Archive for February, 2013

Mary Ann Freeberg, 1/10/1934-2/27/1993

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

Quoting from Uncle Wally’s memoirs:

Danny, who was now driving the old Stevens and displaying an active interest in girls, needed a regular income to sustain his racy life style. I had achieved varsity status on the Prospect High basketball team and was looking for new and larger worlds to conquer. Bobby, two years my junior, had not yet exhibited the same restlessness, but soon his strong commercial inclinations would involve him in the general revolt. For the moment, however, our fathers’ firm opposition thwarted all of these noble aspirations.

Then one day Mom stunned us with an altogether unexpected announcement. As we finished our supper and prepared to troop upstairs she informed us, a trifle awkwardly, that there would soon be another place at the table.

“Who’s coming” Bobby asked. “Relatives?”

Mom and Dad exchanged a conspiratorial smile. For a change, Dad’s mood seemed less somber than it had been of late.

“Well, yes,” said mom; “but not the kind you are thinking about.”

Mary Ann FreebergOur mouths fell open and for once we were at a loss for words. Danny was approaching sixteen, I was fourteen, and Bobby was twelve.

“You mean a baby?” Danny finally blurted out.

“That’s right,” Mom said, obviously pleased with herself at taking us so completely by surprise. Mom was then forty-two and, by our unenlightened reckoning, light-years beyond the proper — or biologically possible — age for childbearing. Up to that moment the possibility of any further increase in our family had no more entered our minds than had the prospect of entertaining a visitor from outer space.

From that moment this great coming event dominated our every waking thought and overshadowed all other considerations. The spare room was cleared and converted into a nursery. Dad set to work making a crib. We boys were at pains, for once, to spare our mother any undue effort.
For the time being the dolor of the Depression was relieved at our house by the prevailing mood of expectancy. Not a little of the excitement hinged on the question of the newcomer’s sex. Another boy? Our parents looked at each other and paled. Surely, not another boy!

Ten days into the new year of 1934 a healthy, squalling baby girl arrived and settled all the speculation. She was christened Mary Ann and immediately became the center of all our attention.

I’ve come to see the sweet glurgy vague things like “the perfect Mom,” true as they may be, as interlopers for other tidbits of information that might be more helpful, in that they bring the virtue of specificity. Mom’s life could be summed up in just six words: She refused to be a victim. Fate certainly did its best to make her into one, more than her share of times, almost like some mischievous deity was having a joke at her expense. It couldn’t be God doing that, could it? In the years since her passing I’ve come to realize what’s true of her, and is also true of all of us: We would not have learned the things we’ve learned, about how to cope, if life was happy all the time. With her troubles arrived the opportunity to show, to anyone paying attention, that victimhood is an option. You don’t have to accept it. In fact, not-accepting it is the default option.

As the nest emptied, she made a living the way that was typical for empty-nest folk up in Bellingham: Started a business, retail, downtown. Perhaps it is more accurate to say she bought a business and transformed it. “The Paper Crunch” became a fixture and a focal point, if not a profit-powerhouse. Senior student after senior student filed in to get their resumes done, and in so doing learn from the city’s favorite mother-figure what their “studies” classes hadn’t bothered to teach them about becoming employable, or at least, showing the employability on a sheet of paper.

Had the brain tumor not taken her out of the picture, it’s a cinch to see her industry would have been crowded out by Kinko’s and all sorts of other multi-state franchises. But as anyone can attest who’s been thrown in the world of building their own resume, there’s a world of difference between demand and need. She took great pride in taking the time to do the job two different ways: The way the customer told her to do it, and then a second time, the way she thought it would make sense. At pickup time, she relished her little exercise of presenting both. She took great pride in the fact that the customer invariably chose her vision, leaving his own abandoned.

She subscribed to a newsletter for owners of businesses dealing with word processing and secretarial services. One day a letter appeared from another business owner that essentially amounted to a whole lot of bitching about “abusive” customers. In those days, I was in my last year in Bellingham, living in my little piece-of-crap apartment on High Street, getting ready to shake the dust off the town and head to the evil city of Seattle. I was on her staff, getting the computers set up, keeping it all running, figuring out who-broke-what-and-how. I’d say, watching her attend to all the various odds and ends of owning a business that day, Mom managed to concentrate on things maybe for an hour or two. Then she couldn’t take it anymore, because her don’t-be-a-victim switch had been flipped. She wrote the finest rebuttal you ever did see.

To this day, it’s the only time I saw genuine anger come through a piece of written phrasing, without completely destroying it. No, she did not manage to keep her emotions out. Yes, she did get her point across. I’m sure there are people walking around who’d be able to read it, and not pick up on the message; there are people walking around who might work at staying confused. But for those who are ready, willing and able to pick up on it, she got the job done. The point was made: Victimhood is a choice. So, “life” says you are a loser, you think you’re a winner — that’s the beginning of a disagreement, not the end of one. Man up. Tolerate this thing, conquer that thing — keep a cool head about you so you can tell which is which. This is a paraphrase, not of the rebuttal itself, but of her outlook on life itself. After she spoke her piece, and it got written up in the next issue, it was clear to me why she was literally shaking with anger before she made the time to sit down & get it off her chest. This is a very special kind of aggravation in the human adventure, duplicated nowhere else: Those who’ve gone through the exercise of winning in the unwinnable, seeing others resign themselves to defeat and victimhood, trying to figure out when & if they should say something.

It’s a real shame nobody kept a copy of what she wrote there. I didn’t realize it at the time, but now that she’s twenty years clocked out, that’s the Mary Ann Freeberg I remember: Check your sense of perspective when the battle seems lost. If life’s just handing you a big of crap, and you’ve been cornered and it’s just your job to stand there and take it now, well then that doesn’t mean a damn thing except that you’re looking at it all wrong. Find another way to case out the situation. It’s there, just look harder. You’ll find it.

Mom always considered herself a feminist. But then, even during her lifetime the movement was making itself victim-friendly and this led to some occasional conflict, similar to what I saw in the case of that whiny secretarial-services letter. It was a different world back then, the victimhood was not such a central plank of the feminist movement compared to the way we see it today. When it was there, she handled it the way she handled everything else: Take what you like, and leave the rest. It’s interesting to ponder what she would think of feminism today. Mom left just as things were getting really polarized, during Bill Clinton’s first two months in office. Since the summer of ’91, when they found what had been growing in her skull, nobody had too much time to think about how our nation’s culture was being transformed. So the significance of Bill Clinton’s rising was mostly lost on us. Some of us were aware of it, consciously, but we didn’t have the freak-out space left over on our emotional tabletop to really ponder where it was going.

In 2013, feminism is really nothing more than complaining about victimhood. She would not have the luxury of taking what she liked & leaving the rest, as I saw her do in the 1970’s and 1980’s. In this century, when a feminist is saying something, it means the feminist has found something the feminist hates and is inviting a bunch of other feminists to gather around and help her hate it, because it’s just further evidence of the patriarchy keeping them all down. All other pillars of the platform have been lost entirely, or relegated to window dressing for recruiting. Equal pay? You’re either fixing it or you aren’t, and if you’re fixing it we should see the end of the seventy-cents-to-the-dollar cliche after the passage of some amount of time. What kind of “feminism” thinks about abortion rights, really? Abortion is how you keep from becoming a mother. And gay marriage? That’s how you keep from being a wife. Mother. Wife. After all feminism has had to say, those are still the two most important roles for a woman in our society…today’s “feminism” seems mostly preoccupied in narrowing down those two roles, because it likes to wallow in victimhood. It should be called “anti-feminism,” when you think about it. It seeks to replace femininity with victimhood.

How would Mom handle that? I envision that she would concentrate on more productive things just as long as she possibly could, and then, hands shaking from the strain, I think after a few hours she’d lose it. Then she’d write something, angry, and it would be wonderful and amazing. People would read it and say one of two things: “I knew that, but I couldn’t find a way to say it articulately, thank you so much”…and…”I knew that, and I don’t like it, we’ve got to make sure this never sees the light of day because this woman is taking away our victimhood.”

And that’s a good example for us all to follow. We should all labor long and hard at this. Deprive them of their victimhood. Drag it out of reach of their desperate, flailing hands, like a drug from a druggie. It would be a kindness. Victimhood is no livelihood.


Sunday, February 24th, 2013

Continuing the thought from the post previous:

The feminist movement is running into the same problem, here, that has confronted the Obama administration along with all of modern liberalism. Really, the same problem lies in wait for any movement that is better defined according to what it hates than according to what it loves. Such movements tend to have it in common that they must have everything their way, all the time — the “no justice no peace” thing common to all revolutionary movements. But then, when something goes wrong, of course they want to blame the same target of hatred that they’ve spent all that energy and time making sure should never have any influence on anything. The job of making that object of loathing ineffectual, it seems, is never quite all the way done.

Revolutionaries tend to suck at assigning blame. They make the common mistake of laboring long and hard at making sure “X” is bounced out of any decision-making process…they succeed at that…they brag about it…and then when a problem comes up, sure as the sun rises the next morning they all rush in the same direction to blame “X”.

