Archive for May, 2015

“Deciding What We Want the World to Look Like, and Settling for No Less”

Saturday, May 30th, 2015

So Sonic Charmer found a website, which uses cute cartoon shapes to sell a few cute cartoon ideas.

This is a story of how harmless choices can make a harmful world.

These little cuties are 50% Triangles, 50% Squares, and 100% slightly shapist. But only slightly! In fact, every polygon prefers being in a diverse crowd:

Deciding What We Want the World to Look LikeYou can only move them if they’re unhappy with their immediate neighborhood. Once they’re OK where they are, you can’t move them until they’re unhappy with their neighbors again. They’ve got one, simple rule:

“I wanna move if less than 1/3 of my neighbors are like me.”
These are good shapes, nice shapes. And yet, though every individual only has a slight bias, the entire shape society cracks and splits.

Small individual bias can lead to large collective bias.

Equality is an unstable equilibrium. The smallest of bias can push a whole society past the tipping point.

There’s that phrase again, “tipping point.” While I get the ramifications of the metaphor — it’s got something to do with the state of an object shifting past some point of no-going-back — I don’t really understand what this means, and the website never offers an explanation that’s suitably specific, nothing more specific than “the society cracks and splits.”

Sonic Charmer picked up on this too:

In the long-term equilibrium, whatever SEGREGATION statistic they’re using climbs and climbs above 50%. And so, uh, I guess that’s the ‘harmful’ part?

But why? By the parameters of the model setup, literally everyone is perfectly content in that equilibrium. So there’s no actual ‘harm’ to point to. Yeah, sure, there are visibly-disjoint yellow-triangle neighborhoods and blue-square neighborhoods. But so the hell what?

Actually, if you step back there is one actor who is unhappy in the equilibrium: the website author. In a more-complete picture of this simulation, she would be represented somewhere onscreen with a frowny-face. The cartoon would show those nearly-400 squares and triangles all perfectly fine with their situation, but a frowny-faced judgmental progressive lady somewhere over on the side frowning at them all. “You’re segregated and that’s bad! You should literally all change your preferences and do a bunch of stuff till you’re not!”, she declares.

So yeah, I guess I can’t rightfully claim that everyone is content. It’s not enough that literally everyone else is satisfied. We gotta make the progressive happy.

But that’s just the first problem. There is another: You’ve heard the saying “contentment is the enemy of progress”? There is a lot of truth to that in home ownership. At this point, that’s about the most likely pathway of my wife and me, with our 30-year-fixed on a house we’ll call home for…who knows? All of it? Perhaps. But, most likely five to ten years, somewhere around or just under the average. Is this a bad thing?

The website proceeds from a false premise, that the goal has to have something to do with people being happy where they are. Obviously, it’s aimed at frowny-face-shape people who are considering a relocation, in part or wholly because of the neighbors. I guess that includes me, at least as of yesterday morning, when some crazy-lady walking through the crosswalk in her crazy-lady way lost her shit and started tearing apart a sidewalk placard advertising some hamburgers or something. Made me wonder, just for a second or two but once again, about the wisdom involved in leaving good old whitebread Folsom…

Oh. “White.” That’s the issue, is it? Now I get it, shapes represent color!

Sadly, it doesn’t work because the crazy-lady that makes me want to move out of the neighborhood, has my own skin color, which is white. So although I guess I’m part of the problem the website seeks to address, it fails to address it because what we have here is a guy in a car he owns, being forced by a traffic light to remain in proximity with a pedestrian who is free to move about as she likes, who is crazy, and violent. Turns out, “I’m not happy with this” is a perfectly natural reaction. The crazy-lady is white. The neighbors across the street are not, and sadly they just suffered a family tragedy and are getting ready to move. We’ll miss them, we wish they’d stay. So if we’re really talking about skin color then that’s strike two. I think we’re ready to call out a third problem, since if the statement of the problem doesn’t intersect with reality, the proposed solution probably won’t either.

The fourth problem is in the title of this post, which is a quote from the “box of friendship” section of the webpage, about two thirds down:

All it takes is a change in the perception of what an acceptable environment looks like. So, fellow shapes, remember it’s not about triangles vs squares, it’s about deciding what we want the world to look like, and settling for no less.

This is supposed to be something novel and new, something inspiring that applies to only this particular case. But anybody who’s looked at proggies for any length of time, understands the sentiment is a global and not a local; it is an accurate summary of the progressivism we know today, across all sorts of different issues. And the sense of entitlement is eminent, impossible to ignore, when one considers how this fourth problem conflicts so sharply with the second problem: Contentment is, indeed, the enemy of “progress,” but the discontentment that inspires progress is a privilege. You are not entitled to have it, you need to learn to be happy where you are, with all the violent crazy ladies in crosswalks ripping into your stuff while you wait for the light to turn green.

This is a big problem. In the “wrapping up” section, the web page intones

When someone says a culture is shapist, they’re not saying the individuals in it are shapist. They’re not attacking you personally.

It would seem, at the end of it, that that’s not really true. “Deciding what we want the world to look like, and settling for no less” is a privilege, we see, that “they” are reserving for themselves. What is that if it is not an attack? It certainly is an act of exclusion. One might even say, an act of…segregation.

There is a fifth problem, laid-out artfully, if a bit sarcastically, by texan999 in the comments:

I’m sure the author would be thrilled if every neighborhood had to contain a percentage of right-wing gun-toting Evangelicals consistent with the national average, instead of consisting entirely of hipsters with a strong diversity ethic.

Oh my. Yes. Maybe someone who’s running the happy-shapes website can tote it down to the nearest college campus, show it to students and faculty alike, see if any of the perfectly content shapes behind those ivy walls can learn a thing or two. About diversity of opinion and political ideology. Or…not

…Trescott University president Kevin Abrams confirmed Monday that the school encourages a lively exchange of one idea. “As an institution of higher learning, we recognize that it’s inevitable that certain contentious topics will come up from time to time, and when they do, we want to create an atmosphere where both students and faculty feel comfortable voicing a single homogeneous opinion…”

The sixth problem is the “A” in S.T.A.C.I., the Abundance. The progressive movement is punch-drunk on the idea that we, the hamsters in the wheels and crawl-tubes they’re buying from the pet shop on a weekly whim (with our dollars), can be taught to like some things and drop our interest in other things. Being liberals, they have arrived at the conclusion about how human nature works that is exactly 180 degrees off course from the way it really works, and if they had the ability to learn from experience and correct this oversight then they wouldn’t be liberals. They think, if they can conceal some of the things we like from our view for long enough, block us from the option of choosing whatever-it-is long enough, we’ll forget that we ever preferred it and our preferences will shift. They also think that if they shove some of the things we don’t like, right into our faces long enough and often enough, we’ll learn to like those instead.

Strangely, when it comes to winning elections, they are capable of learning from experience and honing their techniques over time into something that actually works. They don’t have that ability here, nor do they have the ability to see that what they do isn’t working.

“Even Late in Development”

Friday, May 29th, 2015

Someone was asking for my critique against Vox’s critique against AGILE.

He dutifully listed the twelve principles:

1. Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software.
2. Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer’s competitive advantage.
3. Deliver working software frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to the shorter timescale.
4. Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project.
5. Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.
6. The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation.
7. Working software is the primary measure of progress.
8. Agile processes promote sustainable development. The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.
9. Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility.
10. Simplicity–the art of maximizing the amount of work not done–is essential.
11. The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams.
12. At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly.

…taking particular umbrage against #2, “Welcome changing requirements, even late in development.”

Bullshit. That’s fine in the early stages. In the middle to late stages, this is what is known as “mission creep”.

