters Cockrum designed and co-created — such as Storm, Mystique, Nightcrawler and Colossus — went on to become part of the “X-Men” films starring Hugh Jackman and Halle Berry.

Cockrum received no movie royalties, said family friend Clifford Meth, who organized efforts to help Cockrum and his family during his protracted medical care.

“Dave saw the movie and he cried — not because he was bitter,” Meth said. “He cried because his characters were on screen and they were living.”

He really made his mark with X-Men, and yet he chose to be cremated in a Green Lantern shirt. What can it mean, what can it mean.

Well, I’m liking the fact that he came up with these ideas that helped turn the whole thing around, and they ended up on the big screen — pivotal to the franchise’s success in that medium. Rest well.

Things That Make You Go Hmmm… III

Tuesday, November 28th, 2006

Rawlins Gilliland, commenting on “mock outrage”:

Years ago, I was the emcee at a fashion store’s recognition breakfast. Between awards, I cracked inside jokes indigenous to retail culture. In one shtick, I lampooned about another ‘perk’ being added to the non-existent prizes, zanily announcing: “winners will have their phone calls to alterations answered in English.”

See, you groaned. So did half the audience. I was mortified, later crucified. This, despite hourly complaints from store employees who resented being forced to physically go to alterations to get an item (while customers waited) rather than having it delivered, because people on the phone spoke only Spanish and they spoke none.

This is when I was first introduced to the “‘Gotcha’ Thought Police”, a militia mindset where thinking one thing but saying another has become America’s disingenuous piety game.

Meanwhile, quoting the smarmy department manager who condemned my “racist remark”: “I don’t call them ‘Mexicans.’ I call them ‘Spanish people.’ It doesn’t sound so low class.” So who’s the racist here?

Read the whole thing

What Caused It?

Tuesday, November 28th, 2006

Why did this race car driver crash?

Who’s Selfish?

Tuesday, November 28th, 2006

A new book, titled “Who Really Cares” by Arthur C. Brooks examines the actual behavior of liberals and conservatives when it comes to donating their own time, money, or blood for the benefit of others. It is remarkable that beliefs on this subject should have become conventional, if not set in concrete, for decades before anyone bothered to check these beliefs against facts.

What are those facts?

People who identify themselves as conservatives donate money to charity more often than people who identify themselves as liberals. They donate more money and a higher percentage of their incomes.


It is not that conservatives have more money. Liberal families average 6 percent higher incomes than conservative families.

Hmm. Wonder when that happened.

Conservatives not only donate more money to charity than liberals do, conservatives volunteer more time as well. More conservatives than liberals also donate blood. According to Professor Brooks: “If liberals and moderates gave blood at the same rate as conservatives, the blood supply of the United States would jump about 45 percent.”


Read the whole thing. Meanwhile, Slate Reader moodyguppy shares further insight that raises similar questions.

Not In It For The Attention, Mind You… VI

Monday, November 27th, 2006

Logo…but fellow blogger Alan was good enough to nominate us as one of the best conservative blogs of 2006 (maybe 55% to 60% of the way down). Very decent of you, Alan.


Monday, November 27th, 2006

I call them collectivists because they won’t come up with a name for themselves. If they were to do such a thing, it would make it easier to define their ideas and what they want done. They don’t want to do that, they just want to talk about the things they don’t like — which is that some people have lots of loot, and other folks have none. Hard to disagree with that, huh? And since it’s hard to disagree with it, they become absolutists.

Which necessarily must mean, they don’t want anyone to have anything. Or at least, they don’t want anyone to have any more stuff than what anyone else has.

You were an ant, someone else was a grasshopper? You refined your skills, someone else sat on his ass all day watching Girls Gone Wild? They don’t care. Everyone should have the same amount of stuff.

Every once in awhile, though, a collectivist will get caught spouting his collectivist drivel, while at the same time hoarding…stuff. America provides a fertile ground for this, because we safeguard the absolute right to spout drivel…and to hoard stuff. For everyone. In other words, no offense can be detected until you analyze the content of the drivel being spouted, and then contrast them against the things being done by the drivel-spouter who has all this stuff.

And then the drivel-spouting collectivst gets nailed. An event of which I like to take note, when it happens. As it did this morning, when Neal Boortz handed a good zing to Yoko Ono.

By the way .. your husband wrote perhaps the most hideous song in the history of modern music. “Imagine,” I think he called it. Maybe you can show us how you feel about the insipid line “imagine no possessions” by giving away all of your stuff!

Hey…it’s a damn good question. Does she part company with her deceased husband on that line? Or did John Lennon never believe in it in the first place? Or does she think she’s above everyone else? World citizens demand to know.

By the way, Boortz is none to happy about President Bush’s new pick for the Department of Health and Human Services. Here at The Blog That Nobody Reads, we are disinclined to believe the religious right has much to say…about anything. We look at the evidence as it exists and noodle things out for ourselves, here, and the evidence shows that the religious right hasn’t managed to actually get too much done. I can still have sex in any position I want, I can still buy beer on a Sunday, you probably can too.

But Neal makes a very good point. Common sense would say — right after a stinging defeat for the Republican party, olive branches should be extended, if not to Democrats, at least to the freedom-inclined Republicans. States’ rights. School vouchers. Repeal national speed limits. Phase out the death tax. And the minimum wage, too; keep legal jobs legal.

But when the Republican party is in a position where it needs more political capital…to the churches they go. In the final analysis, nothing ever changes about our freedoms or lack thereof. But anyone watching, who is not on the extreme right themselves…is scared shitless every time. Why do they do it?

Perhaps they do need political “capital” after all, but it’s not so much political in nature, as much as floating around on that cotton-paper green stuff.

Pretty funny when you think about it. When all’s said and done, American politics is driven by money…just like anything else that is American. The money flows in on the right from the religious fundamentalists, and on the left from the phony collectivists like Yoko Ono and Chappaquiddick Ted, who say one thing and do something else. Seems to me a rather poor investment. Neither the extreme-right money people nor extreme-left money people end up with public decisions being made in any way to their liking; yet, next year, they’re back at it again.

Well, that’s what the art of compromise looks like. It seldom makes sense to anyone looking in from the outside.

None of this is a big mystery to me — except for the guy in the White House. It’s been said here, it’s been said elsewhere, many, many times. You want to win elections, stick with originalist principles. The Federal Government has the responsibility to protect the borders, so kick the illegal aliens out and keep ’em out. The Federal Government does not have the responsibility to interfere with the sovereignty of the states, in fact it has the responsibility to protect same. So follow through.

It would have worked.

So what’s up with this urgency to get a bible-thumper in charge of birth control advice? It’s sure to be an ineffectual move, but it gives the Bush-bashing media and snarky FARKers something to jaw about. And that stuff has a lot of momentum. So what is the point?

This Is Good XXXII

Saturday, November 25th, 2006

You can find this on the innernets, but it came in by e-mail so linking is unneeded and rather pointless.

The Best Divorce Letter Ever Written

I know the counselor said we shouldn’t contact each other during our “cooling off” period, but I couldn’t wait anymore. The day you left, I swore I’d never talk to you again. But that was just the wounded little boy in me talking.

Still, I never wanted to be the first one to make contact. In my fantasies, it was always you who would come crawling back to me. I guess my pride needed that.

But now I see that my pride’s cost me a lot of things. I’m tired of pretending I don’t miss you. I don’t care about looking bad anymore. I don’t care who makes the first move as long as one of us does.

Maybe it’s time we let our hearts speak as loudly as our hurt. And this is what my heart says: “There’s no one like you, Connie. “I look for you in the eyes and breasts of every woman I see, but they’re not you. They’re not even close. Two weeks ago, I met this girl at ” Hooters” and brought her home with me. I don’t say this to hurt you, but just to illustrate the depth of my desperation.

She was young, maybe 19; with one of those perfect bodies that only youth and maybe a childhood spent ice skating can give you. I mean, just a perfect body. Tits like you wouldn’t believe and an ass that just wouldn’t quit. Every man’s dream, right? But as I sat on the couch being blown by this stunner, I thought, look at the stuff we’ve made important in our lives. It’s all so superficial.

What does a perfect body mean? Does it make her better in bed? Well, in this case, yes, but you see what I’m getting at. Does it make her a better person? Does she have a better heart than my moderately attractive Connie? I doubt it. And I’d never really thought of that before.

I don’t know, maybe I’m just growing up a little. Later, after I’d tossed her about a half a pint of throat yogurt, I found myself thinking, “Why do I feel so drained and empty?” It wasn’t just her flawless technique or her slutty, shameless hunger, but something else. Some nagging feeling of loss. Why did it feel so incomplete? And then it hit me. It didn’t feel the same because you weren’t there to watch. Do you know what I mean?

Nothing feels the same without you. Jesus, Connie, I’m just going crazy without you. And everything I do just reminds me of you.

Do you remember Carol, that single mom we met at the Holiday Inn lounge last year? Well, she dropped by last week with a pan of lasagna. She said she figured I wasn’t eating right without a woman around. I didn’t know what she meant till later, but that’s not the real story.

Anyway, we had a few glasses of wine and the next thing you know, we’re banging away in our old bedroom. And this tart’s a total monster in the sack. She’s giving me everything, you know, like a real women does when she’s not hung up about her weight or her career and whether the kids can hear us. And all of a sudden, she spots the tilting mirror on your grandmother’s old vanity. So she puts it on the floor and we straddle it, right, so we can watch ourselves.

And it’s totally hot, but it makes me sad, too. Cause I can’t help thinking, “Why didn’t Connie ever put the mirror on the floor? We’ve had this old vanity for what, 14 years, and we never used it as a sex toy.”

Saturday, your sister drops by with my copy of the restraining order. I mean, Vicky’s just a kid and all, but she’s got a pretty good head on her shoulders and she’s been a real friend to me during this painful time. She’s given me lots of good advice about you and about women in general. She’s pulling for us to get back together, Connie, she really is. So we’re doing tequila Jell-O shots in a hot bubble bath and talking about happier times. Here’s this teenage girl with the same DNA as you and all I can do is think of how much she looked like you when you were 18. And that just about makes me cry.