The problem is that they get away with it. Look, it’s in the job description of revolutionary: As long as you get away with something, you’re obliged to keep right on doing it. So in a way, the blame for the blame-game must go — lest I be guilty of exactly what I notice in others — to the rest of us. We’re all seeing it happen, right in front of us. The young girls are growing up with this silly notion that they must never weigh more than a hundred pounds? We’re seeing the vicious mean straight women and the vicious mean gay men giving them this idea. So the feminists want to blame straight men for it, when we all know fully well how much straight men like round hips and big breasts. Well, feminists might like putting the blame there. But the fact remains it doesn’t make any sense.

Law-Abiding Gun OwnersIn the same way, we can see the not-law-abiding mowing down innocent people with their automatic weapons…so we have a lot of loud, angry people who want to blame law-abiding gun owners for things. What of it? Experience teaches us, rather consistently, that people who take the trouble to comply with laws pretty much go the extra mile to comply with all of them. Including that “don’t kill people” thing. And people who can’t be bothered to comply with one, can’t be relied upon to comply with the others.

I see we have a blame game going on with the sequester. Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward has tattled on President Obama for misleading the public about this, and once again, the misleading is a very silly thing, involving the same silly two-step I’ve just described. President Obama has worked long and hard to win every argument, to have everything done His way. That is His job. That’s why He was chosen. You have to give in and do what He’s telling you to do, because if you don’t then that makes you a racist. So, okay…Republicans have lost all sorts of arguments, everything’s been done King Barry’s way. Now, again, there is trouble. And the President wants to blame the Republicans, against whom He’s managed to win all these arguments. And the joke’s not on Him, nor is it on the Republicans, it’s on all the people who are figuring “Well, Barry must be blameless, because otherwise He wouldn’t be blaming the Republicans” — it’s the revolutionary rule. As long as you think you can get away with it, you have to go for it. Barry’s a revolutionary. He just got done making sure the enemy can’t decide anything, so the next step is to blame them for the aftermath.

Which brings us to the Chicago thing. Robert Zimmerman, some very silly donkey-party Sunday morning talking head, wants to blame Republicans for the way things are going in the Windy City…which hasn’t been run by a Republican for some eight decades or more. Sure, he didn’t single out any Republican mayor for anything. But it’s still worth noting that if Republican leadership really is the origin of any problem, Chicago is about as insulated from it as any other city in the nation. So…in Zimmerman-world, it is still not yet adequately protected. Would this not tend to indicate that the Chicago way doesn’t work, then?

Well, looks like not. See, there’s an ugly truth we’re learning here: A revolutionary who has been winning consistently up until now, is a revolutionary befuddled. Like a spoiled child, he knows not where his boundaries are because he hasn’t run into them. He is obliged to continue to push the envelope, and assigning blame is just another way of pushing the envelope. He is honor-bound to do this.

And so it is their default configuration to blame the opposition when it makes the least sense to do so, when they have enjoyed the greatest success rendering that opposition ineffective. That is when they look silly, and that is when they should.

Men do not get to decide what the prevailing cultural notion is, be it right or wrong, about what a young woman’s body should look like. We’ve been removed from that decision, just like law-abiding gun owners do not get to decide when the law-breaking gun-wielder does, and does not, mow down a school full of children and teachers. And Republicans damn sure don’t get to decide what’s going on in Chicago.

Eat Some Ribs

Sunday, February 24th, 2013

Once again, a girl has whittled God’s gracious gift down to a bony nuthin’…thinks it’s worth snapping a picture and putting on the Internet. This is somehow, in the minds of many, the fault of guys.

Don’t think so, folks. As this conversation has come up throughout the years, and I’ve discussed in it guys-only settings, I’ve met maybe in my entire life two gentlemen who favored the “must run around in shower to get wet” look. If it is anybody’s fault, it is the fault of the fashion industry. The fashion industry has very little to do with guys. Well, little to do with guys who like women anyway.

This is what guys like.

The feminist movement is running into the same problem, here, that has confronted the Obama administration along with all of modern liberalism. Really, the same problem lies in wait for any movement that is better defined according to what it hates than according to what it loves. Such movements tend to have it in common that they must have everything their way, all the time — the “no justice no peace” thing common to all revolutionary movements. But then, when something goes wrong, of course they want to blame the same target of hatred that they’ve spent all that energy and time making sure should never have any influence on anything. The job of making that object of loathing ineffectual, it seems, is never quite all the way done.

Young girls, their heads crammed full of feminist claptrap, no longer want to grow up to look like real women. They’d rather be walking skeletons. And then this is supposed to be mens’ fault.

No CalvesAs it happens, I recall lately seeing a thread in which a bunch of gents were criticizing Kate Upton’s calves for, well, for not being there. You remember Kate Upton, Swimsuit Illustrated babe…the one that was criticized for being a moo-cow by that “skinnygossip” blogger.

Who, as terrible as her sense of judgment is about a woman’s body, agrees with me about the overall situation…men want more curves, jealous mean valley girls think bag-of-antlers is the only acceptable look…

Huge thighs, NO waist, big fat floppy boobs, terrible body definition – she looks like a squishy brick. Is this what American women are “striving” for now? The lazy, lardy look? Have we really gotten so fat in this country that Kate is the best we can aim for? Sorry, but: eww!
Yes, yes, I know that every tobacco-chewing, beer-drinking, shotgun-toting, NASCAR-watching man south of the Mason-Dixon line would love to get into her pants – but most of those guys wouldn’t know a beautiful woman if she jumped out in front of his pickup truck.

Okay, so maybe there’s a time gap going on here, during which time the model might have gained or lost weight. Models do that. But we have a fairly well defined difference of opinion going on here: The catty jealous skeletor bitch who writes her hateful little gossip column thinks Ms. Upton is a Sumo-wrestling, lard-eating squishy-brick moo cow. And the guys — along with the many upset “fans” who wrote in with their hate mail against the skeletor bitch — think the model is just fine, but might want to think about building up more muscle in the calf area.

And I’m in the latter group. The Kate Upton I’m seeing here, could use some inches in the roundness-of-hip area. And the calves would worry me, if I was in a position to think about it seriously. Skinny calves are trouble. There’s very little you can do to exert yourself, that doesn’t have something to do with the calf area. When a woman has PVC pipe calves it means she’s spending a lot of time sitting on the couch, watching teevee, and it’s probably not good teevee either. Reality teevee crap, maybe some home-shopping network, and tons and tons of “Lifetime” and “Oxygen Network” programming. Ordering her boyfriend to go out and bring her things. And probably owns a tiny dog. A really loud, annoying one. That she carries in a purse. My son brings home a prospective daughter-in-law for me and she doesn’t have calves, he & I are going to go off and have some serious conversations about things.

And, I also have to ask: “huge thighs”? I’m looking right at her thighs, right now. Those are some nice looking thighs. A bit on the thin side, if anything. Now, if you want to criticize the way Kate Upton throws a softball, then we can talk.

Yes, girls today do have an “eating disorder” and it is cultural. It doesn’t have that much to do with men, though.

Update: These are calves. Literally, gold medal calves:

“Put Your Phone Number in my Phone”

Friday, February 22nd, 2013

From Sonic Charmer.

“Government by Freakout”

Friday, February 22nd, 2013

Peggy Noonan notices something I wish she’d noticed earlier:

It is always cliffs, ceilings and looming catastrophes with Barack Obama. It is always government by freakout.
Obviously the potential budget cuts the administration is announcing—well, not announcing but warning of—are the kind that would cause maximum pain, inconvenience or alarm. Obviously too, the administration doesn’t want to be clear about exactly who might be affected, how or when. Let the imaginative dwell on the extent of the menace; let them do it on cable news.

In a way it’s all brilliant showbiz: Scare people into supporting your position. But we’ve been though it before, and you wonder, again, why a triumphant president and a battered Republican House majority can’t reach a responsible agreement.

Opinions differ on President Obama. How could they not? He’s polarizing, and it isn’t just because of the efforts of others; He does His work by being polarizing.

And I think things are going to continue to get worse until some of His supporters admit that He’s different from what they thought He was. Until some from among their ranks admit that they got snookered. Trouble is, by the definition of their class membership, they are less likely to ever admit they got snookered by something.

And they got snookered big-time. I remember back in ’08 someone was trying to get the meme rolling that His nickname should be “no-drama Obama.” Heh heh, heheheh. That One? Low drama, or no drama? In what world did you ever see that?

The Barack Obama I’ve seen for the past several years, is more-or-less a perfect recitation of what scam artists tell gullible old people when they manage to catch them on the phone: “The cost of NOT acting could be higher than you could ever imagine.” Always some looming crisis resulting from a longstanding pattern of negligence, and now we have our last, best hope to correct it and avert disaster. But…in this case, the scam artist has been calling the gullible old people on the phone every goddamn day, for five, six, seven years or so…and winning every single argument. Seriously, name three big things that were decided over the last five years, that were decided in some way meaningfully different from the way Barack Obama wanted them decided. And yet here we still are. Some looming crisis about to befall us, because of our sins, and High Priest Barry is telling us how to mend our ways at the last possible second to escape our unfathomably miserable, yet richly-deserved, fate.



