Archive for March, 2011

“How To Have a Civil Political Discussion”

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

To me, it has the approximate tenor, lilt and rhythm of a Libya debate. Although it could be ObamaCare, I suppose…

Hat tip to Gerard.

Henry Rearden Comes Home

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

Cool bracelet.

It seems the opinions are divided on whether these scenes are any good or not. They don’t quite match the vision I had as I was reading the pages…not precisely. But that’s not a fair measurement at all, is it? You wouldn’t rate an Ebenezer Scrooge movie this way would you? Well than why use that yardstick here.

I say, let’s be fair. Did this capture the essentials? Yes, absolutely.

Oh and there is one perfect match: Lillian. It’s as if they captured a recording from my mind’s-eye, as I worked my way through the pages, and incarnated it.

I don’t care if her husband is the only man on the planet she’s ever seen naked. This is a wicked vampish slut and a waste of vital organs. Leader of the moochers, Lillian Rearden. They fleshed her out beautifully. Like an immaculately carved Grecian statue of some goddess of pure toxic bile.

Hat tip to Boortz.

American Companies Not Hiring Even Though They Can Afford It

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

We have to come up with a word to describe this.

Yeah, I say that a lot. But this time, there really is a meaningful, pertinent concept out there with no name, and we need to come up with a name.

Measured in growth, the American economy has outperformed those of Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Japan — every Group of 7 developed nation except Canada, according to The Associated Press’ new Global Economy Tracker, a quarterly analysis of 22 countries representing more than 80 percent of global output.

Yet the U.S. job market remains the group’s weakest. U.S. employment bottomed and started growing again a year ago, but there are still 5.4 percent fewer American jobs than in December 2007. That’s a much sharper drop than in any other G-7 country. The U.S. had the G-7’s highest unemployment rate as of December.

I’m not talking about America having a high unemployment rate compared to other countries. I’m talking about this so-called “research” people do, in which they find there is some significant difference between life in the U.S. and life abroad…they flesh it out, to such an extent that you’re pressed to come to a conclusion that there must be something different about the people who live here.

And then — they stop. They don’t define the difference. They don’t even offer a possibility. They just sort of drop it out there, like a stink bomb.

I remember Bowling for Columbine which did some of this. United States has this awful murder rate, because we’ve got “all these guns lying around.” But what makes us this way? Michael Moore spent the entire movie building up this question, and from what I recall, never provided an answer.

Just used it to ambush Charlton Heston at the end, that’s all.

And what makes the American corporate executives such awful, terrible people that they lay people off, and refuse to hire them back, when their counterparts overseas are engaged in different behavior? Again…no answer is proposed. They gather all the statistics necessary to form the differential, they say “look how awful America is” and then that’s as far as they go. To the intellectually honest, the “why?” question gels naturally assuming the data are found to be accurate, and sound. But these are not intellectually honest people; they aren’t trying to reach an audience of intellectually honest people.

So the stink bomb sits.

Canada and Germany have actually added jobs since the recession ended in June 2009.

U.S. companies aren’t acting the way economists had expected them to.
In the past, when the U.S. economy fell into recession, companies typically cut jobs but often kept more than they needed. Some might have felt protective of their staffs. Or they didn’t want to risk losing skilled employees they’d need once business rebounded.
The result is that productivity — output per workers — has typically decelerated or even dropped as the economy has weakened.

Japan and Europe have been following that script. At the depth of the recession in 2009, productivity shrank 3.7 percent in Japan and 2.2 percent in Europe.

The United States has proved the exception. U.S. productivity growth doubled from 2008 to 2009, then doubled again in 2010, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

At least, it remains an open question until paragraph…I don’t even know what. Four fifths of the way down the page.

Japanese, European and Canadian companies are less inclined to purge employees. Their customs, labor regulations and unions discourage aggressive layoffs. [emphasis mine]

Oh-KAY…so now it comes out. The laws are different. Other countries have laws on the books that “discourage aggressive layoffs”.

Now, laws do not “discourage” things, as anybody who’s ever lived under a law can tell you. A law is a law is a law — it says you can’t do something. If the law prohibits you from doing something you wouldn’t be doing anyway, then the law is entirely irrelevant. It only comes into play when it proscribes against something you would otherwise do…or compels you to do something you otherwise would not do.

So these other countries — according to the article — have all these onerous, labor-friendly laws that tell their businesses to do things the businesses would not otherwise do. Which puts the kibosh on the idea anyone might have formed that foreign company executives might be more inherently compassionate than American company executives…or, at least, that said compassion differential explains the unemployment problem in the U.S.

Oh and what’s that other thing? The foreign businesses, according to the article, are less productive. So these other countries are struggling under the bulwark of a bunch of looney liberal labor laws, and as a direct result of this their businesses are less productive. According to the article.

Is that the point you were trying to make, Paul Wiseman of MSNBC? Because whether that is or is not the case — that’s what your article says.

But there are other things the article does not cover. Like, for example: When those foreign businesses do manage to make some money so they can keep “workers” on the payroll sweeping the floor or painting the walls; how do they make that money? From where does it come?

A variety of places, of course — not the least of which is exports to the United States. It just seems to me that might be a good thing to point out. Because, someone just might read Mr. Wiseman’s article and get it in their head that what we need to do, is make the United States more like the other countries. Whether that’s part of what Wiseman intended or not (haha!).

Just raising the possibility that, as one learns a few more facts about the situation, it just might emerge that this isn’t such a hot idea after all, when all’s said & done.

But I’m so glad we have a democrat President, so we can read this stuff-that-has-no-name about “What’s the deal with America that makes it such a toxic cesspool of human sin?” Rather than a bunch of that other stuff that has no name…about that Republican President meanie-cow and his buddies in the oil business, and how they’re jointly and singularly responsible for every single rejection letter flying through the mail right now. It’s just amazing how the blame shifts when there’s another party in charge, isn’t it?

The Blog That Nobody Writes??

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

I have a rule that I don’t talk about…you know. “Ew, I’m so sorry I haven’t been blogging lately life has gotten SO hectic and I’m SO busy…” Let’s face it, you don’t really care. Besides, it seems kind of Valley-Girl-ish. Also it doesn’t mean a goddamn thing. “Too busy to do X” means you’re just not giving X priority and you fully intend to keep right on doing it that way. Why apologize?

I’m on vacation next week. Which is not a promise of more updating, quite to the contrary I’m on vacation with family & stuff. This week I’m trying to tie stuff up. Now, I have another (informal) rule of not talking about work too much…but…let’s just say I’m a software guy who works for a hardware company. My job deals with validating prototypes of products that are going to hit the market some number of years in the future, like two or three years — can’t say any more than that. Except to say we’re getting completely slammed.

I’m still clocking out after eight hours. Or…ten, maybe. We’re leaving the hundred-hour-weeks behind, in my young-adulthood, twenty years ago. Where they belong. But, then I watch stupid movies about stupid whores in summer camp getting hacked to ribbons by deranged maniacs swinging machetes around…after muttering hackneyed phrases like “Brandon, is that you? C’mon, guys, quit joking around, it’s not funny anymore!”

Still with the computer on my lap. But only to make inquiries to IMDB to figure out “is that [so-and-so], what other movies has she been in?”

I’m turning forty-five soon. Still not wearing glasses, knock on wood. But the computer screens are starting to hammer away on those little muscles that move the eyeballs around. In the evenings, watching stupid slasher flicks is about all I can manage.

My fiance is still stuck on medical-examiner-shows. I’m still putting up with them, because I still like her. But at this point I have begun walking off into the bedroom to read a book when “Bones” is on. X-Files and Bones, I’m at Popeye stage: I’ve had alls I can stands and I can’t stands no more. Sorry, there is mildly repetitious and then there is a mobius-fucking-strip of a television show. They WILL solve the crime! They will NOT sleep together! I have no curiosity about this…not willing to part with the sixty minutes I’ll never get back again.

Columbo is do-able though. I can watch Columbo. “Oh, and eh…one more little thing.” Hehe, makes me chuckle.

Well, I’m going to go inside and help her watch that. In forty-five minutes I have to hop on a teleconference with the Bangalore folks. Working a project with some people thirteen time zones away…oh well, whaddya gonna do. Hope my Thursday doesn’t get rearranged too drastically.

And so it goes. Life keeps churning along.


“Voting With Their Feet”

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011


The latest published data from the 2010 census show how people are moving from place to place within the United States. In general, people are voting with their feet against places where the liberal, welfare-state policies favored by the intelligentsia are most deeply entrenched.

When you break it down by race and ethnicity, it is all too painfully clear what is happening. Both whites and blacks are leaving California, the poster state for the liberal, welfare-state and nanny-state philosophy.

Whites are also fleeing the big northeastern liberal, welfare states like Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, as well as the same kinds of states in the midwest, such as Michigan, Ohio and Illinois.

Although California has long been a prime destination of Asian immigrants and the homes of their descendants, the 2010 census shows a striking increase in the Asian American population of Nevada, more so than any other state. Nevada is adjacent to California but has no income tax nor the hostile climate for business that California maintains.

The movement of the black population– especially educated young blacks– is the most striking of all.

In the past, the massive movements of millions of blacks out of the South in the early 20th century was one of the epic migrations of a people– comparable in size with the millions of the Irish who fled the famine in Ireland in the 1840s or the millions of Jews who fled persecution in Eastern Europe in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

In more recent decades, blacks have been moving back to the South, however. While the overall black population of the northeastern and midwestern states has not declined in the past ten years, except in Michigan and Illinois, the net increase of the black population nationwide has increasingly been in the South. About half of the national growth of the black population took place in the South in the 1970s, two-thirds in the 1990s and three-quarters in the past 10 years.

Well, to me the racial disparities are just blips on a radar. We’re all humans, are we not? And it’s starkly clear what the humans are doing.

Some of us think about things in a certain way, which is necessary when you build things. By building things we have managed to achieve a great increase in comfort, in speed, in standard-of-living…

…and then, because of what is made possible by those innovations, some other people who think in drastically different ways manage to seize control over everybody else. And then they make things a certain way.

And then everybody else yells “Hello no!”

But then they keep right on doing it. Operating under the presumption that this is what the continuing evolution & civilization are all about.

With nothing whatsoever to back that up.

Note — I am typing this in Northern California. I know of what I speak.

On This Obsession With Sticking Wonder Woman in Long Pants…

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

Someone needs to get these people the help that they need. Really, these are not mentally healthy people. It should be classified as some weird obsessive-compulsive disorder because that’s exactly what it is.

New WW MovieLet’s take a look at what we know happened here. Someone saw a picture of Wonder Woman in the Lynda Carter costume…which is nearly identical to all of the Silver Age costumes of the Champion of Themiscyra, going back to the very beginning. They looked at that costume with the bustier that conceals Wonder Woman’s tits. The bustier that is propped up by whatever structural stiffness it has, and absolutely nothing else. The bustier that fights not only gravity, but also whatever shifts and pulls and wrenches and tears and body blows come about while she is wrestling with giant gorillas or killer robots or superhuman Nazi clones. The bustier magically conceals the Wonder titties…and these sick asses looked at that and said, “I know what’s wrong with that! Wonder Woman is wearing shorts! Let’s fix that!”

