Archive for September, 2015

“Why the Right is Right”

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015

Gutfeld says, “We are the cleanup crew.”

“And so when a liberal asks you, ‘Why are you a conservative?’; simply say, ‘So that you can be a liberal.'”

That part sums it up nicely. It isn’t the first time someone’s noticed, liberals depend on the conservative way of life being practiced by someone else, somewhere, whom they can then proceed to regulate and tax. Conservatives, on the other hand, could do quite well without liberals.

Except for the Internet! Those conservatives put their ideas out there on the Internet, which we wouldn’t have if it were not for those wonderful liberals and their wonderful Big Government solutions. Right? It must be true, President Obama said so. Erm, there’s another side to all that

According to a book about Xerox PARC, “Dealers of Lightning” (by Michael Hiltzik), its top researchers realized they couldn’t wait for the government to connect different networks, so would have to do it themselves. “We have a more immediate problem than they do,” Robert Metcalfe told his colleague John Shoch in 1973. “We have more networks than they do.”

Before returning to the video clip above, permit me a quick bunny-trail on this whole Internet thing. I do not understand this zeal, be it bona-fide, cloaked and saturated in oily deception, anywhere in between, to give the credit for apparently all significant human achievement to this shapeless, functionally anonymous leviathan which is the government. What would be the point? That in order to accomplish really meaningful things, we must leave the matters up to politicians? Politicians are just representatives of the rest of us. At BEST.

The zeal does not look like a drive or determination to make things better. It looks like a manic phobia against success, or at least, success credited to identifiable individuals. That’s the only perception of it that makes it understandable, to me: Success can be acknowledged, achievement can be acknowledged, as long as there isn’t an actual name attached. Unless it’s a really big name, a huge name, like Oprah Winfrey, Bill Clinton or Barack Obama. Someone safe, someone whom ordinary people won’t know on a first-name basis.

Someone not likely to say “If I can do it, you can too.” Or…”What’s your excuse?”

With the attitude toward risk: Everything Gutfeld says there is true, too, but in four minutes the video can’t delve into all the applicable nuances. Liberals are more welcoming of risk in this context over here; conservatives are more welcoming in that context over there. There certainly is a measurable difference in personal reckoning with the risk; Barack Obama doesn’t really plan to grapple in any personal way with the consequences of the Iran deal, and I don’t see His followers welcoming refuges into their own homes. Liberals are forever tinkering with the framework of policies, statues and rules, in an endless pursuit of the perfect law-cocktail, to be applied to someone else. These classes of someone-else people are sometimes revered by the liberal, sometimes loathed. Think of: Minority beneficiaries of racial preferences, and gun owners, respectively.

Kinda like the girl you dated in high school who finally figured out she was out of your league, and giving you The Speech: “Someday, you’re going to make a wonderful husband for somebody…(else).” Except the snobby girl at least had the guts to try a bit before moving on to greener pastures. When it comes to assessing risk, our friends the liberals are aware of and maintain the difference between the “us” and the “them” all the way, stem to stern, epidermis to marrow of bone, beginning to end. The odd thing about it is that their rhetoric is all about everybody living together, all things being equal for everyone. They don’t mean it.

They do seem sincere with their ballyhoo about climate change; is there not something going on there, with liberals being risk-averse, and conservatives avoiding the issue? Again, no. It’s another front in the propaganda war in which liberals have won without firing a shot; the common understanding meshes with the statements in liberal talking points, word for word, but it doesn’t match with reality. Supposedly, the conservative viewpoint denies there is any such thing as — any of it, right down to the greenhouse gas effect. It doesn’t work because conservatives are actually the ones who get out and do things, and when you get out and do things you often have the greenhouse gas effect looking you right in the eye. Some conservatives work in real greenhouses, believe it or not!

“Risk averse” means, to assess the risk. This requires definition. The closest liberals come to actually assessing the risk involved in climate change, is something like “If nothing is done then by the year 2100 the mean global climate will rise by [insert number here] degrees — Celcius!” In assessing risk, conservatives don’t stop at rhetoric that might come in handy for agitating the masses. They want to actually see what the risk is. I know, crazy talk right?

Quoting me again:

What exactly does conservatism seek to conserve? Civilization, the blessings that come from having it, and the definitions that make civilization possible. From what does liberalism seek to liberate us? Those things — starting with the definitions.

It bears a casual relationship to that earlier observation about identifiable individuals, as opposed to super-individuals the average person will never meet, or “government,” achieving noteworthy things. Liberals are not merely opposed to defining things; with regard to the definitions that have been established already, they have an enduring passion against allowing those to stand. And it has not escaped my notice that this passion becomes particularly inflamed in the case of definitions that have weathered earlier storms, that have visibly made other human accomplishments possible.

Other definitions have yet to be made, and if they were made, would help the liberal cause. Starting with: How, exactly, does it make things better for our society, or humanity as a whole, to move all this money around the way liberals want us to move it, out of concern for this “climate change” problem? The whole issue has become uncomfortable now because the question is being asked more and more frequently, centrists want to know the answer to it too, and liberals still balk at it. They continue to escape into their protective-bubble comfort zones, repeating homilies about how conservatives “deny” there is any such thing as carbon, or something. After a few minutes of thumb-sucking, they re-emerge to wonder aloud why those outside the bubble haven’t moved the money around the way they want, and they bleat some more. Make some speeches, fund some studies with other peoples’ money…fly around in some jets. Then the cycle is repeated again.