Quite right. Although, for whatever misgivings I may share about #2, I like #8. Then again, #8 #9 and some others would benefit from more specifics. And then there’s this…

“Business people and developers must work together”…”working software is the primary measure”…”best architectures, requirements and designs emerge from self-organizing teams”…these strike me as heading off in the wrong direction. No, I’m not saying non-working software is the primary measure of progress. I’m concerned about the definition of the requirements, and the apparent contradiction. If the best requirements come from a self-organizing team, why is management involved at all?

AGILE seems to start off with an unwarranted — or, at least, largely unearned — fondness for the process of committee thinking. The manifesto reads as:

We are uncovering better ways of developing software by doing it and helping others do it.
Through this work we have come to value:

Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
Working software over comprehensive documentation
Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
Responding to change over following a plan

That is, while there is value in the items on the right, we value the items on the left more.

I see no great harm in “individuals and interactions,” but I have seen the harm done, firsthand, through an excessive cultural reliance on these. It doesn’t come about until the very minimum quantity of chat-session required is something way, way up there, to the point that the cubicle-farm starts to become a noisy sort of a place, and nobody bothers to ask: How come that is? Why so much verbiage necessary to convey a single thought? How come all these meetings necessary to accomplish trivial tasks which should have, by now, become routine for us?

When people don’t ask such questions — disasters do follow. And they’re predictable. The methods become inconsistent, as the details morph and change with the mood of the committee or subcommittee, on the day the meeting or cubicle-chat-session happened to have been held. Worse, it often emerges that you can’t use the software that was designed by committee, until you first form a committee of your own and flesh out these (verbal) details about how to run it. “Working software over comprehensive documentation,” it says.

I know the rebuttal already; it’s made of iron. “Nevermind what you may know about software development Morgan K. Freeberg, or your experience or whatever you may have accomplished — the committee said something different from what you said, and you’re not on the committee.” That’s the rebuttal committees always use. Meanwhile, it would not be inaccurate to say AGILE has become something of a pejorative term, would it? Perhaps not among the managers, or the recruiters.

But when the successful job candidate is told “This work environment operates according to AGILE,” what is the first thought? “Oh good, finally we’re going to get something done that works”? Or something else, more like…”Well this is not going to be my best work between womb & tomb, but fuck it I’ve got bills.”

Prager, whom I mentioned a short time ago, is fond of saying “I’d rather have clarity than agreement.” AGILE seems, to me, to have turned this upside-down, seems to be practicing a sort of negative-image, Bizarro-world version of it. They’d rather go consensus-driven and have the agreement, or a sense of it at least.


Friday, May 29th, 2015


(n.) a remedy for all ills or difficulties : cure-all

Image uploaded to the Hello Kitty of Blogging…with…

Hurricanes…more laws, raise taxes
Tornado[e]s…more laws, raise taxes
Hot…more laws, raise taxes
Cold…more laws, raise taxes
Flooding…more laws, raise taxes
Drought…more laws, raise taxes
Earthquakes…more laws, raise taxes
Missing Child…more laws, raise taxes
Someone Offended…more laws, raise taxes

It’s a bit funny, albeit in a dark way, because to those insisting on raising these taxes the ultimate evil would be “to do nothing.” A tax, by the very definition of the term, diminishes you so you can’t do as much. So taking it to extremes, a highly effective way of making sure nobody manages to do anything would be to raise their taxes to “cover” everything they’ve made. And when raising-taxes is the answer to every problem that comes along, why should we not take it to extremes?

They seek to fool others, or else someone else is successfully fooling them. Could be both, but at least one must apply.


Thursday, May 28th, 2015

Jazz Shaw at HotAir:

Well, here’s a light, breezy topic for us to tackle over a long weekend. Is mankind essentially good and noble at his core with a few outlying, sick individuals messing things up for the rest of us? Or is man prone to evil on a genetic level, only managing a facade of civilization and goodness through strained communal effort? Writing at The American Thinker, Mike Konrad thinks he’s onto the answer, and it’s not a very cheerful one. But he argues that the truth can be found right in the Bible.

What separates Christianity from all other religions is a hard truth: Man is intrinsically evil. This flies in the face of hyper-leftist dogma that man is essentially good; all that is necessary is an environmental tune up.

While it is true that crime is greater in poor neighborhoods — poverty can bring out the worst in people — it is equally true that that potential for evil has to be there. Increasing prosperity will lessen street crime to be sure. Well-fed people have less need to steal, but crime will merely blossom in other areas.

This doctrine is called “Original Sin;” and it has been replaced in our culture by self-esteem.

We are not born with any inherent sense of propriety, respect for property or the sanctity of the persons of others. These are things which are trained into us (hopefully) by our parents and the broader environmental lessons of civil society, assuming one is fortunate enough to be born into a civilized land. That’s why parents inevitably have to begin yelling at toddlers about why it’s wrong to take things that don’t belong to them and stop them from hitting their playmates…Anger, aggression and a desire to fulfill our own needs and desires, even if that comes at a cost to others, seems to be built into our hind brains in some fashion. The idea of organized societies which band together to enforce rules and maintain the rights of individuals is actually a fairly recent development in historical terms.

Coincidentally, a Facebook friend points to me to this essay by Matt Forney titled, provocatively, “The Case Against Female Self-Esteem“:

From the moment they’re old enough to speak, girls in America are bombarded with propaganda that artificially boosts their self-esteem. They’re told that they’re shpecial and you-nique because they have an extra X chromosome. They’re told that they’re smart, that they can do anything, that they deserve respect merely for existing. They’re encouraged to derive self-worth not from their inherent feminine nature but from their college degree, their job or the other illusory trappings of achievement in a man’s world.
Feminists can screech as loud as they want, but they will never change this fundamental reality; men accord respect based on merit, and if girls want to play in our world, they’ll have to obey our rules. Otherwise, they know where the kitchen is. I have more respect for the starving artist couple busking down the street from my house than I do for all the career-driven, Strong, Independent Women™ in the world.

Dennis Prager, also coincidentally so far as I can tell, has kicked off a series exploring the differences between conservatives and liberals that paved his pathway toward the former after being one of the latter, and the first difference fits right into the theme:

I had to understand both liberalism and conservatism. Indeed, I have spent a lifetime in a quest to do so.

The fruit of that quest will appear in a series of columns explaining the differences between left and right.

I hope it will benefit conservatives in better understanding why they are conservative, and enable liberals to understand why someone who deeply cares about the “little guy” holds conservative — or what today are labeled as conservative — views.

Difference No. 1: Is Man Basically Good?

Left-of-center doctrines hold that people are basically good. On the other side, conservative doctrines hold that man is born morally flawed — not necessarily born evil, but surely not born good. Yes, we are born innocent — babies don’t commit crimes, after all — but we are not born good. Whether it is the Christian belief in Original Sin or the Jewish belief that we are all born with a yetzer tov (good inclination) and a yetzer ra (bad inclination) that are in constant conflict, the root value systems of the West never held that we are naturally good.

To those who argue that we all have goodness within us, two responses: First, no religion or ideology denies that we have goodness within us; the problem is with denying that we have badness within us. Second, it is often very challenging to express that goodness. Human goodness is like gold. It needs to be mined — and like gold mining, mining for our goodness can be very difficult.

There’s an update to the Jazz Shaw article that more precisely reflects my own thoughts about it:

Update (Ed): I’ll address this from the Biblical perspective, rather than from the philosophical perspective, as Jazz has done. This debate has raged from the very beginnings of the Christian church, and resulted in forceful denunciations for centuries, until modern theologians revived a few old heresies.