It’s all very tiresome…

Say It…

Friday, February 22nd, 2013

Within our evolving society, we seem to be losing the ability to say:

1. We got taken for a ride, let’s just admit it.
2. Let’s figure out how this thing works.
3. This is harder than I thought, I’d better up my game.
4. He gives a great speech, whether his ideas are any good is another matter.
5. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
6. But is there a way I can do that for myself?
7. What am I going to build today?
8. Nobody’s giving me permission, but I don’t see any signs saying I can’t, so let’s go.
9. Let’s put that money in the bank so we’re better prepared for tomorrow.
10. But is it profitable?

Effort Shock

Thursday, February 21st, 2013

This makes more sense than any other Cracked article I’ve read in a long time. And actually, that is not a putdown of Cracked articles, that’s really saying something. A lot of them do make sense.

But this one, more than most.

We have a vague idea in our head of the “price” of certain accomplishments, how difficult it should be to get a degree, or succeed at a job, or stay in shape, or raise a kid, or build a house. And that vague idea is almost always catastrophically wrong.

Accomplishing worthwhile things isn’t just a little harder than people think; it’s 10 or 20 times harder. Like losing weight. You make yourself miserable for six months and find yourself down a whopping four pounds. Let yourself go at a single all-you-can-eat buffet and you’ve gained it all back.
I really think Effort Shock has been one of the major drivers of world events. Think about the whole economic collapse and the bad credit bubble. You can imagine millions of working types saying, “All right, I have NO free time. I work every day, all day. I come home and take care of the kids. We live in a tiny house, with two shitty cars. And we are still deeper in debt every single month.” So they borrow and buy on credit because they have this unspoken assumption that, dammit, the universe will surely right itself at some point and the amount of money we should have been making all along (according to our level of effort) will come raining down.
The world demands more. So, so much more. How have we gotten to adulthood and failed to realize this? Why would our expectations of the world be so off? I blame the montages. Five breezy minutes, from sucking at karate to being great at karate, from morbid obesity to trim, from geeky girl to prom queen, from terrible garage band to awesome rock band.

It’s the eye of the tiger it’s the thrill of the fight. Risin’ up to the challenge of our rival…


Wednesday, February 20th, 2013

…yes, candy. That thing little kids choose, and try to get away with, right before the grown-ups have to step in and say no.

Which evidently didn’t happen last fall (hat tip to National Review).

[Commission on Presidential Debates co-chairman Frank] Fahrenkopf said he was proud of his role in helping to pick the debate moderators, but then added, shockingly I thought: “We made one mistake this time: Her name is Candy,” a reference to Candy Crowley of CNN, who absorbed hosannas from the left and brickbats from the right after she corrected Mitt Romney during the second debate.

Ed Morrissey provides video of Candy Crowley’s mea culpa. This is right after the debate ended:

And for those who don’t recall, here’s Ms. Crowley getting bored with her role as moderator, and deciding to jump in to a side gig of fact checker; just like Star Trek actors going cowboy or gangster or Robin Hood or something.

“Could you say that a little louder, Candy?”

So let’s recap. Candy Crowley says Mitt Romney was right “in the main.” So okay…let’s take all the partisan passion out of this by calling that Fact A. So we don’t get all hung up on the deceptive details, like “Yeah but President Obama actually used the word such-and-such” — just say, since Crowley was forced to change her tune on this, that Mitt Romney was right about something. So we can concentrate on how this verified fact was treated.

Fact A did occur.

In the weeks afterward, the administration repeatedly insisted: Not A. Ambassador Rice appeared on talk show after talk show insisting: Not A. Then, eventually, it became undeniable: A.

Crowley’s name was put up, and then chosen, as the debate moderator. Which is pretty good evidence that there are no Republicans on the commission, or if there are, they must have a collective case of laryngitis. Or are comatose.

During the debate, Gov. Romney said: A, and yet the administration has insisted, Not A.

President Obama insisted: We never said, not Fact A. Gov. Romney replied, in the video you see above, WTF?? Did I get that right? President Obama said, in the Rose Garden on the morning after, I said, A.

Candy Crowley, in her role as moderator, jumped in and said: He’s right! He said A.

Then, in the after-briefing, Crowley fest up that Gov. Romney was “right, in the main.” The administration’s position had been Not-A. When the truth is, A.

And then, we were told what a wonderful thing it was to have Candy Crowley moderating that debate with her wonderful debate-moderation skills, even if she did flub up that one thing and generate needless controversy. By not moderating, but doing something else. Inappropriately, and wrongly.

Now we find out what was always plain to see: Candy Crowley didn’t do a good job. She didn’t even do the job. She did a different job. So, we were misled about A versus Not-A, what the administration had to say about it, about Candy Crowley being a debate moderator, and about Candy Crowley being good at her job. In short, the prevailing-wisdom about this whole thing has been 180 degrees off course, from the very beginning. The loudest voices speaking have been constantly spewing nonsense.

This is a ritual we repeat every four years, so it is good to see there is so much room to improve next time. Certainly can’t move far in the other direction.

The Woman-Talking Protein

Wednesday, February 20th, 2013

From Rob Bariton, by way of an off-line:

You know all the times that men complain about women talking too much? Apparently there’s a biological explanation for the reason why women are chattier than men. Scientists have discovered that women possess higher levels of a “language protein” in their brains, which could explain why females are so talkative.

Previous research has shown that women talk almost three times as much as men. In fact, an average woman notches up 20,000 words in a day, which is about 13,000 more than the average man. In addition, women generally speak more quickly and devote more brainpower to speaking. Yet before now, researchers haven’t been able to biologically explain why this is the case.

Like Us on Facebook

Now, they can. New findings conducted by researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and published in The Journal of Neuroscience show that a certain protein may be the culprit.

In 2001, a gene called FOXP2 appeared to be essential for the production of speech. In order to test this protein, the team, led by J. Michael Bowers and Margaret McCarthy, looked at young rat pups. These animals emit cries in the ultrasonic range when separated from their mothers. The team recorded the cries over five minutes in groups of 4-day-old male and female rats that had been separated from their mothers. They found that male pups had up to twice as much of the protein FOXP2 in regions of the brain known to be involved in vocalization–perhaps an unsurprising finding since researchers noted that males made twice as many cries as females.

Next, the researchers wanted to test their findings in humans. They conducted a small study on human children aged four to five years who had died in accidents less than 24 hours previously. They then analyzed the amount of FOXP2 protein in the brains of these children. In the end, the researchers found 30 percent more FOXP2 protein in the brains of the girls.

The comments under this can be — depending on your frame-of-mind and your perspective — quite funny. But yes, this also gives a whole new frame of reference for the whole “talk about problems versus try to fix them” thing.

I don’t like it when my husband tries to solve a problem or issue that I just want to discuss. I like to express my feelings about a topic or situation. During those times I really just want to hear myself talk so I can make sense of the situation. What I don’t like is when my husband sees the issue as a dilemma and starts trying to solve the “problem” before I’ve even considered it to be problematic.

++headshake++ Poor Kelly-Ward’s-Husband guy. He’s probably spending several nights a week what the heck he did to get the latest browbeating. I can hear it now: “But I’m just trying to come up with a solution to the problem…”

YES, it’s big enough of a problem to bother you with, and NO, it’s not a big enough problem that it has to be fixed. BOTH of those. Gotta learn your place in the problems-to-be-solved pecking order, bud. I used to have a wife like that…used to…

Rand Paul Was Misquoted

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013


The Associated Press has withdrawn its story about Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., saying he sees some in the his party favoring a 2016 presidential candidate with an immigration policy that would “round up people . . . and send them back to Mexico.” That quote was in the transcript of “Fox News Sunday” that was distributed after Paul’s interview on the show. A subsequent Associated Press review of an audio recording of the show determined that the transcript had dropped the word “don’t” from that quote, and Paul actually said, “They don’t want somebody who wants to round people up, put them in camps and send them back to Mexico.”

Hat tip to National Review, by way of Instapundit.

Thing I Know #415. No practical or effective thinking can proceed from a fundamental confusion of a thing with its opposite.

How the Media Could Begin Repairing its Tattered Reputation

Monday, February 18th, 2013

I know…they don’t give a damn.

But I watched the incoming White House Chief of Staff being interviewed yesterday by some silly twit. I guess that would be this human-buzzard-lookin’ guy, and the useless jerk interviewing him was…I don’t remember.

Well the Chief of Staff repeatedly made mention of the middle class being made stronger, or thriving or whatever…this is, as I have explored before, a contradiction in terms and it doesn’t matter if the phrase has been thrown around like refried beans at a school food fight since the 1930’s. It’s worth a question or two. How about asking some questions about that?

But also, McDonough used the phrase “balanced approach” about five times in the space of a minute. Now look: McDonough is speaking on behalf of someone else. There is an assumption in place that he’s had ample time to sync up with the President on the details, down to some arcane level, quite a bit further down in the weeds than anything that would pique our interest. And our interest should certainly be piqued about the definition of a balanced approach. He kept using and re-using that term. It must be important.

I understand it isn’t a complete mystery: For every spending cut, democrats want to see a tax increase on those hated rich people. The thing is though, that’s not the end of it, especially if the WH Chief of Staff is going to keep repeating it like a parrot. So, how balanced? A nickel of this for every dollar of that? How about assuring the country that someone is in charge, making decisions about these things, who is capable of doing anything with a hard number anywhere, be it a dollar figure or a percentage. Do these suits know that the rest of us, out here, have to do that a couple times every single month? This goes beyond partisan politics, when I see the “boys in charge” just throwing around catch-phrases like this, it makes me worried. I don’t think I’m the only one.