And then it turns out your little sister Vicky’s really into the whole anal thing, that gets me to thinking about how many times I pressured you about trying it and how that probably fueled some of the bitterness between us. But do you see how even then, when I’m thrusting inside your baby sister’s cinnamon ring, all I can do is think of you?

It’s true, Connie, In your heart you must know it. Don’t you think we could start over? Just wipe out all the grievances away and start fresh? I think we can.

If you feel the same please, please, please let me know, Otherwise, can you let me know where the fucking remote is.

Your Loving Ex-husband,


Heh heh. I can relate. No further comment in that area from me, none at all. Just a silly-lookin’ grin.

For The Benefit Of The Victims

Saturday, November 25th, 2006

The quote for the day over on Spiced Sass is a gem from C. S. Lewis. I wish I were laboring under a bit more difficulty to see how it is about to become relevant; but I fear, we’re about to live and breathe the truism of this bit of wisdom, day in, day out, for two long years at least.

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.

I would add, further, that when injustice is brazenly thrust upon a minority for the sake of bringing artificial comfort to a majority, we’ve set down a treacherous road, something desirable in politics but deeply offensive to common sense. One reasonable observer, no matter what his leanings, would acknowledge that where a little bit of injustice might be acceptable, a whole lot of it would be far less so. And where a little bit of comfort might be a decent thing, a whole lot of it is something that shouldn’t be needed quite so much.

And so, to our notions of common sense, a crop that yields both injustice for some and comfort for others, should be harvested only in small doses. If at all.

It just doesn’t work that way in politics. In politics, if a little of something is good, a whole lot of it must be better. You oppress the electorate for the electorate’s own benefit, fleecing the rich to provide for the poor…it really doesn’t matter if the poor spend the public treasury money on big-screen television sets or baby formula. It doesn’t matter. We already “voted” on whether they need the money.

Thing I Know #81. There are a lot of people walking around who seem to think “politics” is the process of re-defining “justice” to be something pleasing to many and unpleasant to few. That isn’t what “justice” is.
Thing I Know #87. In the past few years I notice the people with the largest television sets are the ones we are supposed to call “poor”.

PETA Targets Alaska Church

Saturday, November 25th, 2006

I only have one comment to make about this: After the Democrat-controlled,110th Congress is sworn in, you can expect activist groups just like this one, to have much more of a voice in how things are done. And, what things are done at all.

PETA mistakenly targets Alaska church

The pastor at Anchorage First Free Methodist Church was mystified. Why was the activist group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals chastising him? No animals are harmed in the church’s holiday nativity display. In fact, animals aren’t used at all.

People, however, do dress the parts – Mary, Joseph, the wise men, etc. The volunteers stand shivering at a manger on the church lawn in a silent tribute to Christmas.

The Rev. Jason Armstrong was confused by an e-mail this week from PETA, which admonished him for subjecting animals “to cruel treatment and danger,” by forcing them into roles in the church’s annual manger scene.

“We’ve never had live animals, so I just figured this was some spam thing,” Armstrong said. “It’s rough enough on us people standing out there in the cold. So we’re definitely not using animals.”

Jackie Vergerio, PETA’s captive animals in entertainment specialist, said her organization tracks churches nationwide that use real animals in “living nativity scenes.”

Seems the confusion started with the church’s choice of phrase. PETA flagged Free Methodist’s display as a “living nativity,” and indeed, that’s how the church describes it on its Web site.

To PETA, that means animals.

“Those animals are subject to all sorts of terrible fates in some cases,” Vergerio said. “Animals have been stolen and slaughtered, they’ve been raped, they’ve escaped from the nativity scenes and have been struck by cars and killed. Just really unfathomable things have happened to them.”

Whiskey…Tango…Foxtrot… VIII

Saturday, November 25th, 2006

Gloria AllredGloria Allred, who seems to be steadfastly opposed to doing anything with her law degree that would make some sort of sense, volunteered her comments about how Michael Richards can keep from being sued. She didn’t use her law expertise to make any assurances that her advice from keeping the comedian from getting sued. All she really did, was act like a European narcissistic control-freak and start dishing out a whole lot of must, ought, should, gotta gotta must must must.

Frank McBride and Kyle Doss said they were part of a group of about 20 people who had gathered at West Hollywood’s Laugh Factory to celebrate a friend’s birthday. According to their attorney, Gloria Allred, they were ordering drinks when Richards berated them for interrupting his act.

When one of their group replied that he wasn’t funny, Richards launched into a string of obscenities and repeatedly used the n-word. A video cell phone captured the outburst.

Richards, who played Jerry Seinfeld’s wacky neighbor Kramer on the TV sitcom “Seinfeld,” made a nationally televised apology on the “Late Show with David Letterman” earlier this week. He has since apologized to the Revs. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, both civil rights leaders.

But Doss, 26, said Friday he wanted a “face-to-face apology.”
Allred, speaking by phone from Colorado, said Richards should meet McBride and Doss in front of a retired judge to “acknowledge his behavior and to apologize to them” and allow the judge to decide on monetary compensation.

“It’s not enough to say ‘I’m sorry’ on ‘David Letterman,'” she said.

She did not mention a specific figure, but pitched the idea as a way for the comic to avoid a lawsuit.

“Our clients were vulnerable,” Allred said. “He went after them. He singled them out and he taunted them, and he did it in a closed room where they were captive.”

Richards may deserve to have his career ended for his one known offense against decency. For her pattern of such offenses, Allred deserves the same without question. What a spectacle. Here she is, “pitch[ing] the idea as a way for [Richards] to avoid a lawsuit” — the illusion that she’s engaged in something besides blackmail, apparently, is no longer worth keeping up.

I’m still hearing the phrase “common good” thrown around a lot. Tax the rich to promote the common good, put the government in charge of the common good, businesses are too selfish to contribute to the common good…blah, blah, blah. Common good this, common good that. Question: Why are attorneys so seldom placed under any pressure to contribute to the common good?

Is there any other profession in which consideration for the “common good” would make more sense? Is there any profession in which a contribution toward, or an injury against, the common good would be more measurable?

And if you accept that it is measurably possible for an attorney to take a case that is beneficial to the common good, or is deleterious to it — how does it come to pass that there are attorneys like Allred, who seem to work against it with such remarkable consistency? Would we really be damaging our Constitution by taking the effort to notice what they’re doing?

If a man is convicted of killing a little girl and chopping her up, and he writes an autobiography and stands to make a killing from it — an injunction against any profits going to him personally, I think we would all agree, would be helpful to the “common good.” Whether that phrase is helpful, or whether such a thing is constitutional, is another question altogether. But by virtue of the intentions involved if by nothing else…such an action might reflect well on our society. Allred would not be the one filing it. Never. Now, something harmful to whatever passes for the “common good”…let’s say, a burglar breaking into a home, injuring himself in the process, bringing suit against the homeowner’s insurance company. We can argue about whether that is within the burglar’s rights, but I would hope anyone who accepts such a thing as common good, would agree such a suit would be harmful to it. Would Allred take that one? Not only yeah, but hell yeah. So it’s easy to see what this woman is all about.

She is such a sleazy and repulsive bottom-feeder. Every time I see her name in print, I am more and more impressed by the consistency of her actions. It’s like she’s working around the clock to make America just like Rome, at the overripe stage when the lions and Christians were running low. It seems there is no exception to it. Not even a token one.

Evil people do some good stuff once in awhile. Sometimes you’ll catch a conservative doing liberal things, and vice-versa. Every now and then, a churchgoer may decide to skip services. But Gloria Allred — she’s like a force of nature. Like gravity always going down. Like the sun always rising. Count on her.

In fact, the best use to which she could be put, I’m thinking, is as a unit of measurement. As a yardstick. That’s it, Gloria Allred is my “common good” yardstick. Anyone demanding this business or that national government or that homeowner be coerced into destroying itself or himself “for the common good,” I don’t wanna hear another word about it until I hear how Gloria Allred is going to promote that common good. Anyone arguing for our country’s richest to be taxed at a higher rate just because they’re rich, and for no other reason…I want Gloria Allred to be the first one paying it. In fact, every time she takes a civil case solely for the purpose of extorting someone — a case where there is no benefit for soceity-as-a-whole, and nobody can quite muster up the energy to assert such a potential benefit even exists, Allred herself included — I want her income tax rate to go up by one percent.

“Allow the judge to decide on monetary compensation.” I think I’m gonna barf.

Update 11/25/06: Tom Green’s comments make a surprising amount of sense, considering the source.

The star writes on his blog, “Unlike Mel Gibson, who probably does hold racist attitudes, I don’t think Michael Richards doesn’t like black people. I think he was just trying to say the craziest and most vile thing in that room he could possibly muster. And I think he dug deep, into the darkest corners of his mind, to say those evil things to those men.

“But he did it in a small room, in an exchange, during a performance, and it wasn’t meant for us. It was just meant for that room. So why don’t we just let them settle it? Let’s leave Michael Richards alone.”

Update 11/25/06: The real-life Kramer agrees.

Thanksgiving 2006

Thursday, November 23rd, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you can find something for which to be thankful.

I would think if you’re a left-winger, it would be easy. But I don’t know those people very well, and what I do know about them calls into significant question their readiness, willingness and ability to be thankful for things. They might have some trouble even as their liberal faces are still smiling and flush with victory from two Tuesdays ago. Thought I’d help them a little.

There’s all the stuff of which, thanks to Boortz, I’ve found out Michelle Malkin has put together. It comes down to a whole lot of bad crap that can happen to you in other countries if you run around talking like a liberal. Liberals like to pretend they’re really courageous “speaking truth to power” by making jokes about our current President eating pretzels, as if the Department of Homeland Security is full of people like the child-stealer from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang with his oversized net, ready to chase the sarcastic liberals down and lock ’em up if the liberals don’t…aw shit, I can’t keep typing this. I don’t know what the liberals think they’re doing to keep from being locked up. Just go on being courageous and outspoken I guess. Anyway, it’s a sad delusion, and I’m thankful Malkin has put together the research to remind us, liberals & otherwise, how delusional it is. And how real such concerns are, even today, once you start trotting the globe.