To declare that man is inherently evil is to misunderstand the nature of original sin. God created man in His own image, as He created everything else in the material world. The original sin of Adam and Eve was to reject God and grasp for His status through disobedience, for which they were ejected from the Garden, but still remained in the love of God. Put more simply, “original sin” is the predilection toward sinfulness, but we choose whether to be evil or good. We are not inherently evil, or the sacrifice of Jesus would have been in vain. To consider mankind inherently evil would be itself a rejection of God’s work and His image.

This is really, I think, a difference of opinion about standards. If there are two youths, one knows enough to take off his hat and stand when a lady approaches and the other one doesn’t, it’s not very plausible to try to deny that the well-mannered one is setting a better example. It’s a lot easier to argue against the setting of examples, to start making excuses for laziness. And once you go down that road you’re going to have to go all the way, right? He couldn’t get to school on time, because he was up late doing his homework. But by living together, we defeat the excuse: Are there any other kids in the school who also stayed up doing homework? What time did they get to school the next day? How many of them were late? Well, gee. Standards.

And this goes on to the more serious stuff: The “youths” are smashing storefront windows and starting fires because the neighborhood is blighted and they can’t find jobs. Huh, is there anybody else who can’t find a job? What are they smashing? So I agree with the editor, a debate about “man being inherently evil” somewhat misses the point.

The conservative vision, at least my own contemplation of it, is not about man being tainted with Original Sin but more like man choosing to do, rather than to be. This gets back to Matt Forney’s observation about precious snowflakey females, with their lives essentially being put on a path to ruin, through this repeated indoctrination about how worthy they are — for not actually having done much of anything. It’s not a female problem, there are quite a few snowflakey boys too. And men. And women.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Conservatism, to be worthy of the word, has to be in favor of conserving something, and what this “conservatism” on our minds today seeks to conserve is civilization. This difference Prager is noticing is just one part of it, since civilization cannot endure without the people living in it believing in the power of starting new days with clean slates, believing that the reputations they have, and will have later, and their power to affect those reputations, lies in their deeds and not in their…well, their whatever. That it lies in their doing and not in their being.

Without that, there’s no power at the individual level, no satisfaction at the end of the day about some improvement that was brought-about. Conservative or liberal, nobody with a working brain says to himself at that point, “The world today was a little bit better because I was in it.” At least I don’t think so. Some of us might get to think that about a thing we did — maybe. Once in a great while, if we’re exceptionally lucky and have made the most of the opportunity. But mentally healthy people don’t really think things are like that, just because they were there. Burning oxygen. That’s like a first step to becoming a sociopath.

Related: Imgur…click open the page and read the whole thing…

Also, get a load of the comments. I noticed overall, the closer the comments come to my own opinion, the further away they are from “best” and the closer they are to “worst.” Like for example:

Things like this always piss me off. My dad had it rough growing up. He worked hard and still came out on top. This is disrespectful.

Seems to me the people making all those other commie-comments, and the people up-voting them, are being rather choosy with the blind spots. You had help! You had help! Don’t you dare ignore the fact that you had help! But then we come to some other annoying truths, like…here’s someone who started out humble and ended up making it. Doesn’t even have to be a case of “making it without any advantages,” more likely it’s a case of “make your own advantages.” But the thing is, you can call it whatever you want, cast it however you want to cast it, tell the story long or tell it short…it doesn’t matter. The reds aren’t anywhere to be seen, can’t hear you, left the room awhile ago. Theirs is a monologue and not a dialogue. The “Don’t dare you ignore the fact that” people can’t be told anything.

And what a shame that is! Your chosen subject matter, if it’s based on truth, manifests a pathway. An avenue between starting without, and finishing-up with, this much-desired prosperity, and all these advantages. So they’re working rather hard to maintain a wall of ignorance that, if it were to be breached only a little bit, might directly address some of the problems they claim is agitating them so much.

Conversely, the people who agree with me about it — are we really turning a blind eye to the fact that we, and others who have it about as well as we do, or better, had help? Have you met anyone who actually takes the attitude “No! I refuse to acknowledge any of these rich people had help”? I have heard a great deal more lecturing about such examples, than I have of such examples themselves. I would regard this as a rather silly opinion to have. If you were born anywhere after, say, the 1750’s or so in the First World, you were born in a miraculous place during a miraculous time. Given that, if you still want to play a pity-party and eyeball the ones who are even better off with this attitude of disdain, there really isn’t anything I can do or say that would help you. Other than to advise that without a change of direction, your sense of despair is permanent. This is provable. There is always someone who has more.

Envy, by the way, is a “flaw.” I don’t know of any religion that says otherwise, and if one did say otherwise it would be a rather dick-ish way of looking at the universe and all the things in it…

Using the DSM

Sunday, May 24th, 2015

Do they even? The Psychiatrists, that is. It seems to Dr. Joy Bliss that it’s “taken more seriously by non-Psychiatrists” based on her reading of things like this

In both initial and ongoing everyday practice, the majority of the respondents use DSM codes for administrative/billing purposes. About half report that they “sometimes,” “often,” or “always” use DSM to review specific criteria with the pa-tient or family and more than 60% use it “sometimes,” “often,” or “always” to review relevant text for specific disorders. In the initial evaluation of a patient, close to 85% “sometimes,” “often” or “always” use DSM diagnostic criteria from memory—but not as much during ongoing treatment.

Overall, a significant minority do not find the DSM to be very helpful in selecting treatment, and about half do not find it helpful for determining prognosis. It is seen as most useful in meeting administrative requirements, in communicating with colleagues, and in teaching.

Happy Memorial Day, Here’s Obama Eating Ice Cream

Saturday, May 23rd, 2015

That is, of course, President Obama. Wouldn’t want to be racist!

But now that we got that out of the way…there’s a question in the comments that might merit an answer, if one can be found…

What does Barry eating Cherry Garcia have to do with Veterans [sic] day?

Memorial Day. Yeah, but…mmm…might have been good to put some thought into how the pic fits in with the occasion, before tweeting. “Freedom Isn’t Free” is what’s on our minds during this so-called “holiday,” and I guess, I dunno, didn’t see this coming but looks like we have a conflict. The democrat party imagines that everything worth having, should be free. And is! Or something. Living down to their rep.

From Twitchy.

Related: Common Characteristics of Cults.

“Real Denialism”

Friday, May 22nd, 2015

James Taranto, writing in Best of the Web at WSJ:

All reasonable Americans—this statement is true by definition—scoffed in 2008, when then-Sen. Barack Obama, having just clinched the Democratic presidential nomination, proclaimed: “I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that…this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.”

It’s been only a fraction of a generation, but the president asserted yesterday that he had mischaracterized that moment. “The planet is getting warmer,” he claimed in a commencement address at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy:

Fourteen of the 15 hottest years on record have been in the past 15 years. Last year was the planet’s warmest year ever recorded.

Our scientists at NASA just reported that some of the sea ice around Antarctica is breaking up even faster than expected. The world’s glaciers are melting, pouring new water into the ocean. Over the past century, the world sea level rose by about 8 inches. That was in the last century; by the end of this century, it’s projected to rise another 1 to 4 feet.

Yes, the lucky cadets were treated to a presidential lecture on, in Obama’s words, “the urgent need to combat and adapt to climate change.”

This is a chorus ever-repeating in the musical that is Marxist insanity: “This thing is absolutely inevitable and unstoppable, so we must sacrifice everything to make it happen.” It is the sort of mental slippage consequential to reading the future, with all the certainty attendant to recollection of the past. Then again, if lefties had some useful comprehension of time, they wouldn’t be asserting in 2008 that this is “the moment our planet began to heal,” and then seven years later that the planet’s sickness was worse than ever before, with not a hint of backpedaling, or “sorry I was wrong,” or “seemed like a good idea at the time” — or even, “key change!”

