Archive for February, 2014

Six Percent Say it’s Working Great

Friday, February 28th, 2014

Someone commented here recently, offering up the idea that something called “science” is advanced when scientists get it wrong. Scientist A comes up with a wrong-idea that will ultimately be debunked, Scientist B sets up the tests that do the debunking, the credit should wholly or partially go to Scientist A for coming up with the question.

How fascinating. “We don’t need to take an umbrella, it’s not raining outside.” “Okay, well I just looked, and it’s fucking pouring.” “Ha ha! I am to be credited for increasing our knowledge about the weather!” Huh? You may call that first guy a scientist, I call him a jerk.

I’ll certainly concede that the acquisition of knowledge must begin with an admission of ignorance. Problem is, formulating a wrong idea is not the same thing as an admission of ignorance. Even if the wrong idea explicitly includes such an admission — and, these days, unfortunately most expressed wrong ideas leave that part out — admission of ignorance, or even uncertainty, falls short of commanding a monopoly of this admission. The formulation of “Scientist A gets all the credit” presumes that Scientist B was not equally ready to admit this ignorance. I find that to be laughable because, hey, this is the guy who made the time and then sat down to do the work.

WORK. Seems to me, the cultural divide is there. There is an idea, and then there is implementation; when the people who do the one are different from the people who do the other, a cultural divide must result. And that is true of most things people bother to do, in any industrial society. There are the people with ideas and there are the people who carry them out.

The divide is carved into the surface of human consciousness, and then deepened, by deficiencies in any “lessons learned” mechanism. This would be some sort of messaging system that would let the idea-people know that implementation has revealed the idea to be in need of revision. This late in the game, humanity seems to be going through the chapter in which we’re learning, for the first time, such a feedback system is necessary. I say “seems.” There’s no way that can be true, because it is so very, very late. But if we have ancestral knowledge about this, we’re not showing it. The idea-people are coming up with bad ideas, and they’re not ready or willing to find out about the flaws in their ideas revealed by implementation.

These days, as I write algorithms for my applications and libraries, I manage to get most of it done in restaurants and coffee shops. My laptop doesn’t have a compiler on it. I’ve found I’m more productive that way. With the compiler available, after a bit of effort one starts to space out, lose track of where the code-writing session is exactly, and eventually throw the switch to sort through the error messages. This encourages sloppy thinking and laziness.

The disadvantage to the coffee shop approach, of course, is the temporary separation from reality. But, it does keep you alert and focused. The “idea guy” in your head is allowed to completely take over, but only within a limited term of time. I’ve actually been doing this for about a decade straight, now, and it works well. Within an hour or two, or four or six if there are errands that have to be run afterward, there will be a Come-To-Jesus meeting where you sync everything up and then hit compile.

Some of my commit-log entries actually have some comments like, “Well, this ought to screw everything up but good. Have fun.”

It’s a bit of an unorthodox habit. Lots of software engineers do similar quirky things to keep things running right. (One guy I knew had a canister of stuffed piggy-heads for juggling, and he’d juggle them while the compiler was running.) Well — this one has made me feel a little bit sorry for the bureaucrats who “know” their ideas are the right ones. The ones who give humankind all these “gifts”…like the website launch.

My coffee-shop-coding is not a perfect technique. It doesn’t necessarily lead to good ideas. All it does is help a little bit, by keeping me humble, and this is only an anecdote. But the reverse certainly does work: To come up with a thoroughly awful idea, a real stink-bomb, you’ve got to have a dedicated intellectual type. Someone who lives in the realm of ideas, and never, ever leaves it. Never gets that feedback about how things panned out, or whether they panned out, and never wants it. The type who lives his entire life according to narrative.

Six percent say ObamaCare is working great.

For the results to come out that well, you have to have absolute certainty about what they’re going to be, before there are any. You can’t maintain any sort of healthy uncertainty about them and hope to produce this sort of “success.” Only the no-feedback people, the no-question types, the “it’ll work awesomely because it’s my idea” people can get it done like this.

Force Isn’t Freedom

Thursday, February 27th, 2014

While the loud-crowd started up with their bullying of Gov. Jan Brewer of Arizona earlier this week, I expressed a sentiment on Facebook that drew an unexpected number of “likes” plus a share:

Sorry Sulu. Your Facebook updates are a lot of fun, and nothing against your sexual preference but you’re wrong on this one. In fact, Arizona would be a great place for the silliness to finally stop.

There is: Nobody should force me to pour milk on my corn flakes when I happen to prefer orange juice and vodka on my corn flakes. And then there’s: Help me force this restaurant owner to let me walk into his restaurant and eat my corn flakes. Those are two different things. The first thing is freedom, the second thing is force. Two things. Different. In fact, opposites.

Time for the nonsense to end. You’re not championing choice and freedom anymore, when you’ve started to force other people to accept things they don’t want to.

The nonsense, we know now, did not end.

So now we’re left with several realizations that lead to a question. There aren’t too many stories to be offered up about gay people being refused service anywhere, so I don’t think we need to pretend this was about anybody’s “rights.” If we do force that understanding, then we would also have to understand, once and for all, that the gay-rights crusade lately has a cause wholly separate from what they’ve been claiming, and those who have been resisting it were completely correct from the very beginning: It’s about special rights and not equal-rights. Laundromats, bowling alleys, Karate studios, fast food restaurants, liquor stores and bars have always been able to display signs that say “We Reserve The Right To Refuse Service To Anyone.” In Arizona, they don’t have that right. And, it seems the loud-crowd is opposed to any business having that right anywhere…where homosexuals are concerned.

That’s special-rights and not equal-rights. I can’t make a business serve me. I can’t take a business to court if it refuses to serve me. For straight people, the complaint is dismissed as quickly as it might ever have come up, with a jerk of the proprietor’s thumb toward the “refuse service” sign. For us, it still works that way. Or does it?

I guess that’s the question. Are we now at the point where it’s always good when a business gets sued? Or, is put at the “business end” of a court order of any kind…an injunction, a fine, a settlement, a subpoena. I’m worried about how automatically so many within the loud-crowd determined this must be a “bad bill,” having found out 1) it’s got something to do with gay people, 2) gay people don’t like it and 3) it offers PROTECTIONS to the BUSINESSES. Is it good when businesses get sued? Is it bad when they aren’t sued?