Yes, Wonder Woman wears shorts. Male superheroes cover their legs up, superheroines show theirs. That’s the way it is because that is the way it’s supposed to be. Have you seen an average man showing his legs lately?

You want to re-vamp the costume, give Wonder Woman a collar so she’s got kind of a “Slave Leia” thing working for her. Or, just hook something on to the bustier, wind it around the back of her neck, and then hook it on to the other side so it’s got kind of a halter thing going on. Something that makes it believable the goddamn thing stays up while she’s a stowaway on the outside of a rocket, or a jet plane, or an alien spaceship, or whatever. Then people will sing your praises. They’ll say “Hey, there goes [blank], who made sure Wonder Woman’s tits finally remained properly concealed!”

Because let’s face it.

Nobody, but NOBODY…not Ted Nugent, not Patricia Ireland, not John Kerry, not Rush Limbaugh, nobody but nobody but nobody…is ever going to say “thank goodness the Good Lord saw fit to breathe life into the body of [your name here] who put Wonder Woman into a pair of pants.” Nobody wants to see that.

Here, I will explain it one MORE time:

Wonder Woman wearing a pair of little tiny shorts is not a symbol of female oppression. It wasn’t in the 1940’s and it isn’t now. You know what that symbolizes? The Olympic games. That’s what it is all about. Have you read the origin of Wonder Woman? She is, first and foremost, a champion. She was selected as the best of the best…and right after champion, she becomes a diplomat. She is an emissary sent from one world to another. She is an ambassador. The so-called “skimpy” costume is an emblem to be worn, to reflect the demanding physical nature of the contest by which she became a champion. It really isn’t clothing at all; if anything, it is a fabric mural telling a story of how she secured her position. It isn’t intended to be pin-up attire, it is intended to be competitive, athletic attire. Kind of a hodge-podge between a track running suit, and combat armor. To sum it up, she is a female Hercules.

And by the way, where she comes from everybody prances around buck-ass naked all day all year. It’s a story of perspectives, and from her perspective the classic Lynda Carter costume is…well…something like a burkha.

Yeah, it looks a little peculiar when she wears it into outer space with a plastic globe around her head. Whatever. She’s Wonder Woman. Deal with it.

Frankly, what we’re looking at here is the reason there will never be a female-action-star movie that makes real money. Never, never, not ever. It isn’t going to happen, because when you’re a female movie star, everything you do arouses controversy, and every controversy has to be resolved by means of the answer that is most assured of avoiding passion…and therefore, being boring. This counts double when the subject turns to the exposure of lovely female skin.

Tomb Raider: Wore shorts for the promotional shots, ran around fully clothed for the rest of the movie. Generated a decent revenue stream for opening weekend, got crappy reviews. Cradle of Life: No shorts outfit at all, one bikini scene, completely stupid plot, slightly better reviews though decidedly lukewarm, financial failure. Aeon Flux: Cartoon character who runs around showing everything, brought to life with a supermodel who’d look completely awesome naked — again, running around fully covered from head to foot the entire movie. Critics hated it. Audience hated it. Creator Peter Chung felt completely embarrassed and humiliated. Fiscal meltdown.

James Bond slaps on a pair of swim trunks and nothing else…ladies go “ooh!”…but the movie continues to be about whatever the movie is about. Bad guy’s laser cannon or nuclear sabotage or whatever. Colorful characters, goofy double-agents, gadgets, codes, decoder machines, betrayals…James Bond showing skin, does not become some controversial thing that takes over the entire production. You doubt me? Let’s say your wife coos at you to put in the Bond movie where Daniel Craig wears swimming trunks…or Pierce Brosnan…or Sean Connery. Do you know we’re talking Casino Royale, Goldeneye and Goldfinger? No, you don’t. Because those movies are about many, many other things. Result? Double-Oh-Seven continues to pull in a goddamn fucking fortune, every single time. Even the bad ones make money. There is effort put into the actual story, and the method in which it is told…there is “give a damn” in the movie. That’s what everyone wants, right?

Indiana Jones? I don’t even care. I’m a straight dude and I don’t swing that way. But if I have to attend to some tedious household chore for two hours, I can promise you Raiders of the Lost Ark has a whole lot more potential for being tossed into my Blu-Ray player, than any Tomb Raider movie, or Aeon Flux. It’s got heads melting and exploding — what do you think I’m going to do? Hell, I’d rather watch that second one with the slave kids and the screaming blond and the railroad cars, than Aeon Flux. The difference isn’t the action hero. The difference is the story. And the story got some attention because they didn’t use up all their bandwidth quibbling about forcing pulchritudinous females into long pants.

RockettesYou read it here first, folks. The new Wonder Woman movie is going to be a financial Japanese-Tsunami-Reactor. And it’s not because Wonder Woman is covering up her legs; it’s because, since she is, we know the makers of the movie have all their priorities cockeyed. They’re focused on the wrong things. They won’t work hard to entertain the audience. They’d rather be politically correct than deliver the entertainment value to the audience, that the audience was promised.

What’s the problem with female legs, anyway? Where’d this come from? We’re a year and a half away from electing a female President with an awesome looking pair of legs. Isn’t it time we got past this?

Bare female legs…they’re like puppies, or kittens. Good enough to turn your bad day around and make it into a good one, even if you’re a straight female. C’mon, I’m only saying what everybody’s thinking already. Seriously, if you can lay eyes on a Wonder Woman costume and your first instinct is “those two need to get covered up”…and you’re not talking about the breasts…you are way, way off base and there is something wrong with you.

Some people just haven’t been around ladies’ gams long enough, and don’t know what they’re missing. They’ve become incrementally disconnected from their own humanity, and need to be brought back in touch with it.

Which I suppose is fine, all by itself. But how come they’re in charge of making all our movies nowadays?

We’re so obsessed with being properly entertained lately. It seems everything that reaches multiple people, has to be entertaining. Even the domestic & foreign policy of our government…we judge it according to whether it is entertaining or not, not by whether it is likely to achieve the results we say we want.

How come we allow our entertainment to become so incredibly boring? Radiant, ravishing, gorgeous, beautiful females, running around in long pants. They tell us we should clamor for more of this although the ticket sales clearly prove we don’t want it. Why do we tolerate this?

“The Abbott and Costello Libya Strategy”

Monday, March 28th, 2011

Hat tip to Kate at Small Dead Animals.

We seem to have a lot of people walking around laboring under the impression that a bad idea, coupled up with some meaningless device, makes a good idea. And so therefore we have all these weightless ornaments that somehow have a King Midas effect on bad ideas:

– A democrat President
– A smile
– A nod
– A gesture
– A witty punchline
– The color of said President’s skin
– A thoughtful, sonorous sounding “uh” or two
– Make no mistake
– Let me be clear
– At this particular point in time, with the economy the way it is, etc.

These things do not change the fundamentals of a problem, just as the right answer doesn’t change just because the name of the country in question is “Libya” as opposed to “Iraq.”

Children should have this figured out by the time they graduate from about the fourth grade. Problems have correct and wrong answers; a lot of problems have a singular correct answer and an infinite selection of wrong answers; and most of the variables involved in the asking/answering of the question, are meaningless. You stand in front of the class and say what five and five add up to; then walk to the back of the class, do it again, the answer doesn’t change.

Now, there are some differences between Iraq/03 and Libya/11 that are in fact meaningful. Who it is who happens to be President, is not one of those; His speaking still is not meaningful. Most of the meaningful differences, actually, tend to define action as the better idea with regard to Iraq/03 and not as good an idea with regard to Libya/11.

This is Obama’s Waterloo because what has become obvious and undeniable about Him, is the very worst aspect of having Him in charge: His talent is to convincingly sell ideas that are bad. To impose Himself into the equation, as a variable that meaningfully changes the answer for the weak-minded, nevermind the plain fact that as a variable His identity does nothing to alter the correct answer. We therefore find ourselves far more likely, under His tutelage, to pursue policies that are mistaken and wrong.

I’m still maintaining my silence on whether this is one of them. We have enough examples of this, accumulated over the last two years, without Libya.

“Not Sure Where You Got Your Info…”

Sunday, March 27th, 2011

We just got this phrase from our realty agent, whom we like. I’m not going to allow the relationship to sour over a single casually-selected phrase; not easily, anyway.

My mother, who is the embodiment of perfection in every way and cannot be criticized — since she’s dead — had a Circle of Trust very much like Robert de Niro’s, and she spoke often of her proclivity for drumming people out of it on hearing the phrase “at this [particular] point in time.” At the time, I could see where she was going with this but I thought her reaction was a little on the extreme side. Even at the tender age of seventeen, with all I had to learn still ahead of me, I had the maturity to recognize business relationships were more complicated than this. Five little words change everything? Really?

And the girls half your age at the credit union who call you by your first name. Get with it Mom, that’s just how they do it in the 1980’s. You’re going to complain to management over that? Yes, as I embarked on the world of adulthood, I had the worldly wisdom necessary to see the world is more nuanced than that.

Well, one hitch in the giddy-up there. The years that have come & gone in the interim have taught me nothing about this, save for introducing the distinct possibility that Mom was on to something. And I think “possibility” is understating it. Phrases reveal things, and therefore they are important. From how many business disasters have I suffered, in all those years? Not too many, I suppose, given how much of a stretch of time we’re talking about; I’ve been fortunate. And how many could have been avoided if I just pulled an emergency cord when I heard a phrase? Uh…pretty much every single one, with no exceptions? Hmm. So there’s food for thought here. It could be twenty-twenty-hindsight, I guess. But do trustworthy people need catchphrases? No. They don’t. So I’ve had something of a slow paradigm shift here.

Well, I always knew there was something to this. I’ve never really trusted anyone who says “at this point in time.” But my own favorite is “together we can do this.” And I’ve also tacked on “in times like these” and “with the economy the way it is.”

But the more I turn it over in my head, it seems to me “not sure where you got your information” is a worthy entrant. Why would you say that to somebody? I suppose if you have conflicting information, and you can source it but you’re not sure the other person can, it might seem like a natural utterance. And I want to be fair here; if it’s the other person with all the skin in the game, and I’m just a researcher doing my job, I could see myself saying that.

Except I’ve been in that position. I didn’t use this phrase. I think that’s because I’m not a salesman; your ass is on the line, mine isn’t, in my world that means you get to do whatever you want. It isn’t that I don’t care. It’s an issue of deference to proper ownership.

And this says nothing, unlike the others, about a person’s character. It is an intrinsic attribute of that ages-old exercise in what is called “dickering.” Ever since the peasants sidestepped horse shit in the market square to quibble about bolts of silk, or ounces of spice. “Not sure where you got your info” has been part of it the entire time, I’m sure.