Such reflections on the elementary human experience of time, reveal brutally that if this ideological movement retains so much as a semblance of sanity, it’s not any brand of sanity that’s useful to anyone else. Continuing,

The most telling assertion in the president’s speech was meant as a throwaway line. Immediately after setting up his some-folks-back-in-Washington straw man, Obama allowed as how “on a day like today, it’s hard to get too worried about it,” the antecedent being “climate change.” It was a cool spring day in New London, Conn.

Now of course weather isn’t the same thing as climate, as global warmists are quick to point out in fair weather. But that’s true of all weather. It is fallacious to attribute bad weather but not good weather to “climate change,” as if every day was idyllic everywhere on preindustrial Earth.

And that, right there, is really the whole problem. “Climate change” is, as the name correctly implies, an assertion that something in nature is undergoing a transformation. We “know” this to be true, because we are applying measurements to this thing in nature, using things that have been created by humans to do the measuring. Left out of the bumptious bullying narrative is any confession that these instruments, and the technologies & methodologies that apply them to the task and interpret their readings, have also been subject to change.

More insanity. The assertion is that we know a thing is changing, because we’re getting changing readings when we measure it — using a “yardstick” that we know is changing. And the insanity feeds upon itself, growing exponentially: There’s no use discussing it with you if you do not acknowledge, without reservation or hesitation, that the changing measurements on this changing yardstick prove that the thing being measured, is changing; and, exactly the way we say it is. Furthermore, that this change represents a problem, which can be solved only by moving money around in the way we say. But it may be too late already! But move the money around anyway.

After all, the thing is inevitable, an absolute certainty, and that can only mean one thing, that we must sacrifice everything to make it happen.


Thursday, May 21st, 2015

For the past three or four years, I have been keeping a sharp eye out on what happens culturally between the last week or so of January, and the end of February. Seems to me we’re living in an age in which men and women are getting along better than they did before, back in the 1980’s or so, but the tense peace is periodically disrupted by some unfortunate new industries we have going. And at that time every year, there is this pattern that we all get our dander up about womens’ body shapes. It’s a bit odd, because it’s winter. But if you haven’t noticed it maybe you should make a point of watching too. This weird, strained narrative that women, subjected to “society’s unhealthy image of the ideal female body style,” are forced to lose unhealthy portions of weight or die trying, because the awful terrible wicked men want it that way.

Bikini SeasonWhich, a lot of men are going to notice — we don’t. Oh, some do, but not nearly enough to speak for all of us, to settle in some reasonably observed rule about what “men want.” Men don’t want pencils. Men like curves. This ideal body-image that’s supposedly causing the harm, this mop-handle-with-two-balloons-attached, comes from fashion magazines. Which are not run by mean, nasty men, not men who are interested in female body shapes anyhow. Mean nasty women would be closer to the truth. Anyhow. The point is not to get into all of that again, the point is to observe that we keep re-arguing it and re-arguing it some more, right about the time the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue comes out. And, when the Super Bowl is finally finished.

I’ve settled on the theory that it is one of those two things…coupled up with, women are far more up-to-speed with fashion and clothes shopping, and how they are to be affected by the seasons, than men. Their thoughts turn to this. There is apprehension involved because, let’s face it ladies, if it really is that big an issue then it would be healthier to start thinking about it the Labor Day before. But we’re all human, there is drama involved in the holidays and there is drama involved in the football season, drama drama drama. In this imperfect world, the “ZOMG!” sets in January to February, when the tape measures come out, and unfortunately we have a lot of parasitic industries feeding off all that.

Blaming men is always cheapest.

Well, for some four years or so I’ve seen this pattern play out, and there is this resistance when I point out the seasonal nature of it. Like, those most excited about it can’t remember anything long term. But, maybe I should re-think something too, on my end; seems there’s something going on with May. We have the events of the post previous (the overall problem of which is described very capably over here), there is the angry soccer mom road rage incident, there is the body camera that saved the cop from a trumped-up accusation of sexual assault. Emma “Mattress Girl” Sulkowicz is getting in trouble all over again (H/T) and looking for a way to make a buck off all the commotion (H/T).

The infamous “lake temper tantrum” video from a few years ago (earplug warning), was uploaded in July. Those of us who are survivors from relationships like this, wince a bit…

July is not May, so this would be an exception. But we have a very clear trend here. No, it’s not that women entirely lack conflict-resolution skills…I’ll go ahead and include the disclaimer, and the acknowledgement, that it isn’t like we guys have some sort of monopoly on this. Some guys really are jerks, I get it…and yeah, NAWALT (Not All Women Are Like That).

But, there is a problem here with female entitlement. That’s not the point though. My point is, something about May — they seem to forget there is, or “may” be, a video camera running. Only the soccer mom was aware. But, she only became aware after things were already heated — just like Ms. McHenry from last month.

I’m still not entirely down with this new era in which anyone & everyone may be caught on video at any time, and the concept of privacy seems to be headed toward the brink of extinction and at a rapid, technologically-accelerated, clip. I see lots of downsides to it. But then again, these unwarranted (mostly) female feelings of self-entitlement also represent a sort of curse that has fallen on us as a direct result of technology. There is history to this. There must be, right? We don’t develop a problem just overnight with an advisor, who doesn’t advise, thinking it’s somehow okay to tell a male student “Sitting here until someone is available is harassing them,” or a wife who’s in her thirties thinking it’s somehow okay to throw a toddler-tantrum over general maintenance being done on the car.

What worries me about this seasonality is: The root of the problem is this phrase, the “somehow thinking it’s okay.” Our culture has lost a taboo or two over the years, some of the good ones, the ones that had purpose. If there is a May pattern to all these videos getting uploaded, perhaps the pattern only holds with forgetting that there’s a camera — for some reason. Which would be a fascinating thing, in and of itself. But what if it’s only the forgetting about the camera, that is seasonal? What if the behavior persists throughout all twelve months of the year, and it’s only during this small handful of months that it manages to get filmed?

And how far back into the past does this go? How much further back than the beginning of the ability to casually and surreptitiously film this stuff? How many men — er, okay, people — were made to look like the bad guy, successfully, and over how many years? How many decades?

We can never know the answer. We can only ponder the question…

“Sitting Here Until Someone is Available is Harassing Them”

Tuesday, May 19th, 2015

Therefore, she called security.

And as a direct result of that, launched a Twitter hashtag storm…and got herself placed on administrative leave.

A Kennesaw State University has placed an academic adviser on administrative leave while the school investigates a student’s viral 30-second video of his interaction with her.

In the video, Abby Dawson, the school’s director of advising and internships in the Department of Exercise Science and Sport Management, accused the student of “harassment” for apparently sitting in the room and waiting to speak with his academic adviser.
The video begins with the adviser — initially identified by Bruce and other students as Dawson — walking into the room and telling Bruce that he was harassing another adviser, Margaret Tilley.

“I’m not harassing no one,” Bruce said.

“You are,” Dawson replied.

“I’m not,” Bruce continued.

Dawson threatened to call security and told Bruce that he could fill out a form “just like everyone else does.”

Bruce responded that he was just waiting to talk to someone.

“Sitting here until someone is available is harassing them,” Dawson said.

Now on the one hand, we don’t know what went down before the camera started rolling, and it’s clear the altercation didn’t begin at that point. On the other hand, it is equally clear that the school based its decision to start a review of the incident, based on other events antecedent to the incident itself. This is the continuation of a pattern. The reaction of the student body, and of management, make that rather difficult to deny or call into any sort of question.