And then there is Mark Foley. Scandals in general — and the wonderful American political system that ensures that scandals will have a special smearing power against whatever party is in charge of things, especially if it’s Republicans. So that eventually if you wait long enough, Democrats will come out on top even though Americans are stick to death of their crap.

I would guess Conservatives are a little trickier. Most of them will find something for which to be thankful, by stepping out of politics and thinking about their families. Does the trick for me. Some conservatives don’t have families, though, so for them we have…also via Boortz…a wonderful article by Walter Williams comparing the United States with you-know-where. That’s right, Europe.

Government spending exceeds 50 percent of the GDP in France and Sweden and more than 45 percent in Germany and Italy, compared to U.S. federal, state and local spending of just under 36 percent. Government spending encourages people to rely on handouts rather than individual initiative, and the higher taxes to finance the handouts reduce incentives to work, save and invest. The European results shouldn’t surprise anyone. U.S. per capita output in 2003 was $39,700, almost 40 percent higher than the average of $28,700 for European nations.

Mmmm, my. Fifty pennies on the dollar versus thirty-six pennies on the dollar. Wow, if we put half our GDP into government spending, Uncle Sam would be chewing through nearly six trillion dollars a year. I don’t even want to think about what that would look like. I’m pretty thankful we don’t have it.

Memo For File XXXIV

Thursday, November 23rd, 2006

I was notified by bulk e-mail of a new article in Ziff-Davis, a name which I have come to associate with quality musings on state-of-the-art technical developments for twenty years now. I do not remember how my address came to be added to the broadcast list; it’s intended for Information Technology geeks as well as healthcare professionals, and I have been both of those. Unfortunately, there is very little in the article having to do with leading-edge technology. In fact, it appears to be written up to provide a service, not to those who would read it, but to someone, somewhere, who wants it written-up.

Health insurance provider Aetna hopes to use the Internet to make doctors and nurses more culturally sensitive.

The company on Nov. 17 announced that clinicians who are part of the Aetna network or who have filed a claim with the insurer can take online courses in cross-cultural care for free.

The online course is part of a suite of other resources for ethnically diverse populations, including a training video as well as multiple brochures in Spanish that cover issues from diabetes and patient safety. Physicians and nurses who complete the training receive credit toward their continuing education requirements.

Several studies have found that minorities receive worse care than white patients, even if differences in severity of disease and income disparities are considered. Separate studies have found that patients who are better-trained in self care actually do take better care of themselves and are less likely to require more expensive treatments and hospitalizations. However, both initial diagnosis and subsequent counseling by clinicians are less effective if they do not account for cultural factors, such as attitudes toward accepting help, traditional medicines and reporting problems, according to the studies.

Now, one of the things that gave me some initial confusion was this fairly unpolished passage which seeks to assert “minorities receive worse care than white patients“. It was not so long ago that I was being treated to a feast of articles boasting that, boom chucka lucka lucka, “whites” have become, or are about to become, a minority themselves in urban areas in the United States. Here it is a few years after that, and even in the most PC article celebrating one of the most PC events, generously sprinkled with all the PC platitudes, “white” and “minority” are still thought to be antonymous terms.

Well, the population-shift information seems to be genuine in substance as well as in the ramifications involved, so it’s clear to me we’re turning some kind of corner here. So I thought before I read too much meaning into the word “diverse” I should go look it up…as usual, in Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia anyone can edit. And boy, what an eye-opener I found there. Seemed like a great idea to record it for posterity. It may not be up there too much longer.

The term “diversity” has no fixed definition upon which sociologists can agree. The term was used by the Supreme Court in the original decision regarding Affirmative Action in the 1970s. Thus, it has been tied to Affirmative Action, and could be considered a legal term, but in recent years has been used more broadly in relation to Globalism. It has also replaced “multiculturalism” on college campuses in the US and assumed much of the same meaning.

Recently diversity has been used to justify recruiting international students or employees. In this context it could be more like eugenics, which is quite different and potentially the opposite of Affirmative Action. In Biology a natural ecosystem needs a diversity of life forms in part to support Evolution and the idea is extended to modern society. (Interestingly, many recent college Biology books use the word Diversity in their title.) This mixing of science and racial issues was common during the era when Eugenics was popular, and it appears to be making a come back. Like Affirmative Action the word Diversity appears to be non-controversial but is highly controversial, particularly if it is made to mean Eugenics. (Eugenics is associated with Nazism.) Of course, diversity has different meanings in other parts of the world where it does not have the same political history.

The term “diversity” is often used in conjunction with the term “tolerance” in liberal political creeds which support the idea that both are valuable and desirable. Many critics of diversity claim that in the political arena, diversity is a code word for forcing people to tolerate or approve people and practices with which they might not otherwise voluntarily associate. Other critics point out that diversity programs in education and business inherently emphasize some minority groups (e.g. blacks, Hispanics, and homosexuals) and do not give equal time to groups (e.g. Jewish immigrants, Filipinos, Asian-Americans, Roman Catholics, and European immigrants) which lack the “disadvantaged” label. These critics claim that “pluralism” is a more accurate term for the presence of variation, and that, under the banner of “diversity,” groups actually forbid criticism of groups that are, in essence, privileged by their minority status. Many politicians, such as Tony Blair, José Luis Zapatero and Gerhard Schröder have praised the ambiguous concept of diversity.

Supporters of the contention that “diversity” is a social goal worth sacrificing for hold that cultural diversity may aid communication between people of different backgrounds and lifestyles, leading to greater knowledge, understanding, and peaceful coexistence. However, modern critics of diversity counter that bringing people together in a forced way often results in some breakdown of social cohesion, especially when the perception exists that diversity goals take precedence over quality in hiring, contracting, and/or academic admissions.

“Diversity” is a confusing term in American politics since no single ethnic group can claim majority status in the United States. When the “Caucasian” label is broken down into its component parts, dramatic differences can be seen between those of Arab (including Egyptian, Lebanese, Syrian, and Palestinian), Celtic, Dutch, Armenian, German, Persian, Hebrew, and Eastern European descent, all of whom share the overly broad label of “Caucasian.”

In this political context, the word diversity is often differently understood outside of North America: for example in the UK and most parts of Europe, Asia, and Africa, the US concept of diversity does not wholly exist as there are few US-styled affirmative action programs. This is not to say that others are not supportive of the underlying agenda of US diversity, but it is usually described in different words, such as the terms “respect”, “tolerance” and “multi-culturalism.” “Respect for Diversity” is one of the six principles of the Global Greens Charter, a manifesto of Green parties from all over the world subscribed to.

In the US, diversity may be a euphemism for the inclusion of individuals or groups thereof who are not of European descent. For example, the National Football League’s “Diversity Committee” has imposed a mandate overtly favoring African Americans by fining organizations who do not interview enough African Americans for positions which have been historically dominated by whites. There is no such policy imposed for failure to ethnically diversify positions, such as wide receiver, running back, and defensive back, which are traditionally dominated by blacks. In other words, the “diversity committee” is concerned with coaches and coordinators, but not with positions that are nearly 100% black.

This use of “diversity” as a buzzword also extends to American academia, wherein an attempt to create a “diverse student body” typically supports the recruitment of African-American and Latino students, as well as women in such historically underrepresented fields as the sciences.

Recently the term “diversity” has been used to encompass a much wider range of criteria than merely racial or ethnic classifications. The term is now used to express dimensions of diversity such as age, gender, religion, philosophy, and politics.

It is hazardous to use such a loaded term in such a dynamic environment where the meaning of the term is subject to such rapid and meaningful change. “Diversity” is supposed to convey lots of positive implications, but the trouble is that the concept exists on multiple levels. And connections exist between those levels, so that these level-protuberances move together.

On a social level, “diversity” is a decidedly positive thing. On a purely linguistic level, it is not. It is decidedly nothing, except neutral. My dictionary says the word is supposed to address a plurality of things, and means “differing one from another.” And on an engineering level, it is a negative thing, or at the very least used to describe some sort of challenge that is supposed to be overcome. That is, after all, how the word is used in the ZD article — “the online course is part of a suite of other resources for ethnically diverse populations…”

Captain ObviousI’ve come to be highly suspicious of the word “diversity” and no, it isn’t because I’m a six-foot-tall sandy-haired white guy who’s straight and right-handed and possessing all ten fingers. All of which I am. No, the D-word should be promising me something, I figure. Where it is celebrated as something positive, I perceive it to represent a busting-out from the good-ol’-boy network. I have been seduced into believing that…perhaps…since it’s been quite a while, looking back, since anyone has strung together the words that would out-and-out promise such a thing. But I think most of us would agree, that’s supposed to be the implication. Diversity is a condition, or a goal, and where it is either one of those the status quo just isn’t going to fly. People will think outside of the box — or else they will be forced to. Diversity is, or should be, or is expected to be, antithetical to TTWWADI which means “That’s The Way We’ve Always Done It.” The diversification of a clientele, or any kind of audience, is an event by which it will become necessary and unavoidable that a different way will be found to do those things. That should have enormous appeal to people like me. White or not, I notice my contributions to any group endeavor decline steeply where TTWWADI is worshipped like the false god that it is. I’m one of those free-thinkers that isn’t so good at the TTWWADI thing.

That’s the promise — by implication, if by no other means. And yet, that isn’t the way things work out. When the rubber meets the road, wherever people talk about diversity and other related glittery terms, you can be sure TTWWADI reigns supreme. Part of the reason for this, it seems, is that management is in a state of perpetual confusion about what “diversity” is supposed to mean. There’s an awful lot of urgency involved in broadcasting the cosmetics of it, almost as a market device — “we honor and respect diversity here!” — and that has a lot of value for upper-management. I’m using “upper-management” as pejorative term there…the layer of management that is sufficiently high up, so as to avoid actual work, or contact with those who do the actual work. In those enclaves, the middle-managers and lower-managers who are more concerned with day-to-day meeting of objectives, have the attitude of, yeah, oh well, whatever.