That doesn’t mean it isn’t expendable. It’s just poor form. I mean, if I know something I know it, right? No use trying to convince me I didn’t see what I saw.

How about “here’s my info.” Or, “can you forward me what you have, so I can make sure we’re talking about apples-and-apples here.” If you’re on my side, give me some damn help assembling together a complete picture. But I don’t much appreciate the kindly suggestions about what I’m supposed to be forgetting, in order to come to the conclusion you want me to come to.

So is it fair to add this to the list? I’m thinking maybe there need to be two lists. One, a list of phrases you shouldn’t want to use if we’re going to form the realtor/buyer relationship I think we should be forming here; the other, a list of phrases that immediately put you out of the circle.

With all due respect to our current President, “let me be clear” and “make no mistake” go on that second list. And I think that one about “together we can do this” is the finalist; that’s the one that compels me to slam the door harder & faster than all the rest of them. This does not make me as excited as it might make other people. Well, not in the same way, anyhow.

She’s Too Good For Everyone

Sunday, March 27th, 2011

From t-shirt doctor.

Memo For File CXXXIV

Sunday, March 27th, 2011

We were getting ready to check out of a hotel yesterday morning and there was some kind of zit ointment commercial on the teevee. I was intrigued by the expensive-looking computer graphic that showed the goop working its way into the facial pores and cleaning the crap out of it, sending the detritus up to the surface so it could be washed away. And then it used the remaining fifteen seconds for some gorgeous female to croon away about its wonderful glittering attributes. First adjective she used was “creamy”; this is what piqued my interest.

I was not quite so much intrigued by the lack of coordination. Although there was that, obviously; creamy things can’t be counted on to sink into the pores of your face. It was the mindlessness. Obviously, I would have to blog this phenomenon of universal, glittering generalities that are used to sell things.

– Creamy
– Toll free phone numbers repeated three or four times in rapid succession
– 4g
– Green
– Personal advisor/counselor/trainer/representative/tutor just for you!!!

These are just some of the verbals. Year by year, they change somewhat. The visuals are more entrenched and stabilized: Young, healthy, young, good-looking, young, attractive, young, full of pep, young, perky, and young. Did I say young? Also, women winning arguments with their stubborn, stupid, clumsy and insensitive but well-intentioned husbands & boyfriends. That is how you sell your crap. Young beautiful people, man uses brand X, woman tells him how to do it right, green, good for the environment, creamy and personal trainer devoted just to you.

First question I have is: How do I blog this without picking on the girls? Clearly, men don’t give a flying fig about creamy, and any fool can plainly see a man is not made more receptive to the prospect of buying something by the idea that his wife or girlfriend is going to humiliate him in public yet another time. The tutor who burns up all this time on one thing and on absolutely nothing else is obviously cobbled together to churn up some female appeal. Rare is the man who will stoop to being shown how to do something; and, I daresay, the one who is excited about such a thing has yet to be born. The 4g network does have some appeal for us, we pine for lost youth just like our female counterparts, albeit not in the same way perhaps. Just as many men are snobbish about the environment and want to be “green” so they can say they’re better than the next guy, more worthy of continuing to live here.

But by and large, I said, commercials are not made for men, they’re made for women. Nobody’s going out of business any time soon for having failed to attract enough male clientele, not as far as teevee advertising is concerned.

My fiance offered up the situation with pickup truck commercials. I had to give her that one. This truck is tough! Grrrr! But then again…after we checked out and mingled with the traffic, there were a lot of Big! Tough! Grrrr! trucks out there, not being used to pull tree stumps or transport cords of wood, just tootling down the road. Sitting way up high. Being safe. Feeling invulnerable…and driving in such a manner as to reflect that, should a collision occur, Number One would come out of it just fine. The other driver would be screwed. But the pilot of the larger vessel would likely not even know anything happened. Like a nine hundred foot long cruise ship running over an otter or something.

And that fantasy, ladies and gentlemen, is a chick thing. Oooo…safety safety safety, I feel so safe. Point is, maybe even the “Truck! Big! Tough! Grrrr!” message has some gender-neutral appeal, even some feminine appeal.

But I don’t care. The “arms race” with larger and larger vehicles is certainly not a good thing, but to me this is a secondary matter. The thing that really makes me think modern civilization is boned is — no, not “creamy” — it is the special-tutor-just-for-you thing.

This just might not help, in some situations.

And it might hurt.

There is a skill we are talking about here, that is important but doesn’t get a lot of attention because it doesn’t have a name. It is roughly analogous to the skill involved in climbing on to a merry-go-round without anyone stopping it for you. Let the world function in whatever way it will; learn all you can about it anyway.

I’m not even that worried that the skill is in a state of steep decline. If it were just a decline, we’d bottom out with it at some point. The marketplace of ideas would take care of it. Someone would say “nobody seems to be doing this, perhaps if I refine a skill here, this is how I can make my way in the world.” My concern is that the skill is not valued. My concern is that, parents are seeing their children are incapable of learning anything until there’s a “special instructor just for him!” — and that’s quite alright. Sign up that tutor. Get the medication prescription filled. Who cares about such a crippling dependency when the wonderful services are there to take care of it all…it’s like a does-the-tree-make-a-noise thing.

And I really don’t like seeing all these bushels of crap getting sold with this “special [blank] just for you who doesn’t attend to anything else in any way” deal. That looks, to me, like…I feel special with all these resources consumed just for me, me, me. It’s the polar opposite of the environmentally-conscious thing, is it not? Leave a tiny footprint over there, and a big one over here. I count, because this person’s (or these people’s) time got all burned up on me and my problems, and absolutely nothing else.

Looks like a cognitive dissonance taking place. People want to be a certain thing, but they don’t want to admit, even to themselves, that this is what they want to be.

“I Abhor Earth Hour”

Saturday, March 26th, 2011

Go get ’em Professor McKitrick. “I refuse to accept that civilization is something to be ashamed of.” So do I. So do many.

Earth Hour: A Dissent. Hat tip to Gerard.

In 2009 I was asked by a journalist for my thoughts on the importance of Earth Hour.

Here is my response.

I abhor Earth Hour. Abundant, cheap electricity has been the greatest source of human liberation in the 20th century. Every material social advance in the 20th century depended on the proliferation of inexpensive and reliable electricity.
Lightning LassAnyone who wants to see local conditions improve in the third world should realize the importance of access to cheap electricity from fossil-fuel based power generating stations. After all, that’s how the west developed.

The whole mentality around Earth Hour demonizes electricity. I cannot do that, instead I celebrate it and all that it has provided for humanity.

Earth Hour celebrates ignorance, poverty and backwardness. By repudiating the greatest engine of liberation it becomes an hour devoted to anti-humanism. It encourages the sanctimonious gesture of turning off trivial appliances for a trivial amount of time, in deference to some ill-defined abstraction called “the Earth,” all the while hypocritically retaining the real benefits of continuous, reliable electricity.
I like visiting nature but I don’t want to live there, and I refuse to accept the idea that civilization with all its tradeoffs is something to be ashamed of.

Ross McKitrick
Professor of Economics
University of Guelph

Civilization is at an impasse. Up until, I think, somewhere around the mid-1950’s technology had the capability to sprint or walk or hop or skip or mosey or whatever it wanted to do, onward, forward into the future. As fast or as slow as it cared to. If people hated it, they could go ahead and hate just as much as they wanted to. But you can only keep Rearden Metal off the market so long. If the laws of physics made it possible for something to happen, and someone figured out how to do it, but our busybody bureaucrats had a bee up their butts about it…it would happen.

I think the time has come to recognize those days are in twilight, and have been for quite some time. Where human achievement is in conflict with human rules, the rules will yield for a little while…until such time as they have had time to organize. And then achievement must give way. Unless — and this is key — it has taken the initiative to organize itself into a political movement. To become as firm and as unrelenting as the destructive forces that are about to assail it.

If it persists in flickering away like a candle flame just because it can…ignoring all of the human reactions to it…it will not be flickering long. Someone will come along and blow it out. They’ll blow harder and harder, until the flame flickers no more. Unless the flame fights back somehow.

I know something personally about this. Frankly, I have learned something personally about this, far more times than I care to have learned it…I know more about it than I care to. We’ll discuss the particulars of that some other time.

But I’ve not yet seen this fail. When human resourcefulness triumphs over the laws of physics and the forces that bind the known universe, that is an action. You know what they say about actions…equals & opposites & all that. We may not like to admit it, but that is part of the human condition as well. Until the final beat of the last surviving human heart, as long as there are people building things there will be people laboring to destroy those things. Even the new things. Especially the new things. If all you know how to do is destroy, you don’t want to see anybody else building anything.

Best Sentence CX

Saturday, March 26th, 2011

Blogger friend Phil has snagged the one hundred and tenth Best Sentence I’ve Heard Or Read Lately (BSIHORL) award. The subject is gay marriage and the potential it may possess for opening the door to polygamy…a subject that does very little to arouse our passion.

But we knew we had to snag this beauty before it drifted on by into oblivion:

The ole “I laugh, so it is defacto untrue” argument.

Mmmmmmmm…nine words that perfectly capture how the Jon Stewart brand of punditry works. And completely. Well — not really. The cowardliness of this, the part where you get nailed by an exaggeration and take the “can’t ya take a joke” easy-out, the nine words don’t capture that. But they capture all the rest of it. A snarky remark and a deferential chuckle, and an inconvenient truth is brushed aside as if it never existed.

How many times have you seen this in the last ten years? One hell of a lot more than you saw it in the previous ten, I’ll wager. It is a wave of cultural evolution. Not a good one; not at all.

I shamelessly lifted it as I flushed the buffer of “penciled-in, unnumbered Things I Know,” which I noticed was up to an accumulation of ten items over three months. So now the thought bears a serial number — and due credit is owed, as I proceed to point out the obvious:

Thing I Know #393. We’ve got an awful lot of people walking around in possession of some magical power that has no name and that is difficult to describe. It is probably most accurate to call this magical power “If I laugh at something it becomes untrue.” They have this magical power…or, at least, they seem to think that they do.

The Ultimate Fonzie Scene

Friday, March 25th, 2011

This would be about the fourth-grade level of that halcyon era known as “it’s still alright to see positive things about a straight white guy who hasn’t contributed to a freakish lefty political agenda”…it was wounded in the seventies, limped onward during the eighties, rallied a little bit with the first Die Hard movie and was smothered in its sleep with the election of Bill Clinton.

It’s always a little deflating to watch what was cool & awesome back in 1975 and see how stupid it looks now. Thus far, I’ve not found any scene from Happy Days that fails to affect me in this way. But, in some ways we were all healthier. There’s absolutely nothing offensive about this scene, and yet, it would be completely unthinkable to put it on the air now for all kinds of reasons.