It would take many more paragraphs to fully explore the difference in attitudes toward risk. I haven’t done it. The clip doesn’t do it. But Gutfeld is definitely on to something there.

Quid Est Veritas?

Monday, September 28th, 2015

Somewhere along the line, liberals and conservatives start talking past each other, each side expressing thoughts that are doomed, well before launch, from ever being received as intended. And these days I see it happens fairly early in any given exchange. We’ve got quite a few people walking around among us who say “Nothing ever comes of it, no minds are changed, don’t even start because it just pisses everyone off.” The command ends with a dangling preposition, but there may be something to it anyway.

But of course, we have President Obama, the end result of chanting “hope!” and “change!” — and not discussing anything. So I think it’s fair to say we’ve given don’t-discuss-it a good, fair try, and that doesn’t yield success either.

Anyway, it seems to me from all I’ve been hearing and reading that the point where liberals and conservatives no longer understand each other, has something to do with truth. As in, investigations (video auto-plays) (hat tip to William Teach at Pirate’s Cove):

[House Minority Leader Nancy] Pelosi told CNN’s Jake Tapper in an interview that aired Sunday on “State of the Union” that she did not accept that the videos — which have rocked the social conservative movement this summer — were accurate. She said she was concerned by the undercover filming by the Center for Medical Progress, which produced the edited clips.

“I think they should be investigated as to how they obtained those and doctored those and had them be accepted as something that was an indictment against Planned Parenthood. Because that’s not true,” she said.

I think of “investigation” the way Nancy Pelosi wants me to think of it, as an effort to get to the truth; but it is clear, from these remarks, that she does not think of it that way because she already knows what truth is. “Investigation,” therefore, has to mean something in her world that is a lot closer to the meaning our political leadership generally has in mind: Theater. Far from any sort of effort to get to anything at all, it has more to do with talking than listening.

Here and there I’ve opined about the divisions between people who work according to process, versus those who place weight on the outcome of an effort; like here, here and here. The distinction has lately begun to consume me, perhaps because over the last few years I’ve been forced to evaluate it from all sides. It’s hardly a liberal/conservative thing, doesn’t start out that way anyhow. Some people go all day long, then all year long, never really learning anything, never being forced to have their minds changed about anything. And so they turn their whole lives into a sort of choreography, which is what I see the Congresswoman doing here. It’s really quite amazing when you think about it — here she is in mid-sentence talking about finding out what the truth is, and she already “knows.”

We saw the same thing with “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot.” There are many other such examples. And yes, it does seem to settle into the split between conservatives and liberals. I see it in the behavior. Liberals say to conservatives, “That’s not true” and the conservative, quite visibly, loses momentum. As if to say “It’s not? Maybe it’s not. Where did you hear it’s not? What is the truth of the matter?” And this has been observed, understood, morphed into a new strategy. I’ve caught a few of them doing it. They’ll say “That’s not true!” and sometimes I will make a point of questioning the questioning, without losing any momentum. This is enlightening. Very often, it turns out they have no basis whatsoever for saying the earlier statement was not true.

It is as if someone herded them into a big auditorium, and told them “Look, no matter what it is, just tell the conservatives it isn’t true. It’s like hitting a shark on the nose; it works if you do it right, and hey, it’s your only shot.” And this defines the whole fragile relationship between liberals and truth: It is a fair-weather friendship, always contaminated, and that’s at best. This sentiment of “Let’s just see if we can get away with it” is always lingering, in there, somewhere.

Conservatives telling liberals something is not true, on the other hand, usually is not like that. And the liberal reaction is different too. As a strategy, “just say it isn’t true and see what happens” wouldn’t work with liberals. They don’t care. Their reaction is “You’re a conservative, who are you to say what’s true?” This gets back into John Hawkins’ observed feedback loop:

Liberalism creates a feedback loop. It is usually impossible for a non-liberal to change a liberal’s mind about political issues because liberalism works like so: only liberals are credible sources of information. How do you know someone’s liberal? He espouses liberal doctrine. So, no matter how plausible what you say may be, it will be ignored if you’re not a liberal and if you are a liberal, of course, you probably agree with liberal views. This sort of close-mindedness makes liberals nearly impervious to any information that might undermine their beliefs.

I haven’t got what it takes to be a liberal recruit, let alone a full-fledged one prowling the pages of Facebook, trying to spread the anti-gospels. I would be required to believe that liberalism is a pursuit of goodness and human progress, it is in mid-stride trying to eradicate war, hunger, poverty, illiteracy, blight, et al. Also, trying to achieve total equality. It’s at the “Come A Long Way, We’re Not There Yet” stage with all of those. So far, so good; I have a lot of projects like that. But also, I would be charged with the duty of deflecting and ignoring all undertones of uncertainty, from outside as well as within. It doesn’t work for me, because if I’m not done with applying a method, and have no results to show, then how do I know the method is working?

Thus it is proven: Liberals do not think, at least, not the way normal people think. Here I have to once again ponder an unsavory thought, that their ideas are different because their notions of truth are different, and their notions of truth are different because they’ve simply never had to reckon with what truth is. They are the little kids who never got busted for telling a lie, all…uh…up of which grown.