It’s the philosophical separation between the two, I’ve learned, that helps to promote an environment of TTWWADI and stifles creativity. When the managers who are closest to the work, begin to distance themselves from that feeling of ownership, they become actors instead of managers. It seems to be unavoidable. They start to re-define their own jobs downward, evaluating themselves based on their execution of “correct” steps rather than on their successes. The two words “supposed to” start to fuse into a singularity, which is common in such situations: “We aren’t going to do it that way because you aren’t supposeda.” “When you do this, you’re supposeda do that.”

Such middle-managers probably don’t go home and start handling their own stuff this way, especially when it comes to spending money on goods and services. When resources are scares, the goals are personal, and success is within reach but still a good distance away, “supposeda” goes flying right out the window. When you go to work and your whole job is all about “supposeda” and not an awful lot else, it negates the feeling of ownership. You don’t act, in corporate parlance, like you “own the company” anymore. Your job is no longer to ensure success, but instead, to guarantee that if & when failure does arrive it isn’t your fault.

And at that point any of the benefits to “diversity,” whether they were promised outright or merely imagined, are effectively blocked. Not only have they not materialized; they no longer can. You aren’t functioning, anymore, in an environment where people think outside the box — or at least, are rewarded for doing so.

Another problem with diversity, or rather, what we call that: It is negative. It is hostile. The Wiki article quoted above makes a rather thorough point of this, probably in violation of the online encyclopedia’s neutral-point-of-view policy:

In the US, diversity may be a euphemism for the inclusion of individuals or groups thereof who are not of European descent. For example, the National Football League’s “Diversity Committee” has imposed a mandate overtly favoring African Americans by fining organizations who do not interview enough African Americans for positions which have been historically dominated by whites. There is no such policy imposed for failure to ethnically diversify positions, such as wide receiver, running back, and defensive back, which are traditionally dominated by blacks. In other words, the “diversity committee” is concerned with coaches and coordinators, but not with positions that are nearly 100% black.

One of my favorite challenges to this, has been to ask the following hypothetical: You manage a staff of four, all of whom happen to belong to a minority group. Two of your staff quit, and you end up replacing them with two six-foot straight right-handed white guys. What did you do to the “diversity” of your group? Did you increase the diversity, decrease it, or did you keep it the same?

Nobody who had the true meaning of the term in mind, would dare say you “decreased” the diversity of your group; but in the accepted contemporary meaning of this intangible noun, that is exactly what we are supposed to say you did. If you accept that, then necessarily, you have to accept that diversity has come to mean an absence of white guys. To argue against that, is to argue in favor of the traditional meaning of the word…the mathematical meaning, you might say. The dictionary definition. Which would logically determine that when you hired the white guys, you increased the diversity of the group. Well, I don’t see anyone, anywhere, using the word “diversity” that way.

Eugenics? That seems to be taking the concern a bit far. Nazis? That’s even more questionable. I don’t think we’re in the process of herding white people into concentration camps. But let’s be clear: What we have come to call “diversity” is, without a doubt, a racial term. It applies to race. And it applies differently to some races than to others. It has something to do with being self-policing…your racial makeup becomes too white, and you aren’t going to need an outside entity to point it out to you. You’re making a promise to wake up, on your own, and say “Hey! We’re too white! We gotta do something.” On whether this applies to being too — something else — nobody has made any pledges anywhere, let alone lived up to them. Nobody claims to discipline their own organization, to keep it from becoming too this-or-that, too female, too Spanish-speaking. Actually, if they did make such a promise, I’m gathering that would be an affront to what we call “diversity.” So, yes, it’s an anti-white thing. We accept this. We just don’t talk about it much.

The third problem I have with what we call “diversity” is that it is bathosplorific. It seeks accolades for exploration but exploration has to do with conquering previously unimagined and unexplored frontiers. Exploration is exponential and has to do with expanding things. To engage in a process of removing what might be offensive, is a sterilization process and where it is concerned with movement at all, it has to do with movement inward. The dichotomy reminds me of the South Park episode “Mr. Hanky The Christmas Poo” where the Mayor promises to “put together a crack team of my best workers to make sure this will be the most non-offensive Christmas ever!” When did Guinness start that entry, and who the hell ever asked for it? There is a huge difference between saying “such-and-such a Christmas display offends me”…which we hear quite often nowadays…and saying “I’ll be sure to remember whoever can put on the most non-denominational and non-offensive Christmas ever” which is something we don’t hear at all.

I coined the term “bathosploration” to point out the fundamental difference between laboring in perpetuity toward a superlative and laboring in perpetuity toward an ideal. We have a tendency which is instinctive, to remember people who achieve things in the direction of a superlative. Columbus discovered such-and-such a continent, so-and-so walked on the moon, this guy was X many feet & inches tall. Breaking records. When you endeavor toward an ideal you can break records too. But we don’t remember accomplishments like those, and there’s a good reason why. At some point, they are guaranteed to become trivial and counterproductive. Guaranteed.

Now as we engage in the more glorious objective of laboring toward superlatives, the labor toward an ideal may be tied into this. One example that comes to mind, would be a faster car. Last year’s model might have gone 204mph, maybe you can get this year’s model to go 207mph. That would be exploration…expanding…innovating upward instead of downward. At two hundred mph, the wind resistance is enormous, so an important contribution toward increasing the maximum speed would be changing the aerodynamic drag. We’re at 0.29, maybe we can get it to 0.28. That is laboring in perpetuity toward an ideal. The ideal would be zero, which is logically impossible, but we can certainly get closer and closer to it. Just like the South Park Mayor trying to come up with the “most non-offensive Christmas ever.” Always some room to make it a little less offensive than before, right? So sometimes, laboring toward a standard of purity, is a prerequisite to laboring elsewhere toward a new frontier…breaking a new record.

In such situations, though, the trudging-toward-zero is a means-to-an-end. It is decidedly subservient to the opposite trudging-toward-infinity…the effort to break the speed record, and go upward from where we were before.

In what we have come to call “diversity,” the endeavoring toward the ideal, becomes an end in itself and this is what makes it bathosplorific. What we’re trying to accomplish by being diverse, is never quite spelled out, nor can it be. It has something to do with equal opportunity regardless of race — although due to the other matters explained above, plainly, it isn’t that. And it’s certainly competitive. My department may be more diverse than it was before; but your department may be more diverse than mine, and if that’s the case, whatever gains I’ve managed to make my department diverse, don’t mean a whole lot. To recapture the meaning of diversity, I have to diversify my department to an extent greater than yours. And if/when I manage to achieve that, the diversity in your department will come to be effectively meaningless.

So although it is competitive, it is doomed, like all bathosplorific efforts, to triviality and wheel-spinning. You can get only so “diverse,” which means no two people have the same (or similar) backgrounds if we’re talking dictionary-diversity, or there are absolutely no white guys if we’re talking real-world diversity. Whatever your definition is once you sort out all the confusion, there’s some point where the struggle must end — at zero. Once you’re there, if you want to do an even better job next year, what exactly do you do? There’s no good answer to that, and that’s what makes it bathosplorific. Diversity may want all the credit of being an explorative, record-setting enterprise; but it’s an enterprise of getting rid of things, not of setting wildly extravagant goals and then reaching them. In short, it’s a process of destruction and not creation. It’s a process of sterilization. And nobody ever achieved anything with that, other than to avoid getting fat, dirty or sick. That’s about all.

On The New Bond Movie

Thursday, November 23rd, 2006

In the immortal words of Nancy Kerrigan, this is so stupid. It’s a write-up about the “mistakes” in the new James Bond movie.

New JAMES BOND movie CASINO ROYALE has already been voted one of the top 20 most mistake-filled films of the year (06) – less than one week after its release. After spotting onscreen errors, fans have flooded film continuity website to voice their complaints.

So what’re we looking at here…some dude gets off’d thirty minutes into it, and an hour after that you see the guy walking around in the background, maybe with speaking lines and everything? No, nothing of the sort. For detail, we go straight to the forementioned Movie Mistakes website (warning, spoilers be therein) and we find stuff like this.

During the scene at the restaurant in Monenegro (actually filmed in the Czech Republic) you see a payphone with a Czech Telecom logo on it (itself a piece of history as these are all now rebranded O2).

When James Bond is supposedly in Montenegro, this was filmed in the Czech Republic – although they changed most of the signs they forgot some. When they are having a drink in the square there is a visible sign saying “Bily Kun” which means “White Horse” in Czech.

On the train to Montenegro, Bond & Vesper are swaying or rocking with the train, but the wine on the table is not.

Oh me. Oh my. I fear the movie has been ruined for me.

No, of course I’m being sarcastic. What a bunch of buttholes.

Okay, here’s some information you can use about the new Bond movie. First: It is a “reboot.” M, as in the female M who started her stint in the seventeenth Bond film, is James Bond’s first boss. Yeah, so in other words, all that stuff that happened in the previous Bond films, never happened. Nor has the stuff since then. All twenty Bond movies…events described therein, never took place. You over it yet? Good. Read on.

Bond becomes a Double-oh. So yeah, you get to see the origin of James Bond. And here’s the cool thing — it’s got something to do with the famous gun-barrel opening sequence that has been present throughout all the Broccoli films since From Russia With Love. Something cool. Rather trivial, but it’s really snazzy. I liked it a lot. So from now on, you can dig out one of the other twenty Bond films, and you’ve got an explanation for what went on with the gun barrel sequence. But remember…it is a reboot. References are made to the September 11 attacks; James Bond, himself, is a counterterrorism weapon created to address the new threats in a post-9/11 world.

Casino Royale follows the For Your Eyes Only scheme of things. Light on the gadgets. With a dark and brooding Bond. Great stunts, a complicated story from the pulp novels kept more-or-less intact, lots of intrigue. Little itty-bitty kids who were able to appreciate Moonraker and Goldeneye and Die Another Day — they might not be able to get into this. As for the new actor, he is good. Very, very good. But he does fail to capture the overlap between the manicured foppish upper-cruster and the cold-blooded hired killer, as Sean Connery did. Daniel Craig is decidedly rugged, with the splotchy pale skin of my own Nordic forebearers and a big honkin’ potato nose. That’s fine. Some of the dialog suggests there is difficulty involved in spotting the real James Bond, and figuring out he doesn’t come from “old money.” This is inconsistent with the actor chosen for the role. If this fellow comes from old money, something is terribly wrong. He looks like a swedish hog farmer and his hair is sticking out in several different directions.