There’s a strong central hero, with nothing to “legitimize” this role for him. He’s not ethnically diverse — Italian does not count — not a homosexual, not a woman, not handicapped in any way, not eleven years old, so there’s no ironic twist. Whaddya think you’re doing making him look like he knows what he’s doing?

Workplace Bullying Should Be Legal

Friday, March 25th, 2011

The Evil HR Lady explains, in clear and concise terms, why another nanny-rule isn’t such a good thing. It’s nothing that comes as any sort of news to my fine self, but the way she makes her point is constructive and worthy of emulation, in my opinion. It makes the point more likely to sink in, for those who need to understand it. Maybe.

Anti bullying legislation has been under consideration in several states since California first introduced a proposal in 2003. None has passed such legislation, but, the Los Angeles Times reports, New York is likely to make bullying illegal this year. Maryland is holding hearings and other states are considering proposals.

This is all noble and good and completely the wrong thing to do. Here are 5 reasons why.

1. It will be even harder to find new jobs…

2. Legislation will not solve the problem…

3. Bullying is impossible to define clearly…

4. Managers need to manage…

5. Protection against bullying also protects the bully…

You Need More Retirement Savings

Friday, March 25th, 2011

I find this to be a rather eclectic mix of wants and needs, which is somewhat nonsensical because it doesn’t live up to the panic generated by the headline.

Maybe you think you’ll stop eating out so much, and cook at home more, now that you have time. Be warned that if you’re the type who likes to cook, when you have a lot of time on your hands, you’ll probably be most interested in trying new (aka expensive) things that require spices and equipment you don’t have–not in pouring Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom over some defrosted chicken breasts.

Yeah fine. But that’s not a make-or-break between a comfortable retirement and an uncomfortable one. In other words, if that special terror of the prospect of outliving my savings should befall me, fancy spices are probably not going to enter the picture at all.

But it does make some good points. Our tried-and-true rules of thumb about funding retirement, of necessity, must be re-thought.

Your health expenses will go up, and contrary to what you may have been imagining, Medicare does not cover everything–Medigap insurance is costly, and may still leave you with considerable out-of-pocket expenses. There are associated costs, too, with getting older–you frequently have to pay people to do things that you no longer have the energy or physical ability to do yourself. Assisted living isn’t covered by any of the major programs, and it’s quite costly.

Legislating Pi

Friday, March 25th, 2011

Somehow, the subject came up in the office about laws being passed to make Pi a certain number. One of our contractors forwarded me this thing from the Huffington Post later in the day.

Congresswoman Martha Roby (R-Ala.) is sponsoring HR 205, The Geometric Simplification Act, declaring the Euclidean mathematical constant of pi to be precisely 3.
“That long-held empirical value of pi, I am not saying it should be necessarily viewed as wrong, but 3 is a lot better,” said Roby, the 34-year old legislator representing Alabama’s second congressional district, ushered into office in the historic 2010 Republican mid-term bonanza.

Pi has long been defined as the ratio of a circle’s area to the square of its radius, a mathematical constant represented by the Greek letter “π,” with a value of approximately 3.14159. HR 205 does not change the root definition, per se. The bill simply, and legally, declares pi to be exactly 3.
“For decades, we’ve all been learning that pi is this crazy ‘irrational’ number. And any number with no end is, not, well, it makes it really hard,” Roby said. “We talked about making pi 3-and-a-third, but that wouldn’t really help, because you’re still then stuck with endless threes.”

Okay, so that’s the left-wing fantasy “Palin says she can see Russia from her house” version, meaning it makes them feel good to think it really happened. But what are the facts? Twenty years ago, Straight Dope dug into it and here’s what they found.

It happened in Indiana. Although the attempt to legislate pi was ultimately unsuccessful, it did come pretty close. In 1897 Representative T.I. Record of Posen county introduced House Bill #246 in the Indiana House of Representatives. The bill, based on the work of a physician and amateur mathematician named Edward J. Goodwin (Edwin in some accounts), suggests not one but three numbers for pi, among them 3.2…

Now I know what you’re thinking: If this T.I. Record was a democrat, then that will round this whole thing out as just yet another example of democrats doing something silly, bigoted and irrational and then, recalling it much later through those thick mists of “makes me feel good to think such-and-such,” projecting the behavior on to their enemies the Republicans.

Not that it really says a whole lot, having happened in 1897 and all. But it certainly would have to be added to such a list.

Well…okay. Go ahead and tack that puppy on to the list. They can’t seem to stop, huh?

RECORD (RECORDS), Taylor I. HOUSE, 1897 (POSEY). Born October 12, 1846, Greene County, Indiana. Attended common schools. Married Sallie A. Cox, 1867 (4 children) – died 1882; married Mary Yeager, 1883 (1 child). Farmer; timber and lumber merchant. Democrat. Died November 20, 1912, Lynn Township, Posey County, Indiana. [emphasis mine]

Why did I suspect it was the democrats who had actually started this? Easy. I have found it to be a fair generalization that, if some supposition goes against the plain truth — but it might be acceptable to those among us who have never built anything, and never will have to build anything, that stays built — the democrats are almost always the ones promoting it. And you can’t build a grain silo, or a gun barrel, if you think Pi is 16/5.

I saw that, to someone charged with the responsibility of designing or creating something that had to actually work, it would be unacceptable to pretend Pi is something different from what it really is. For everyone else, it just might be okay. And that nailed it shut for me…must be democrats. I was right.

A Chat About Illegal Immigration

Thursday, March 24th, 2011

“I’ve noticed the more questions I ask, the worse your ideas get.”

“Kinetic Military Action”

Thursday, March 24th, 2011

Byron York in the Washington Examiner, hat tip to Hot Air, via blogger friend Terri.

In the last few days, Obama administration officials have frequently faced the question: Is the fighting in Libya a war? From military officers to White House spokesmen up to the president himself, the answer is no. But that leaves the question: What is it?

In a briefing on board Air Force One Wednesday, deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes took a crack at an answer. “I think what we are doing is enforcing a resolution that has a very clear set of goals, which is protecting the Libyan people, averting a humanitarian crisis, and setting up a no-fly zone,” Rhodes said. “Obviously that involves kinetic military action, particularly on the front end.”

Rhodes’ words echoed a description by national security adviser Tom Donilon in a briefing with reporters two weeks ago as the administration contemplated action in Libya. “Military steps — and they can be kinetic and non-kinetic, obviously the full range — are not the only method by which we and the international community are pressuring Gadhafi,” Donilon said.

Rhodes and Donilon are by no means alone. “Kinetic” is heard in a lot of descriptions of what’s going on in Libya. “As we are successful in suppressing the [Libyan] air defenses, the level of kinetic activity should decline,” Defense Secretary Robert Gates said in a meeting with reporters in Moscow Tuesday. In a briefing with reporters the same day from on board the USS Mount Whitney, Admiral Samuel Locklear, commander of Joint Task Force Odyssey Dawn, said, “The coalition brings together a wide array of capabilities that allow us to minimize the collateral damage when we have to take kinetic operations.” On Monday, General Carter Ham, head of U.S. Africa Command, said of the coalition forces, “We possess certainly a very significant kinetic capability.” And unnamed sources use it too. “In terms of the heavy kinetic portion of this military action, the president envisions it as lasting days, not weeks,” an unnamed senior official told CNN Saturday.

Like I was just telling you: The election of 2008 went exactly the way it was supposed to go. We got together and chose the candidate with the greatest salesmanship ability, hoping that this would reflect the very best the nation would have to offer — and it worked. We’ve got a “leader” who can sell anything to anybody.

That’s the problem.

His policies are absolutely wretched, since there’s no need for them to to be well-thought-out, good, quality policies. There would be effort involved in that. If it was a requirement, which it isn’t. Forget about selling ice to Eskimos. Forget about selling that ice to living snowmen. This guy could sell them hairdryers.

Awesome salesman == reprehensible policies. Not a new formula by any means.

DJEver Notice? LXV

Thursday, March 24th, 2011

I still can’t get used to the idea of a presidential election campaign in one year, running through its various stages in earlier years. The campaign of 2012 has been going on since the first time our current President’s approval rating hit its history-making down-slide, sometime during the spring of ’09. Perhaps persons like myself are to blame for this, for our actions that I, for one, would cheerfully do all over again.

But since the campaign season of 2012 has been underway for two years now, I see it has now entered the “What Do You Think Of” stage. Friends and acquaintances ask me what I think of some new or aspiring candidate. They’re all female, and the spirit in which they ask the question reflects that. Which is to say they’ve already made up their minds what my answer is supposed to be and I’m not altogether sure why they’re bothering to ask me. I give them my answer, and then they ask a different question — or maybe the same one again — consistently demonstrating that they didn’t pay attention to what I just got done telling them. Kind of a “this dress or this dress?” thing.

But the ladies maintain no monopoly on what follows. This next piece of turf they must share with the gentlemen: We seem to have a lot of people out there who, blisteringly disappointed with the way the popularity contest of 2008 turned out, are eagerly anticipating the next one. The problem with this is, as I continue to explain, in vain, over and over…

If it is indeed a popularity contest, you may as well cancel the whole thing right now.

Barack Obama is The Man, you see what I’m saying? He was, in November 2008, and remains today, the pot of gold at the end of the “charming personality” rainbow. Once you buy into the notion that the Oval Office is the repository in which we ensconce the nation’s premiere salesman, there is no need to have another election. Barack Obama can sell anything to anybody. That’s the problem.

The 2012 election is a coming-of-age for a whole lot of American adults. Somehow, for whatever reason, it has become appealing to them in a natural way to make decisions about things like this toward producing a desirable outcome not in terms of the state of objects involved, but in terms of the state of their own emotions. In other words, they feel their way around perplexing problems, rather than think their way through them. That is not to say these are stupid people. It says, rather, that they have yet to mature in certain key, critical ways. It’s an easy thing to do with elections. You don’t get to see the immediate effect of the decisions made by these office-holders after they win their elections, so it’s easy to start thinking about it like a child — “I feel good about the decision I made therefore it must have been the right one.”

The point being missed is that if that’s your process, Barack Obama doesn’t represent any flaw that came afterward. He is the best-case scenario of where this can go. These people, for the most part, don’t want to accept this because if you accept it, there’s no escaping the logical conclusion that if Obama represents an unacceptable problem then so does the process itself!

And you know what the O-man said about change; it can be scary. He’s got that one right. These people need to change the way they make these decisions. They know this, but they don’t want to know this. They need to grow up in a big hurry and start voting like grown-ups, by November next.

Or else let’s just cancel the election. Seriously, save the money, save the carbon pollution offset vouchers or whatever, save the gas. You seriously think we’ll have a personality contest between Donald Trump and Barack Obama, and Trump will lock that thing up?

No, you make it about policies and issues, “If our officials do X, Y is the likely result” — or else don’t bother. And repeal term limits while you’re at it. Obama isn’t Bill Clinton; we are never, in the next twenty years or so, going to find as charming a huckster as Barack Hussein Obama. Might as well make Him our Emperor For Life. We cannot financially afford what He does, but that’s irrelevant. He belongs exactly where He is, and for the indeterminate future, nobody else ever will.