The Static and the Dynamic

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2015

Phil and Severian were kind enough to copy me on a lengthy e-mail exchange about dialectics and sophists. It’s a “lengthy” exchange only in the sense that it isn’t really long in terms of number of messages back-and-forth, but rather in the size of each. I didn’t realize how much fresh meat there was until Saturday morning when I loaded them into a text editor, and took the time over a cup of copy to read them word for word. Fascinating stuff. Hope they “go public” with it sometime soon.

The bottom line is, sophistry — boiled down to its crude essentials — is winning the argument, period. Not quite so much at the expense of the winning argument being a useful one, but more like, with complete apathy toward that. An example would be…well, we can go back to the last time I blogged about something. A dead lawn looking cool — there isn’t much truth involved in that, since dead lawns look like shit. But the statement has a good shot at being the winning argument, if the value embraced has something to do with laziness. No need to water a dead lawn; no need to cut one either. A dead lawn is the lawn of a do-nothing. It is also the lawn of a sophist. You get to look cool (even if your lawn doesn’t), and act smug.

It is the contrast between the Architects and the Medicators, the former of whom think about things the way one must think about them, when one sets about the task of trying to build things that will actually work. And, to the latter of whom, the point of life is to be happy. The former demands thought, the latter involves feeling.

Now that election season is in full swing — and I’m viciously opposed to that, this early in the game, but whaddya gonna do? — I’m recognizing once again how cleanly the American Left and Right slip into this. There must be a way to exploit this to make things easier for people; like, for example, the visitors from abroad who will occasionally be heard to inquire, What’s the difference? Poor brave souls, you can hear it in their voices they’ve already figured out it’s a contentious issue, and the answer they get back & the conversation that ensues vary greatly with whom they ask.

With same-sex marriage, it is only just lately that The Left has discovered the broad and intense appeal of leaving people alone. It’s almost cute. Of course they don’t really mean it. I was referring to this, indirectly, when I noticed how easy it is to tell the Left and Right apart when you imagine a specimen of one of those, or the other, intoning “Because fuck you, that’s why!” Now — what could that person be doing? And I came up with some examples of each. And in each example, a person from The Left saying that, was interfering with someone else; and a person from The Right, was…not. Such clean distinctions often depart from the plane of reality. But this one doesn’t. The Left tells people to go fuck themselves when it’s interfering; The Right says the same thing, more in the spirit of “If you have a problem with me doing it, it must say more about you than it does about me, because this really has no effect on you.” The three examples I found for that were, eating meat, heading to the gun range with hardware that holds more than ten rounds, and wandering out to one’s own patio in one’s underwear for a cold bottle of beer.

As of the time of my scribbling that, I may have been engaged in 33% of those.

An acquaintance wandered into view to disrupt the flow of thought (on Facebook, thank goodness, not on my patio), merely for the purpose of disrupting it evidently; she offered rebuttal but without foundation. It’s a thought that has been regurgitated before in settings such as this, and perhaps it should be distilled into a single word: LeftAndRightExactlyTheSame. What an odd time in which to be asserting such a thing. The Left, today, has precisely one example to offer of their own saying “Fuck You” in the context of leaving people alone, and that’s same sex marriage. Except their position is that the Kentucky County Clerk should be sent to jail for defying their will, and they clearly expect to impose similar penalties on others who pose such a problem, so it doesn’t hold. The Left knows about as much about leaving people alone as your dumbest childhood pet knew about trigonometry.

This is a feeling, not a thought; and you can tell it is one, because when it goes out dressed up as a thought, the costuming is bad. It doesn’t act like a thought; doesn’t stay still long enough to be tested. LeftAndRightExactlyTheSame is a chestnut bandied about by leftists, and as leftists, they have found reasons to be leftists. Good luck persuading them to stop being leftists, for even a fraction of a second. So no, they’re not acting like it’s true, and their argument that it’s true, with all the bovine fecal matter stripped away from it, comes down to being a prohibition against anyone within earshot or line-of-sight doubting it or hesitating to accept it. Other than this proposed taboo and the penalties that would come with it, they offer no reason for this idea to win out over its opposition, none. It’s pure sophistry.

A feeling dressed up as a thought, won’t stay in one place when challenged. Like the jello being nailed to the tree, it jiggles, wriggles, loses composition, regains it again at its own convenience. It’s the difference between the static and the dynamic. LeftAndRightExactlyTheSame…until it’s time to show what a good person I am, by siding with the spotted owl against the loggers, or pushing same-sex marriage, or prattling away with the latest spin about climate change. And then they’re as different as night and day.

I have long been spooked by this sort of attitude, this casual approach to truth, this non-dialectic. “I think X simply because it makes me happy to think X — and, what, shouldn’t that be enough?” I suppose the answer to that is up to the person thinking it. As an upholding of the importance of feeling over the importance of thought, it wouldn’t work for me because any triumph in the upholding of feeling would be defeated by the lingering discomfort: But how do I know that is true? I haven’t done anything to test it, and the contradictions are so glaring if I merely open my eyes to the fact that they’re there. The one about LeftAndRightExactlyTheSame, but, the left is so much better in so many ways — that one, just by way of example, is resplendent. So much so, it occurs to me that there must be considerable difficulty involved in ignoring it. It impresses me as the sort of lie that honest people can only get into the habit of telling, after they’ve had a lot of practice lying to themselves about it first.