Brings to mind that thing about the Republicans and democrats fighting over spending, being like the two drunks fighting over a bar tab on the Titanic. Seems there’s some mission-definition missing here. Are you patching the leak in the hull while you’re explaining to us what’s being done and what we can expect to see…are you telling us sweet lies about the ship being fine while it sinks lower and lower…or are you merely playing a lullaby for us to listen to? Like the band-playing-on?

I know Sunday morning is different. I know it’s accepted that the whole point to these shows is to help both sides get their talking points out there…more one party than the other. I’m just saying, how about disrupt the pattern now and then? Just to make it a bit more interesting? Every now and then, the Sunday talkie-shows make big news, which I would think would translate to establishing a reason for existence…a good thing. Is my thinking going off in a totally different direction from the producers of these shows? They just want a palliating rhythm going, without any boat-rocking? Here I come to the question central to it all. I’m guessing it could be a little difficult from here on in getting Ambassador Susan Rice on any of those shows, maybe they don’t like that. But it doesn’t really matter, does it? This is information we need to have. Gives us a reason to tune in. I thought that was important too.

The “‘Hello Kitty’ of Blogging” is in Trouble?

Monday, February 18th, 2013

Poll: People aren’t logging on to Facebook anymore.

The Facebook craze that gave us Farmville and notes from “friends” about their breakfast and just about everything else may finally be ending.

A new Pew Research Center poll finds that a huge group of users, 61 percent, are taking breaks from Facebook up to “several weeks” long, and that virtually all age groups are decreasing their time on the social media site that recently flopped in its initial public offering of publicly traded stock. Most devastating: 38 percent of users aged 18-29, the focus of advertisers on the site, plan to slash their time on Facebook this year.

Farmville…pffft. So long.

I still find Facebook useful as a way to communicate to the “everyday” people whose politics don’t necessarily line up with mine. In this day & age, “how in the [expletive] could you possibly have voted for Barack Obama” is not quite so much an outburst of exasperation, as a sincere question that demands some quality answering, toot-sweet. I can’t get that from my blog. Blog readership tends to follow the ideological meanderings of its author. And my readers are mostly too smart to ever support Obama. It ends up being a preach-to-the-choir thing.

But, I have noticed over time, Facebook following also begins to follow the ideological meanderings of the subscriber, thus defeating the purpose. Liberals delight in shunning me, as quickly and as forcefully as possible. I’ve also noticed this is something they tend to be very practiced at doing in all walks of life. Low-information centrists, for the most part, have learned their lesson, and I think the centrists not included in that were never really centrists. This week I got my first chiding from Facebook that I had to review the community guidelines because I’d been reported as submitting a friend request to someone I don’t know. This is not something that could happen on a regular basis, since I don’t do that; I think there were a couple times lately I pushed the button, purely in the spirit of “a friend of [blank] is a friend of mine.” And, in likelihood, those two were libs and I was trying to heal a rift. They saw an opportunity. Okay, lesson learned, it’s not my place to try to heal the polarization, I should learn to embrace it and celebrate it like they do.

But the weird screwy “abusing the friend request button” algorithm is a major turn-off. What conservative wants to log in to a social network, so that liberals can continue to frolic in and enforce their pretend-reality-bubble of “everyone who doesn’t agree with me is creepy”? Not good for us, not good for them, not good for anybody else. If we felt some compulsion to continue to do things that aren’t good for anybody, we’d probably be liberals in the first place, right? And, I suppose if they had what it takes to opt in to “friendships” with people who don’t march in lockstep with them on every little thing, they wouldn’t be.

As a way to establish and maintain an identifiable on-line presence, I think Facebook is probably around for the long haul. I think there is research on this that says so. Facebook seems lately to have read that research, and come to a decision that it wants to move in on LinkedIn‘s turf by offering people a work identity. This, I believe, is a mistake of enormous proportions. I’m basing that on a presumption that people use these tools the way I do, and that’s always problematic I realize. But I don’t want current work contacts to see me on Facebook. Maybe past co-workers, the ones who are kinda “cool.” But there is no reason to go mixing up these two worlds, and if I’m going to be pushed into it because that’s just the way the system expects me to use its services, then I’ll be on my way out too. That’s probably what’s been happening, since most Facebook inhabitants behave more-or-less the way I do.

Besides, I’m getting rather fatigued with networks and systems and applications demanding that I should use them a certain way. It’s like any other form of pollution, I suppose, each polluter thinks his pollution isn’t quite as bad as the next guy’s, and he isn’t really contributing to the problem. But the totality of it is a problem, and subscribers will opt out of things to keep that total under control. Twice a month, if not more, I’m asked to upgrade my Flash support for videos and I have to wonder: Isn’t this technology pretty well settled? What are you doing, adding support for more codecs or something? If that’s the case then maybe your architecture needs re-visiting. You use a thing for a certain purpose, if the purpose doesn’t change then why is it that you have to keep tinkering with the thing just because you’re told to?

Dunno, maybe there’s something in the details that will confound this idea-progression I’m having. I’ll stay away from discussing what I don’t understand. But there’s been some resentment brewing about Facebook for a few years now, and I can’t say I’m completely surprised to see something might come of it. If it happens, I think “Timeline” might be recalled by history as the jump-the-shark point, the beginning of the end.

Hat tip to Instapundit.

Marco Rubio Water Bottles

Sunday, February 17th, 2013


When Marco Rubio paused to take a sip from a water bottle during his response to the State of the Union this week, it become an instant viral sensation. The Florida Senator has now capitalized on the moment to raise more than $100,000 for his Reclaim America political action committee by selling branded water bottles.

A source close to Rubio tells BuzzFeed that the water bottles, which were sold on the senator’s PAC website to anyone who makes a donation of $25 or more, sold like hotcakes. In the period since they went on sale Wednesday, more than 3,100 of the PAC’s “Marco Rubio Water Bottles” have been sold.

“Send the liberal detractors a message that not only does Marco Rubio inspire you…he hydrates you too,” the donation page reads.

Ah…this is great stuff. Refreshing.

My Cool Hair

Sunday, February 17th, 2013

So the wife and I go see the new Die Hard movie. And I’m thinking, among other things…okay, my hair is in a transitional phase of sorts. And the phase to which it is transitioning is aptly represented by Mr. Willis here, who is slightly my senior, an action hero star, and bald as a billiard ball. That’s right, I’ve seen the wedding pics and I know what they mean. Getting thin up there. But no roadkill rugs for me, it’s natural all the way. If the widows-peak is encroaching upward, and there’s a big hole up on top, and I’m starting to look all monk-like and nerdy up there, then someday I’m going to go John McClane on it and just whack it all.

Meanwhile…the morning after…I’m doing the hotel room fight with my hair, after it’s been all washed out by hotel room shower soap. Like herding cats.

Morgan: Go there!

Hair: Fuck you.

Morgan: I said, go there. Be parallel, at least, for Chrissakes.

Hair. Dude, seriously. Fuck you and the horse you rode in on. We’re still sleeping.


Hair: We do what we want. We know best. Deal with it.

Morgan: GO HERE! I mean it! Don’t make me bring out the spit!

Hair: …der…no hablo anglais…

Morgan. FINE…what the fuck ever.

So we go to Hooters. I have a cool wife, she likes going to Hooters as all decent wives do.

Now get a load of this, fellas…this Hooters girl is not our server. Our server is a blondie type, this is a redhead. I was just looking over at her thinking, wow this is really Phil‘s type, the natural redhead who likes having long hair.

Well, she — swear to God, not making this up — asks to be introduced to us, and makes a point of mentioning how cool she thinks my hair is. That’s why her face is all blocked out like that. To protect her identity. Because I think the poor girl is nuts.

But…my forty-seventh birthday is coming up this summer. So, I’m figuring this is just about the last time it’ll ever happen. Yes, in years past, I’ve gotten my share of compliments…occasionally, from hot, hot good-looking girls, like this. I thought they were nuts too.

But, maybe not. If not, then I guess my hair does know what’s best, after all. I mean, let’s be real: The hair DID win the argument this morning. And it seems to have had a good outcome, not that anything will develop from it. I may not be dead, but I am married. And I’m sure Nic– I mean, the anonymous good-looking Hooters girl here, with terrible taste in mens’ hair, has some kind of a stud-muffin young boyfriend back at home, seven feet tall with rock hard abs and whatever.

But I’m at the age where I’ll take a compliment where I can get it.

Oh, and as a side note, the Hooters restaurant on Challenge Way, by the Arden Fair Mall, is being well-managed and fun again. Wife and I had a complete blast. You’re dropping about a hundred bucks every time you walk in & out again, so it’s important to take note of which ones are fun. With the wings and beer being exactly the same, a fun atmosphere is all the difference between “Shit yeah, why the hell did we even hesitate, we should be coming here all the time”…and…”Uh, why did we spend all that time and money when we could’ve gotten a burger at Carls?”

Hooters on Challenge is fun again. Spread the word. And, don’t ask me about the details, for apparently I’m a poor judge of this, but my hair is cool-looking and all. In about a year I might not have any, but whatever. Yipee Kay-yay…

“It is Consistent, However, With Common Sense”

Sunday, February 17th, 2013

Investor’s Business Daily editorial:

The global warming alarmists repeat the line endlessly. They claim that there is a consensus among scientists that man is causing climate change. Fact is, they’re not even close.