If, that is, certain people can’t grow up in certain ways.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News and Washington Rebel.

The Newsweek Survey About Dumb Ignorant Americans

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011

It’s here. Pull up a chair and read with me, will you…let’s see if we can find what people are missing.

They’re the sort of scores that drive high-school history teachers to drink. When NEWSWEEK recently asked 1,000 U.S. citizens to take America’s official citizenship test, 29 percent couldn’t name the vice president. Seventy-three percent couldn’t correctly say why we fought the Cold War. Forty-four percent were unable to define the Bill of Rights. And 6 percent couldn’t even circle Independence Day on a calendar.

Yikes! That’s pretty bad. Better keep reading…even though some of these words are a tad bit big, and stuff.

Don’t get us wrong: civic ignorance is nothing new. For as long as they’ve existed, Americans have been misunderstanding checks and balances and misidentifying their senators. And they’ve been lamenting the philistinism of their peers ever since pollsters started publishing these dispiriting surveys back in Harry Truman’s day. (He was a president, by the way.) According to a study by Michael X. Delli Carpini, dean of the Annenberg School for Communication, the yearly shifts in civic knowledge since World War II have averaged out to “slightly under 1 percent.”

Thus ends paragraph two. Paragraphs three and four follow…

But the world has changed. And unfortunately, it’s becoming more and more inhospitable to incurious know-nothings—like us.

To appreciate the risks involved, it’s important to understand where American ignorance comes from. In March 2009, the European Journal of Communication asked citizens of Britain, Denmark, Finland, and the U.S. to answer questions on international affairs. The Europeans clobbered us. Sixty-eight percent of Danes, 75 percent of Brits, and 76 percent of Finns could, for example, identify the Taliban, but only 58 percent of Americans managed to do the same—even though we’ve led the charge in Afghanistan. It was only the latest in a series of polls that have shown us lagging behind our First World peers.

Paragraph five has some of them underline things in them called “links.” You know how they works. You clicks on ’em and they take you places, which makes it tougher to concentrate on the big words.

Most experts agree that the relative complexity of the U.S. political system makes it hard for Americans to keep up. In many European countries, parliaments have proportional representation, and the majority party rules without having to “share power with a lot of subnational governments,” notes Yale political scientist Jacob Hacker, coauthor of Winner-Take-All Politics. In contrast, we’re saddled with a nonproportional Senate; a tangle of state, local, and federal bureaucracies; and near-constant elections for every imaginable office (judge, sheriff, school-board member, and so on). “Nobody is competent to understand it all, which you realize every time you vote,” says Michael Schudson, author of The Good Citizen. “You know you’re going to come up short, and that discourages you from learning more.”

Hmmm…yes, here at the end of paragraph five, I think we’ve got a good point. I live in California, which does something a little bit strange that might come as news to you. Anytime our state legislators sit down to decide an issue that seems to be slightly contentious — and that’s an expansive reading there, you’d be surprised how many things fall into this category — it ends up on the ballot as a referendum. They’re usually called “propositions” and in a typical election year we’ll see between ten and twenty of the goddamn things, sometimes more than that, about such things as issuing water bonds or imposing new requirements that a given revenue stream can only be spent on certain things. From the home and office note-comparing sessions during the first couple of days of November in even numbered years, it has become clear to me that even our best-informed voters have entirely given up on trying to follow this. It has dissolved into a puddle of crapshoot lunacy, a very long time long ago.

I see California as a rather extreme example of what this Schudson guy is talking about. Staying involved and fleshing out the details is a rather simple order if there aren’t too many details, especially when everybody’s talking about them all the time. Once you have to do some research, into things nobody’s talking about anywhere, the interest tapers off. Doesn’t matter if it’s going to be on the ballot or not.

Now paragraph six. This is the mind-blower…or the eyeball-roller.

It doesn’t help that the United States has one of the highest levels of income inequality in the developed world, with the top 400 households raking in more money than the bottom 60 percent combined. As Dalton Conley, an NYU sociologist, explains, “it’s like comparing apples and oranges. Unlike Denmark, we have a lot of very poor people without access to good education, and a huge immigrant population that doesn’t even speak English.” When surveys focus on well-off, native-born respondents, the U.S. actually holds its own against Europe. [emphasis mine]

Maybe, since you’re probably an American with your limited attention span and so forth, you should go back and read that bolded sentence one more time.

Beginning to get an idea why I don’t subscribe to Newsweek? We just finished half a dozen paragraphs. And only now do we find out, the entire point of the article, the entire premise that has sent it ricocheting around cyberspace like a jitterbug in a jar…there’s nothing to it. America is made up of capable people who are more-or-less the same as their European counterparts — on top of which, they are remaining equivalently knowledgeable about a vastly more complex system — augmented by this influx of immigrants, of which there are a great many who are not learning the native language and not trying to assimilate. But they get to participate in this survey anyway, bringing down the net score of the country so the smug Europeans can chuckle at us.

There are some countries in the European community which also have issues with immigrants who refuse to assimilate. But I wonder if those immigrants managed to participate in the survey. Or if they cared to.

Well, I’m glad someone is going through the trouble of making sure Europe can feel good about itself.

Did you ever notice that whenever there’s a broad, intense effort to make a certain person or entity feel good about itself, most of the time that person or entity is someone/something that already feels mighty good about itself? I wonder what drives this. Did someone, somewhere, decide there was a shortage of smug Europeans that had to be immediately addressed? Not enough people running around making snide, self-satisfied comments about stupid Americans yet?

Why do we work so hard to create greater abundances of things that are already abundant? This is where the angels and demons look at us, and have trouble comprehending what it is they are seeing.

Update: Neal Boortz has some interesting observations to make about how the numbers break down.

Their Raison d’Etre

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011

We already talked about Bill Maher’s lame attempt at humor here. A short transcript of the offensive part follows:

“Did you hear this – Sarah Palin finally heard what happened in Japan and she’s demanding that we invade ‘Tsunami,’” Maher said. “I mean she said, ‘These ‘Tsunamians’ will not get away with this.’ Oh speaking of dumb tw**s, did you…”

And then things got embarrassing for the conspicuously silent National Organization of Women.

The National Organization for Women (NOW) refused to comment on Maher’s use of the derogatory term. A rep told it is a “known fact” that NOW does not correspond with FOX News.
Matthew Vadum, Senior Editor at the Capital Research Center in Washington DC, said Maher’s insults spotlight hypocrisy in the media.

“Bill Maher feels he can get away with such jaw-droppingly offensive verbal attacks on Sarah Palin because virtually the entire media-academia-entertainment complex agrees with him,” Vadum said. “Clinging to their political correctness and disdain for her quintessentially American values, the left-wing cocktail circuit regards Palin as a punch line.”

So if a prominent media figure had made such a disparaging remark towards a leading female Democrat, like Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, would the mainstream media have reacted with outrage?

“If a conservative used that language to describe Hillary Clinton, we wouldn’t be hearing very much about Japan or Libya,” said John Ziegler, creator the documentary “Media Malpractice.” “If they said it about Michelle Obama, the media would be going 24/7 with the story.”

“I suspect NOW hasn’t come to Palin’s defense because the group agrees with Maher,” added Vadum. “After all, NOW didn’t have a problem with someone on California Gov. Jerry Brown’s campaign staff calling his Republican opponent Meg Whitman a ‘whore.’ NOW really ought to change its name to National Organization for Liberal Women because as far as it’s concerned conservative women aren’t real women at all.”

Yesterday the heat got to be a little bit too much, and after NOW heard about this from someone other than Fox News, they lowered the thunder down upon the pitiful head of Bill Maher. Sort of.

“Listen, supposedly progressive men (ok, and women, too): Cut the crap! Stop degrading women with whom you disagree and/or don’t like by using female body terms or other gender-associated slurs,” Lisa Bennett, NOW communications director wrote in a statement.

In addition to chastising men (and women) like Maher who use their position as progressives as a shield against charges of sexism, NOW made it clear that their denouncement of Maher’s sexist remark toward Palin is in no way an endorsement of her or conservative policies.

“You’re trying to take up our time getting us to defend your friend Sarah Palin. If you keep us busy defending her, we have less time to defend women’s bodies from the onslaught of reproductive rights attacks and other threats to our freedom, safety, livelihood, etc,” wrote Bennett. “Sorry, but we can’t defend Palin or even Hillary Clinton from every sexist insult hurled at them in the media. That task would be impossible, and it would consume us. You know this would not be a productive way to fight for women’s equal rights, which is why you want us stuck in this morass.”
“It would be nice to think that you’ve suddenly discovered sexism and are interested in joining us in the struggle for full equality. But this really smacks of the worst kind of hypocrisy: Folks with no history of working on an issue trying to discredit those who have been working for decades on the issue. Ridiculous.”

I’m taking these comments from NOW with a medium-large grain of salt. Lisa Bennett is a real person, but I can’t find any linkage between these quotes and any resource I know to be connected with NOW. So far as I know, Daily Caller is not a satire site. But this reads like satire.

Okay let’s pencil this last part in. Look what you’ve got going on here. A famous liberal “comedian” engages in some “humor” about a high-profile conservative figurehead who is holding no office and seeking no office. Then he calls her a twat. NOW, depending on what you want to believe, is either entirely silent or speaking out only under protest.

If you think they said what was linked above, then I submit Swen is in the running for having delivered the best summation (10:00 PM 3/22/2011):

“NOW further wants to make it clear that it is duplicitous for the right to now be interested in sexism after, what they say, has been years of absenteeism on the matter.”

It seems even more duplicitous for NOW to now be interested in sexism directed against Sarah Palin after 2-1/2 years of absenteeism on the matter. After all, combatting sexism isn’t the raison d’etre for conservatives, but it is for NOW, so they’ve got some cheek accusing the right of absenteeism on the issue.

The Left likes to call itself the “Reality Based Community.”

Nobody who’s been following this should be the least little bit in the dark about how Maher’s brand of “humor” works here…although it’s understandable that the “twat” word made his punchline immediately forgettable. So far as anyone can tell, Sarah Palin has made no such comment about invading Tsunamia or sticking it to those Tsunamis so they stop pushing us around. Just like she never claimed to have seen Russia from her house.

But, altogether now…quit taking it so seriously, it’s just a joke. Yeah right. For daring to notice it or remember it, I’m the problem. Again.

And it’s a joke, why. It’s funny, why. Because although Palin didn’t say it, you can certainly imagine her saying it, it’s perfectly in keeping with this reputation she’s earned. The joke that isn’t a joke, that you aren’t supposed to consciously notice, that was immediately wallpapered over by a vulgar slang term for a woman’s vagina, to guarantee that by the next day everyone would be talking about something else, still manages to make a point. After all, that dumb twat Sarah Palin must have earned this reputation she has, that makes the Tsunami crack believable, right?