If that’s where we are, can we just drop the charade of wishing for the economy to get better?

High time that question got settled. If the answer is in the affirmative, then admitting it would save everyone a whole lot of energy and time.

Can’t Apply Tests

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

Me, shortly after the debacle:

…the more observations I make…the more value I see in measuring what we could call the F.Q., the Fantasy Quotient. This would be the weight of everything that contributed toward your final opinion about something, divided into one hundred times the influence of your first-impressions. So travel back in time a few years, Obama and crew say something about health insurance for the first time and you go — cool! Maybe. You get inspired, the inspiration creates a fantasy. The fantasy creates a prejudice. The prejudice, by definition of the word, feeds into the final judgment, even if it has to withstand an onslaught of subsequent and contrary experience. How much or how little the subsequent and contrary experience diminishes that original impression, says something about you, and that something is reflected in the F.Q.

A good software-testing engineer has an F.Q. approaching zero. A healthy F.Q. might be somewhere in the twenties, maybe down in the teens.

If your F.Q. is a hundred, you’re pretty much incapable of ever learning a damn thing, and that’s a widespread problem we have now.
These people can’t apply tests. Not really. Sure, they can run tests on things, but they can’t learn anything from the results. Their minds are already made up.

I quoted severian back then, and shall do so again:

I’m trying to think of the last time I heard a liberal admit he had ever been wrong about anything of consequence. A liberal who believes today the exact opposite of what he believed five years ago — like President Obama on gay marriage, say — wasn’t wrong then, and he’s not a hypocrite now. He’s just “evolved”; the issue is “dynamic”; we have a “living” Constitution. Being a liberal means you can do 180s all day long like a figure skater on crack, and pat yourself on the back for your “nuanced” views and mental flexibility.

Meanwhile, conservatives — whose opinions have a foundation other than self-congratulation — tend to feel a bit uneasy about celebrating today what they condemned yesterday, and vice versa. It’s part of that “living in the real world” thing. If liberals could do that, they wouldn’t be liberals.

Perhaps we should sit around and wait for an illustrative example to come along…you know, besides the launch, and Detroit…wait…wait…


Now you should know, this “ad” has been fully debunked. The law firm of Perkins Cole is demanding that it be pulled, and as justification for that demand they are citing a Washington Post editorial that says it “doesn’t add up.”

This emotional and gut-wrenching attack ad should be every Democrat’s worst nightmare, combining references to President Obama’s 4-Pinocchio promise (PolitiFact’s “Lie of the Year”) with a raw account of a woman who says she suffered because of the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare.

But do the facts match the emotions?

The Facts

First of all, many viewers might think Boonstra lost her doctor, as she mentions her “wonderful doctor” and then says her plan was canceled. But AFP confirms that she was able to find a plan, via Blue Cross Blue Shield, that had her doctor in its network.

Local news reports recount that Boonstra, like many Americans, initially had trouble getting a plan because of the botched launch of No doubt that was a difficult experience. She then was invited by her local member of Congress to attend the State of the Union address and participated in a Republican National Committee news conference that highlighted problems with Obamacare’s stumbling launch.

At that news conference, Boonstra said, “I’m paying a higher cost now as far as out of pocket costs and the coverage is just not the same.” But in the new ad she says “the out-of-pocket costs are so high, it’s unaffordable.”

The claim that the costs are now “unaffordable” appeared odd because, under Obamacare, there is an out-of-pocket maximum of $6,350 for covered expenses under an individual plan, after which the insurance plan pays 100 percent of covered benefits. The Blue Cross Blue Shield plans in Michigan that appear to match Boonstra’s plan, as described in local news reports, all have that limit.

Meanwhile, Boonstra told the Detroit News that her monthly premiums were cut in half, from $1,100 a month to $571. That’s a savings of $529 a month. Over the course of a year, the premium savings amounts to $6,348—just two dollars shy of the out-of-pocket maximum.

We were unable to reach Boonstra, but on the fact of it, the premium savings appear to match whatever out-of-pocket costs she now faces.

Levi Russell, a spokesman for AFP, said he “would assume there is an OOP max, but this is the story of Julie, a real person suffering from blood cancer, not some neat and tidy White House PowerPoint about how the ACA is helping everyone.” He said there is a possibility that her specific chemotherapy medication will not be covered.

“Julie’s concerns about her new plan are ongoing and very personal. Since her out of pocket costs are so much higher now, her costs have quickly become unpredictable,” he added. “Rather than knowing exactly what she would have to pay every month, she now is facing a roller coaster of expenses that vary with her health. She said she feels like a surprise is around every corner, since she keeps being hit with new out-of-pocket costs every time she needs treatment, or a test, or even an office visit.”

He concluded: “Now her expenses are unpredictable, and that means unaffordable. It could be $600 one month, and three times that the next month. The reality of what she’s dealing with is much more involved and can’t be swept aside by saying, ‘you have an OOP maximum so quit complaining about your cancer.’”

Update, Feb. 21: In an interview with the Dexter Leader responding to this column, Boonstra said: “People are asking me for the numbers and I don’t know those answers — that’s the heartbreak of all of this. It’s the uncertainty of not having those numbers that I have an issue with, because I always knew what I was paying and now I don’t, and I haven’t gone through the tests or seen my specialist yet.”

The Pinocchio Test

The Fact Checker surely does not want to play down the emotional anguish that any cancer patient may face, but a fuller accounting is necessary if AFP is going to air ads like this. In order to properly compare the old plan and the new plan, there needs to be fuller disclosure of the costs and out-of-pocket maximums before claims that the new plan is “unaffordable” can be accepted at face value. Too many anecdotal stories, on both sides, have fallen apart under close scrutiny.

[Update, Feb. 24: In response to a complaint to television stations from the Peters campaign, AFP supplied more documentation for the ad (embedded below). The documentation, however, sheds no light on how the new health plan has made out-of-pockets costs for Boonstra “unaffordable.” Instead, it emphasizes that these costs may be unpredictable. This does not meet the disclosure test we requested.]