If We’re All Treated Equally, Graft is Harder

Saturday, September 12th, 2015

So I had been running it through my mind a few times exactly how I was going to get myself & my wife to Chico, and when the time came to execute…well, I would have to say I flubbed it. It ended up being one of those “For Future Reference” kinda things. We waited what seemed like a dog’s age for the very first stop light, just yards from our front door, and after a few minutes of that took a strange and meandering route to the freeway. Then, headed straight into the “Across The Top” project, which annoys me terribly. But not terribly enough for my distracted brain to actually plan around it, evidently.

Road ConstructionNow that I’ve demonstrated my ability to take time-consuming side-routes in my driving, allow me to indulge the same in my writing: Sacramento is Seattle’s retarded little brother when it comes to managing traffic. It has recently upgraded itself, to its credit, from “We’re vastly inferior and we have no clue” to “We’re vastly inferior and let’s start doing something about it.” Having shrugged off the burden of Dunning Kruger, its first move out of the chute is to make things much worse. There is a thin ribbon, with no lane changes possible, stretching…I don’t know how many miles. I’m always so aggravated, I make a point of clocking it, then I forget. No lane changes means a stationary parkng lot where a moving avenue should be. Not sure why, it just does. Someone who designs freeways has yet to realize this, but I have no room to come off all cocky about it if I keep forgetting that I should not be going there.

And then I had my brilliant flash of insight.

I’ll get to that in a moment. But first, congratulations to Sacramento for finally figuring out that just because there are high occupancy lanes, doesn’t mean the traffic is being managed well. It doesn’t even mean you’re burning less fuel or being kind to the environment — it can mean the opposite. There has to be a whole system in place, with a quality design involving interrelated parts. I guess there were enough civil engineers going on trips, following my footsteps, driving cars on the freeways in Seattle and then Sacramento, learning what I learned, finally figuring out Something Had To Be Done. Now, progress is being made; but progress made, without a proper sense of direction, might not be a good thing. Just because you’re moving “forward” doesn’t mean you’re headed to a better place. With some learning, we’ll eventually get there. Another thirty years or so.

The flash of insight was crystallized, a bit here and a bit there, in the days that rolled on by afterwards. What did it for me was the dead, shit-colored lawns. Such comments from me, I understand, can cause offense; the new neighbor who lives across the street, still won’t talk to me or make eye contact with me. I learned the awkward way that he’s part of the shit-colored-lawn brigade, guess I spoke my mind a bit too casually. In my defense, I should point out our neighborly conversation began in the first place because he was admiring my lawn and wanted to know what I put on it, so I can easily recall why I assumed he wasn’t part of the shit-colored-lawn brigade — it did seem reasonable and safe at the time. And the passion behind my dislike of this “Golden Brown Lawn” publicity spree, is such that it is difficult to maintain a cover over the geyser.

There is so much feeding into it. Starting with, What ever happened to that idea that…if you want to take your family someplace special, maybe save up some cash for a rainy day fund, or get some elective surgery, whatever…you work hard at your job and show how valuable you are? What ever became of that? Winning prizes by having the shittiest-looking shit-colored lawn? A thousand bucks? How about, a thousand dollar bonus for being really good at the work you do? Did that somehow get eliminated as a possibility? What is all this crap…win with your lottery ticket here, win that contest there. Are we kids, or grown-ups? Can’t we save money anymore?

Watering the LawnAnd don’t hand me that line of bull about conserving. I mean, yeah I get it, small numbers adding up into big numbers. Lots of gallons of water going into each lawn-watering, lots of lawns, hey, let’s just tell the sheeple that it’s cool to have a dead lawn, think of all those gallons that will be saved. Who’d a-thought, right? The cool thing now is to make your house look like the local shopping mall for crystal meth, yippee! Just like Billy Madison convincing all those kids that pissing your pants is the cool thing to do — in fact, exactly like that, just lacking in that adorable but unhygienic nobility. I’m sure the math does back up that there’s some conservation going on here, but let’s be honest. Conservation is not the goal, the goal is laziness. “I’m doing my part! And oh look…I don’t have to get up to cut the grass. Well cool. There’s a Friends marathon on teevee this afternoon anyway.” Yeah, don’t hurt yourselves sacrificing too much, sheeple.

I still owe you an explanation for my brilliant flash of insight, don’t I? It’s coming.

Had an errand to run sometime this week, which means after the debacle with this single-lane Across The Top thing, since that was last weekend. It was after work. Car radio was off, so the gears in my brain were churning away furiously…I took the backroads to a shopping mall, to miss the commute traffic, and ended up going through a tiny knot of suburbia. There it is again, a whole square mile, or more, of dead lawns. Rolling by my car windows as I make my way through the neighborhood…drug dealer’s house, drug dealer’s house, another drug dealer’s house, another another another. Looks like shit, it’s disgusting. And then — the local park. Lush, green, immaculate, trimmed.