So the joke makes a point. And she had it coming anyway. The dumb twat.

Ah, well there’s the rub. The “Reality Based Community” places this level of importance upon things they consciously know to be untrue. And these little anecdotes about the dumb twat Palin that are known to be untrue, figure in large part into her supposed “reputation”; this is by design. Nobody needs to apologize for it. It’s a glorious fight. Reproductive freedom or something.

Here, I’ll go ahead and put the remaining pieces together. If the joke is funny because Sarah Palin didn’t say it but you can certainly imagine Sarah Palin saying it because it would be entirely consistent with her reputation, and her so-called “reputation,” such as it is, relies so very heavily on made-up untrue things just like this spun up by dumb prick comedians like Bill Maher…what do we really know about Sarah Palin? It ends up being a classic case of circular reasoning. The punchline proves the reputation and the reputation prove the punchline.

One other question: Assuming Sarah Palin wanted to do something to make these dumb prick comedians and establishment feminists stop being mad at her — just go with that one, alright? — how would she go about doing this? She isn’t running for anything. Have our leftists, once again, put so much thought and energy into sustaining a satisfying tsunami of hatred that they’ve forgotten what they’re trying to bully people into doing? What’s the payoff? What is Palin’s offense? What’s the complaint?

How dare that dumb twat continue to exist as 2012 gets closer? Something like that?

If Sarah Palin doesn’t have any opportunity to mollify the anger thrown in her direction, what chance do any of the rest of us have? Our “reality based community” that doesn’t really live in anything close to reality, is supposed to be busily constructing a wonderful utopian society in which everybody has a place; everyone is entitled not only to the staples of life, but to some of the luxuries as well, plus guaranteed respect and dignity…as some busybody anonymous bureaucrat defines it, anyway. But when we observe their actions it seems that isn’t entirely true. It’s looking like, once you go on the record disagreeing with them as Sarah Palin has done, the dignity part of it is something you don’t need anymore. And it doesn’t matter if you’re a candidate for elective office, or not. Since she isn’t.

So the rest of us aren’t entitled to dignity unless we agree with the leftist establishment. All right. What else can we not have then? We can’t expect some miracle worker leftist busybody to come out of the woodwork and start organizing our communities, I take it? I’ve been told if I like my health plan and my doctor I can keep those…was that, also, conditional on me agreeing with leftist dogma? Is that off the table too? What about, if I make less than a quarter mil a year, my taxes “won’t go up by one dime”?

Life? Liberty? Pursuit of happiness? Oxygen to breathe? Is there anything out of the entire cornucopia of needs and wants that our frenzied leftists consider to be “rights”…to which, as a matter of fact, none of us are actually entitled unless we agree with those leftists on all the important issues, and work on their behalf? To what extent has the reality-based community been lying to us about the everyone-is-entitled-to thing? What exactly are the conditions? What exactly are we to lose, out of this seemingly endless banquet of promises, for not cooperating? All of it, maybe?

Whether Palin is in it or not, the 2012 campaign ought to be about that. Call her whatever you want to, but a candidate Palin would see to it. I wonder if anyone else has the balls.

Cross-posted at Washington Rebel.

“Isn’t This a Rush to War?”

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

That’s the first of Seven Questions for Liberals About Obama’s Libyan War, from blogger friend John Hawkins.

Mmmm, mmmm, mmmm.

“Fund Your Own Lame Liberal Humor”

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

…and leave my family alone, says Michelle Malkin.

Here’s a transcript and here’s the audio:


From NPR and WBEZ-Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT…DON’T TELL ME!, the NPR News quiz. I’m Carl Kasell. We’re playing this week with Amy Dickinson, Maz Jobrani and Paula Poundstone. And here again is your host, at the Chase Bank Auditorium in downtown Chicago, Peter Sagal.


Thank you, Carl.

(Soundbite of applause)*


SAGAL: Thank you everybody. Right now it’s time for the WAIT WAIT…DON’T TELL ME! Bluff the Listener game. Call 1-888-Wait-Wait to play our game on the air. Hi, you’re on WAIT WAIT…DON’T TELL ME!

PATRICK: Hi, this is Patrick from Suffolk, Virginia.

SAGAL: Hey Patrick, how are things in Suffolk?

…[Lame chatter edited out for space]…

…SAGAL: I agree with you. Well welcome to the show, Patrick. You’re going to play the game in which you must try to tell truth from fiction. Carl, what is Patrick’s topic?

KASELL: Finally, I know who I really am.

SAGAL: Everyone has faced that moment of existential doubt and asked: who am I? Where do I come from? Well, this week, we read about someone who sought answers to those questions and was shocked at what they found. Our panelists are going to tell you three stories about people uncovering a secret about their identity, only one of which was in this week’s news. Choose that true story; you’ll win Carl’s voice on your home answering machine or voicemail. Ready to play?


SAGAL: First, let’s hear from Maz Jobrani.

Mr. MAZ JOBRANI (Founder, Axis of Evil Comedy Tour): Conservative commentator and Fox News contributor Michelle Malkin has expressed her fear that there are Muslims amongst us who are hiding their true identity. The most prominent, she claims, being Barack Obama. However, when she set out to find proof of these undercover Muslims, she found more than she bargained for.

It turns out that there are, indeed, some Muslims hiding their identity to fly under the radar. The most pertinent one for Malkin being her own grandfather.

(Soundbite of laughter)*


Mr. JOBRANI: Yes, Grandpa Malkin, who is from the Philippines but lives with Michelle’s parents, had not told the family about his religion for fear of being ostracized and thrown out. “Do you know how hard it is to pray five times a day when your family doesn’t know?”

(Soundbite of laughter)*


Mr. JOBRANI: “I had to excuse myself to the bathroom every time I wanted to pray.”

(Soundbite of laughter)*


Mr. JOBRANI: “And the ham dinners, don’t get me started on the ham dinners.”

(Soundbite of laughter)*


Mr. JOBRANI: Malkin was in shock when her grandfather revealed his true identity to her. He explained that he had been closeted Muslim for too long and it was time for him to live his life and be happy with himself. Malkin used the revelation to confirm her argument that Muslims are taking over. First they wanted the youth, and now they’re going after my grandfather? My 90-year-old grandfather? This is sick.

(Soundbite of laughter)*


(Soundbite of applause)

SAGAL: Conservative activist Michelle Malkin finds a Muslim in her very home.

Fired NPR journalist Juan Williams says: Defund. Excuse me, I seem to have lost track: What is the opposing argument? Michelle Malkin’s cousin has gone missing from the University district in Seattle since early this month, so I find the timing of this “humor” to be monstrously insensitive and incompetent…at best. In view of that, the tried-and-true “Aw c’mon, it isn’t that much loot” just doesn’t do it for me.

A Palin/Maher Cage Match

Monday, March 21st, 2011

Watch this spindly, craven comedian’s gestures and expressions right after he drops the “twat-bomb” at 0:34. Spins around with fake surprise, as if he’s saying: “Yes, I actually said it! Now give me some attention! Yipee!”

I’m with Blogger Friend Rick. How much would you pay to watch this craven fucking coward with his sickening, pleading puppy face and his scrawny little arms, personally meet up with a guy who finished 400 miles of dogsled race with a broken arm (Going Rogue: An American Life, pp. 188-189) whose wife he just called a “twat.”

I’d lay out some big bucks to see that. Certainly a lot more than I’d ever pay to see some lame Bill Maher so-called “comedy” monologue.

And whether they want to admit it or not, so would any Bill Maher fan who absolutely loathes the Palins. Even among that community, the cage match would fetch a premium price, more than the very best of Maher’s material, whatever that is. It’d would be a “National Enquirer” situation, nobody admitting to paying for it, but the bottom-line numbers belying the truth.

Am I wrong?

If not, then what’s that say.

Maher is just the sorriest sight I can imagine. Well, maybe I can imagine something else, but I’d have to do a whole lot of thinking to do it, and it just isn’t worth it to me. How much of a sad sack piece of shit is he? Bill Maher might very well have woken up one morning, maybe a week and a half after Sarah Palin became John McCain’s running mate…or maybe a week and a half into Obama’s term…and figured out that not only is Palin qualified to be President, but she’d be more qualified for that office than anyone since Lincoln.

No, it isn’t terribly likely.

Point is, if he did, we wouldn’t know. His schtick is chiseled in granite — it is defined — he cannot drop it and move on to something else. This is his career. It is his life. He needs to keep spewing this crap whether he wants to or not.

He is as pathetic as a fifty year old hooker with seventy year old tits, who never learned to cook and isn’t enough of a looker to wait on tables. Yeah, he’s got people sitting in front of him laughing at his jokes. Who among them is saying “I want my kid to turn out just like Bill Maher”?

Oh but we haven’t even gotten to the really pitiful part, which is this: Once again, something ugly has been dredged up for people to say about Sarah Palin. And once again, it’s something completely made-up…which says something. It says something about her, and it says something about the people who want to criticize her. They don’t live in reality. And they make poor decisions.

Yeah yeah I know what comes next…”C’mon Freeberg, get with it and don’t take things so seriously, it was a joke.” Right. Like I said. Not living in reality. Making decisions, on purpose, based on made-up things that are not true.

Losers. Every last one of them. If they’re allowed to dress themselves in the morning and walk around, they’ve been entrusted with too much responsibility.

As for you Mr. Maher, the classic redneck bumper sticker says it all. Jesus loves you, everyone else thinks you’re an asshole.

Your Atlas Shrugged Study Guide

Monday, March 21st, 2011

By now, if you’re going to take my advice and read Atlas Shrugged in some form before the movie comes out, and you haven’t gotten started yet, I’m pretty sure you’re screwed. The movie is only about the first part out of three, and I read all three parts in the course of about four or five months, so this is somewhat consistent with my rate.

If you have started Part One and need some direction, this summary is for you. These are the ten points I expect to see in the movie — bearing in mind there are other people who have seen the screenings, and I am not one of them. So this is just an educated guess. The pieces I’m most certain are going to be there, appear first.

I think it’s mostly spoiler-free.

Now if you haven’t started it yet and would like to, you might get some value out of it too. Start here — then grab hold of the Cliff’s Notes.

1. “Who Is John Galt?” is a piece of slang people use in this made-up future, to express bewilderment, resignation or despair. It means: We’re not going to come to a resolution on this so let’s change the subject. It roughly translates to “oh well, whaddya gonna do?” Contrary to what you might expect, each and every word is deliberately chosen, although nobody who uses the phrase understands the meaning. This isn’t explained until well after the end of Part One.

2. Heroes. An Atlas Shrugged hero is an Ayn Rand hero, and Ayn Rand heroes possess certain characteristics. By choice, they are entirely disconnected from the eddies that reverberate through human social structures; they are entirely unresponsive to scorn, scolding, humiliation, insults, bickering, backtalk, disrespect, contempt, ridicule…there is only one personal slight that will get their cackles up, and that is the theft of their property. They make commitments very sparingly, but are religious about keeping them. The first thing they worry about, with any decision they make, is the eventual result. The last thing they worry about is whether someone else approves of it. If you’d like to flesh this point out without putting in a huge time commitment, maybe you’d be up for renting The Fountainhead with Gary Cooper.