Russell passed along a quote from Boonstra: “My plan, the premiums are half, but the out‑of‑pocket costs are so high that for me, it’s unaffordable. My coverage is 80/20. Blood work, I’m paying 20 percent. If I needed a bone marrow transplant, I would only be covered 80 percent. Everything, everything I do now, I have to pay a percentage of.”

It is one thing to say there are higher out-of-pocket costs, as she did at the RNC news conference, but another to assume that those higher costs are not offset in some way by the significantly lower premium. (The $350,000 bone marrow transplant, for instance, would be capped at the out of pocket minimum.) The reality is that eventually Boonstra will hit the maximum and no longer pay anything. So over the course of the year, the difference in the costs could well even out.

We will initially set this rating at Two Pinocchios, and will update if we get more information.

Two Pinocchios

What a devastating debunking! Until you read it.

Two Pinocchios — because Glenn Kessler, Washington Post Fact Checker, came up with a “disclosure test” he’d like to have met. Well, Shazam. If that’s all it takes, I could hand out two Pinocchios at a time, every hour on the hour and all day long. I’d like to have lots of things explained to me.

It’s not that Kessler doesn’t have something of a point, at least a point strong enough to make an honest observer go “huh”? There is value in taking notice of such things. And the Pinocchio Test is Kessler’s invention, as I understand it, so heck he can do with it as he likes. If a Pinocchio is to be devalued to half the strength of the everyday “huhwha??” and he wants to cheapen his scale to that extent, well, it’s a free country.

For the time being.

But, one of the posters on the thread underneath his story gave him the information he had been missing:

You forgot the administrations executive order pen.…

…and that link goes here:

The Obama administration has delayed a main provision in President Obama’s healthcare reform law that would limit out-of-pocket insurance costs for consumers until 2015.

The cap, which includes deductibles and co-payments, was supposed to limit consumer costs to $6,350 for an individual and $12,700 for a family. But administration officials have quietly delayed the requirement for some insurers, allowing them to set their own limits starting in 2014.

When all’s said and done, it was as it was before, and the ad does add up. We have grown-up issues and grown-up transactions, with life-and-death consequences, being decided by the day-to-day whim of the President’s “pen.” Yes, this does create a lot of confusion. But Julia Boonstra didn’t create this confusion. Barack Obama built that.

To remain fastened to reality, as is required in some professions that have to do with making things actually work, you have to lower your F.Q. That is what is required to remain attached: Theories conflict with reality, the theory must yield and reality must prevail. Obama and His minions, unfortunately, have that inversed and apparently so does the Post’s fact-checker. So do some of the people who have commented on my own blog, as it happens. Reality and theory conflict, and reliable as rain they circle their wagons around the theory. The rationale changes minute to minute but the conclusion is always the same: Not-never-happened, doesn’t add up, can’t hear you la la la.

And that, boys & girls, is why the launch went the way it did. At least, according to the benign-intent theory. There are those who believe the launch was a boondoggle because that was part of the strategy. But then, ya know, there’s always Hanlon’s razor.

When the stuff you build is supposed to actually work, you can’t afford the luxury of choosing here. The choice is already made. When reality checks your theory, you have to accept it and adjust. That’s a vital ingredient to learning; to take in new information about how things all fit together, you have to be ready to take in new information you don’t have yet, therefore, didn’t have when you came up with the theory. Or wrote the code. Or built the model. You have to be ready for reality to tell you how wrong you are. That is, like, prepping the construction site before you even pour the foundation. It’s a key prerequisite.

I’ll leave it to the reader to figure out whether the folks in charge right now have it goin’ on. Can’t explain everything.

What Conservatism Is and Isn’t

Monday, February 24th, 2014

Yeah, I’m completely on-board with this.

Far too often, so-called “moderates” get fooled into thinking that liberals support some things and reject other things, in service of issues that actually make a difference in peoples’ lives — whereas conservatives get wrapped around the axle, accepting-and-rejecting things that don’t matter in any way. I don’t want to call those moderates stupid; some of them are my friends. And, although I have very little respect for this opinion, and sad as it may be to admit it, they do have their reasons for thinking this.

Too many so-called conservatives just have sticks up their butts. They see a woman in a v-neck, they write their letters. The younger generations might see it and get corrupted or something. So they mount their campaign to keep the kids from seeing certain things…ever. It looks like a campaign for ignorance because that’s what it is. And, it looks overly-controlling, neurotic and futile. Because it is all those things too.

Saddest thing is: We do have a moral crisis in this country, and “please take that picture down” conservatives are helping to make it happen. Might as well face it, when there’s not supposed to be anything wrong with having a President who is a sexual predator, but there is supposed to be something wrong with remembering it happened and talking about it — that’s a moral crisis. That’s losing the sense of direction.

Conservatism, to me, is conserving freedom first & foremost. There, too, we have a crisis. Ask those moderates what we should be free to do, sometime. Right now you get back “marry whoever you want” and protest on behalf of the ninety-nine percent; that’s about it. How wonderful. Attack free enterprise, attack the family, and our list of freedoms has reached its end. How much better I’d feel about the whole gay-marriage movement if some among its advocates could say, just once in awhile, “here are some other things people should absolutely, positively, unconditionally, be able to do” and then rattle off a few more items that would show they put thought into it.


Sunday, February 23rd, 2014

Matt Walsh:

I certainly can’t read their minds, and I don’t know what goes on behind the scenes, all I know is that the husband couldn’t seem to utter a single phrase that wouldn’t provoke exaggerated eye-rolling from his wife.

She disagreed with everything he said.

She contradicted nearly every statement.

She even nagged him.

She brought up a “funny” story that made him out to be incompetent and foolish. He laughed, but he was embarrassed.

She was gutting him right in front of us. Emasculating him. Neutering him. Damaging him.

It was excruciating.

It was tragic.

It also was, or is becoming, pretty par-for-the-course.

The respect deficiency in our culture has reached crisis levels.