And the fact of the matter is, taking things a step further after filling out a form or whatever, “just like everybody else,” is not harassment; it’s called escalation, and it’s something we out here in the real world have to do regularly, in fact more often than we’d like. Or if it isn’t escalation, maybe the student just hasn’t got anything better to do for an hour than get this one question answered — which, in the world of student-ing, could very well be a reasonable decision to make. Either way, unless he’s doing something like making faces, or noises, or holding a pillowcase and bloody butcher knife or something like that, you have to wonder about the mindset of Ms. Skinny Pants. The only way this office full of “workers” can get anything done, without feeling harassed, is away all of the clientèle they’re servicing…so they can be left to work the queue of forms, in peace, and at their own leisure?

How efficiently are they working away at this queue? Is there a problem there, that would make the workers feel harassed if the process is transparent, visible to those who are doing the waiting?

I develop web services for front-end developers. I could make a powerful case that I feel “harassed” by their questions…if I chose to make one. It might not stick, since I’m a contractor, but nevertheless in some cases I could bring some good, solid evidence that the inopportune timing of some of these questions has a negative impact on my work. So how come things don’t go that way? Lots of reasons. As I said, it wouldn’t stick; the persons asking the questions, need the answers; they’re already being about as considerate of my time as they can manage, with things the way they are (and there’s nothing in the video to suggest the same isn’t true of the student)…

And finally, but not least significantly, it’s just the way life is. If the work you’re doing is important enough to have an impact on anything, that means someone will have questions. Possibly, even probably, right while you’re in the middle of doing it. It’s a feature and not a bug. It means that what you’re doing, matters. At least that’s how I see it.

But then, I never went to college.

Hat tip to Instapundit.

“More Typical”

Sunday, May 17th, 2015

So last week something very unfair was done to President Obama. Someone captured this video clip of Him speaking about Fox News’ representation of poor people…

…which makes Him look like a strutting martinet, a tinpot dictator ready to clamp down and start controlling how His country’s media presents ideas not to His liking. It also makes Him look like a bit of a nitwit.

What’s unfair is, that’s the general impression here on Planet Earth. But Obama wasn’t speaking on Earth, He was speaking on the Way Hard Fringe Kooky Lefty-Left Butt-Hurt Hatey-Hate planet, where censoring Fox News makes all sorts of sense. Everybody knows it, on that planet. “Everybody” knows just all sorts of things on that planet.

As Megyn Kelly pointed out, President Obama has a very long history of doing this — blaming the reporting, specifically Fox, when He finds that a not-quite-adequate number of His fellow citizens agree with Him about something. She also points out (at about 3:30 here) that this continued carping is “beneath the dignity of the office” of POTUS.

All of which is quite true. On Planet Earth. Again, it’s unfair: Where His Holiness was speaking, different rules apply, both policy and cultural. They’re in their very own orbit, and it seems nothing is beneath the dignity of anything over there.

But logic is universal. That’s the wonderful thing about it. People living in this or that place may not want it to apply, but it still does. So with that in mind, I’m more fascinated with this thing from the first clip (about 0:28):

…It is a constant menu. They will find…(pause)…like…folks who make Me mad. I don’t know where they find them, right? They’re all, like, I don’t wanna work, I just want a free Obamaphone. Or, whatever.

And, and that becomes an entire narrative. Right? That, that gets worked up. Uh, and and you and very rarely do you hear an interview of of a waitress, which is much more typical, who is raising a couple of kids and is doing everything right, but still can’t pay the bills. Um, and so…

Bold emphasis is mine. Well you can see it’s the verbal medium, so obviously that’s true. But it’s also obvious that when I put the emphasis on “narrative” I’m merely acting on the desires of the speaker. He wishes to discuss narratives. His complaint is about narratives. Nowhere, in any rendition of this particular speech I have heard, does He complain about lying, or failure to adequately check-out some story that turned out to be a falsehood before broadcasting it.

So proceeding to the other thing I put in bold, the “more typical” thing — we need to figure out what President Obama means by this, since His entire complaint seems to be relying on some meaning He has in mind for this term. President Obama is complaining about some standard that has not been met, that Fox News has failed to meet. Let’s use logic. There are exactly two possibilities. Literal and figurative:

1. President Obama has access to statistical information that definitively proves there are more waitresses raising two kids, who are doing everything right but still can’t pay the bills, than there are lazy people who don’t wanna work and want a free Obamaphone or whatever.
2. President Obama is applying the informal definition of the word “typical.” He is complaining that the factual information finding its way to Him, by way of Fox News, contradicts His preconceived notions and this makes Him uncomfortable.



having the distinctive qualities of a particular type of person or thing.
“a typical day”

characteristic of a particular person or thing.
“he brushed the incident aside with typical good humor”

informal: showing the characteristics expected of or popularly associated with a particular person, situation, or thing.
““Typical woman!” John said disapprovingly”

The Google definition associates this use of “typical” with sexism and prejudice. Which fits, when you think about it a bit. Prejudice is prejudging, something that is necessary when you have a complaint about information someone has brought to you, that the “narrative” is not as “typical” as something else. Means you must have picked the something-else, first, somehow, and are experiencing pique over this contradiction that was introduced afterward. The learning is making you cringe.

Even “John,” with his sexist prejudgments about “typical” women, isn’t guilty of this. Not as far as we can see, anyway. We’d have to wait and see how he responds, should he find out about a woman who doesn’t fit the mold. But we know more than that now about President Obama.

Here on Earth, that carries some particularly dire implications. Especially about our nation’s Commander in Chief, upon whom the rest of us are relying to be able to absorb information at certain key moments. Information about reality. We do not rely on our Commander in Chief to erect these prejudgments, and then protect them from information about reality that arrives later, like a little boy protecting a sandcastle against a rising tide. We’re relying on Him to protect something else more important.

What President Obama is doing with this complaint, is something typical of the college-adjunct-prof crowd, or more broadly, of those who are sometimes referred to as being “educated above their hat size”: He’s pitching it in the waste bucket, because it conflicts. The conflict is of His making, it is not the product of Fox News; it arises because President Obama has some narratives of His own.

It also seems to have eluded Obama’s notice that here on Planet Earth, “waitress working hard to raise two kids” is not mutually-exclusive from “don’t wanna work, want an Obamaphone or whatever.” Not to disparage the noble waitressing profession, but it’s possible for one person to belong to both groups, and the overlap may be significant. Here again, the literal, statistically-driven version of “typical” doesn’t work. If you were to go door-to-door in the poor neighborhoods, conducting a survey about “Are you a waitress who does everything right and still can’t pay the bills while you’re raising two kids, or do you not want to work and want an Obamaphone or whatever,” you wouldn’t be able to complete it. Well you could I suppose. It would be another one of those bits of faux-research that end up saying whatever the researchers wanted them to say; which, ironically, is exactly what Obama is doing. Point is, it wouldn’t be an objective measurement because the objective measurement isn’t there to be taken.

So this is another unfair thing that was done to President Obama: The cat got let out of the bag. We got to see, here on Earth, how decisions get made over on that other weird planet. How they reach the conclusion first, then do the learning. Ready, fire, aim! And as they do this learning which is way too late for it to have an effect on anything, they react. Emotionally. Using a purely binary approach, of “I approve of this” and “I don’t approve of that.”

Oh, now and then we do see that here on Earth. Quite often, in fact. It usually has to involve liberal democrats, some sort of a committee, or a committee of liberal democrats.