3. Villains. Ayn Rand villains also possess certain characteristics. They are usually emotional, shrill, impetuous and unstable. The exceptions to this tend to wield authority over large organizations, which will inevitably crumble into nothingness simultaneous with their calm, cool personas. They are socially well connected because they worry constantly about being popular. But they’re completely two-faced so their abundant connections don’t say anything for their character. They whine a lot about fairness and blame. Nothing is ever their fault.

4. Companies. Atlas Shrugged is a story of companies as well as of people, and companies can be good & bad just like people. In this story, a company that is good is named after a person. A company that is bad is not. Good companies meet their deadlines reliably and bad companies do not. The point is that when commerce depends on delivery of a product or service, and the delivery isn’t made, there are multiple levels of suffering that ensue, directly caused by the commerce that is not taking place. You’ll also notice a lot of the bad companies are partially or completely invested in the public sector.

5. Profit. You’re going to find an Atlas Shrugged hero shows a certain fidelity to it. Early in the book there is an exchange between two people who manage a railroad company; it is a family-owned company and this is the brother, and sister who have inherited it. The argument is about canceling a contract with a steel company that has failed to deliver. The sister says the time has come to cancel because according to the terms of the contract, they have the right to do it and they need to move to a steel company that can make delivery. The brother is against this, not for reasons having to do with the continuing survival of the railroad company, but because he’s concerned about giving the unreliable steel company a “chance.”

6. Looters and Moochers. A moocher is someone who lives off the work of others without consent. A looter is someone with direct or indirect control over the state rules, who uses that control to direct resources to the moochers in exchange for their support, which is usually provided in the form of votes. When looters and moochers decide things, they end up making damn sure nobody else can decide anything at all. And that’s a problem because neither one produces anything of value to anybody else.

7. The Anti-Dog-Eat-Dog Rule. Legislation that is passed in Atlas Shrugged, is exaggerated caricature of legislation in real life that was most offensive to Ayn Rand, meaning legislation that is most statist. The commonality is that the people who know the least about how business really works, are going to be the ones who appreciate the positive cosmetic attributes of the legislation but the legislation will ultimately have a toxic effect on commerce and therefore on people. The Anti-Dog-Eat-Dog rule effectively outlaws competition; it says for any market there is to be served, one and only one company will be in charge of servicing it. After Part One this nonsense is going to get much worse.

8. Technology. You’re seeing two technological innovations here that are just starting to come into existence, and these are “maguffins”; they exist not only to complete plot points to drive the story, but also to define the characters as we see the reactions people show as these things are pursued. The two innovations are 1) an artificial metal alloy that doesn’t melt below four thousand degrees, and 2) an electric motor that draws its power from the static charge in the air. The villains place absolutely no value on these things at all, in fact they make arrangements to spend money on stopping these new things from becoming available. Naturally, they plan to spend this money out of what was forcibly seized from other people.

9. Thought. There is a persistent theme playing out that Atlas Shrugged villains are very casual about their thinking, which allows them to simply borrow thoughts from other people, because they don’t have any skin in the game — their standard of living, or lack thereof, is never directly connected to whether or not they have reached a correct decision about something. Because of this, their ability to think clearly has become atrophied over time. The only time they plan ahead is when they try to figure out how to preserve and expand their power. Atlas Shrugged heroes, on the other hand, profit personally and suffer personally according to the decisions they make, in all things. There is a scene where just a few of them oversee the construction of a new railway and then drive a locomotive over it at full speed. The whole point to this scene is that when your very life depends on getting all the answers right, it changes the way you look at the world.

10. Aristotle. The three parts of Atlas Shrugged are named after his Three Laws of Thought. If you don’t have time to read Atlas Shrugged before the movie comes out, read up on those three laws. The point is this: If people in a society “make” money without producing anything of value, what ultimately is going to start happening is that the most influential and far-reaching decisions are going to be made by people who disregard Aristotle’s rules of thought. And when that happens, everyone who lives in that society is going to pay a very high price for it. The unavoidable end result is that since such a society will not maintain the incentives to create wealth as quickly as it is being consumed, the very existence of each individual inside will be forfeit. So this is really a decision-point, a crossroads between life and death.

Memo For File CXXXIII

Monday, March 21st, 2011

I’m seeing quite a few posts in blogs like mine to the effect of “I think I might have pissed off this liberal friend of mine on Facebook and here’s how.” This has been on a hockey-stick upswing now that President Obama, showing an apparent fondness for the idea of getting re-elected, has thrown His entire platform of “end war forever by unilaterally deciding not to participate in it” under the bus by taking action on Libya. The lefties are ending friendships, or threatening to. They’re feeling like they’ve been painted into a corner; they feel that way because that’s exactly what has happened.

Well, my lefty friend wasn’t ending a friendship, but he was making it known that something stung and I had brought the friendly and jocular tone of the discourse to an end, or at least endangered it. How did I do that? I called him out. He’d offered these rejoinders to me of the form “you misunderstand, I am not saying A, I am saying B.” Then he did it again and again and again…each time, I took it seriously, resolving to sharpen my pencil of discussion and place a greater effort on the task of staying within the lines, to understand the other side. But after awhile it stopped making sense. In truth, it had been quite awhile since I began to suspect this was either some tactic being lifted out of a written-or-unwritten Alinsky playbook, or was simply a nervous tic. Either way, I wasn’t taking it as seriously as I did before. How could I?

I should note that he isn’t a lefty, he’s anti-war and anti-Bush. But, you see, there we go again. Quite easy to take at face value if that’s the first protest to arrive fitting this template; when it’s the latest of many, you have to look at it differently.

Sometimes, even if it might be entirely sincere it’s altogether unreasonable. When you deal with real life, there are consequences. You can’t say “No no, I’m not saying I want to get into an accident, I’m just saying why can’t we go 70 miles an hour even though it’s a windy backroad and it’s icy.” You can’t say “I’m not saying I like the idea of losing a finger or that’s what I want to do, I’m just saying why do we have to power off the electric knife before we pick things out of the blades.” Sometimes you have to avoid A to avoid B. Which means — this “I’m not saying this, I’m saying that” can be effectively used, even without the knowledge of the person using it, to avoid reality.

Nor is it lost on me that there’s a soft, subtle dig being tossed out to the other party. Ah, look at this dimwit; he misunderstood what I said here, too! He keeps misunderstanding me! Fits right in to that narrative about only stupid people vote for, or support, candidates or office-holders who happen to be stupid. I should hasten to add this might not be the case with my former work colleague; he’s tossed out lots of flattering bromides about my brainpower, et al. But you see, this is how it’s gotten awkward. There’s really nothing else being said. You’re so smart Morgan, no no, you keep misunderstanding me, I’m not saying this I’m saying that. Well, we agree on the awesomeness of vintage teevee shows, maybe that’s what we should be talking about.

Now, this other guy who was talking to me about it back in ’04, when it was a much more exciting thing: This was the first time I had ever heard of anyone say “No no, I’m not saying Saddam Hussein wasn’t a problem, I am in fact agreeing to the idea that he was quite dangerous, all I’m saying is we had no right to go in and do something about it.” That creeped me out. It creeps me out to this very day. Because I know why that guy said it; this was a chameleon, someone who acted on each new situation for the sole purpose of making his popularity greater than it was before. I worked with him for five years and never saw him once go against the perceived majority, nor do I expect I ever would’ve if I’d worked with him for another twenty.

I think these two agents — lust for positioning oneself with the popular frame of mind, and denial of the consequences of reality vis a vis “I’m not saying A, what I’m saying is B” — combined together, present a danger much greater than the sum of the parts. I think what we’re looking at here is the Epoxy of Doom. Don’t we then act out the mythos of the lemmings, rushing together as a crowd up to, and over, the brink of a cliff? Have we not then eliminated any factor that might stop us from doing such a thing? Avoidance of reality provides the lack of direction and ignorance, and then peer pressure provides the drive. “No no, I’m not saying I want that bad thing to happen, what I’m saying is…whatever all these other people around me are saying.” Okay then, we’re big and we’re moving. Momentum by definition. But who’s driving this bus?

Right versus wrong is measured according to whether lots of “cool” people are doing the same thing. Any logical pondering about actions versus consequences is brushed aside with “I’m not saying that I’m saying this.” And wherever the mob goes, it goes. We then become just a tumbleweed in the windstorm of random chance, do we not? What, then, anchors us or directs us? Have we not then abjured anything that would?


Sunday, March 20th, 2011

Interesting. I knew what it meant, since I’m over twenty-five and I listened to the O.J. Simpson trial just like everyone else…

But the time line involved is a bit of a surprise to me. It’s got a bit of a “hockey stick graph” thing going, does it not? I wonder how many other words do.

I can’t take issue with Freud for this observation of his about men being hysterical — even though he screwed up a perfectly good word. But there’s something not right about a word meaning the same thing for over two millennia, and then some egghead comes along and says “Nope it doesn’t mean that any more it means some other thing, I said so.” How does a modernized society retain its frame of reference with that going on? Answer: It doesn’t.

In fact, is this a sexist term anymore? It either applies to women exclusively or it doesn’t; and if Freud has made it more generalized to apply to the gentlemen as well, how does it remain sexist? Can’t have it both ways.

I Made a New Word XLVI

Saturday, March 19th, 2011

Schwagnificaence (n.):

A portmanteau of schwag, swagger, significance and magnificence.

(I tried to work in momentum and inertia as well but I ran out of syllables.)

The rights and privileges a sentient organism retains under some interpretation of Natural Law, to take up space and consume resources toward fulfillment of that organism’s own needs, desires or goals.

The act of doing this, without any express or implied apology. Pride in one’s own existence. Confidence that this existence is a net gain, or at least a break-even, for others and therefore nobody else has the authority or obligation to interfere. Schwagnificaence is not necessarily hard-nosed libertarianism; it may involve a requirement that others defer or genuflect.

“Interpretation of Natural Law” is key; the interpretation is culturally driven. In some cultures, certain classes of people have this automatically. Protocols can confer schwagnificaence on certain people if there is an expectation that others should pay heed, or give way. A lady possesses schwagnificaence when a gentleman is expected to surrender his bus seat to her or to open doors for her. When he actually does it, this is confirmed. Schwagnificaence can be, therefore, a differential in a culturally understood but unwritten ranking system.

Why am I inventing this new word? It’s needed. This is what the arguing is all about — people want schwagnificaence, or they want others to have it, or they want to deny it to others, and they’re trying to cudgel and coerce strangers into confirming it. Great magnitudes of energy, therefore, are diverted into the effort to mold and shape an evolving cultural protocol.