What’s going on in these exchanges is the construction of an identity. Wives like this have made the mistake of building an identity for themselves, a sort of earthly function, and around that has to be wrapped a persistent narrative that survives any onslaught of contradictory evidence: Since her identity is “person who corrects him,” the narrative needs to be “he’s doing it wrong and needs someone to correct him.”

Which doesn’t leave the husband with too many options. I know, I know, we’re not supposed to feel sorry for him because he doesn’t belong to an oppressed-victim-class…but still, it might be worth the trouble to evaluate what’s open to him. Not much. He can ridicule her back, which I’m sure she wouldn’t appreciate. He can withdraw socially. He could play along and act like the bumpkin, or he could leave.

All four, I submit, are trajectories toward the divorce court.

The men didn’t want to fight for a marriage if they weren’t respected, and the women didn’t want to respect men who wouldn’t fight for their marriage. He withholds his love, she withholds her respect. They’ve both set fire to the thing that needs to be fixed.

Comparing Global Warming Panic-Mongers to Nazis

Friday, February 21st, 2014

Someone pushed his button; but, he makes a solid case.

Yeah, somebody pushed my button.

When politicians and scientists started calling people like me “deniers”, they crossed the line. They are still doing it.

They indirectly equate (1) the skeptics’ view that global warming is not necessarily all manmade nor a serious problem, with (2) the denial that the Nazi’s extermination of millions of Jews ever happened.

Too many of us for too long have ignored the repulsive, extremist nature of the comparison. It’s time to push back.

I’m now going to start calling these people “global warming Nazis”.
Like the Nazis, they are anti-capitalist. They are willing to sacrifice millions of lives of poor people at the altar of radical environmentalism, advocating expensive energy policies that increase poverty. And if there is a historically demonstrable threat to humanity, it is poverty.

I’m not talking about those who think we should be working toward new forms of energy to eventually displace our dependence of fossil fuels. Even I believe in that; after all, fossil fuels are a finite resource.

I’m instead talking about the extremists. They are the ones who are sure they are right, and who are bent on forcing their views upon everyone else. Unfortunately, the extremists are usually the only ones you hear from in the media, because they scream the loudest and make the most outrageous claims.
So, as long as they continue to call people like me “deniers”, I will call them “global warming Nazis”.

I didn’t start this fight…they did. Yeah, somebody pushed my button.

Now ordinarily my reaction would be: Two wrongs don’t make a right. But — why do I not like name-calling in the first place. Because it makes simple things needlessly complicated, obscures the truth, obscures common sense, raises the potential of wrong decisions being made. Well, what is the global warming movement anyway: A political movement that is too cowardly even to call itself a political movement. A power push that refuses to call itself a power push. It pretends to be about something called “science” and yet it does not use the scientific method.

People read up on their little factoids and fektoids, then they log on to blogs and paste their snippets into the comments sections. The ones who actually have a name that’s worth something, go on teevee programs and puff up those names through high-pressure, low-mass sensationalism — almost as if they don’t like having a good name — and are constantly scolding whoever else doesn’t go along.

I’m weary of the passive assist, helping them to pretend they have a lock on objectively observed truth. When their sales pitch is, boiled down to its essentials, that we’re in danger of losing control over the global climate if the taxes and regulation are too low, and we can acquire/maintain such control if they are are high. People can sugar-coat it and rhetorically duck and weave, but that’s the core message.

If it were ever about facts and science and “the truth of what’s happening,” and the advocates were doing their advocating with some honesty, we’d be having a conversation about the correlation between greater state power and a milder global climate. But then again, I suppose if Hitler were more honest he would’ve led with the Final Solution.

Syllogisms and Identity Politics

Thursday, February 20th, 2014

Interesting inspection going on at our group-collaboration blog:

I’ve long been suspicious that the modern liberal is typically nothing more than someone who is proud of the “ability” to string multiple syllogisms into what they ultimately consider a de facto valid “argument”.

Spiritual Starvation

Thursday, February 20th, 2014

Question of the day: Other than the meaningless, unmentioned and entirely made-up “wall of separation between church and science,” is there ANY reason why something called “Spiritual Starvation” should not be a diagnosable disorder, written up with an actual ICD code, list of symptoms, treatment recommendations, & everything else?

The symptoms are easily recognized: Perception of, and response to, overwhelmingly talentless and mediocre mortals as if they were deities; a longing to be part of a collective or cult; and, most significantly and most often, a compulsion to do “good” by giving away material things to “the poor” — at no actual cost to the afflicted person who is doing the giving. “A democrat is a fellow who is so nice he’ll give you the shirt off someone else’s back.”

Spiritual Starvation. You’ll notice people who are faithful, attend church, and have been working at making peace with God, don’t behave that way; they don’t say “Let’s help the poor by making that other guy do more than he’s doing.”

Curing the Obama Addiction

Tuesday, February 18th, 2014

From Gerard:

Obamaholics Anonymous: The Twelve Steps

1. We admitted that like crazed pale metrosexuals we were powerless over Obama huffing, puffing, and fluffing — that our political lives had become unmanageable, bereft of truth, justice, and integrity.
Recovery2. Came to believe that a Constitution once again greater than Obama could restore us to sanity.

3. Made a decision to turn our political will and our Obama addiction over to the care of Common Sense as we understood it.

4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves and saw how continually conned we were to believe that this hybrid charlatan was in the game for anything other than his own enrichment, power, and aggrandizement.

5. Admitted to America, to ourselves, and to another drooling Democrat the exact nature of our inability to criticize and dump Obama simply because of the color of his skin even as the content of his character dwindled into negative numbers.

6. Were entirely ready to have the Constitution remove all these defects of our political disease.

7. Humbly asked the Constitution to remove this sham of a president even if it meant, yes, Biden.

8. Made a list of 317+ million Americans we had harmed by our stupid, stupid, selfish, and — dare we say? — braindead votes for Obama (twice because, yes, we were just that stupid), and became willing to make amends to them all.

9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would cause their teeth to burst into flames as they shouted, “WE TOL’ YOU DAT BITCH WAS CRAZY!”

10. Continued to ask ourselves “How could we be so stupid?” and — when we grew even stupider as Hillary shook her commodious tush — promptly admitted we were still not cured of our addiction.