While this is all happening, there are these knock-down drag-out discussions with the big-government types on social media, meandering along the tired talking-point of “Without government, who would build the roads?” Ugh, always with those damn roads. Yeah, yeah, roads, sidewalks, park benches, police and fire departments. So bizarre. We start talking about “taxing the rich” and, is it really hiking way out on a limb, to suppose that the cause of the disagreement has something to do with the federal level? Seems kind of self-evident, to me. It’s really about control. Isn’t it? We talk about public spending versus private spending, what we’re really talking about is diverting resources. We’re talking about influence being channeled, away from the people who are closest in proximity to whatever problem is supposed to be solved, toward people who are much further away. Not as likely to solve the problem, but they’re “our leaders” or something.

FirefighterHow come these justifications for continued & greater government spending, are municipal? Seems like avoiding the real issue.

I should have pulled over, parked, and snapped a picture. It captures the psychological malady quite nicely. It’s no different from the fatty on a diet intoning, only half-jokingly, “These calories don’t count because” …it’s a special occasion, her husband isn’t seeing her, she’s not recording it in her app…whatever. This is no different, and it makes no more sense. This money, this carbon, this water, is not really being spent because it’s being spent publicly.

That is the craziness that has lately started to consume us: Not only are our infinitely wise village elders infinitely wise, but it makes sense for us to turn over our resources for them to spend on our behalf, because when they spend the resources the resources aren’t really spent. If I am to upsize my 4-cylinder into a V-8 — provided I can find one nowadays — that is just an appalling offense. But our public officials can fly to faraway places on enormous jets, for no higher goal than a publicity stunt, to rename a mountain, whatever…even, irony of ironies, to give speeches about how we all need to drive smaller cars. Not only is there nothing wrong with that, but there’s something wrong with you if you notice it.

We’re really no better than that fat cow playing her game of “calories don’t count if.” Watering the lawn at City Hall, or the State Capitol building, doesn’t take any water. Doesn’t count.

Kim Davis, the county clerk from someplace in Kentucky who refused to hand out gay marriage licenses, got out of jail the other day, which is a bit bizarre to me because it seems like nothing’s settled. Does her ass belong in jail, or doesn’t it? Now that she’s out, and very likely headed back in again, the thought occurs to me that you can make all the arguments you want to support one answer, or the other, and at the end of it you’ll have done nothing to defend what’s being done — it’s cocked up no matter how you slice it. Those who say she got what she deserved for “not doing her job” are entirely failing to see the issue from the perspective of their opposition — not that that’s going to bother them too much, they like failing at this. The more estranged they are from the thoughts and feelings of their opposition, the happier they are, not that that will intimidate them in any way from having their opinions. That’s what it’s like when you’re punch-drunk on winning arguments, and don’t care about anything but winning the arguments. Somewhere along the line, solving problems just sort of falls off the radar. Ahab has to hunt his whale.

And what an easy problem this was. Drive to the next county and get your fucking license.

What really scares me about it is, not quite so much the so-called “jailable offense” of not recognizing gay marriage, or “not doing her job” as county clerk. What I find truly frightening is we’re dealing with genuine irrationality. The writhing beast that lusts for this sense of vengeance, wants to see Kim Davis in jail, wants to imbibe more and more of the elixir of winning-arguments, does it? Clearly doesn’t care about anything else. Think on this: Imagine the argument-winning power of driving to that other county, getting the license, driving back and waving it in Douglas’ face with a big fat smirk on yours. Just imagine.

She would be reduced, and instantly, to lasting irrelevance. You could write an article for Slate, or Huffington Post, about how this serves her right and then we’d all move on to the next thing. As it is, the writhing, irrational beast sent her to jail, and in doing so made her something of a martyr. There are three possibilities: One, the writhing, irrational beast has become so irrational, it cannot follow even the simplest of strategies to accomplish its goals. Two, the writhing beast is not so irrational, but has goals that are concealed from view — I am misunderstanding what those goals are. Three, the writhing beast, being an aggregate of many individuals, is a composite made up of different people, with different goals.

And this is where it all comes together. All these examples; the local road “improvement” that works so well that it brings freeway traffic to a complete stop; the water conservation movement that pretends to be about sacrifice but really just celebrates laziness; the settling of the gay marriage dustup, ONCE AND FOR ALL, that doesn’t even try to settle it, once, or for all, or anything of the like.

No, it isn’t a conspiracy. What it is, is a very perverse motivation acting upon the elites, to pigeonhole the rest of us into large, growing, all-encompassing groups of people, united into such defined class with as thin a common cause as might possibly be defined, so that the groups can swell to a membership status close to universal…and then, start fucking with us.

The County Clerk thing, that’s supposed to be about freedom and equality. What is that, really, though? It’s targeting someone, ostensibly for “failing to uphold the law” or “not doing her job,” but separating her from other officials objecting conscientiously in similar ways. And then throwing her butt in jail. Equality. Freedom. Mission accomplished?

The road thing is a measurable failure. Zero miles an hour is a measurement, and it’s rather hard to form an argument against it.

Only the water conservation thing holds any merit, since when the water is not being used for a lawn it most certainly is being conserved. But here too, we see a situation in which those among us who are empowered to dictate our directional approach to addressing a problem, are picking a direction quite out of harmony with finding an actual solution to the problem. A golden lawn is the New Cool? Well, you guys go first. Why is there green grass around City Hall?