Yes, many climate scientists believe that emissions of greenhouse gases are heating the earth. Of course there are some who don’t.

But when confining the question to geoscientists and engineers, it turns out that only 36% believe that human activities are causing Earth’s climate to warm.

This is the finding of the peer-reviewed paper “Science or Science Fiction? Professionals’ Discursive Construction of Climate Change” and this group is categorized as the “Comply with Kyoto” cohort.

Members of this group, not unexpectedly, “express the strong belief that climate change is happening, that it is not a normal cycle of nature, and humans are the main or central cause.”

Academics Lianne M. Lefsrud of the University of Alberta and Renate E. Meyer of Vienna University of Economics and Business, and the Copenhagen Business School, came upon that number through a survey of 1,077 professional engineers and geoscientists.

Their work also revealed that 24% “believe that changes to the climate are natural, normal cycles of the earth” while another 10% consider the “‘real’ cause of climate change” to be “unknown” and acknowledge that “nature is forever changing and uncontrollable.”
This is all illuminating information. But it won’t get the same media attention given to Al Gore and the usual assortment of eco-radicals, because it violates the narrative that our selfish activities are warming this planet.

It is consistent, however, with what most people call common sense.

Hat tip to Maggie’s Farm.

The alwarmists are not too happy about my exercise in questioning whether what we’re looking at is really science. They’ve formed their own consensus that I’m doubting the “science,” because I don’t like where it goes. There it is again, a consensus. Give ’em credit. They can form a consensus like nobody’s business. Go through them puppies like Rosie O’Donnell through a box of donuts.

This consensus of theirs, tragically, reveals that the point went sailing right over their heads. No matter what your feelings are about where a line on a paper “goes,” you’re not even ready to debate it until you settle the matter of whether the line is what it is perceived to be. Whether it is straight. And there are tests you can do with the straightedge or triangle that was used to draw the line — most effective if they are localized. If they have nothing to do with where the line “goes.” You can use the straightedge to draw the line, flip it over, and bring it up alongside the same line.

This faux vintage of “science” doesn’t pass simple tests like this. It is far too intermarried with the public relations aspect of itself. It seems to be concerned with “winning,” everywhere it is challenged, primarily by means of getting in the last word.

Alwarmists, therefore, sidestep the question of whether their straightedge is straight, deciding instead that we should be concerned with where the line “goes.” They either are lacking conceptual command of the knowledge domain, or they are engaged in an attempt to deceive.

Does it really matter which one it is?

Professor Bans Fox News

Sunday, February 17th, 2013

Professors can do that? Wow.

Inside Higher Ed:

Students in a political science class at West Liberty University were given an assignment recently to keep a “politics journal” in which they would record their reactions to various articles they had selected.

The instructor at the West Virginia public institution included some possible news sources, such as The Economist, BBC, CNN and The Huffington Post. But the instructor also specified that two sources could not be used. One was The Onion, which the assignment notes “is not news” and “is literally a parody.”

The other barred source is the one that got the instructor — Stephanie Wolfe — scrutiny this week. She banned articles from Fox News, writing: “The tagline ‘Fox News’ makes me cringe. Please do not subject me to this biased news station. I would almost rather you print off an article from the Onion.”

Information as a contaminant.


Don’t have too much more to say after those. Many people walking around among us, who seem to think you’re wiser when you take in less information.

Hat tip to Instapundit.

Update: The college president confronts the issue head-on, without ducking it. That’s good to see. Hat tip to Fellowship of the Minds.

The Dumbest Liberal Moments Ever

Saturday, February 16th, 2013

Asteroid Stories and Near-Earth-Like Planet Stories

Saturday, February 16th, 2013

They tend to congregate around each other in the news cycle.

I suppose it means we’re always being given the news we’ve shown we’re ready to watch.

It Isn’t Science

Saturday, February 16th, 2013

On the whole climate change thing, as far as the science goes, my position isn’t too remarkably different from blogger friend Phil’s. I think it is perhaps measurable lately, due to our inevitably sharpening skills and technology in measuring things, that human activity is having an impact on the environment around us. But not in any way remarkably different from the effect any other species has on its environment, as the environment certainly has an effect on all those species. It is a relationship involving mutual dependence and mutual effect.

This is simply not the question crying out for resolution, I think. Or if it is, then this thing we lately call “science” is clearly not the tool to be deployed in answering it, for we lack certainty in our understanding of what the tool is. You can’t draw a straight line with a straightedge that isn’t straight, and you cannot use one enigma to resolve another. This thing we lately call “science” is different from the science I know, in two meaningful ways. First, at key points in its exercise, it is evidence-immune. Climate models assume a certain warming from carbon, this will release a certain quantity of water vapor, a climate sensitivity is presumed by which this water vapor will continue to heat things further, and by such-and-such a date the temperature will be up so-and-so degrees. It doesn’t happen, so this climate sensitivity number is re-computed with this objective in mind of “Hooray! We’re still doomed!” And so the “science” triumphs. Trouble is, it’s triumphant over reality itself, and when that is the objective then it’s not science anymore.

The other thing is, its foundations are all screwy. Real science is impure and flawed, by nature, since it is exercised by impure and flawed humans. It cannot strive toward purity, it can only strive to maintain awareness of its own flaws and find ways to tamper down the effect of those flaws. I’m hearing this phrase “peer review” thrown around quite a lot; it seems to be lost to history, that this is supposed to be peer review’s purpose, to try to sift the flaws of the human condition away from the work, and minimize the effect of the vestigial remnants that can’t be removed. This thing we lately call “science” seeks to exacerbate the effect of the flaws of the human condition. It uses peer review to keep them in. We saw this in the University of East Anglia e-mail scandal, which isn’t supposed to count anymore because…quite predictably, just like Atlas Shrugged villains…the institutions involved convened a big fancy panel which then cleared the key players of any wrongdoing.

That is, of course, what institutions always do when they prove the Conquest Rule a bit too well (#2, organizations not explicitly right-wing sooner or later become left-wing), and then get caught at it. These elements are constants in the equation. Some blue-ribbon-panel, filled with functionally anonymous VIPs in which the rest of us are supposed to place unlimited trust. Ooh, a panel! And, a clean bill of health from the panel. Well okay then, move along folks. Nothing to see here. Wouldn’t want to question the panel.

But the fact remains. You cannot settle questions in nature or anything else, using an implement to settle the questions that is, itself, questionable. I have no doubt that the climate is changing, none whatsoever. That is what it is supposed to do. Who ever said otherwise? I have a lot of doubts in some of the other things, like the tipping-point concept first and foremost. But when people use the “science” to show me I shouldn’t be questioning this or anything else, I’m noticing the differences between real science and this square-quote “science.” There’s a lot of anti-science and red-dot science involved in this weird brand of science they use. Which is to say, it’s more important to get rid of information than accumulate it, and it’s more important to figure out what’s going on by way of feeling than by way of rational thought. After a time, the only similarity I can see between real science and the “science” being used to convince me of the tipping point, or other things, is the word itself.

And it becomes unavoidable to conclude that we must be studying the wrong thing. Knowns cannot be delivered to us by way of an unknown. Can’t draw a straight line with a straightedge of questionable straightness. The science, itself, must be studied.

And based on all I’ve seen over the years, going back to the beginning of Al Gore’s crusade about this, before his vice-presidency during which time he did little or nothing about it (link goes to video that auto-plays): This doesn’t seem to be science, as we have known it and understood it through the hundreds of years before that time, but a big bundle of pathologies.

In my opinion, we are way too quick to accept the label, to trust it unconditionally. Good science doesn’t demand trust. This “science” does. Well, we should not comply. We should study the pathologies that give rise to it. We should be studying these before we find out what it has to say. We cannot depend on this new-age brand of “science” to minimize the effect of human frailty against its effectiveness in finding the right answers. Because it doesn’t believe in those frailties. First step to reducing the effect of something, is to believe it is there, and this “science” doesn’t reach that first step, so it cannot reach any subsequent one.

I have identified twelve. They are generally distinguished from one another although there are exceptions to this, in that some are strongly related, and in some places overlap considerably. Each one of the twelve could reasonably be described as a personality disorder, with greater logical defense than many other foibles and eccentricities that really are diagnosed as personality disorders. And, on a side note, that has always struck me as a bit odd and weird about the way we do things in this modern day and age: We think of things that are not disorders as disorders, and think of things that really should be considered disorders, as not disorderly. Both with mental and behavioral health, we do this.

But the following should be diagnosable. Diagnosis is the first step toward treatment. Not-diagnosing is the first step toward taking things more seriously than they should be taken, and I think that’s the mistake we’ve been making here.

Climate Justice!
Image from Real Science blog

1. If I can’t have it, neither can you (wealth and income)

This has long been recognized as a telltale sign of mental instability, at least since the heyday of mystery novels during which time many villains sought to eliminate their former belles who found new suitors, with the motivation of “if I can’t have you than neither can he (or anybody else).” We know this is not a proper way to think. And yet much of the global warming legislation proposed, particularly in the international accords, is based on this charter principle of “developing” nations being given waivers to pollute more than the “developed” nations. The public at large, generally, doesn’t understand how bad the situation is.