11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve the chances that a random asteroid strike would reduce Washington DC to smoldering rubble, praying only for enough mass and orbit change to carry that out.

12. Having had a reverse political lobotomy as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message of Obama’s deep and enduring suckitude to others, and to remind ourselves to take a hot lead enema rather than ever voting Democrat again.

Liberalism, for the last forty years or so, has maintained a belief that all problems can be solved by way of getting even with some oppressive class, on behalf of some oppressed class — that you can actually balance budgets and make the environment work better that way. For the last twenty, it has maintained a belief that where liberalism tries and then fails, we can make it into a success simply by re-defining the original goals.

In the age of Obama, it means we should all pay for this through the nose. And, act like it’s making us fabulously wealthy. If we just believe with all our might, it becomes so.

Everyone out there remembers the great spendiddlydimulus of 2009, right? If you don’t, you should. It cost you a cool $787 billion.

Pfffft. Chump change, minions. GET BACK TO WORK.

Anywho, Obama’s lapdogs are calling that stimulus a win. I’m not even kidding you. They’re even celebrating its 5th anniversary – they did that yesterday in fact. I’m not sure if they gave it a present or made it a cake or danced with each other in some White House ballroom like raging, out-of-touch imbeciles, but they celebrated it nonetheless.

Meanwhile, back in Reality-Land, unemployment is the biggest problem facing Americans right now. Because people are out of work. Because that stimulus thing DIDN’T actually work. Well, Obama’s handlers are saying they “saved” jobs. So we have that, at least.

Yay us and saving jobs that may or may not have been lost. Or something.

Reality misses us. Come home.

Actually, no; reality couldn’t care less one way or the other. Reality chugs onward regardless of what we choose to believe…we, on the other hand, have always been fated to learn and re-learn whatever lessons we refuse to learn.

Time to hop off the silly-go-round, Obama voters.

Five Ways Liberals Make War on Women

Saturday, February 15th, 2014

From the list-master, John Hawkins, writing at

1) The Party of Infanticide
2) Excusing Horrible Liberal Behavior Toward Women
3) Demeaning Stay-At-Home Moms
4) Savage Attacks On Conservative Women
5) Helping Criminals By Disarming Women

Yup, Bill Clinton gets mentioned. I’ve noticed liberals have begun to stigmatize any mention of the former President, save for glittering banalities such as the ones involving mythology about a Clinton economy or some such thing…you’re not supposed to mention that he was “credibly accused of rape,” almost certainly qualifies under any clinical definition of a sexual predator.

So we’re about to start discussing the Lewinsky thing again? Good, I say. We had a predator as our President for eight years. Yeah, something should be made of that. Enough of a ruckus to actually change something. That’s not what I saw back in ’98 to ’99.

As for the rest of it, well, the liberalism we know today is a public policy agenda. It is not a crusade for human rights. That’s just the packaging, not the content. And you can see by how they treat Sarah Palin, how much they care about women being represented in the ranks of power.

The Success of Others

Saturday, February 15th, 2014

So we got to see our favorite waitress last night, and Mrs. Freeberg has to ask her: Restaurants are busy on Valentine’s Day, but this place looks like a tomb. What’s up? Answer: Couples go to restaurants picked by the woman, that’s the plain truth of it. And women don’t want to go to a place where the waitresses wear skimpy denim shorts.

WaitressYeah, she’s right. This has always been right, as far as husbands or boyfriends rudely leering at younger, skinnier women; the gals don’t like it. And they shouldn’t. But since when did that mean the Valentine’s Day crush of restaurant-dining should fall only on certain restaurants? There is something new happening here. Something bigger than restaurants or leggy waitresses. It applies to money, too. We just had an “Occupy Wall Street” movement, which as near as I can tell, was about making something called “one percenters” into unidentifiable strangers, and celebrating the camaraderie of “the ninety-nine percent.” The common theme that applies to both: I’ve picked out a target I wish to alienate, and you should help me alienate it, because the target is doing better than I am at something.

It has to do with ambition, and desire. Women desire a nice firm butt and long, lean, supple legs; men desire a hefty portfolio and a thick billfold. The gender identities are wearing down, too, and I suppose there’s nothing wrong with that. I could stand to lose a few pounds, and Lord knows women like to have more money. But there are those people doing better than we are. What is our behavior around those people? That is what’s changing.

On the “other women have nicer looking legs” thing, the thinking seems to be that if the lady of the house can manipulate her boyfriend/husband and herself into staying the hell away from the leggy bitch, that will eliminate the competition. This is a fairly ancient thought. It’s the acceptance of it that is new. It used to be a thought not to be taken seriously; frowned-upon. Then smirked-at. Then it aroused a newer sense of sympathy that was missing before. And now we’ve reached the point where it is to be encouraged. If Couple A only goes to restaurants friendlier to the preferences of a jealous female, but Couple B goes to Hooters, then Couple B is making Couple A feel bad and they need to reform. Thus it is with the Occupy movement; deep down everyone seems to realize the obvious, that this is a protest against success. But, by rights, the Occupy movement should be eyeball-rolled outta here for good, and instantly, which is not what’s been happening. Here and there, on Facebook, in the office, you still hear all this righteous sniveling about “we are the ninety-nine percent.” The issue is sustainability across time. The appropriate and correct eyeball-rolling lasts the lifetime of a gnat, while the very silly sympathy is more like the tortoise that lives a century or two.

The jealous have an impact on the conduct of the non-jealous, rather than the other way around. I fear we are living in an age in which we are culturally expected to maintain a phobia against success. We are expected to nurture that phobia, as if it is something that will lead to that success, when the truth is that it can only take us in the opposite direction.

I don’t understand it. It is not my world. Dining at the place with the young, skinny, leggy waitresses was actually my wife’s idea. She’s not insecure, see. And as for me, I’ll make no claim to go around emulating people who are in better shape, physically or financially. At least, not in an instant or anything like that. But occasionally, once or twice out of the span of a few years, I’ll come to find out about a good habit that might be compatible with my lifestyle and expectations, and possibly do some learning. There may be some slow progress here, or not. But the point is: That’s the thought in my head when I find out about them. Oh, he’s rich? What did he do? Oh, he’s my age but can still wear size 34? What’s his routine? I’m so old that I can remember when people did that all the time…when adults got together for some kind of occasion, like a backyard BBQ or whatever, that was most of what was happening. Peers, telling stories of common problems, sharing solutions. A custom centuries old.