But we think of it as a bureaucratic disgrace. Especially when it costs us something, personally. Over there on the weird strange planet, it’s the way things are done. “Everybody knows”…well…pretty much everything. No learning needed.

Now that He’s been made the victim of this very unfair thing, I’d sure like to know how my country’s president makes decisions about everything else. I think I have a right to know. Does Barack Obama have what it takes to actually learn anything? I mean, things that don’t tickle His fancy?

Does He have what it takes to say something like “Golly, I didn’t know that, that makes Me want to re-think a few things”? Here on Earth, we have to say that quite often. Part of being an adult is, you have to say that on most days about three or four times before the kids even climb out of bed to pour their cereal.

And, it would be quite a kick in the gut to find one of those kids in charge of the whole country — who cannot, will not, receive unwelcome information, who rushes to gutterball the information instead. But then again, President Obama has been in the public eye for a long time now, and I’ve had a lot of chances to see Him do this “Vector Change of Flawed Grownups,” the directional shift of the repentant, but learning. The thing the grownups do several times before the Cinnamon Toasty-Oh’s hit the bowl.

I’ve not yet seen it happen. I’ve noticed, instead, little bits of evidence suggesting we have a man-child from Planet Nitwit in charge of it all.

And what’s particularly impactful about this clip that emerged last week is, it sounds like final confirmation of it. Like a confession. When our Learner In Chief learns things He doesn’t want to learn, He just blames the messenger. And then He brags about it. To approving guffaws over on Planet Lefty Liberal Hatey-Hate Seldom-Correct But Never-in-Doubt.

After All the Posturing, They’re Nothing But Petty Crooks

Friday, May 15th, 2015

As I’ve pointed out many times before, can’t remember where exactly, there are four words that explain just about everything in American politics: “McCarthy was not wrong.” I know, it makes ya sound like a crazy old man in a wheelchair in a drool-crusted plaid shirt whose relatives never come to visit him anymore, but the thing about “communist infiltration”? Not only one hundred percent true, but never passed out of currency. Not all commies wear fur.

The train jumped the track taking a fifty mile an hour curve at over twice that speed. Lefties, possibly reacting to the “Amtrak” brand name than to anything else, immediately started hyping that it’s all the taxpayer’s fault for not paying enough. Those who try to run a sanity check on their ravings, pointed out it must be one kick-ass rail system they’ve got in mind, that can make everything turn out all wonderful when a train enters a 50mph curve at 106mph. How much do we have to pay for a system like that. And the lefties responded, yes that’s exactly what we have in mind!

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said Thursday funding was not the issue, but rather the high speed at which it was being driven…Democrats said funding could have prevented the crash by hastening the installation of the PTC.

“Speaker Boehner’s comments are patently false,” Chuck Schumer, of New York, who is the No. 3 Senate Democrat, said.

“Experts have made clear that Positive Train Control could have prevented the tragedy in Philadelphia,” Schumer said. “It is simply a fact that insufficient funding for Amtrak has delayed the installation of PTC, and to deny a connection between the accident and underfunding Amtrak is to deny reality.”

Are you, as they say in the Army, “tracking”? Experts have made it clear! Denying a connection between the accident and funding is denying reality. Because the positive train control “would” have prevented the crash. Yeah, and if a frog had wings it wouldn’t have to bump its ass on the ground all the time.

Someone should tell the number 3 democrat there is a reason why “would coulda shoulda” has such a grating and pejorative sound to it. People who live in that world don’t prevent accidents. The simple fact of the matter is, if you’re going to do any sort of pondering about how things really will work with such a system, PTC or no PTC, you have to ponder how things work in the system as it really exists. That system provided a trained, drug-screened engineer, who was responsible for the travel of the vessel…which reached 106 miles an hour. So it’s looking, for the moment, like the contract was put into effect by both parties and for some reason the employee didn’t deliver the goods. Given that, it isn’t ushering in a new era of noble, enlightened reckoning with responsibility to prattle away about “insufficient funding.” Quite the opposite of that.

After all, with the technology we have right here & now as I type this, a bit more funding could mean it’s quite alright for me to text and, uh, “drive.” With Sen. Schumer’s vision in place and taking charge, why don’t I just go ahead and do that during my morning commute, and if I get someone killed it will be the fault of whoever didn’t make that funding available.

Hence, my comment about commies. None of these people give a rat’s ass about preventing accidents or saving lives. They want to topple the capitalist system. There’s an election coming up next year and they’re pretty sure already that they’re going to lose…unless they can spend all the time, between now and then, blaming the worst of whatever happens on too many Republicans being elected.

Another thing that’s going on, is the lefties at the New York Times are all upset about detention of illegal aliens.

Of all the malfunctioning parts in the country’s broken-down immigration machinery, probably the most indefensible is the detention system.

This is the vast network of jails and prisons where suspected immigration violators are held while awaiting a hearing and possible deportation. Immigrant detainees are not criminal defendants or convicts serving sentences. They are locked up merely because the government wants to make sure they show up in immigration court.

By way of William Teach at Pirate’s Cove, who points out

That’s a pretty good reason, since roughly 30-40% of illegals never appear, and the number of no-shows increased 153% over the past four years.

Let’s add this ALL up and see what we get. We’re not supposed to wonder about why the train was going a hundred miles an hour, instead we should pony up the loot to fully automate the train speed so that the engineer can…well gee, not sure what. We’re not supposed to worry our pretty heads about the illegals being illegal, we should presume the very best about each and every single one of the millions and millions of them. Sure half of them may be here to abduct our children, drive on our roads without licenses, driver’s ed training OR insurance, molest our women…but the other half are here to work hard and provide for their families, see? Forget all about the citizens we have here already, who were born here, and can’t find work. Don’t worry about that. Worry instead about all the global resources the United States consumes, how disproportionate that is with our population. We have to go green! Stop global warming, oh wait it’s too late, but sacrifice everything to stop it anyway.

Our lifestyle compels us to use up more than our share of the world’s dwindling resources, so inflate the population of this corrupt country by way of legitimized illegal immigration. Uh, if we take this all seriously, isn’t that a recipe for burning out the Earth a lot faster? Sorry lefties, it just doesn’t compute, any better than the “moar-better technology would stop the crash” thing. It’s good that Cher thinks it makes sense, but in the end, none of it does.

It just comes back to that election. Is it alright to point this out yet? The framework of the disagreement hasn’t changed, in my lifetime, and I’m no spring chicken. It’s only the cosmetics on the outside, what you might call the “window-dressing,” that’s changed. Lefties don’t want you to survive a train crash, or a home-invasion robbery made against your family by illegal aliens. They don’t want you win, to make it at all. They want you scraping along, limping, hanging on to the bottom rung with bloody fingers. Because these elections are happening every other year, and if they hit when you’re in a position to even think seriously about relying on public assistance…well, it’s really just all about that. That and nothing else.

The whole philosophy of a tax system fits into this. Some of us really do think taxes exist to fund vital government services. Others claim to believe in that…but when the rubber hits the road, there they are, just like William The Conqueror with the Domesday Book, making a big issue out of who “has too much” and who “can afford to pay more.” After the taxes are collected, the real meat of the matter doesn’t have to do with what the government has in its coffers, but what you have left in your billfold. That’s what matters to them: Nothing, or not too much, extra for anybody. Get rid of the margin-of-error. And the savings.