To be sure, when you start to consider the economic consequences of implementing some of the solutions proposed, it does make sense. In the same way that a waitress making minimum wage would be completely devastated if she was taxed at the same rate as a millionaire, the developing nations would be similarly devastated if called on to implement the same targets as a developed nation. But that’s just justification for the same progressive politics we see with our tax system, and in both cases, progressivism is the point: Those who have more, should be taken down a peg.

If you have tall poppy syndrome and like having it, that’s all very helpful. But let’s be honest, that has nothing to do with saving the planet. If we’re in imminent peril because “humans” have trashed the environment, we wouldn’t be starting with the objective of granting some of those humans a break. That would make no sense. But if we’re out to redistribute resources and re-align the balance of power among nations, then it would make lots of sense. Well, that’s the way climate repair is done. So what really is the mission? What really is the goal?

Climate change “science” hurts people. Because it is supposed to.

2. If I can’t have it, neither can you (sense of purpose)

Where tall-poppy syndrome has to do with taking the advantaged down a few notches, crab mentality has more to do with sharing a fate. “I don’t care whether not I live, so long as you die.” It is said that if you carry a crab to a kitchen in a bucket, you need a lid on the bucket, but if there’s more than one crab then you don’t need to worry about the lid. Every time one starts to crawl out, the others will pull him back in.

Climate change “science,” when it is channeled into political action, invariably fosters an attack on achievement itself. It seeks to elevate the cost of energy, so that it can elevate the cost of building things that help people. It does this under the guise of helping people. This is not just irony; it is derailment of the entire argument, for no responsible or effective thinking can proceed from a point where some meaningful thing is conflated with, and perceived to be identical to, its opposite. The real goal here is to equalize sense of purpose. Some people manage to have one, and some people don’t. The ones that don’t, rather than focusing their energies on coming up with one, seek to attack the productive livelihoods of others.

3. Collectivist organization (lucre)

Upton Sinclair, author of The Jungle and other works, and noted socialist candidate, hit the nail on the head here: “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!” Ayn Rand, speaking through John Galt during the famous fifty-page speech, hit the nail on the head again: “The man who speaks to you of sacrifice speaks of slaves and masters. And intends to be master.” Climate change champions who speak of this “science,” don’t show the curiosity that is associated with real science. Their minds are all made up. They’re in the mode of “when do we get to the fun part, where I tell everyone else what to do and they go do it.” They aren’t seen wanting to learn anything, for a simple reason: They don’t want to. They intend to be the masters. They think the new world order will result in a “salary,” or some other kind of bonus or livelihood, or power.

4. Collectivist organization (creativity inhibit) (partially redundant with #2)

You can tell a lot about people by the way they observe and celebrate human achievement. We’ve got a lot of people walking around among us who make a lot of noise celebrating what key historical figures have done in the past to help us out here in the present; but, they don’t celebrate these things the way normal people do. Just as a sentence can be framed in active voice versus passive voice — “I picked up the ball” versus “The ball was picked up, by me” — inventions and discoveries can be described in the same way. The person who actually did the thing, can be singled out for emphasis, or for de-emphasis. This is essentially the difference between old and new Star Trek episodes: Captain Kirk did this, Captain Kirk did that…fast forward a hundred years, you see “The Federation” has become some umbrella corporation, existing for the purpose of removing individual identity from any notable achievement. “Starfleet scientists” came up with this or that. And you can’t go faster than Warp Five.

We don’t need to wait for the faster-than-light engines to be invented to see this in action. People are scared of individual achievement right now. They find the collectivist lifestyle to be a soothing tonic, because it dulls down the sharpness of human victory. You didn’t build that. Nobody should be able to accomplish anything unless they’re in a group effort.

For the achievements we require tomorrow, we can always count on government. Government is like Starfleet: Safely anonymous. No one individual will get the credit.

5. Turnstyle (you can’t make a living until you punch our dance card)

For centuries, it has been a human ambition we don’t like to discuss, to become a turnstyle in the middle of the linear progress of others. This pathology doesn’t seek to diminish the success of others, or to obstruct it, quite so much as to tax it. And so we have college classes that purport to enhance the future earning capacity of the students that attend them, but don’t do anything to make it happen. We have commission after commission after commission, and board after board after board, awarding and revoking licenses and certificates. These pieces of paper are tickets, in the sense that if you do not have one, then you cannot “enter.” You cannot practice. Some of them are enforced by law, and you can be arrested or fined for doing X without having Y.

For no practical purpose, since the members of the board do not have the confidence of anybody. Oh, the board does, but the people on them who make the actual decisions, do not. For the most part, nobody involved even knows their names. But their decisions are supposed to be infinitely wise, and therefore, unquestioned.

It is true that a certification process can be used to elevate quality, enhance order and diminish chaos. That has the possibility of being the intent, and also the effect. It does not necessarily follow that these are the case. Certifications can be used by big companies to keep little (newer) companies out of the market. And they can be used against the big companies, too, by their governments.

Some people are motivated by this. Obviously, if that is the motivation, it isn’t too helpful to anybody else, so it’s fair to call it out when the possibility exists.

6. Repent for the End of the World is Nigh (partially redundant with #5)

Another sad thing about human faults and frailties that we’ve seen for centuries, is this curious thing: A lot of people look forward, with breathless anticipation, to the end of the world. I mean, the imminent end of the world. Months or weeks from now. Curiously, never “sometime today” or “this coming Thursday” or anything like that. There has to be at least enough time for a media sensation to slowly build so people can become famous. It’s been going on so long that it is impossible to declare some constant window of time, since the history of “here comes the end of the world” stretches backward deep into the middle ages, and further, to when information flowed much more slowly. But throughout all that, it’s a constant that people look forward to the last page of human history being turned in the great massive book, and that they should be among the ones around to see it.

And it seems once they get that far off the beaten path, most of them continue onward to include this other vital ingredient: “We” caused it. Yes, God’s pissed at something we did, or we’ve been hurting the environment…I remember when it was we were endangering the species and doing a lot of littering, and we wouldn’t have any water to drink. Nowadays, we’re spewing stuff into the atmosphere and making it hotter.

The fear that these people don’t want to face, is this: In this massive dusty diary of human existence, from its birth to its eventual demise, we are somewhere in the middle. That notion fills them a dread they cannot even fathom, can’t keep it in their heads for a microsecond. For that means, there is nothing exceptional about us, save for the good and bad things we do. We won’t be around to sing Amen. You and I won’t be around to see the back cover slammed shut. We’re just insects, living for a season, and if we want to be immortalized as special insects then we’d better get busy.

These people fancy themselves as being imbued with some special power to appreciate human mortality, thinking themselves keenly and uniquely aware while everyone else stumbles around in ignorance, with false delusions of immunity from eventual death. The truth is the exact opposite of this.

Your Brain on Virtue
This is your brain on virtue

7. Look at Me! I’m Doing Good!

Virtue junkies.

8. Look at Me! I’m Doing Good! And You’re Not! (#7 is an absolute, this is a relative)


9. Look at Me! And Stop What You’re Doing! Right Now! Do What I Say! Or We’re All Screwed!

This is the central plank of modern liberalism itself. We saw it with ObamaCare and a whole bunch of other progressive ideas throughout the last hundred years. Here, I’ll describe it, and you should take note of how detailed I can get as I describe it — and yet, you cannot tell from my detailed description exactly which legislation I have in mind, or even if I have one in mind, since it applies to all of them.

There is a plan. The plan is going to involve some benefits, along with some obligations. Those who are to enjoy the new benefits are not necessarily to be the same as those who labor under the new obligations, but that’s just the way things are going to have to be. We are all to be put under the protection, and effect, of the plan. The plan is very important. A crisis awaits if we do not implement the plan. The plan will cost, but the cost of doing nothing will be considerably greater. We must “act,” as soon as possible, and this action has to involve invoking the plan, right now. There is to be no opt-out from the plan. It must affect everybody whether they want it to or not. The plan cannot be tested out in a sandbox. It has to affect everyone, on the production floor as it were…we’re pretty sure it’s going to do what it’s supposed to do, or in any case, you should not be allowed to suggest otherwise.

Even though the plan should be imposed on everyone, only a few people among us should have any say in figuring out further details of the plan. Some people will have to leave the room, because they lack the “qualifications” to suggest anything constructive. They lack understanding, and/or sanity, and/or good pure clean motives. They should leave so we can have our grown-up talk. Yes, the plan applies to the commoners, but only the elites can say what the plan is going to be. In fact, that is most of the plan; a lot of monologuing about who can’t shape the plan. We are not allowed to point this out in mixed company lest an argument ensue, but those who have the greatest faith in the plan, seem to believe most strongly in that aspect of it. Some loathed people among us should be stripped of any & all influence, particularly with the details of this plan that has not yet been fully formed.

But on their way out of the room, could they please leave their wallets and purses behind. We like their money. Just not them.

10. It Are Science. I Talks Science. It Makes Me Teh Smarts.

In the same way a guy with a little dick feels the need to drive a big, impressive-looking, cherry-red sports car…some people feel the need to discuss scientific findings in great detail, even as they demonstrate highly questionable understanding of what those findings really mean, or of the way science really works. One wonders why they feel the need to do this. It obviously has to do with defining their identities, just like the guy with the sports car. They’re compensating for something. I don’t know what, exactly. I imagine the answer to that would vary from case to case.