Now, seems we’re becoming more like ostriches. S/he is doing better? I don’t wanna know. Don’t tell me. And let’s stay away.

But if that guy has more lucre than I do, he must have stolen it.

This is not good, because the first step to improvement is to admit that the improvement is possible. Second step, I guess, would be to contemplate that the improvement is needed. All learning begins with the statement: “I don’t know.” All enrichment begins with the statement: “I’m not satisfied.” All self-improvement begins with “I could do better.”

Too Much Bad Faith in the “Not Enough” Department

Thursday, February 13th, 2014

Me, in correspondence, off-line…

It’s everywhere: People saying “not enough!” which, if they’re saying it in good faith, you should be able to count on the ideas that 1) some definition of “enough” exists, 2) there also exists some way to objectively measure what was parceled out, or done, or given, 3) the standard exceeds the provision, which creates a deficit, and 4) should this established and measurable standard be met, the caterwauling will stop. That’s a very silly list to make, but it seems to me our whole society is paying a price for nobody having taken the time to make it.

We have made i[t] an acceptable behavior to cry “not enough” in bad faith. The four items in the paragraph previous, are no longer part of the implied contract. “Not enough” now seems to mean nothing more than “I receive material reward, or I have a potential of receiving material reward, when I yell ‘not enough’ and, well, here I am.” That and nothing more.

Too many people yelling “not enough”; not enough numbers. Not enough rebuttals in the form of “Would {n} much more make you shut up?”

Our cultural expectations have slid so far here, that we now consider it normal that complaints of not-enough entirely lack any numeric reasoning behind them; it has become surprising and unexpected that there should ever be any. It’s become a sort of audible sound, like the screeching of a baby bird in a nest, meaning so-and-so wants more. Shrill complaints communicated from those who do not actually measure things, to others who do not actually measure things, to be resolved by some quick grabbing and taking and distributing and giving, but — again — not actually measuring anything.

Better Off

Tuesday, February 11th, 2014

Congressman Mark Pocan, D-WI, spinning the declining labor participation rate which the CBO projects to drop further due to ObamaCare.

From Rush Limbaugh.

Safety Ordinance

Sunday, February 9th, 2014

Hat tip: The Daley Gator.

They’re Talking About Me, Although Maybe They Don’t Know It

Thursday, February 6th, 2014

Yeah. I’m the guy who hates this ad.

I’ll go into my reasons in a bit; sorry to disappoint, but “xenophobia” doesn’t figure into it. But first, to demonstrate how little the chattering-class seems to understand me and the others who don’t receive the ad positively, a hilarious take-down by Matt Walsh…

It was a wonderful night. And then…then IT happened.

The Coke advertisement. Dear God — the Coke advertisement. It started out alright: some girl singing America the Beautiful while beautiful images of America flashed across the screen. But things went downhill fast. Suddenly, other people started singing the song in other languages. It was awful. I was furious. They were speaking in, like, Asian and Australian and stuff. Utterly horrifying. I told my wife to cover the children’s ears.

Out of nowhere, graphic depictions of other cultures and skin colors infested my TV screen. There was a brown one and, like, a Mexican guy or something.

Oh, the foreign languages and varying skin pigmentations!

I couldn’t stand it. Enraged, I grabbed my shotgun and blew a hole through the television. My wife could only weep, and through her tears she thanked me for saving her from the terrifying onslaught of multi-culturalism.

And that’s exactly what happened…in the fantasies of left-wing bloggers and journalists.

In the real world, I saw that commercial and reacted in a way similar to almost all of my fellow right-wing conservatives: I yawned and went to the kitchen for another beer. Then I proceeded on with my evening, not caring one way or another about Coca-Cola’s contrived marketing tactics. Admittedly, I have long since vowed to never drink Coke, but that’s only because I dislike diabetes, not because I’m upset about foreigners singing patriotic hymns.

So imagine my surprise when I went on the [I]nternet after the game to see social media abuzz over the “right wing backlash against Coca-Cola.”
Outrage! Firestorm! Backlash! Xenophobia!

Funny thing: these stories started popping up within minutes of the ad airing.

Loud, outspoken, obnoxious…strangers-on-the-innernetz. Solutions in search of problems.

Well as Obi-Wan Kenobi might have said, I’m the bigot they’re looking for; it’s a terrible, terrible ad. I don’t like the music, not because I can’t understand the words, but because at 0:18 there are way too many syllables. It just sounds awful, and if you disagree you aren’t being honest. But some might protest that this doesn’t get to the heart of what truly upsets me so, so let me walk the reader through my argument, with complete candor:

Many spoken languages do not make a good thing. Many spoken languages would be a plurality of one spoken language. One spoken language is a pain in the ass. Can we all agree on just that much? Yes you can do things with a spoken language that you can’t do without one; the same would be true of your job, or the car you use to get to it, if you’re overdue for trading either one of them in and can’t get around to it just yet. One language is like that. Especially English. It’s full of idiosyncrasies, ambiguities, and frustrating little gadgets that don’t work the way they should just like a car that’s past its prime. Many languages? That just multiplies the frustration without getting anything further accomplished. United States school students are still lagging behind, or were as of a year ago. Let’s fix that first. Then we can talk about beautiful, rich, robust tapestries of half-a-dozen languages, and something besides English being spoken at home.

The above has to do with pragmatism. What follows has to do with altruism.