A week ago I was writing about how the masses who are asses fuck with us, when you get right down to it, destroying things because they’re bored and haven’t got anything better to do. Those are commoners; these are elites. Both enticed, and often, and relatively recently, to habitually fuck with the rest of us. These two forces combine, to bring pressures upon those of us who seek to live life productively, responsibly, and respectfully toward others around us. My “bottom line” point to all this? Something is different; something has changed. The change is not good.

The energy we have to burn to confront these two pressures acting upon us — I wonder if it could be contributing to climate change? — is no longer a tangential expense. Somewhere along the line, and perhaps it is a shift going back years and years, moving along at a glacial pace, that rocket-fire-burn we have to do, to prevail against the fuck-with-you from above & below, has moved into the center, into the limelight. It has become the biggest challenge involved in being an adult, living out one’s adulthood, whereas in our parents’ and grandparents’ time, it was the smallest.

What’s changed? Simplest explanation is the best. People didn’t fuck with our grandparents so much, because there wasn’t much point to it and there wasn’t any available time. People had to be productive in what they did. But also, if you were a public servant there were alternative options available to you to engage in graft. Today, if you want to engage in graft, it seems this has become the first step: Define a large, nearly-universal group of people, then start applying an inconvenience, an agitation, an annoyance, to the group. Start fucking with the people in the group. It can be an annoyance large, or small, but it has to be a frequent one.

If the inconvenience is not applied to a very large number of people, and it isn’t applied easily, and it isn’t applied frequently, graft is harder. If we really are all being treated with respect, and equally, graft is much harder.

Their Destructive Power

Saturday, September 5th, 2015

So this is the repair job I made last weekend…

…and, here is the additional wreckage that I shall be fixing this weekend.

I’m afraid it is exactly what it looks like, which is a pissing contest between two alpha-dog-males. Is it sexist of me to presume the vandal is a male? If so, it’s not the only poorly-advised thing I’m doing here…how does that old saying go, “never get into an argument with a fool, he’ll drag you down to his level and beat you with experience” or something. Well, we know how this is going to go. It’ll rock back and forth, weekend to weekend, until one of us relocates or else concludes that it just isn’t worth the hassle anymore. Repair, destruction, repair, destruction. Lather, rinse, repeat.

It’s a dialogue. Me: “Stop wrecking my fence, for I will never stop rebuilding it.” He: “Stop rebuilding, you have located it in a terrain outside of your control, and I’ll remind you of this without end.”

It’s a contest between order and chaos, and this was the inspiration behind that observation I made so many years ago, about Architects and Medicators, formerly Yin and Yang — two halves of humanity that actually should not be coming into contact with each other. Most of our problems in society, I maintain, result from such contact being made. This is just the kind of thing that reinforces that view.

It’s the kind of thing that inspired my very first thoughts about it:

The guy who’s never held a job, gets drunk all day, doesn’t pay child support, thinks he’s doing everything just right. He’s got problems, of course; but he figures his problems are caused by the cop that busted him for loitering, the district attorney who learned about the child support delinquency and decided to go after him, and the judge who sentenced him. You know, in his own world, he’s right. Where he comes from, people don’t take responsibility. They push it off somewhere else. So the problem comes not from his refusal to accept responsibility — they come from the expectation of others that he should do so. He has is own expectations: His ex-wife should marry some hard-working lunchbox carrying guy, who will cheerfully take on the responsibility of raising another man’s kids. This would free him up to be left alone to smoke grass and drink hooch all day, since, after all, that’s what he’s used to. That’s the way it’s supposed to work: Responsibility for those who accept it, and not for those who don’t. Purely optional.

Who cares where we would all be, if we all coped with life the way he does? How does that matter? Who ever said we should all do everything the same way, anyway?

Maybe that’s the answer.

Of course, how it matters is easily answered: When he doesn’t pay child support, his kids get hurt. That makes sense. But it makes sense in our world, which is the point. In the miscreant’s world it doesn’t make as much sense. Because nothing does; nothing matters except feeling good, and all of the time. The conflict is between immediate gratification, and delayed.

Because of that, there arises another conflict between the limited universe, and the unlimited. Example: A few months ago I, the creator/preserver/repairer/homeowner, chanced across a brand of mulch and grass seed that actually caused me some excitement. Over the past few days or weeks I have made the discovery that the stuff has an unfortunate tendency to spawn grubs, and the grubs attract what we think are skunks. Earlier this summer I thought I was living in a universe that didn’t have skunks in it. Since my desire is to create, preserve and repair, the way I look at it now is that I was living in a universe that has skunks in it, I just didn’t know it at the time. So there is reality, and then there is my perception of it — two different things.

This helps to explain the Medicator mindset, with regard to fences destroyed that someone has to rebuild, and child support not paid that someone else has to produce. Would the Medicator acknowledge that someone has been harmed? And the answer is no. The limited universe. There is a periphery around it, and all the people hurt by his lust for immediate gratification, and his sloth, and the thrill he feels from lobbing bricks through windows, are outside the periphery. They’re in “Here Be Dragons” territory. You aren’t supposed to be talking about this stuff. Might make him feel bad. And the whole point to life is to not feel bad.