– Feminism is a demand that one class increases in schwagnificaence, and it must decrease for another class
– Affirmative action is a legislated requirement to this effect; one class is to gain at the expense of another
– Hating George W. Bush because he smirks and swaggers, once announced, becomes an effort to deplete schwagnificaence
– Protesting foreign aid to Israel is not a protest about dollars, but about schwagnificaence
– Global warming is all about schwagnificaence — it is an effort to make people apologize for continuing to exist
– Can’t turn our thermostats to 72 degrees and expect Europe to say that’s alright
– Can’t drill for oil
– Congressional hearings on Muslim men being recruited to Jihad; when we argue about this, we’re arguing about schwagnificaence
– Everybody who dares to question the policies of Our First Holy President must be a racist; since He possesses, in the minds of some, infinite schwagnificaence
– The Wisconsin riots are all about schwagnificaence
– “Won’t Sarah Palin go away already her 15 minutes are SO up” implores that Palin should lose whatever schwagnificaence she has.

Schwagnificaence can not be measured in absolute terms; it can only be compared, and even then the differential is subjective. It is a matter of opinion. Schwagnificaence is firmer when the opinions come together and form a numerically solid consensus, that some designated individual possesses a vast abundance of schwagnificaence, or suffers from a crippling deficit of schwagnificaence. However, a firm measurement of schwagnificaence is by no means a high reading, or vice-versa. Schwagnificaence, therefore, is measured on two dimensions; it can be firm or soft (a perceived majority agrees on the reading), high or low (the individual has much or the individual has very little).

Schwagnificaence is absolutely not self esteem. If a man possesses extraordinarily high levels of self esteem, he is almost certainly a sociopath. Such an person cannot live peacefully among others, and if he does so, society is weakened. However, a man who is confident and secure in evaluating his own worthiness, irrespective of the derogatory comments of antagonists, strangers and other outsiders, is the strong flexible stuff from which a robust, functional society is made. He does not scramble for a higher or firmer footing on some social ladder, therefore he does not betray friendships to please or appease newer acquaintances he thinks might be in a position to help him.

You might say self esteem is the license a man feels he has to live at the expense of others, and schwagnificaence is his drive and determination to stop others from living at his expense.

But the point is — an individual’s measurement of his own schwagnificaence, is conflated, by design, with the reading made by those who spend time around him. If an individual is subschwagnificaent, meaning his own reading is far beneath the reading made of him by his peers, with the passage of time his reading will ascend to match theirs; if he is supraschwagnificaent, meaning he fancies himself to be more worthy than they do, then ultimately his reading will usually diminish to match theirs. Only individuals who accord themselves great, vast reserves of schwagnificaence will show themselves capable of maintaining this, across time, throughout a sustained onslaught of protests from peers that the reading should be dropped.

My recommendation for a new, civil tone in our discourse? Let’s narrow the arguing about schwagnificaence down to just a very few things. And of those arguments about schwagnificaence that must remain, let’s admit that’s what they’re about. If we can do that much, I maintain the “civil tone” thing will pretty much work itself out. If we can’t, then it won’t.

DJEver Notice? LXIV

Saturday, March 19th, 2011

I’m seeing an awful lot of arguments lately that look like this:

Assertion: It might in fact be quite reasonable.

Evidence: It might in fact be quite sturdy and convincing. But, annoyingly, it leaves some wiggle room for a responsible and curious mind to entertain some skepticism, if only as a formality.

Boogeyman: We’re being overrun by teeming hordes of crackpots, idiots, psychotics, sociopaths, schizoids, dirtbags, jerks, lunatics, luddites, et al who I hate so much because their minds are not conclusively made up by the evidence I have presented. I have given them their instructions about what they’re supposed to think, and goldang it I know I was clear about it, but they’re not obeying.

Indictment and Abdication: And here is what I’m calling out. Ready? Here it comes, drum roll please…I am all done discussing this because those dirtbags listed in the paragraph above will never be convinced, ever, by anything. You are hereby instructed to regard these people you have never met, who might for all you know not even exist, with the same visceral level of sneering contempt I have just shared with you.

I’m seeing this arguing style in a lot of places and I don’t think I ever saw it before just a few years ago.

Obama was born in Hawaii.

The “global climate” is warming and we’ve got to do something about it.

Evolution explains every little characteristic about every species and disproves the existence of God.

There are more examples to add to this list, but at the moment I cannot see the point of adding them. But my problem with the argument is actually two problems: One, the certainty with which an assertion has been “proven,” is not affected by quantity or quality of people who accept it, reject it, question it…nor by any of their characteristics…whether those people are real or imaginary.

And two — it is a mighty tall order to “prove” something, to such an extent of certainty that one embarrasses oneself simply by continuing to question the conclusion after reviewing the supposedly unquestionable evidence. That is a mighty tall order. This is the age of Photoshop. It’s also the age of the Dan Rather memos. Anything can be falsified, and the incentive is clearly there.

I just think when we toss around that word “science” so freely, “skeptic” shouldn’t be a dirty word. If it is, you’re probably applying that other word “science” to something that isn’t using the scientific method and therefore isn’t really science.

Best Sentence CIX

Saturday, March 19th, 2011

The one hundred ninth award for the Best Sentence I’ve Heard Or Read Lately (BSIHORL) goes to Andrew Breitbart, who has been offered a forum for presenting his side of the story by — surprise! — GQ of all places (hat tip to blogger friend Rob Bariton). As the subject turns to Hollywood, he lets fly this piece of bumper sticker goodness worthy of an embiggened font:

Hollywood has traded in the casting couch for the political fundraiser.

The interview continues:

The first thing that a young lady who gets off the Greyhound Bus learns is to see and be seen at liberal-based fundraisers.

You really think that’s the first thing they learn?

One hundred percent.
How are you going after Planned Parenthood? In what way?

They’re a corrupt organization!

How so?

These people are the best service industry professionals in the history of the world. They have a dark soul. But let me just say something about Planned Parenthood: I’m pro-life, but it’s because I’m selfish and adopted. It’s not because of some grand theological overview. Nothing drives me crazier than seeing an abortion van driving along at a conservative convention showing aborted fetuses. I think that’s the wrong aesthetic. Randall Terry shoving fetuses in people’s faces is wrong.

Do you think Planned Parenthood is going to be your next ACORN?

It’s not my ACORN. But yeah, I do.

Why do liberals have such boring radio shows?

I wish I could give you a more clever answer, but it’s because they exist in an environment in which they don’t have to ever argue their points. Conservatives know what liberals think because we have to swim in their waters.

Pretty interesting stuff. On the thing about Hollywood driving some crusade for ideological purity, it’s hard to deny it when you watch the Oscars. And it becomes even harder when you take note of that last part, about liberals never having to argue their points…and then you look at what gets pumped out. Follow the plot, follow the moral of the story at the end, closely inspect what the film is trying to say. Freakin’ boring.

I identify with what he’s jotting down here because I once made the mistake of entering management, and I co-mingled with some folks who had this attitude; “let’s make the entire world just like us, starting right here.” I’d seen this before, many years further in the past…previously it was bible-thumpers, this time it was Kerry/Obama-worshiping lefties. Should’ve seen it coming, but in fairness to myself, my role in this was passive rather than active. I didn’t choose to co-mingle. I got co-mingled. I’m guessing that’s how it works. Anyway, it started out promising…and stayed that way…as long as getting things accomplished was more important than showing my team-player-ish-ness, “no mavericks here.” Somewhere along the way, the job came to be about everyone on the team looking at the world exactly the same way to show what a great team we were, and not about getting anything done. No, really: If there was a deliverable and it was missed, but all characteristics that made us unique were completely undetectable, that was a success. On the other hand, if the deadlines got met with everyone tackling their own workload in their own unique way, that was a fail. I think that’s the definition — that’s when the trolley has come off the tracks. At that point, I got drummed out and I probably should’ve been. Now I’m an engineer again; I see it as a win, and a lesson. You want to see how management works, the same way you want to learn how sausage is made.

This is not a unique story in the technical professions, by any means. The paragraph above could have been jotted down by any one of, I dunno, maybe millions of people. Apart from whatever might be unique about my writing style, you’d never know who wrote it. It’s a fairly common story.

And the moral is that creativity is the first casualty when the managers-of-managers put some effort in to what I suppose is a natural, primitive desire, this crusade toward sameness. When they get it in their heads to say “Hey you know what would make our team really great? If everyone on it was exactly the same.” I guess we’re all a little bit like this. You see it in the way principals and teachers run elementary schools. It’s easier to manage a hundred ball bearings of equal size than a hundred objects of assorted shapes, sizes, textures, masses; gives you a lot more latitude to define the word “manage.” Lowers the effort. This, I think, is the root cause of reader Severian‘s rule (paraphrased): “All institutions not specifically chartered to lean right, end up leaning left.”

The casting couch for the political fund-raiser — that just captures it. If we were to napalm Hollywood out of existence completely, and start a new one, when all’s said & done it wouldn’t be appreciably different from what we have right now. That new one would also trade the casting couch for the political fund-raiser, and it would lean left. All institutions do this. They start out with an attitude of, let’s refine our capabilities so we can deal with whatever problem comes up. Which demands thinking like a righty: liberty; freedom; reward for hard work; try and try again, and all that stuff.

Then someone gets the thought going — this team will be greater than the sum of its parts, if we can get it working according to standards. It works, at first. And then there are more standards, then more, then more…then it becomes a clean-up operation when someone notices “I see if I give a job to this guy it will get done this way, but if I give it to that guy it will get done some other way.” Followed immediately by “there must be one best way to do any job, so let’s force everyone to do everything the same way after we figure out what the best way is.” That’s a problem.

You’re not going to see the good, rugged, quality thinking you’d expect, going in to figuring out what that best way is. You’d think the first realization would be “Wow, this will affect every little thing we do, we’d better be sure and get it really, really right.” You’d be reasonable to think so, but you’d be wrong. “How every job, big and small, is going to get done” is destined to be the most casual, breeziest, quickest decision your management team has ever made before, or will ever make again.

The method selected will generally be the method that offers the greatest sense of comfort — “awesome, that’s the way I was already doing it anyway!” — to the people who do the most talking. To the political-animals. Political, small-p, as in office-politics. The ones who can be counted on for very little, apart from getting the last word about every little thing. The people whose single favorite computer application is the e-mail client. At that point, you’re a bureaucracy. People don’t say it out loud because they like earning a paycheck, but deep down everybody knows it is true.

And your organization is no longer capable of doing what it could once do before. Ability comes from resourcefulness; resourcefulness relies on creativity; creativity cannot exist without individual autonomy and freedom. That is why the Oscars are lame, and that is why you aren’t watching as many movies from beginning to end anymore. Your attention span isn’t dwindling. The movies are more boring. Hollywood is practicing that “hey, let’s make the entire world exactly the same, starting right here” thing. They’re sacrificing ability & creativity for something else.