But I can get past this stuff…and a bunch of signs that say Bily Kun. This film is a work of quality…bordering on a work of art. It captures a new perspective of an old action hero, and manages to blend in an attribute of youth and inexperience. Certain events the Bond fan may recall from the other twenty installments, are “prequeled.” The wedding, and events leading up to it, in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service — this comes immediately to mind. Our new vision of this gentleman, this hired killer, comes straight out of the Fleming novels, and yet it blends in easily with the Broccoli contributions. It’s fascinating, really.

But I can give a much shorter review of this film. I can shorten it to one word, if I really try. Just one. And here it is.


The new James Bond movie is the fifth-best.

Here’s how I see the 21 films at this point. Best-to-worst, each entry contains ranking, title, installment number, and the actor who played 007. See how it squares with your own list.

1. Goldeneye (17) (Brosnan)
2. From Russia With Love (2) (Connery)
3. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (6) (Lazenby)
4. Goldfinger (3) (Connery)
5. Casino Royale (21) (Craig)
6. License To Kill (16) (Dalton)
7. Thunderball (4) (Connery)
8. Octopussy (13) (Moore)
9. For Your Eyes Only (12) (Moore)
10. The Man With The Golden Gun (9) (Moore)
11. Die Another Day (20) (Brosnan)
12. Dr. No (1) (Connery)
13. Moonraker (11) (Moore)
14. The World Is Not Enough (19) (Brosnan)
15. Diamonds Are Forever (7) (Connery)
16. The Spy Who Loved Me (10) (Moore)
17. Live And Let Die (8) (Moore)
18. A View To A Kill (14) (Moore)
19. You Only Live Twice (5) (Connery)
20. The Living Daylights (15) (Dalton)
21. Tomorrow Never Dies (18) (Brosnan)


Wednesday, November 22nd, 2006

Maybe showing class is an obsolete concept. Or maybe we can still show some class, but we forget how to do it once we’re discussing matters of life and death. I wish everybody could have it all the time, but if we have to be uncouth when we discuss grave matters involving people getting killed I can kind of see it. There’d be a certain nobility to that although it would still be a regrettable weakness.

But President Bush’s dad has more class in his toenail clippings, than Jimmy Carter has in his whole wrinkly terrorist-loving body.

One audience member asked the former president what advice he gives his son on Iraq.

Bush said the presence of reporters in the audience prevented him from revealing his advice. He also declined to comment on his expectations for the findings of the Iraq Study Group, an advisory commission led by Bush family friend and his former Secretary of State James A. Baker III and former Rep. Lee Hamilton. The group is expected to issue its report soon.

“I have strong opinions on a lot of these things. But the reason I can’t voice them is, if I did what you ask me to do – tell you what advice I give my son – that would then be flashed all over the world,” Bush said.

“If it happened to deviate one iota, one little inch, from what the president’s doing or thinks he ought to be doing, it would be terrible. It’d bring great anxiety not only to him but to his supporters,” he added.

Excellent as it is, the elder Bush’s explanation leaves out important things because he explains his reticence only from the viewpoint of someone who supports his son’s policies. A lot of participants are concerned about the interests of America, but are bitterly opposed to the Bush doctrine and have their reasons for being so opposed. They, too, are opposed to former presidents criticizing said policies in public — or should be.

Iraq is the frontal stage in a propaganda war. A propaganda war is all about confidence; getting more for your side, undermining the enemy’s. Iraq, in general, isn’t doing so hot. A lot of that has to do with confidence. A lot of our most publicly-visible and vocal Americans, for the last four years, have been rather apathetic about this concern. They’ve been too giddy and drunk on the elixir of “speaking truth to power,” in a nation where there is absolutely no civil or criminal penalty looming for doing so.

The preceding paragraph has just six sentences. They’re solid, all six of them — either factual, indisputable, or both. You’d have to be just-plain-nuts to disagree with any one of the six, and they lead unavoidably to one conclusion. That conclusion is this: If we’re looking for a good post-mortem process on Iraq, searching for ways to do it a little better next time, we need to take a look at keeping our stinky, halitosistic cakeholes shut. Share your criticism of our current President with other Americans, and concentrate on the things he does, not on who he is. He got elected. He invaded Iraq. Get over it.

One of the most persuasive arguments against going into Iraq in the first place, is that there were other menacing hoodlums all over the world who are supposed to be more threatening than Saddam Hussein ever was. Personally, I question that comparison, but the hoodlums are definitely out there. We’re going to have to do the Iraq thing a few more times. You disagree? Fine. Lay down some arguments — to Americans — about how the whole venture was doomed from the start in spite of all the things President Bush did right.

To say President Bush has messed up Iraq, and oh by the way he spends a lot of money and is letting in illegal aliens and ruining the planet’s climate and causing hurricanes and letting people whither and die in New Orleans and he’s too stupid to eat a pretzel and he’s a draft-dodger, and, and, and…why, that’s tantamount to arguing that Iraq didn’t succeed simply because the wrong folks were in charge. And if I’m some foreign guy and I’m hearing you go on about how Americans are ignorant and arrogant and your President is a dumb klutz, and I get in a discussion about some other foreigner about it…well…here’s a question. How are we supposed to see Americans in a good light, if they don’t see themselves that way? And what’s the most positive thought possible we can have about your President? Defending America’s reputation, begins with Americans.

Maybe…just maybe…the hot, pimply-faced, spittle-flinging anger at President Bush has found a little bit more of a voice than we should have allowed it to find. Isn’t that possible? No, I’m not talking about restricting speech. I’m just talking about visiting or revisiting the possibility: Maybe it’s had a bad effect. Maybe. It’s possible, right? You know, in forty years on the planet, I’ve noticed that people get only-so-angry about things when they know their position is the right one. Above a certain level of anger, you get into levels reserved only for people who know they’re wrong, and/or that it’s the other fellow who is right. It seems to me the anger at President Bush has long ago rocketed into that ionosphere, and is still gaining speed.

As for America’s situation, she’s in quite a pickle here. Our weapons won’t save us, and neither will our freedom-of-speech, our democratic republic, our money or even the dedicated individuals who volunteer to serve in our military. None of those things will see us through this crisis. I’m thinking class just might do the trick.

It’d be rather difficult to assert we’ve already tried it, right? Hello, former President Jimmy “mouth of the south” Carter! You’ve been something of a stranger lately to the whole leaving-things-unsaid dealy-bob. What say you?

Must See TV

Monday, November 20th, 2006

Good Lieutenant at Mein Blogovault has returned from his sojourn, with a post called “Must See TV.”

Which, if it’s up to me to say so, is exactly that. Thought provoking and important…wish it weren’t either one of those.

Somebody at the Fortune Cookie Factory was Bored

Sunday, November 19th, 2006

Via Fireflies in the Cloud

Come Back Later

This Is Good XXXI

Sunday, November 19th, 2006

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usWell, it’s kinda cool anyway. Watch the video here.

The Wikipedia entry for “Bodhisattva” has been updated with another image from this performance, which is interesting. Plus this stuff, too:

Bodhisattva in popular culture
* Jack Kerouac mentions Bodhisattva in The Dharma Bums several times. In the book, Japhy Ryder (Gary Snyder) tells Ray Smith (Kerouac) that he (Ray) is a Bodhisattva, a great wise being or great wise angel. Kerouac uses the term several times in the novel, to describe himself and fellow zen Buddhists.
* The band Steely Dan has a song entitled “Bodhisattva” on their 1973 album Countdown to Ecstasy.
* The Brian Setzer Orchestra covered Steely Dan’s “Bodhisattva” for the soundtrack of Me, Myself and Irene.
* The hip-hop group The Beastie Boys has a song called “Bodhisattva Vow” on their album Ill Communication.
* Patrick Swayze’s character in Point Break is named Bodhisattva.
* The Holy Barbarians have a song called “Bodhisattva” on the Cream CD.
* In the manga/anime titled Gensoumaden Saiyuki, the bodhisattva called Kannon appears as a minor, but still relevant, character. In this unorthodox take on Buddhism, Kanzeon Bosatsu (a more formal form of Kannon) is a smart-talking hermaphrodite who guides the Sanzo-ikkou on their quest to Shangri-La.
* On the OST for the anime Hellsing, there is a track titled “Bodhisattva Cathedral.”

Happy Birthday

Saturday, November 18th, 2006

Happy Birthday To MeBlogger friend Buck made a comment, and I figured it’s been awhile since I hit his blog Exile in Portales so I went ahead and paid a visit. Turns out, as of Wednesday he’s celebrating his first anniversary blogging. Way to go Buck! By sheer coincidence, Becky is also up to a year on the same day. I’m going to make a point of visiting her site, kind of a friend of Buck is a friend of mine type of thing.

Then I started thinking. I think my second anniversary just came and went. So I checked the archives.

My memory must be on a downslide. The two-year mark would have been Sunday. A little history. Shortly after the elections of 2004, President Bush celebrated his victory over the long-faced one by doing…pretty much what he’s doing today. The reaching across the aisle, thing. Now, today, this makes some sense. He did get his ass kicked pretty good. In 2004…it did not make sense. Oh yeah, exit polls and such. Look, the exit polls don’t matter. POLL polls…those matter. According to the election result, President Bush won because we were in favor of what he was doing. He had a fairly ineffectual plan for continuing the war in Iraq, in 2004, very much like the plan we were presented in 2006. Likewise, Democrats presented no-plan-whatsoever, just like they did this time ’round. Except in 2004, we didn’t have Mark Foley. And fatigue with Iraq, had not quite yet set in. In short, rightfully or not, and in spite of the stated predictions…he won.

Here he was compromising. Like he is now. Now in 2004, that was inappropriate. I voted for him…yes, I did it from a blue state, therefore my vote was utterly defeated…but in my book, that doesn’t matter. I voted for him, he won, he owed me. Here he was doing what the losers wanted him to do.