Limp along, barely survive, think about requiring public assistance — and you’ll never vote Republican again. So, no responsibility for anyone. Who cares what the engineer was doing? Find out what it was, it’s what we all should be doing at so-called “work.” More technology is what we need, that way we can blame the taxpayers for not paying enough. More illegal aliens to depress the wages. For those Americans who are lucky enough to find jobs, and justify to their employers the necessity of navigating the byzantine rules of ObamaCare and meeting the high overhead involved, they get to cope with more and higher taxes. Oh yeah, I almost forgot, there is also the matter of this year’s sexual-harassment rules being stricter than last year’s sexual-harassment rules…and, the harpy with the hyphenated last name in the next cubicle majored in womens’ studies, has no applicable skills, feels extra sensitive about it, and is offended by something all of the time. So have fun with that!

See, democrats aren’t really opposed to your success. They don’t even want to take it away from you. They just want to make it statistically much, much less likely.

It’s all about winning elections, and if more people are struggling and unsure of the outcome of all their struggles, democrats win more elections. Theirs is the ideology of despair. You don’t have to wait long to see evidence of this. That’s it, and all the rest of it is misdirection, and recruitment propaganda to get more useful idiots working for them. For free, of course. It’s okay for them to worry about the bottom line. They get to do that, and stay noble; after all, they’re fighting for the cause. You, on the other hand, need to learn to get along with less.

Memo For File CXCVI

Wednesday, May 13th, 2015

Up at 3:34 a.m. And there’s big-brain work to do on the home-built PC, while the morning brain cells are percolating.

If I view Club Dread while getting it done, that means closing credits will roll at about a quarter to six. That’s too late, it’s hard to find a parking spot at work lately. Eighty-eight minutes is better than a hundred nineteen, so I watch Fargo instead.

Hate to admit it, but after hundreds of viewings over 19 years, I’m still noticing new things. They’re not trivial new things, they’re rather important.

So I Facebook‘d it.

Jerome Lundegaard is, of course, a shifty fellow with lots of crooked schemes going on that he wants to hide. Fargo fans have frustrated themselves trying to figure out what exactly these are, with the lot deal being $750k and the GMAC hijinks being $320k, but the movie is a study of characters. So following the strands of the Lundegaard scheming-crazy-quilt pattern is out of scope and they’re missing the point. The point is how Lundegaard behaves.

It is obvious he fancies himself to be highly skilled at manipulating people, the reality of this is far different because he sucks at it and can’t accept the truth. A thoroughly unremarkable man, just like his counterpart “Lester” in the series, he doesn’t imagine himself to be accomplished in this area the way most egomaniacs imagine themselves to be accomplished in their respective areas; he never set out deliberately to snooker people, or to get good at snookering people. He’s just created a position for himself such that he has no other choice. His lot in life is the natural consequence of dealing with challenges by, as a first step, eliminating from one’s mind the possibility of failure. This is not how successful people behave. They achieve success by competently coping with the possibility of failure at each step.

Here I left something unmentioned. I suppose that’s okay. But then again, there’s no crime in filling in the blanks, either…

Lundegaard has been confronted, at several key moments, with an unsavory choice: Let the whole house of cards come tumbling down, or fool people. He doesn’t want to scam his father-in-law out of three quarters of a million, just like he doesn’t want to sell “Bucky” an unwanted application of True Coat (language warning)…

The throwaway, two-minute scene is simply a metaphor. It’s an introduction to the Lundegaard life. The man hasn’t asked himself that most basic of questions the rest of us ask ourselves, whenever we do anything that involves the prospect of failure: “What’s it take to fail?” “How do I prevent failure?” So he gets ambushed, and he’s always ambushed by the same thing: Deceive someone and fail possibly, or else don’t deceive, and fail for sure. So he deceives.

Or tries to. But in the entirety of the film, he never actually fools anybody. Continuing…

Because the Lundegaard scheming ultimately depends on absolute control of what other people are thinking and how they are behaving, but its practitioner has no skills or tools available to achieve this, he keeps relapsing into what becomes his catch-phrase: “What t’heck do ya mean?” whenever Carl Showalter, or his father-in-law, start going where he doesn’t want them to go. His attempt is to corral them, like livestock, by feigning an inability to comprehend what they’re saying and hoping that will somehow rope them into line. They don’t give a rat’s ass what he can & cannot comprehend, of course, so this fails time after time. But it’s all he’s got, so he keeps on doing it. What t’heck do ya mean? What t’heck do ya mean?

Do you know anyone like this?

Halfway through, Showalter has begun to mock him for saying this. And yet for the rest of the movie he keeps on saying it. When all else fails, feign ignorance, feign an inability to comprehend. Maybe, just maybe, you’ll stop someone from doing what they would otherwise do.

Inside or outside of movies, I’ve never seen that ruse work. Not once. But I’ve seen a lot of people try to put it into practice. What makes Fargo such a masterpiece is that it reflects so precisely the behavior, as well as the motive, of those who do it. They seek to control the actions of others, at the micro level as well as the macro. Their schemes depend on being able to do this, and depend on it fully.

But like Lundegaard, they have no tools to achieve this control. None at all, except one. Which doesn’t even work that well, but it’s all they got…

So stop everything. And explain it all to them. After all, you owe it to them, you’re the one who’s incoherent. What t’heck do ya mean?

“I Think What’s Happening is That We Have Very Feminine Schools…”

Monday, May 11th, 2015

So says Dr. Helen Smith. “People don’t know how to deal with boys.” That’s been this father’s observation as well…it isn’t just the two of us noticing it.

In fact, it seems hard to argue with it, with these diagnose-and-drug statistics. Earlier, Mr. Whittle makes reference to one in seven being diagnosed with ADHD before the age of eighteen.

I have long been alarmed over the lack of alarm. You have to dig a bit to find statistics like this, but once you do, they aren’t seriously disputed and the trend remains uninterrupted. So if you do take each and every diagnosis seriously and don’t question any of it — you would have to conclude something terrible is happening and the diagnosing part isn’t helping, it’s chopping away at the leafy part of the weed, failing to get to the root. Someone has to get into full Erin-Brockovich mode, toot-sweet, and start asking some scrutinizing questions about tap water, power lines over living areas, pesticides — whatever.

That’s if you take them seriously. But taking it seriously comes at too high a price: There are too many other things you have to stop taking seriously, in order to take the so-called “diagnoses” seriously. Too much critical thinking you have to stop. Too many questions you have to not-ask.

I do not understand this mentality about “we know this one has it because he was diagnosed…and that one…and that one…and that one, over there.” Kicking up drama about each individual specimen, ignoring the implications of the pattern as a whole. It has always looked to me like a disorder unto itself, like an alcoholic not bothering to keep track of how many glasses, or a fatty not bothering to keep track of how many donuts.

The Word “But” Simply Doesn’t Apply

Saturday, May 9th, 2015

It’s been a few days since this testy exchange on Bill O’Reilly’s show, and it seems a consensus has set in: Kelly 1, O’Reilly 0. Oh, this makes me so happy, assuming I’m right about that. It’s not that I’ve got it in for Bill, or that Megyn is better looking, it’s the substance of her argument and the lack of substance in his. At the tail end of the video clip — “It’s the way you do it.” Really Bill, that’s it, that’s the hitch in the giddyap?

Unless you’ve been living in a cave this whole week, you know O’Reilly is not alone. We’ve recently suffered under a huge crushing wave of these “loud crowd” types, proffering a boring, repetitious argument that has no form or bearing to it, something about “Oh yes, free speech, totally BUT then again…” Their opposition, recognizing an all-or-nothing proposition when they see one, reply with an inquiry about where exactly the line should be drawn. And of course there is no answer. Kelly really nailed it with this thing about “edges,” that is where the point of disagreement is — should this freedom-of-expression thing be defended most emphatically at the periphery, or rather at the center where the content is uncontentious. Just let those fringe-kooky, out-of-the-mainstream, and therefore “expendable” edges go.