“Point to life”; see, there is another clear, crisp, primal definition of the difference. There is a conflict between those who worry about the impact they’re having about the world as they pass through it, and those who worry about the impact the world has upon them. It seems at times like neither side can ever hope to even begin to understand the other. Over on this side of the wall, for example, doesn’t it just necessarily follow that “the point to life” has got to be entirely invested on what we’re doing to the things around us, rather than the other way around? And it is often outside our way of understanding things, when we are confronted by the true answer: No, not for everybody it doesn’t. There are people who think we’re all here to be entertained. And not just a few people either.

They are not harmless. They wreck things, and they wreck them because of the Morgan Freeberg Charismatic Wrecking Ball Theory. It is, near as I can figure, a process of elimination. Nobody really wants to just sit and do nothing, for any length of time, anymore than anybody can really “lie in bed all day” on a weekend. Sooner or later you have to get something to eat, shit shower & shave, make things happen. If you want to make things happen, you can build, preserve or destroy, just those three things, nothing else. Building demands coping with the delayed gratification; preservation, as I shall demonstrate in a few hours as I attend to my fence repair chores, ditto. That leaves one thing left — and that’s why I have a fence I have to fix.

And every fucking weekend for the foreseeable future, it would seem. What a foolish errand of mine this is! And yet…it is a perfect microcosm of our society as a whole. Is it not? The fence is torn asunder, repeatedly, ritually, like the gizzard of Prometheus torn from his gut ever day, because it sits on the boundary of these two worlds. All of the trouble takes place on that boundary, while the champions of each side labor tirelessly to reach across, and teach that other side how it’s gonna be. It’s an endless drain on the resources, but both sides keep doing it because neither side has a choice. And of course, only one side is worried about resources.

Thought I’d go ahead and blog about it. Why not? I can put in zero hours, let the vandal win; put in one hour, “win the argument” for this weekend, and move on to the next thing; I can put in two hours, implement the repairs and then blog about the situation. I’m opting to go full tilt, “in for a penny, in for a pound.” Because that conflict we have on the create/preserve/repair side of society’s “fence,” is also worth some pondering. Probably more worthwhile than anything else involved, for you see, if this is really a battle of wills between the two sides, it doesn’t do any good over the long run to try to win at that battle, and then keep quiet about it. Sooner or later, the Medicators/Destroyers have the potential to find a voice, make their own P.R. department if you will, and prevail in the court of public opinion. And so those of us on this side, have to find that second hour, come up with the resources to spend on that, too. While we’re actually working for a living, building things that actually work, or at least trying to, or learning what we need to do differently to make them work.

In this way, we’re being double-taxed. Makes one wonder what the net cost is, dealing with the conflict every day and every year. We don’t often bother to tally it, because we haven’t got any choice. But, I’m sure some reading this post will think, among many other things, “Morgan you really should take stock of how much time, materials and supplies you’re putting into this.” Which is absolutely correct. The same is true of all of us; just because we have no choice but to continue in the conflict, burning away time that might be spent on other things if the conflict was not there, and we can’t see a way right now to make the conflict go away — doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be adding, calculating, computing, assessing. We’ve shown ourselves, as a society, to be quite gifted at this “tolerance” thing, we’ve been tolerating an awful lot. Figuring up the cost of the tolerance, that’s one place where we could stand to show some improvement. There’s little point to it the way things are now, but perhaps the better-comprehended numbers would motivate us to explore some options, and some of those explored options might provide the point.

Speaking of which, this is my favorite theory for the time being to explain it all: The point. An appreciation for delayed gratification, is something you learn early on, when there is a point. We’re dealing with the glassy-eyed nihilists, I think, who failed to see the point to developing such a thing, as they teetered on the brink of majority age. And so their situation is a confusing and sad one: They delight in the thrill of breaking windows, wrecking fences, et al, but they’re also trapped in a world in which that’s about all there is to do. Now there’s no way they can grow any further, except by way of losing arguments to fence-repairer Architect types like me — which is not something that’s going to happen, certainly not with any frequency. The current battle does not favor my side. Spock said it best: “As a matter of cosmic history, it has always been easier to destroy than to create.”

A Joke on the Internet

Friday, September 4th, 2015

From Geeks Are Sexy.

The Reversal of Trump

Friday, September 4th, 2015


Chris Cillizza writes in the WaPo about the unprecedented shift in Donald Trump’s favorable/unfavorable polling in Iowa, from 27/63 back in May to 61/35 now. Did I say “shift”? More like “reversal”:

Numbers just don’t reverse themselves like that in the space of a few months (or ever). Especially when the politician in question is totally known by the electorate. Once you are both totally known and broadly disliked — as Trump was in May both in Iowa and everywhere else — you are doomed. One hundred times out of one hundred.

That’s why I was SO certain of Trump’s inability to matter at all in the 2016 race when he, somewhat stunningly, decided to enter it 70-odd days ago. In the almost 20 years — gulp — I have spent following politics closer than close, I’ve never seen anything like the total reversal in how Trump is perceived by Republican voters. It is, quite literally, unprecedented.