So I wrote something up to address this. But clearly, it would not have done any good to submit it to OpinioNet. I’d been hearing about this blogging stuff…so I set up a blog, and I posted my thoughts on this, in a post called Reaching Out. I had noticed the donks had made an issue out of some of us regarding them as “unpatriotic.” Two things about that. First of all, it seems if they really wanted to make an issue out of this, the donks should have been pointing out examples. This guy over here said so-and-so was upatriotic; that guy over there said such-and-such was unpatriotic; such-and-such a statistical bureau or agency, posits that so-and-so many times a week in this country, someone is called unpatriotic. Something like that. But…no. The donks got to spout off “we are called unpatriotic!,” like something would be wrong with that, and eveybody just took them at their word that this was some kind of epidemic. You know, it seems to me, the statement calls out for a little bit of a challenge, if nothing more than that.

Second thing. Donks are supposed to stand for the rights and privileges of the little guy, to form whatever opinions he will, and to say whatever he might. Don’t I get the right and privilege to decide for myself, if it makes sense to me…that the donks are unpatriotic?

And so I started a blog. And I called it “House of Eratosthenes” because it is a place where I go to think for myself. And I think everybody else, should be able to think for themselves. We aren’t beholden to a bunch of smelly donks. They don’t get to pass judgment on things we think…for ourselves. Eratosthenes, himself, recognized things he thought made sense, and if what we call “political correctness” reigned supreme under another name back then — he ignored it. A lot of powerful people would not have liked the things he was thinking. He was conducting experiments to figure out if the earth was round, and if so, how big it was. The shakers-and-movers of the 3rd century B.C., I don’t think they would have been cool with that. No matter. He did it anyway. And he wrote down what he figured out. So his story, to me, seems a good fit.

That went up November 12, 2004. On 11/12/06, we did — jack squat. So we missed our own birthday.

Maybe Eratosthenes missed some of his own birthdays. The poor sonofabitch died from self-imposed starvation, you know. Seems like a logical postulation.

Happy birthday, Buck. And happy birthday Becky. And happy birthday to me. Cheers!

Kennedy’s Agenda

Saturday, November 18th, 2006

If I ever get tired of trying to make an honest living and want to start ripping people off, and make sure I never get caught at it, I’m going to start talking in a thick Boston accent heavily sprinkled with the word “Ah.” It seems to be an effective way to deflect probing questions. That’s the one thought I have, reading the AP’s puff-piece about Ted Kennedy’s “agenda” for next year, as chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.

Ted Kennedy“Americans are working harder than ever, but millions of hardworking men and women across the country aren’t getting their fair share,” Kennedy said during a speech outlining his legislative agenda for next year. “We’re not rewarding work fairly anymore, and working families are falling behind.”

President Bush signaled readiness last week to consider some Democratic priorities such as a minimum-wage increase, overhauling immigration policy and finding compromise on renewing the No Child Left Behind education law.

Critics of boosting the minimum wage say it kills job creation as employers hire fewer entry-level workers to compensate for the higher wage expenses. Kennedy said the minimum wage has remained at $5.15 an hour for nearly 10 years. Under Kennedy’s proposal, the increase would occur over about a two-year period.

Most states have their own minimum wages laws, with some states having rates the same as the federal minimum wage and some with rates higher than the federal minimum.

Kennedy noted that ballot initiatives establishing or raising the minimum wage in six states all passed in this month’s election.

“If there is one message from this election that emerged loud and clear, it’s that no one who works for a living should have to live in poverty,” Kennedy said.

Kennedy also said he would seek to expand federal support for research on stem cells coming from embryos, which Congress approved last year, but Bush vetoed. The issue won’t go away, he promised.

On education, Kennedy said he would seek to make college more affordable by increasing the size of Pell Grants from $4,050 to $5,100, and by cutting interest rates on student loans.

He said that the student loan business has become too profitable for the banking industry. “It’s time to take the moneychangers out of the temple on student loans,” he said.

I don’t have to wait too long, nowadays, for a left-winger to insist that his positions on various issues makes him smart, and my position make me dense. We live in a time in which people on both sides of the aisle, apply rustic and faulty “intelligece tests” to those around them, by gathering up peoples’ positions on the issues. Well, the minimum wage has become my way of paying this back. Lefty says I’m a big ol’ NASCAR dolt because I supported “George Bush’s illegal war in Iraq,” and golly, you know he just may have a point. Maybe the left-wing hippy does know something I don’t. So like a pig digging for truffles, hoping to engage an intellect that maybe has a different perspective to provide me, perhaps finding an angle to the big picture of which I was previously not aware, I ask about the minimum wage. If my left-wing antagonist supports the minimum wage, I can rule out this possibility. Completely. If the asshole has a brain in his head he isn’t using it. And he isn’t seeking to “educate” me, he just wants to indoctrinate me and assimilate me into the collective. There’s no thought involved. Guaranteed.

Raising the minimum wage has been a favorite agenda of Democrats my entire life, and then some. Whenever the subject comes up, my favorite way of commenting on it has come to be “Congress is currently reviewing a measure to outlaw millions of jobs.” The lefties out there, predictably, cite this as further evidence of my cluelessness and thick-headedness. But who’s clueless? Congress raises the minimum wage — is Congress considering the appropriation of general funds to reimburse employers for the difference? Not so far as I can see…ever. Is Congress going to provide punitive measures against employers who dismiss their associates, specifically because of the financial ramifications of the increase? Again, not within my memory.

So the minimum wage is all about defining a class of jobs out there, and announcing that something has got to happen with them if the employer is not to violate this new law. On what that something is, Congress, within the information that has made its way to me, throughout my lifetime — has not a tinker’s damn to say about anything. Nor has Congress sought to say anything. The employer has absolute latitude; all that is required of him, is that something be changed. We have this pipe dream that the employer is going to say “Good golly! I better find some more money to pay these people!”

But a pipe dream is all it is.

With things left unchanged, these millions of jobs, which up until the moment in question were in comportation with the law…no longer are. And at that point, Congress’ involvement abruptly comes to a stop. Seriously. In my lifetime, I have yet to see a pro-increase-minimum-wage Congressman step up and so much as denounce employers opting to get rid of these now-more-expensive associates. I have not yet see anything like that happen yet. I’m waaaaaaiiiiiiting…haven’t seen it.

So to say this kind of activity is “a bill to outlaw jobs,” is simply a more accurate statement of the facts. The pit bull that is in place to keep those jobs from being eliminated, is the union. But of course all those “hardworking men and women” who are affected by minimum wage laws, are not necessarily represented by a union. Those who are not, are off Kennedy’s radar. This is only about the unionized forces. And the purpose of the legislation, is to pay back those unions by increasing the wages from which the union dues are going to be derived.

Just a little bit of payback. One hand washing the other.

But don’t the egghead economic scientists insist that the minimum wage does nothing to eliminate jobs, in fact, may actually cut the unemployment rate? Why, yes they do! They have yet to explain how making any commodity more expensive, stimulates the consumption of it. They can’t explain that…because that simply isn’t how things work. In fact, if you listen to them carefully, you’ll see they don’t even come out and say this is what’s happening. They’ll recite some cherry-picked facts to lead the audience to this conclusion, but you won’t hear a pro-minimum-wage egghead economist guy come out and say, “when it became more expensive to hire people, employers jumped at the chance to do so, because it made good financial sense to them to spend more money on the same labor.”

As far as the unemployment rate being kept more-or-less the same throughout various increases in the minimum wage, this much is true. And it’s by design. Adjusted for inflation, throughout forty years the minimum wage hasn’t even been raised, really. It is generally agreed to have peaked, in “real” dollars, sometime in the late 1960’s. We’re coming up on ten years since the last federal increase…unemployment is at an all-time low…the conditions are right. It is “time” to raise it. What if — and this is just a hypothetical — we were to yank the minimum wage up when unemployment was high? If it really wasn’t a job-killer, wouldn’t that make a lot of sense? Or…what about the Rush Limbaugh hypothetical? Why not $20 an hour? Why not $50? The position of the left on this, as far as I can gather, is that this would be “silly.” Or yes, this would cause unemployment, but things are different when the increase is more “reasonable.”

So you see, there isn’t any disagreement about the minimum wage between the right and the left. Both sides agree that it is safe in smaller doses, dangerous in higher doses — essentially, that it does indeed cause existing jobs to disappear. They disagree only in what is to be acknowledged exuberantly, or conceded grudgingly. What it does, is put people in control of the job market — union officials, politicians, lobbyists — who have nothing whatsoever to do with creating those jobs, or for getting the objectives of those jobs fulfilled. It keeps them in charge of things.

Now, what would happen if regulation was peeled way back, and the employers and employees had more control? There are those who believe the employers would run everything; and since employers don’t really want to hire anybody, all the jobs would disappear except for a handful, and those wouldn’t pay for shit.

Well, I can only go by what I see. People having jobs and losing them…people applying for jobs and not getting them…people hired on, and the jobs suddenly going away…this happens five times, and only one time out of those five, at most, does the issue have something to do with a stingy employer cutting corners. The other four, it has something to do with regulation, or auditing. Decisions about jobs, being made by people who have nothing to do with the job being done.

Why does this ratio seem so out of balance? It makes perfect sense when you think about it. The stakeholders in the job getting done, if they are to make the decisions, the job stays. Of course it does. They want to get that job done, because if they didn’t, the job never would have come to be in the first place.

Of course…Kennedy speaks with that thick Boston accent. And he uses the word “Ah.” So none of this came out in the interview…or press conference…whatever it was. Kennedy said stuff, and if anybody asked a probing question anywhere, it didn’t make it into print. The AP just caught his glittering generalities and wrote ’em up.

Kennedy also said he wanted to support embryonic stem cell research.

What exactly is this committee and when did it get formed? I was just noticing…grinding up babies doesn’t have a whole lot to do with outlawing jobs. Kennedy’s chairmanship puts him in a position to do both. This borders on the surreal.

When I was a pre-teenager type kid, “baby in a blender” jokes were all the rage. If I could travel back to that time, and tell people in 2006 this will actually become a legislative agenda, they’d never believe it. And here we are.