I’m liking that this happened. Sorry about that one guard’s ankle, and it isn’t cool at all that innocents were put in harm’s way. The blessing is in all the stuff that’s still going to matter months & years down the road: that people who are thoughtless, trying to look more thoughtful than everybody else while remaining thoughtless, actually look thoughtless and they look that way to everybody watching, far and wide. They look like what they are, people who should sit down and shut up for a little while, people with loud opinions who haven’t thought it through, aren’t inclined to do so without motivation from without, and just enjoy having loud opinions. Perception about the thoughtful & thoughtless, this time, IS reality. This isn’t something that happens often these days, not nearly often enough.

The First Amendment, she said, isn’t meant to protect popular speech; it’s meant to protect “the most outrageous, offensive, incendiary speech.”

O’Reilly countered, “It’s always cause and effect… This is what happens when you light the fuse, you get violence.” Kelly was surprised to hear that, telling O’Reilly he sounds like he’s “attacking the event itself.”

When O’Reilly said he would “do it another way,” Kelly got really fired up and said this:

“You know what else the jihadis don’t like? They hate Jews. Should we get rid of all Jews? That’s the path we’re gonna go down if we stop catering to the jihadis.”

I’m sure O’Reilly doesn’t want to go that far. But that’s kind of, you know, the whole point. It keeps coming back to the line. Where’s it drawn?

As far as we’ve been able to see, no one is able to answer the question. Not here, or here, or here. Or here either.

These “opinions,” such as they are, are muck. They’re slime. I’m not saying that because I disagree with them; I’m saying that because of their low grade. Obviously there are people who do agree with them, are willing to say them, even write them in ink with their own names over them as bylines. But really now, thinking on it realistically — a year down the road, would they like to point back at these words and say “Yup that there is some award-quality writing I did”?

Sometimes I get singled out for positive recognition for the things I write, and it gives me a funny bittersweet feeling. Like “Really, that? That’s not my best. I cringe when I go back and read that.” Is that similar to the feeling they’d get if they were singled out for what they wrote? Except the difference is, with my stuff it actually did happen, which tells me my prose must have some value, regardless of whether the writer can see it. Someone thought it was deserving of praise. This isn’t going to happen with O’Reilly’s sentiments about “absolutely, totally get the free speech angle BUT blah blah blah.” It isn’t good phrasing because it doesn’t make a good point. Doesn’t make any point at all. It’s just highbrow, anesthetic buzz.

As Ace points out in his critique of all this mush, including O’Reilly’s:

I do wish to not overly attack people I like and genuinely respect; but when I read, for example, Jamie Kirchick, a normally dependable guy and someone I’ve met slightly, and like well enough, spending 700 words of an 800 word column talking up how base he thinks Pam Gellar is in a column allegedly defending her right to free speech, instead of, you know, actually defending her right to free speech, I become despairing, because if this is all the defense the alleged defenders of Free Speech can muster, then we have no right to free speech.

Exactly. Precisely. Bulls-eye. You “totally get the free-speech thing but” types do NOT “totally get” it at all, you don’t even partially get it. You aren’t even speaking the same lingo.

You know who completely does get it? Professor Mondo gets it.
Bows and Depos

QotD: Arguments in Short Skirts Edition

I think it’s fair to say we all hate Illinois Nazis…Indeed, we may find ourselves cheering Jake and Elwood as they drive the Nazis into the drink…[But] when the Illinois Nazis don’t get to do their thing, and particularly when they’re physically silenced, we can’t excuse that. Period. Full stop.

It doesn’t matter that they’re Illinois Nazis. It doesn’t matter that they’re NAMBLA. It doesn’t matter that they’re people who want to tear down the puppy orphanage and replace it with a baby-punching factory. If all they’re doing is expressing a viewpoint, there is no justification for stopping them that couldn’t eventually be used against anyone.

That’s why I find the arguments I’ve seen recently regarding Charlie Hebdo and the Garland, TX shooting utterly repulsive. Claims that the targeted victims were essentially “asking for it” by being deliberately provocative are not acceptable, because one day, someone may decide that what you’re saying is provocative.

“But they were punching d–”

Doesn’t matter.

“But Pamela Geller is a horr–”

Doesn’t matter.
“But what if someone slandered what you hol–”

Doesn’t matter. And that brings us to the QotD, from attorney Marc J. Randazza in an opinion piece at CNN:

[T]he day that we say that there is one idea that we cannot mock, that is the day that we lose much more than a life, and much more than a debate.

That is when we lose freedom itself.

So draw. Mock. Point and laugh. If you do it to me, I will not draw a gun. Because my beliefs are strong enough that they can withstand the power of a cartoon. Are yours?

If you try to silence someone, then you’re admitting that you can’t withstand the mouth noises (or drawings, or songs, or whatever) that someone else is making.

And really, who wants to admit that they’ve been shown up by Illinois Nazis?

That’s it in a nutshell. But lately, we have been rather inundated with a sort of tribal thinking, strictly binary “I’m for it or else I’m not” type of thinking. Our First Amendment comes with a spirit behind it, a sense and sensibility, a societal code that is irreducibly simple and yet too profound for words.

It cannot co-exist with this binary, tribal thinking, and the binary, tribal thinking cannot co-exist with it. They are utterly incompatible. We cannot suffer, in this realm, the foolishness of “But if I’m caught defending that, people might think I agree with all of it.”

Mondo, addressing those who might disagree with Pamela Geller’s message, seems to strike closest to the bulls-eye of the whole thing. And I’m saying that even though I don’t find anything disagreeable about Geller’s message at all. OR her actions. Yeah, there, I said it. Don’t tell the AP, whatever you do.

Related: Sorry, but it’s Islam’s fault if people are Islamophobic:

Drawing incendiary pictures of Mohammad might be a base form of expression, but that’s also why anyone anywhere in the world should be able to do it without worrying about getting their head cut off. Of course that’s not the case, but the reason why it’s not the case isn’t that dastardly provocateurs just won’t stop drawing pictures; it’s that Islam has encouraged large swaths of people to react like mindless barbarians to an image on a piece of paper.

It seems kind of odd that when someone is killed by police I’m not allowed to ponder whether their life of crime may have led to the altercation, but when a cartoonist is murdered everyone seems to ask, “well, what was he drawing that caused that to happen?”

“Radically Repeating What I Was Told”

Monday, May 4th, 2015

…much of which, I note, is unchanged since Marx. In every single respect. Right down to the clichés. David Thompson:

Blah blah blah oppression blah blah blah solidarity blah blah blah classes. Each syllable essentially unchanged, even when they don’t fit anymore & haven’t fit for awhile — which is deftly illustrated by this little conversation at the end about the iPhone. The little tow-heads don’t even seem to realize they’re talking about textiles and farming. That’s Part I. Part II here, where they throw in some hatred of straight white men. “Destroy Masculinity!”

Well after a good century-plus something, I suppose it’s nice to have a little variety.

Found via Small Dead Animals.

Ready for the really scary part?

The champions of socialism call themselves progressives, but they recommend a system which is characterized by rigid observance of routine and by a resistance to every kind of improvement. They call themselves liberals, but they are intent upon abolishing liberty. They call themselves democrats, but they yearn for dictatorship. They call themselves revolutionaries, but they want to make the government omnipotent. They promise the blessings of the Garden of Eden, but they plan to transform the world into a gigantic post office. Every man but one a subordinate clerk in a bureau.

Written by Ludwig von Misesseven decades ago, no lie.