Walsh provided an overview of his discoveries within the very few minutes after the ad hit the air:

Some of the headlines:

Coke Ad Draws Outrage, Praise (EW)

Coca-Cola Super Bowl Ad Inspires Racist Twitter Backlash (Mediaite)

Coca-Cola Ad Celebrates Diversity, Twitter Racists Explode (Huffington Post)

Coca-Cola Multicultural Super Bowl Ad Really Angered Conservatives (Talking Points Memo)

Coca-Cola’s Multilingual America the Beautiful Ad Sparks Conservative Outrage (AlterNet)

Coca-Cola Super Bowl Ad: Can You Believe This Reaction? (USA Today)

Coca-Cola’s America the Beautiful Ad Creates Social Media Firestorm (The Examiner)

America the Ugly: Coca-Cola Super Bowl Ad Provokes Xenophobic Outrage on Twitter (The Daily Mail)

I showed candor, up above. Let’s have everybody else follow suit, and let’s all just admit to the point of this. It wasn’t about celebrating the beauty of, or for that matter anything positive about, the United States. “America the Ugly” was the point. It was about scolding people who aren’t very well understood, may not even exist as they were imagined by the people who cooked up the ad, or those who salivated over it.

There is a story here, certainly. Coca Cola knew exactly how to poke the hornet’s nest; that means — can only mean — they knew exactly where it was and what the best poking-method would be. It’s been growing there for awhile.

But the imagined “bigots” are not that nest. It’s the people who are ready to do the scolding who are the problem. The virtue junkies.

They feel so smug and superior to people like me, because they’ve decided I should have positive feelings about an obnoxious ad and, it turns out, I don’t like it. Their lack of curiosity about people like me is the stuff of legends. I, on the other hand, would sell off all sorts of my possessions, and at a loss, to find out more about what motivates them. What causes this hair-trigger temper of “I’m better than that person who exists mostly in my imagination,” within someone who isn’t actually doing much of anything to make life better for anybody? What unleashes this torrent of energy to produce ads, or watch ads, then take to Twitter and unleash some tut-tuts about these imagined racists…or, to read those tut-tuts, and tut-tut in approval.

Generation after generation after generation burned away “fighting racism,” supposedly — and then celebrating “finding” it’s still there. It is celebrating, isn’t it? I mean, what else could we call it.

And why this undue expansion of the definition? When did racism come to mean “We’ve decided you should like this ad, and we think we caught you not liking it”? Is that really where things are now?

I don’t like the ad because it’s got too many syllables and it gives me a headache. I also don’t like what it promotes. It promotes, not a beautiful America, but a balkanized one. It promotes many-languages as opposed to just one, therefore it promotes confusion. Confusion and an omnipresent, hostile smugness.

America is still beautiful, to me. But in this day & age, it’s got way too much of both those things. Diet Pepsi for me, or just coffee, thanks.

What if Buying Coffee Was Like Buying ObamaCare?

Thursday, February 6th, 2014


Sunday, February 2nd, 2014

Walking to the grocery store this morning on an excursion Mrs. Freeberg courteously pointed out (after I got back) that I’m going to have to repeat soon, I was thinking about breasts. Wait, I’m a dude. That’s just another way to say I was alive and had brainwave activity.

BreastsMy thought about breasts was, actually, how much feminists hate them when they have no reason to. The two favorite examples come to the forefront, DC Comics’ Wonder Woman character and Lara Croft from the Tomb Raider game. I’ve already waxed lyrically about those two icons to excess, but we should start with them nevertheless because they both happen to be in a process of re-work, the video-game superstar last year and the comic book legend in a movie coming up.

Both of these reforms/reboots/whatever-ya-call-em are in the direction of shrinking breasts. For no reason whatsoever, other than: Feminists loathe large breasts on a woman. And feminists loathe large breasts only for the singular solitary reason that men like them.

Now if a feminist reads this and feels the need to retort — which she most certainly would — she’ll reply that I’m forgetting something important and this, as usual, entirely invalidates my point. She’ll time-travel back to the 1960’s and protest that large breasts “reinforce stereotypes” that a woman is no more than her mammary appendages, that she has nothing else to offer, no intellect, no talent, can’t get anything done without a man, is there only for decoration and blah-blah-blah. This is the other reason why we should start off our thinking with Wonder Woman and Lara Croft. There’s a paradox here: These women are not bubble-heads. Wonder Woman is the second most powerful hero in the Justice League. At her inception, she was supposed to capture the absolute pinnacle of what a woman could be, in all aspects. She had a “super power” of being able to win beauty contests. As well as to deflect bullets with her bracelets and all that other stuff. So the super-heroine-beauty was merely an extension of all the things that made her a “wonder,” and the large breasts were merely an extension of that beauty.

Lara Croft is just a bundle of resourcefulness and resilience. At her inception, she was supposed to be a female Indiana Jones. In both cases, the large breasts were a message. Far from being a message of “don’t think too highly of her, she’s just a jiggle-teevee bubblehead” or anything like that, it was more like “Look, I can do all this stuff and I’m a girl!”

I’m old enough to remember when that’s what the feminist message was. Exactly that, nothing more or less.

Speaking of jiggle-teevee: Doesn’t the old Charlie’s Angels show demonstrate how long this has been going on? A new product offering is placed on the media market, seeking to enforce the social messaging that a beautiful woman can be perfectly capable of getting things done. It picks up a following, not because of the social message, but because in order to get that across it has to have one-to-several beautiful women in it, and who doesn’t like to look at beautiful women? And then some “reformer” is somehow allowed into the production meetings, just like the snake slithering into the Garden of Eden, and issues the command: Reduce the breast sizes, because it’s time for the next social message. Charlie’s Angels didn’t make it that far. But it was criticized for being “Jiggle TV” from the very beginning…by whom, I’m not exactly sure, but I suspect it was someone who didn’t actually watch the show too often.

There is value in noticing this, in that it suggests a way we could taxonomize social movements throughout human history. Conservatives ended slavery by way of a powerful message, consisting of “Whatever it is you seek to do and however you seek to do it, is fine, but we’re drawing a line here…” The objection was rooted in Natural Law, and the boundary between right and wrong was, by implication, static and not dynamic.

Progressives can’t get jiggy with that. They can’t follow such a train of thought as far as the “Whatever.” They keep drifting off into this business of, “As long as we’re re-wiring the culture, let’s take care of this thing, over here…” and they are drawn, like moths to a flame, to people’s personal preferences and personal tastes. That’s because they’re always in attack mode. When a conservative decides to support the feminist movement, the justification for doing so is going to be very similar to the justification for that other conservative movement mentioned above, the abolition of slavery. Something like “Women should have the same opportunities a man should have,” or to get more to the point, “It is wrong to deprive a woman of her opportunities.” Again, Natural Law. We might think of the credo as one that asks the question: Is damage being done? Are people engaging in activities that worsen the situation for others?