I’m more concerned about the ability we have to vote in these legislative agendas. Mark Foley sent some spicy Internet messages to a former page, and we have this huge sloshing mushbucket of unrelated liberal objectives now in charge of the nation’s capital. Suppose — and this is another hypothetical — as a member of the electorate, I was desiring a little bit more surgical precision in what was to receive my support. Suppose I was in favor of grinding up the babies, but against outlawing jobs. Or vice-versa. What if some parts of Kennedy’s agenda sounded good to me, and other parts of it did not.

How do I vote for that? I just have one Congressman…some years I have a Senator running too, the one this year was a shoe-in even though I despise her…I can elect these incumbents, or vote ’em out. And based on who wins — and a lot of years, it’s just like this one, some silly scandal decides everything — we have this asshole and his juggernaut agenda, mashing up babies, outlawing jobs, making war on the cherished American values of individuality, capitalism, opportunity, keeping the money you have earned…choice. We vote for our elected representatives, and the elected representatives vote on all of Sen. Kennedy’s agenda, or none of it. Can’t have nuthin’ in-between.

I’ve been listening to liberals for six years tell me our “democracy is slipping away.” Well, it certainly is…just not in the way they’ve been saying.

Haute Monde Hoi Polloi

Friday, November 17th, 2006

haut monde
Fashionable society.

hoi pol·loi
The common people; the masses.

On the list of Things I Don’t Get, the iPod is #6. It’s an electronic appliance, which means a lot of things to me. It’s supposed to involve a medium-high initial investment, and then the value of that investment is supposed to decline sharply over time. In exchange for this rapid asset deterioration, you’re supposed to get back convenience and functionality. And in the case of the iPod family of products…zowee. Lots of bread. Lots of amortization. Five hundred clams or so, to get in. Functionality? Practically nothing. It plays tunes, yipee.

Now, this belongs on the list of Things I Don’t Get, not some corresponding list of Things That Are Scams, because there really is something I don’t get about it. I think. So the guys at work were educating me about this…except, I wasn’t learning an awful lot from the experience, and I got the distinct impression the information was flowing in the opposite direction, with the horseshoe arrangement around me trying to figure out what makes me “tick.” In that enterprise, I’m afraid for most of the session I was a big disappointment to them. One thing I said, though, raised some eyebrows.

I said that based on what little I knew about iPods, if I were to be placed in a position where I had to pronounce my impressions about them, my impressions would come down to this: It looked to me like a case where parents should intervene. I don’t think parents should allow kids to even want one, let alone give them one.

Most people aren’t going to agree with me. But on the concept of parental intervention, and the limited application of such, I think most people do agree with me. When do parents intervene? Sometimes; not always. Kid forms a taste for scary movies: No; butt out. Kid wants Milk Duds for breakfast, lunch and dinner: Yes, put your foot down. Kid learns to interact with other kids: No. Kid wants to beat the crap out of other kids: Yes. Kid likes a certain girl at school: No. Kid wants unprotected sex with her: Yes. For the most part, we all agree with this. Parents let things happen however they will sometimes, not at other times. On when a parent should butt in, the family values are sovereign even though the rest of the community may chafe at the choices made. At some point, the community may overrule the sovereign family.

So we “all” agree on the rules. Or most of us do.

Here’s the opinion I have where most people might disagree.

I think iPods are an example of parental intervention being needed. Kids shouldn’t want ’em. And if they do want them, the parents should speak up and infuse the maturing mind of the principles and values it is lacking.

Yeah that seems really crazy, I know. But wait awhile; hear my argument. The kid, somewhere between 10 and 13, wants an iPod. What does the kid want out of the iPod? “All the other kids have one.” Okay, kids have wanted things other kids already have, probably for as long as there have been kids. But there’s something going on here beyond that. All the kids, after all, do not have an iPod. If they did, the appeal would go away, because there wouldn’t be an allure involved in having one. If you still can’t see where I’m going, try this. Take a pre-teen who wants an iPod because all the other kids have one, and get him something all the kids had a couple of years ago. There ya go! All the other kids are tired of looking at the damn thing, and you’ve got your very own copy of it for the first time. Now you get to go to school and tell all those other kids “Look at me! I finally have one too!”

He’ll hide it. I guarantee it. All parents of teenagers, reading this, know I’m right. The fashionable teen or pre-teen, wants to fit in…and be “hip.” Which means special. Which means not fitting in too much. So there is a tightrope to be walked here. There’s a balance.

So no, this isn’t about having something everybody else has. It’s about being better than everybody else. Now, this presents us with two problems: First, the child is equating “carp at someone with money until they buy you something” with “achieve something worthwhile.” Those are two different things, and it seems obvious that between here and adulthood, the child should be learning that. But I wish to remain disciplined in the scope of my bitching here, so let’s set that one on the back burner. The second problem we have is with this so-called “balance” mentioned above. It’s not really a balance. It’s a wretched mutation that contradicts itself internally. The child wants to be better than all of his peers; but at the same time, he wants to be just like them. I have a smartphone that came out on the market two years, maybe eighteen months ago. It’s not very fashionable anymore. But it does a lot more than what the iPod does, and is therefore “better.” Would a fashionable teenager be interested in something like that? Three guesses, and the first two don’t count. So, again, we’re off on the wrong track. It’s not about being better. It’s about being the same. Except better. But not so much better that the other kids wouldn’t understand it. Better-ish. Uniquely similar. Extraordinarily ordinary. Looking just like everybody else…except doing a better job of looking like everybody else, than what anybody else is doing. Yeah. That’s where it’s at.

Therein lies the contradiction. When your goal in life is built around a contradiction, you are destined to be unhappy. How can you not be? Ever?

How are all those other kids supposed to admire you? “There goes Bill, I wish I was just like him. He does a better job of being just like everybody else, than anybody else I know.” Oy, it’s enough to give you a headache. It’s like the “man who wasn’t there” poem.

Now, skip back a few paragraphs and go over that list of scenarios under which parents should intervene…and the other ones under which parents should not. What’s the common pattern? What’s the defining criteria? Speaking for myself, I would say when the child begins to labor toward goals that, in the long run, are going to leave himself and others around him unhappy and unfulfilled — that’s when the parents should be jumping in. That’s when their superior experience with life, is needed. Once the parents have begun to so intervene, and the tone of the intervention is “He’s doing things that will keep him from being a carbon copy of me, so I have to make him more like me,” I would say that is when the line has been crossed and the parents should butt out.

Speaking as a parent, I can say with authority that this is a tricky line. But you have to get to know it. You have to let your child develop his own personality, do things that he thinks are right. If he isn’t given the latitude to do this, he won’t be able to develop the skill set needed to develop a sound method of judgment. But his goals, whatever they may be, should make enough sense so that success is at least possible. If not, parental interference is required, whether it’s welcome or not.

And the iPod represents a life-goal, a way of noodling out throughout one’s mortal existence, where success is not possible. It is an objective of “superior conformity.” Extraordinary ordinary-ness. A self-contradicting goal with the potential to blossom into a whole lifetime of unhappiness. Haute Monde Hoi Polloi. As parents, we do not necessarily have the job of making our children happy, but we should make sure, by the time they become adults they at least have what is needed to achieve that on their own. Too many children have already reached adulthood as Haute Monde Hoi Polloi, doomed to wander through life unfulfilled as their various ambitions in life battle out the internal contradiction therein. OMYGAWD, I’m too much like everybody else! OMYGAWD, I’m too different! And so back & forth they go. Unsatisfied, in perpetuity.

PS3We have a lot of businesses that have been self-positioned to make handsome profits off this mental weakness, but a mental weakness is what it is, and there’s nothing desirable about it. It is rooted not in psychological injury or lack of sanity, but simple immaturity. This is the kind of situation parents are supposed to help prevent.

Now, where was I going with that. Ah, here we go

On Thursday morning approximately 50 customers were lined up outside the Wal-Mart in West Bend. The customers were waiting to purchase Sony Playstation 3 game consoles.

At 7 a.m. an assistant manager of Wal-Mart announced to the waiting customers that the store anticipated getting only 10 of the game consoles. The game consoles are first available for sale at 12:01 a.m. this Friday.

The assistant manager explained he was going to put 10 chairs out, and the first 10 customers to get to the chairs would be eligible to purchase the game consoles when they go on sale.

The assistant manager then lined up the 10 chairs outside the store and directed the waiting customers to another area outside.
He then gave a signal for the customers to run to the chairs.

As the customers ran to the chairs a 19-year-old male ran into a pole and struck his head injuring himself. The 19-year old was conveyed to an area hospital where he is being treated.

Chris Friedrich was one of the 10 people to reach the chairs but he was also hurt.

“I went flying in there. I got shoved in my seat I hit my head. I bruised up my knee pretty bad.”

The matter is being investigated, but there is no current evidence of any criminal activity.

Criminal activity, sheesh.

Now, once again. You got a PS3…people want that. They will injure themselves for it. You got something that isn’t a PS3, but does everything the PS3 does, people would not want that. You got a PS2, that would be okay, but people wouldn’t be willing to get beat up over it. Promise someone a PS3 a year from today, people would take it for maybe a hundred bucks. Maybe a little more. They may or may not leave the house for that.

It’s the desire to have what everybody else has, to acquire it when you’re supposed to acquire it, but be better than everybody else; to be in a club all by yourself, but nevertheless to rate yourself based on the adulation you get from others, and therefore to let other people decide how much you are worth.

The worse this gets, the more empty and unfulfilled people are going to be. I don’t know if we are going to recover from this. History suggests not.

Update 11/18/06: Via this blogger, we come across a handy compilation of the three highest bids on e:Bay for a 60GB PS3 gaming console, $15,000 and up.

This complicates things significantly. For one thing, there’s a certain opaqueness to the phenomenon — we can never know for an absolute certainty, what it is we’re seeing. Obviously, the market is flooded with buyers who have no intention whatsoever of owning a PS3 console themselves, and just want to turn the thing around for a quick profit. Capitalism at it’s finest.

I wonder who these people are who bought it for fifteen large. Did they really want one?