11. Creation vs. Destruction

It’s easy to define this problem; it’s done through the defining. If you like to go through the motions of building something big and grand and remarkable, but can’t define what exactly it is, then you’re probably afflicted with this personality disorder. If your enemies would be able to easily define what it is you seek to destroy, and you in large part would agree with them about this, then that pretty much settles things. You would then be a destructive agent masquerading as a creative force.

There’s a lot of this going around, in this day and age. I’m not sure why. Since I’m already in trouble for using one Star Trek metaphor, I’ll dig deeper by imaging it has something to do with what Spock said in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan: “As a matter of cosmic history, it has always been easier to destroy than to create.”

12. I Just Like Winning Arguments

Because it’s normal, natural human behavior to want to win, and not want to lose.

It’s not normal to make that a central, primary objective though. To lust so strongly after the “me smart, you dumb, me win, you lose” thing that you support the realignment of international balances of power, toward the benefit of complete strangers, just so you can win an argument. That’s as much a personality disorder as anything else. Well, just about anything else.

Cross-posted at Rotten Chestnuts and Right Wing News.

Rush Limbaugh’s Epiphany About Obama

Saturday, February 16th, 2013

Neo-Neocon discusses.

Has there ever before been a president who presents himself as a mediator and conciliator while simultaneously stirring up hatred and conflict? And been so successful at the deception? Has there ever before been a president who will not leave his fingerprints on anything? And gets away with it? Has there ever before been a president so inclined to blame his predecessors, and for so long, and with whom the American people has so cooperated with in that endeavor?

And I think Limbaugh is correct in saying that, although the sycophantic press is of course heavily, heavily involved, it is not the whole explanation or even close to it. The American people has lost the ability to see clearly and to demand performance from Obama. Obama is the first president to not be judged on his record.

From Rush’s rant:

Obama is constantly seen as in competition with what’s happening in Washington. It is though there are straw men. There are men behind curtains. There are invisible, evil people doing all this to the country. He’s trying to expose them and he’s working very hard. Romney is one of them. Bush was one of them. There are a bunch of other people, we don’t know who they are. But Obama is trying to find them. He’s trying to expose them and trying to fix all this. Obama is not seen as the guy behind the curtains pulling the levers. Obama is not seen as the guy who does not like the way the country was founded and is trying to take this country in a different direction. He’s not seen at all in the way he really is. It can’t all be because of the media.

I’m not quite seeing where the big epiphany is. Leftists posture themselves as the last, best, greatest hope the country has, to fix some problem they’ve been noticing — which they themselves caused. By way of exactly the same sort of policies they are proposing in the moment. On a Monday, the poor people just aren’t making it so we need to hike the minimum wage. By that Friday, there is inflation and higher unemployment, so we need to hike it again. Duh. Franklin D. Roosevelt governed this way. Ayn Rand wrote a big thick book about it. Example after example. Year N, we need price controls on energy, Year N+1 we have an energy crisis.

Yes, the “centrist” low-information voter is clueless about it. This, to me, is the origin of the whole problem: To say “Der, hey, whenever you do that stuff, the problem gets worse” is to be a right-wing conservative reactionary Republican who’s not in the “mainstream.” To point out the obvious makes you an extremist. Mainstream thinking has become nothing more than echoing leftist cant, getting emotionally caught up in the revolution-of-the-moment, biting your fingernails, hoping against hope that this latest scratch is going to cure the itch. All wrapped up in wondering about it, but without a doubt in the world. Showing your faith. Just like a good student at the pep rally, or a parishioner, or a sports fan.

Rush’s epiphany about Obama highlights the difference between liberals and conservatives. As we saw from the summer of 2008 dust-up between Obama and Hillary, Obama was chosen — either one of them would have been chosen — the same way all democrat contenders have been chosen for the last twenty years now: As the nation’s lefty champion at winning arguments, even while advancing a position that is clearly and obviously wrong. That is the job description. Because that is the message: “The time has come for sacrifice, and we all have to realize we can’t have everything we want, we need to put it aside for what’s truly important for the country. Which is that I get everything I want. Now sit down and shut your mouth.” If our friends, the libs, are good at nothing else, they’re certainly good at going through the motions of initiating a dialogue when they really just want a monologue.

And the American people right now are just eating it up. They have lost the ability, for the time being, to figure out what a candidate is all about when they make the decision to support, and align with, that candidate. Perhaps it is more accurate to say they can do this, but it’s more important to them to be aligned with the crowd that is aligned with that candidate. It really doesn’t matter which, though. What matters is that our whole system of a constitutional republic is based on this ability, and it’s taken a holiday. The constituency doesn’t want to buy what Obama is selling, but He’s just so gosh darn cute.

The Galileo Affair

Friday, February 15th, 2013

Don’t Want to Know About Guns

Friday, February 15th, 2013

Pajamas Media blog:

A short video from Minnesota (which has been pulled from YouTube since the writing of this article) spotlights shameful behavior by elected Democrats, supposedly interested in conducting a “national conversation on guns.”

At a meeting, two firearms experts came forward to speak, bringing with them two common Ruger 10/22 rifles that had been cleared by security. The purpose of their presentation was to explain how the gun-control laws currently being proposed would outlaw only a gun’s cosmetic features while not affecting the functionality of the firearms in any measurable way in terms of rate of fire and accuracy.

In the video, DFL legislators simply arise and exit without explanation. They avoid learning details from the presentation about the very firearms they seek to legislate out of existence.

The first step to knowing-what-you’re-talking-about…is…not to learn it in the first place. Anti-science. Information as a contaminant. These people, who may as well be from another planet, are obviously of the opinion that they’re in a much better position to make decisions if they make sure the relevant information never reaches them. Wisdom, in their solar system, has something to do with not knowing things.

So I guess I’m on to something. They envision this as a redaction process rather than as a cumulative process. This would be important, since these tend to be the people who say “who ya gonna believe, this guy over here who has published in peer-reviewed journals, or that guy over there who has not.” Well, gee. Add it up: Peer review seeks to elevate the quality of what’s published, mostly by way of a subtractive process rather than an additive one…it is, by nature, an obstruction. It opens the subject matter up to group discussion, it filters things out, it pushes the work through iterative loops of constructive suggestion. By doing those three things, it is supposed to improve on quality; but it is only through the last of those three that it gets this done. The other two, the group-discussion and the filtering, are merely means toward the end.

Obviously though, putting your hands to your ears and yelling “I can’t hear you la la la” does not do much to improve on quality. Is that part of the peer review process as well? Uh, if we’re not peers, we never get to know. Equally obvious: There are some people running around, having influence on things, who think that’s exactly how it should work. True wisdom is gained by removing knowledge and understanding.

Update: This video fits the description, at least as far as the information given — it’s the Minnesota house, Ruger 10/22, models compared, points made.

Not seeing anything about democrats walking out, although there are a lot of people walking around, enough that I’m wondering if the gentleman is getting distracted. Could this be another copy of the video that got pulled? If so, might there have been a mistake made about the intentions of all these people milling about…if not, then maybe this was the same lecture delivered multiple times that week, and they didn’t want to see it again? Or maybe this is the same lecture, there are democrats walking out, but we’re not seeing the correct angle.

So many questions. I’d like to know more. So I wouldn’t make a very good democrat…

Let’s Abolish This Dumb, Stupid State of the Union Tradition

Thursday, February 14th, 2013

Conventional wisdom says the pomp and ceremony have something to do with the duty of the President spec’d out in the United States Constitution. Specifically Article II, Section 3, which says

He shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient…

The circus clown show we see today, therefore, may trace its roots back to the founding. We make a mistake in assuming that this means it’s faithful to it. We should be reassessing this. To coin a phrase, we “need a national dialogue” on it. There’s been an awful lot of patchwork replacing the original quilt here.

The President does not tell Congress what to do, for starters. You can read “recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary” in a lot of different ways, but “recommend” is something you do when the other guy has the final say. Our current President doesn’t seem to understand this, although to be fair about it, the perversion started long before we ever heard about Him.

Also, to continue to be even more fair about it, the damage Obama is doing to the country typically results from an unhappy situation in which He really is the best president for our times. So our problems with Him, really have to do with the problems of our times. Implicit in His job as He understands it, and to be realistic about it His understanding is not a problem of misinterpretation by any means, is: Drag the country leftward, as far as possible and as fast as possible. Flank the enemy. Out-maneuver all who will oppose You, outnumber them, geld them, pressure them, bully them, dilute their influence.

This previous November, it was established that a slim majority of the country likes this. Or, a slim majority of those who bothered to show up to vote, anyway. That’s something. We still have a governmental system filled with checks-n-balances though, and those checks and balances are there for a reason. If President Obama wants to make Congress’ votes go a certain way, as opposed to simply supplying recommendations, He can always run for His old seat in the Senate.

But, of course, there are television cameras. When politicians appear in front of television cameras, they use the appearance to swing the public toward their point of view, to put the pressure on their opposition in the most contentious matters. That is what politicians are going to do. Every time. It’s just a fact of life.