Such a conservative finds himself or herself compelled to hop off the feminist bandwagon in short order, as it lurches left, into attack mode. Attack this-or-that-corporation for having too many male executives; presume there must be some “discrimination” going on, solely on the basis of outcome, disregarding the very real possibility that a lack of female bosses is simply indicative of a low number of females who want the job. Attack this-or-that industry. Attack this-or-that pastime, this-or-that sport, this-or-that family restaurant franchise.

Attack beautiful, sumptuous female breasts. Lefties are always in attack mode, they place an impractically weighty emphasis on symbols and symbolism. They are dedicated to destroying things, while pretending to be building something great and grand, that they can never quite define.

Gal Gadot, who will be playing Wonder Woman in the upcoming movie, engaged in some very regrettable comments, albeit technically correct ones, about how Wonder Woman’s breasts should not be — ahem — a big deal or anything. She missed the point. Wonder Woman is not about big breasts, but she is about women accomplishing amazing things while being women, and womanly. The message relies on the presentation of womanly attributes, that’s why the big breasts and the big hair and the skirt and the running-style were all there in the first place; it’s all about doing man-sized things in a womanly way.

Since before World War II, superheroes have been an effective way of getting that message across. Among mugging victims, or motorists trapped in cars that are about to teeter off cliffs — who in his right mind is going to say a stupid thing like “Gosh darn it, I wanted Zorro to save me, not this magic-lasso bimbo”? These are great messages for all of us, kids in particular. Help others, when you can. Accept the help, when it’s there. Be the best and the greatest you can be, no matter who or what you are.

Now, with progressive feminists involved, we’re never quite done reforming the female physique. Everything has to be more “realistic,” which means hair short, breasts diminutive, midsection soft and chubby, legs belying a lifestyle built around a henpecked hubby bringing princess things while she sits on the couch.

Feminism, regrettably, has come to be about attacking…femininity. It’s a very sad thing. And it shows you what “attack mode 24×7” really buys you, in the long run. It leads to self-destruction.

So What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?

Sunday, February 2nd, 2014

The Blog That Nobody Reads, inspired the Prof to do some thinking.

Now, Morgan and I are of an age, I think, because I remember those talks as well. And in my case, one of the things I took away from them was the important fact that although I had certain obvious talents even as a kid, I also had limitations. For example, I remember saying to my folks one day, “I want to be an astronaut when I grow up.”

Dad shook his head. “Won’t work — you’ll be too big.” He explained that space capsules were cramped spaces, not really designed for hulking brutes of the sort I was destined to become.

Likewise, when I suggested that I might like a career as a secret agent, he pointed out that spies generally require a degree of protective coloration not typically found in very large redheads of my personality type. I wouldn’t be able to blend in enough for such a gig.
These days, I suspect that parents who dropped this sort of truth on their kids would receive much tut-tutting, accusations of dream-crushing, and such. And I’ll admit, there was a certain amount of disappointment on my part, but I knew my dad loved me and wasn’t speaking from cruelty — he was simply telling the truth: Not everyone can do anything they might want. Instead, he said, you have to find the things that align with your abilities and your limitations and do those things as best you can. And by teaching me that lesson, he helped me find my way to what I do now. I’m grateful for that.

And I find myself wondering if there might be less frustration if more folks learned that lesson early on.

He gets it. A flurry of tiny, almost insignificant observations compel me toward a belief that “the talk” isn’t happening now the way it did in the days of yore. The question in the title of this post is not being asked as often.

Perhaps the attention span is slipping? Not sure what brings that about, but if it can somehow be proven that that is the cause to this effect, then it would be a simple matter to connect that cause to many others. It would explain much.

To the current crop of younglings I can only suggest: Just don’t be like her.

Update: I remember what I was reading when I started thinking this belonged over here, on the blog, and it wasn’t Prof. Mondo talking about it. It was an excellent observation about the graphic above by reader/follower/commentator Robert Mitchell:

We demand that, in school, kids sit down, shut up, and do what they’re told to do, and we drug them to the gills if they don’t. I expect that she was a charming little parrot when young, and her teachers adored her. So they “encouraged” her to seek out a “life of the mind” But no plan was given, just “Go to College!”. Trained from kindergarten to obey teachers, she was easy prey for the bottom feeders of the academic world, the “studies” professors……

The benefit to being a real “of the mind” type of professional, in my opinion, is that the aptitudes can develop late. I myself demonstrated little to nothing by way of remarkable or definable ability, contrasted with some of the other kids who were going to be professional athletes. Those who placed great confidence in their own opinions about what I would one day be, took the safe-shelter in the tiresome prediction that I’d be a great stringed-instrument virtuoso. Looking back on it, what really gave me opportunity for the future was not that. It was the encouragement I received to be a “solution in search of a problem”; the vision that I’d figure out how to do something others had tried to figure out how to do, and hadn’t yet succeeded at doing it. In my case, I have yet to invent the next great light bulb, or transistor, or what have you. But I have managed to solve these little puzzles along the way, and truth be told, that’s what has paid the bills.

That’s why I find this all a bit frightening. What appears to have taken a hiatus is this “do something unique” thing. The vision has been blinded. We seem to have an entire generation of kids coming up, who don’t envision themselves as doing anything now or in the future, besides fitting in to a large crowd, be it physical or virtual. But, either way, the large-crowd would not miss them if they were not there…and that’s okay.

To some, that’s a dream come true. Perhaps because of my own perspective on life and how to make a living while you’re in it, I call it a nightmare. I don’t wish to be melodramatic about it, but I struggle in vain to imagine one that could be any worse.

Prince Charles, Hypocrite

Saturday, February 1st, 2014

From the ever-thickening file folder marked, “Oh look it’s another asshole flying around in a private jet to spread the word about global warming or something”…

Hat tip to The News Junkie at Maggie’s Farm.