What does a $15k price tag have to do with Haute Monde Hoi Polloi? Perhaps when you get that high, it has more to do with speculative investing…with emphasis on the “speculative” part. Really high-risk investment stuff. It’s simply the kind of thing you expect to have happen with any hot commodity.

And yet, what makes it hot? New technology comes out all the time. The gaming consoles are unique in this class of events, because their financial worth is a derivative of the gravitas. It is “normal” enough that people recognize the name, and sufficiently unique that it’s still highly difficult to get your mitts on one. What the damn thing does, for the most part, nobody really has a clue…at least, they can’t get into specifics about it…certainly, functionality doesn’t have much to do with the market demand.

We have so many ways for buyer and seller to communicate with each other, and this is what sends the asking price shooting upward into the stratosphere. If the fifteen thousand dollar bidder is a middleman, he has a good chance at coming out ahead in this thing; at least, even odds. That is a sign of health for our society. And yet, still, it’s a toy. Sometimes, things come out on the market that are tools that can actually do useful things. What we see happening with the PS3, for the most part, doesn’t happen with them (PS3’s built-in blue-ray DVD player notwithstanding). No, for the most part, we see this phenomenon happen with toys…not tools.

And that is not a sign of health. It’s a sign of lunacy. The folks who wring their hands with worry about these $15k bidders, giving voice thoughtlessly to cliches like “people are stupid,” are probably wrong. A lot of these higher bidders must know what they are doing, or at least have an idea of what they want to do. But I’m on board with those cynics about the state of our civilization in general. We are in an infected and gangrenous state. We are in a state of rapid collapse. We are just about where Rome was as it was running low on lions and Christians.

Sandra Bullock

Friday, November 17th, 2006

Sandra BullockI don’t know it for sure and I have no way of testing it. But I’m thinking if, somehow, I could become acquainted with all the Hollywood celebrities I’ve ever seen in a movie, getting to know each one of them as a human being, Sandra Bullock might be my favorite. Or one of my favorites. As a person.

Bullock married motorcycle builder and Monster Garage host Jesse James on July 16, 2005; they met when Bullock arranged for her ten-year-old godson to meet James as a Christmas present. On her husband and her marriage, Bullock has commented “So basically through a courtship of letters… I learned about a human being. It was not something I wanted, needed, or looked for, but because he was a stronger person than I was, spiritually and on a tolerance level, I was lucky enough that he educated me… I always thought of marriage as a death sentence, that there’d be a ball and chain, and you’d be told, ‘You need to stop doing these things and become a good little wife.'” Now people say ‘oh my God you’re going to have sex with one person the rest of your life!’ I hope I have sex with him for the rest of my life – because I like it!”[5] Bullock was once engaged to actor Tate Donovan, and had previously dated football player Troy Aikman, blues guitarist Guy Forsythe, Austin musician Bob Schneider and film co-stars, Ryan Gosling and Matthew McConaughey.

Isn’t that exactly what every fella would want his new wife to say?

Now, if she’d just stop making these godawful womyns’ movies.

Get Over It?

Thursday, November 16th, 2006

Throughout the 2004 and 2006 campaign seasons, I’ve been trying in vain to find out what the Democrats would do about the Islamo-fascist weird-beards around the world who want to kill us. In all that time, the best I’ve been able to achieve, is to come up with the individual hopes of each Democrat I’ve been asking. “George Bush doesn’t have a plan [either]”; “regime change begins at home”; “support the troops by getting them out of there”; “what about ecological terrorism?” Some of them are so famous, I can’t ask them anything, but nevertheless I get to hear what they think. Those with the highest name-recognition, seem to think America is unworthy of winning this thing or anything else. I haven’t been able to find any hard evidence that these, or any others, are official party positions.

This is understandable. Millions of people voted for Democrats, and their feelings on the War on Terror, while mostly negative, nevertheless flail out in all kinds of directions. Democrats can’t afford to alienate any of them. I’ve been figuring, now that they’ve won, maybe it would be a little easier to get an answer to my question.

Well, guest what. Now that they’ve won, their position has become even more cloudy. Oh, it’s a lot less confused, alright, but things are far less clear. Last month, the order of the day was confusion, and this month it seems to be all about secrecy. The plan to deal with murderous goat-molesting crazy-men who want to crash planes into our buildings has been reduced down to five words, as I understand it:

You lost. Get over it.

The YouTube entry for this clip is accompanied by the following description:

After hearing lots of teeth gnashing from right wing voters over the results of the ’06 election I decided they needed a reminder about how democracy works. You lost, GET OVER IT. The republicans in this video found out just how voters felt about them. Sure this video is gloating, but hey to turn Bush’s words back on him, The Dems won political capital, and now they should spend it.

Mmmmkay. Now, I’m not sure what that has to do with bringing me the bodies of more dead terrorists, so my question stands. But almost without exception, I’ve been handed these five words by someone-or-other, who doesn’t seem to appreciate me asking the questions, whenever I want to know what the new plan is for fighting terrorism.

It doesn’t help me to get “over it,” it has an opposite effect. I want to know more. I was told, growing up, that “QUESTION AUTHORITY” was a favorite liberal catch-phrase. Okay…I’m questioning it. Why the terse dismissal? Shouldn’t power be transparent? Don’t the liberals want to stick to their knitting?

Well, I’ve been learning this over and over again about left-wingers through the years. A lefty doesn’t tell you what he thinks; when you hear him tell you something, you’re hearing what he feels. When you hear the same thing from two lefties, you’re hearing what they told each other to feel. When you hear the same thing from three or more, you’re hearing what a powerful lefty told a bunch of other lefties they feel. I’ve heard “get over it” from three or more, so I’m gathering some kind of post-campaign campaign must be underway. Maybe a “Fahrenheit 912” sequel just started showing at the box office, or something of the like.

Perhaps it’s tit-for-tat. I remember back in late 2000 the liberals were told “you lost; get over it” by several tighty-righties. Maybe I was one of the tighty-righties who said that. Maybe the chickens have come home to roost. That ought to show me.

…if only it applied now, though. Democrats were told they lost, and that they should get over it, after the umpth-frazillionth time they wanted a recount. You know what? I’m not going to pretend to be unbiased here…my name isn’t “Dan Rather” after all…but in the scenario from 2000, it just seems to fit. I demand a recount, I demand a recount, I demand a recount, I demand a recount — you lost, get over it.

Gee, here it is 2006, I just want to know where we’re going. I’m sitting in the passenger seat, wondering why we just drove past the most obvious exit, do we know how far we have to go to reach the next one? What’s the plan to get gas and sandwiches, maybe a potty break? And all I get back, is a reminder that I’m not driving. Well no shit, Sherlock. Back to my question: What’s the plan?

Some of the folks within America’s borders, it seems, want her to lose the war. Many others say this is the only way outstanding affairs can be shepherded to a harmonious closure, and we need to just face up to it. Others claim to be dogged by a persistent uncertainty about what they want to have happen. Clearly, we’re about to get a new course for how to deal with this thing, something taking a hairpin-turn from the status quo; to whose preferences will that new charting be best suited? Theirs? I mean, at the very least, it seems like a fair question to ask.

Can’t make a plan, if you don’t define the goal. Nothing Republican or Democrat about that rule; it’s something that is simply true. What’s the goal?

Yeah, I’ve gotten over it. That’s the question that popped in my head as I was getting over it. Does anyone have an answer?

Deus Ex Machina

Thursday, November 16th, 2006

With Republicans running all three branches of government, I was instructed by the talking-heads I was supposed to have the opinion that we have some rampant election fraud going on. Now Congress has been taken over by the lefties, and I am being instructed I am no longer supposed to have this opinion. Or, rather, they’ve taken a holiday from instructing me on what kind of opinion to have about it. They’ve stopped with the whoop-whoop-whoop, red-siren alert, Danger Will Robinson stuff.

Does that mean the problems have been fixed? I mean, ya can’t blame a guy for asking. Or for that matter, this article for trying to answer it.

Like claims the U.S. was responsible for 9/11 and Republicans were fixing gas prices, the media promoted the left-wing electronic vote-rigging conspiracy.

Now that the votes have been cast and counted, Republicans lost, and the silence of the national media has been deafening.

The idea was that somehow the company Diebold had programmed the machines to let Republicans win. The theory, perpetuated by left-wingers posting on Daily Kos and The Huffington Post and Bev Harris’ book, “Black Box Voting,” was embraced by all three broadcast networks, as well as CNN and MSNBC.

Following Sen. John Kerry’s (D-Mass.) defeat in 2004, MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann ignored statements by the candidate’s own Ohio attorney about the lack of evidence of “confirmed fraud.” Instead, Olbermann ranted for days about fraud causing the Kerry defeat during his show “Countdown with Keith Olbermann.”

Leading up to the 2006 election. Lou Dobbs and Kitty Pilgrim waged a five-month long, two-person war against electronic voting in regular “Democracy at Risk” segments during CNN’s “Lou Dobbs Tonight.”

Dobbs fostered mistrust of electronic voting throughout his broadcasts. “When it comes to the federal government, don’t expect much assurance that your electronic vote will be counted accurately. New standards for electronic voting machines may not be ready in fact, for years,” he warned on Oct. 29, 2006.

Bernard Goldberg has a chapter in his book, Bias, about how Bill Clinton single-handedly cured homelessness…just by being Bill Clinton. It’s the same phenomenon. Republican President(s)…ooh, we got a homelessness problem. Millions of homeless people, tens of millions of families a paycheck away from being tossed out on their rear ends. Democrat President — whoopsie! The problem dun gone away. Or at least, nobody’s talking about it anymore.

This is where I start to lose sympathy for people who choose not to pay attention to political news. Sure you can choose that…but even if you’re not interested, the constant drumbeat of “AIDS AIDS AIDS” or “HOMELESS HOMELESS HOMELESS” or “DIEBOLD DIEBOLD DIEBOLD” is impossible to avoid. Even if your head’s in something else, like Netflix and Starbuck’s, you just gotta notice it when the drumbeat stops. And with just a smidgen of critical-thinking skills, seems like it should be an easy thing to notice that the drumbeat starts & stops depending on political parties taking things over.