And so it could very well be that if we could have a “do-over,” with the constitutional verbiage left the way it is and all politicians and cameramen and news producers acting on their incentives the way they do, but the history scrubbed clean, we’d end up precisely where we are now. And, a hundred times more, with a hundred more do-overs. That could very well be the case. But if it is, then it isn’t cause for celebration.

In our system of governance, the President is not a dictator. He is not even the star of the show. You do realize this, right? In our system, He is merely one of several players. The Constitution grants Him this monopoly in the discourse for a time, based on the premise that He is working in concert with the rest of the executives and legislators. It’s no different than the pilot of your aircraft, in fulfillment of a part of his duties as Captain, “monopolizing” the sound space for a minute or so while he addresses you over the P.A. system. If he has some kind of conflict with the co-pilot, or the stewardesses or whatever you call ’em nowadays, or the deck crew or the luggage crew or the fuel crew, and uses this sound-space monopoly to settle that conflict in his favor, then obviously that would be an abuse of the system. I mean, I can imagine all sorts of scenarios for that, and some of them are quite entertaining. But it still is an abuse of the system. Improper utilization, for something other than its designated purpose.

Well, that’s exactly what we’re seeing happen here every year.

So why the applause?

“Anything It Pleases”

Wednesday, February 13th, 2013

We are fast approaching the stage of the ultimate inversion: the stage where the government is free to do anything it pleases, while the citizens may act only by permission; which is the stage of the darkest periods of human history, the stage of rule by brute force.

Ayn Rand. Prophetic, no?

She came up with something else, too. Atlas Shrugged, p. 507 in my edition:

“I have a question to ask about Point Seven,” said Kinnan. “It says that all wages, prices, salaries, dividends, profits and so forth will be frozen on the date of the directive. Taxes, too?”

“Oh no!” cried Mouch. “How can we tell what funds we’ll need in the future?” Kinnan seemed to be smiling. “Well?” snapped Mouch. “What about it?”

“Nothing,” said Kinnan. “I just asked.”

The Middle Class

Wednesday, February 13th, 2013

As you look over the State of the Union address, one weird thing keeps jumping out at you: “a rising, thriving middle class.” The democrats talk a lot about this, and they always have. Their comments seem to indicate that the middle class is something that has to be “grown,” and that this growing is essentially the same as the thriving. That would be at odds with my best guesses, since I’m initially inclined to think a “thriving middle class” would be one on which its members enjoy a higher standard of living, and a “growing middle class” would be one including more people.

This seems so important to the ideas they’re trying to offer. Why don’t they get more specific about what they mean?

Of course, I know what they mean. They mean dependency class. You’re “middle class” in the sense that you’re never going to have too much money, but you don’t have anything to worry about because democrat politicians are going to make all your problems go away at someone else’s expense. “Growing” would mean more people are in that class, thus beholden to democrats. That’s the goal.

“Thrive” seems, to me, to be a point-of-view thing. The politician wants the class to thrive, so that he can get votes. Quantity has a lot to do with that, of course, since it’s all about votes. But it also involves other things. To someone who’s actually part of the class, there’s a delivery to be made, in that the politician will make life extra-safe and fleece lots of money from rich people, to make these problems go away, so “thrive” there would have to do with the standard of living for those who are in this middle, dependency class, living at the expense of others. Taking it all into account, thriving would be something done by this implied contract: The middle class swells, and the people within it don’t want to leave the class or vote for any Republicans, because they’ve got it made. That would be the thriving.

But this isn’t what Americans talk about when they use the word “thrive.” Americans want to thrive by making and keeping money, period. The point to this would be to open up options, and achieve independence. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if our politicians used the word “independence” as often as they use the phrase “thriving middle class”? But if you make enough money that you can open up options and achieve independence, you’d no longer be middle class, certainly not part of the middle class they have in mind.

Here’s where the “not a dime’s worth of difference between the two parties” paradigm crashes. There is a real difference of opinion here, a partisan difference of opinion, about the classless society. People move among the classes, pretty much all the time. For those in the lower classes who become middle class, it often involves heartbreak because there are family ties that have to be severed, or at least constricted. Some children are raised to become whelps, dependent on society and maybe addicted to substances, and they have to say “No, I don’t want to live like this, give me a call mom after you’ve cleaned yourself up.” That takes balls. Other people live out their lives in the middle class, giving up their own hopes of ever rising above it, so they can save and send their kids to school, and maybe then the next generation can become upper class. That takes balls too. But real Americans do not dream of a life that depends on the largess of politicians, because politicians do not create wealth, they remove it from others and redistribute it. Americans are more honest than that, at least, real Americans are more honest than that.

It is truly bizarre that the President uses this phrase “thriving middle class” so prominently in His State of the Union speeches, and other speeches, and is never pressed to resolve the apparent contradiction, or even to offer a more precise description of what He means. I doubt that it would go over too well if He came out and said “…because heck, we all know none of you middle class people are never going to work your way out of it, and My friends and I don’t want you to.” Even as it is, this is not unifying talk, because to the half of America who did not vote for the President, it comes off as the sheerest sort of nonsense. “Thriving middle class.” If it thrives too much, then of course it’s not middle class anymore.

The State of the Union, 2013

Wednesday, February 13th, 2013

Our brave men and women are coming home. Because declaring victory over enemies is not something the country needs to be doing, that’s something the democrat party gets to do. See, you have to keep all this stuff straight.

Corporate profits have rocketed to all-time highs, and that’s a problem. Making money is not something American corporations need to be doing, that’s something only democrats should be able to do. Again, keep this straight.

The engine of America’s economic growth is a rising, thriving middle class. That’s the goal. You should rise and thrive, but only moderately.

It is our unfinished task to make sure that this government encourages free enterprise. And I’m here to make sure that task stays unfinished for a good, long time.

The American people don’t expect government to solve every problem. For they know that America moves forward only when we do so together. That’s right, no individual is to be given credit for specializing in anything, competently. Except for Me, of course, and My friends. We built that!

We are more than halfway towards the goal of $4 trillion in deficit reduction that economists say we need to stabilize our finances. Now we need to finish the job. And the question is, how? Dunno. You guys mull that one over while I come up with some new ideas on how to spend money.

The “sequester” is a really, really bad idea. But let’s not take a clue from that, question how we managed to get here, let’s just exercise consistent behavior with the expectation of inconsistent results.

Most Americans – Democrats, Republicans, and Independents – understand that we can’t just cut our way to prosperity. Because spending money is fun! And taking it away from the people who made it, is even more fun!

Our first priority is making America a magnet for new jobs and manufacturing. Because America can’t be a brain trust anymore, that ship has sailed. We’re just sort of winging it now, so America needs to start building furniture and machinery, and compete with countries that build those same things, countries where the cost of living is much lower because they don’t have any liberals. Yup, that should work.

Caterpillar is bringing jobs back from Japan. Ford is bringing jobs back from Mexico. Intel is building a plant right here at home. There are things we can do, right now, to accelerate this trend. Like, keep spending money, tax the snot out of the companies that manage to make a profit, and hope they don’t leave again. I hear that works great in California.

For the sake of our children and our future, we must do more to combat climate change. Yes, it’s true that no single event makes a trend. But we’re going to act like that is exactly the case, and call it “science.” But if Congress won’t act soon to protect future generations, I will, because human activity is heating the planet. Government spending isn’t doing that, though, because that isn’t human activity.

Too many families with solid credit who want to buy a home are being rejected. Too many families who have never missed a payment and want to refinance are being told no. That’s holding our entire economy back, and we need to fix it. Four years without a budget is not holding our economy back, and bizarre new health care regulations aren’t holding our economy back, and the constant threat of ever-increasing taxes on “millionaires and billionaires” is not holding our economy back. It’s those darn banks telling people no.

Leaders from the business, labor, law enforcement, and faith communities all agree that the time has come to pass comprehensive immigration reform. Of course they don’t agree on what that reform is supposed to be all about, but they’re all in favor of that word, which is why we politicians like it so much. Send me a comprehensive immigration reform bill in the next few months, and I will sign it right away.

Tonight, let’s declare that in the wealthiest nation on Earth, no one who works full-time should have to live in poverty, and raise the federal minimum wage to $9.00 an hour. Heck, let’s make it ninety, why not. Let’s offer incentives to companies that hire Americans who’ve got what it takes to fill that job opening, but have been out of work so long that no one will give them a chance. By forcing them to pay a higher minimum wage if they do hire them, and then taxing the bejeezus out of them so we politicians can spend more money. It is this kind of prosperity – broad, shared, and built on a thriving middle class – that has always been the source of our progress at home. Just don’t think about doing so well that you might actually leave that middle class because, know your place. Stay in that middle class and do middle-class thriving.

When any Americans – no matter where they live or what their party – are denied the right to vote simply because they can’t wait for five, six, seven hours just to cast their ballot, we are betraying our ideals. That’s why, tonight, I’m announcing a commission to start messing with the voting experience in America. Because that’s one thing we certainly need, politicians to get more involved in counting the votes.

Thank you, God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.

Mother of Flags

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

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

From here.

Largest Prime Number Yet

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

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

From this

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

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

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

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

A Wish…

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

From the brother-in-law…

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

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

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

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

“You crafty bastard,” said the fairy.

Full Face Tattoo

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013


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

Hope it all works out…

Hat tip to Boortz.