After toying around with a few other theories that might explain, by themselves or cumulatively, she offers up this one:

The public has not only gotten used to Trump as candidate, and gotten used to seeing that he can stand his ground, but people have also become accustomed to the ideas he expresses, thoughts that initially may have seemed far out of the mainstream because they hadn’t been commonly voiced by politicians. An end to birthright citizenship for the children of illegals is the sort of issue only talked about previously by Senator Vitter (and relatively obscure bloggers like me), and how many people had ever heard of it before Trump, or knew the arguments pro or con? Trump dragged the idea out into the sunlight to be discussed and dissected, and many people who heard him decided, once they became familiar with the discussion, that the idea had some merit. Over time, the shock value of Trump’s positions generally has been diluted.

From the comments:

Those in the media who tell Trump supporters they’re stupid don’t seems to take into consideration that a lot of these same people have been treated like rubes by the GOP for years. The GOP claims to be the “big tent” party but then distance themselves from anything too conservative, especially social issues, where they lecture their base that they must “evolve.” This despite watching Obama break laws to encourage mass illegal immigration, and the Left using social issues such as same-sex marriage and HHS’s birth control mandate to needlessly harass religious institutions and private citizens of faith.

So who is stupid, the guy who keeps getting suckered into voting for GOP candidates with conservative stances that only surface in an election year, or the guy who has not always been conservative but is passionate enough about current issues to boldly voice his opinion and not back down now? It’s a gamble, but is it any more of a gamble than voting for the anointed candidate Jeb, who is fairly in line with the Left on key issues like immigration, and who can’t seem to display that he has any fight in him?

Most comments I’ve seen about Trump support what he’s dong as a candidate more than the idea of him actually winning. Apparently our pundits can’t differentiate between the two. But we’re the stupid ones, huh?

Coming of Age

Friday, September 4th, 2015

I suppose I didn’t realize it at the time, even though I was contributing to it, but there must have been a baby boom going on two decades ago give-or-take. Today, a lot of the households I know are coping with coming-of-age stuff. Stepping out, first “room of my own,” graduation, enlistment, et al. At the same time, the nation as a whole is trying to figure out, When did it become acceptable for an open and avowed socialist to run for President of the United States? And why has our society become so fractured, and contentious? When did that happen?

And a thought occurs to me: I tend to get into trouble when I point out things that everybody else already knows, but have made some silent, collective decision not to discuss openly. I have noticed this gets people all HowDareYou-ey, no matter who’s breaking the silence, as if the guy who broke the silence was actually around when “everyone” took a pledge to remain silent and is now breaking that pledge. When, of course, that is not the case and could not have been the case. Well…here I go again, I suppose…

Before reading further, one has to face an unpleasant truth, since we’re talking about people. People, a lot of the time, make no damn sense. And people, a lot of the time, really hate reading or listening to ideas that have to do with the fact that our species often makes no damn sense. Oh sure, we have no problem acknowledging that about the other guy. But, we seem to have this ego-alarm that reminds us, even when we don’t want to admit it, that “people” means everybody, a real everybody, not just the everybody-of-convenience we like to define moment to moment, as in “everybody is making a big mess” or “everybody needs to work harder and do their part.” And the idea here has to do with what “everybody” does when they’re at this age. Which seems to sound the alarm — “Hey, I was once that age, that asshole’s talking about me!”

Well…yeah. So with that said, let’s plunge into the darkness. The big idea is that people, when they are teetering on the brink of adulthood, are somehow compelled to approach life with a challenge, as if it were ever their place to do so. I’m not sure why this is. Possibly, this is the age at which life starts to challenge them, and they figure if they can turn the tables on it then that will sort of make everything good & right. But “they” means, of course, “we” — best I can figure, everyone’s done this, whether they realize it or not. It’s as common as a heartbeat.

The challenge goes like this. “Okay life, I’ll give you six months to a year for you to tell me what you’re all about. After that, you’ve had your shot and I’ll just make a decision without you.” Life, then, like Linus during a Charlie Brown Christmas Special, is supposed to drop what it’s doing, explain itself, and intone “There, person, that’s what I’m all about.”

Which it isn’t gonna do, because it’s got bigger fish to fry. There’s a lot more wrong with this than a preposition at the end of a sentence. Nevertheless, we do it. And whatever answer we get back at that age, we tend to keep around for a very long time. “Life,” meanwhile, has a tendency to speak to us much more loudly at the later stages. The challenge then becomes one of shedding this leaving-the-nest answer we think we got previously, in whole or in part, and replacing it with the answer we get later that’s better informed. We, as a species, aren’t too good at doing this. The impression we get at the close of the teenage years, we tend to keep for awhile; default tendency it to lug it around, all the way, into the coffin.

At age eighteen or so, if the answer life gives back is “live to the end of this war, and see to it your buddies do likewise” — then, that is how that person is going to see life. If the answer is “get these crops harvested in the fall so that we all don’t starve to death,” then that is how that person sees life. If the answer is “bullshit people so that they do what you want,” then ditto. Soldier, farmer, politician.

It really makes no sense at all, when you think about it. But it’s in our wiring, in our DNA: Eighteen years, plus a few months, at the very latest and that’s when we’re supposed to jab a finger in the air and declare Ah ha! Now I have it all figured out! Again, ending a sentence with a preposition is not the most-wrong thing about this; there are many others. Ah, the ego. “My evaluation is complete! How could it not be? I’ve seen everything!”

These days, without some clear and forceful reason why they should not be headed elsewhere, the default presumption is that they should all go into college. And then become liberals, since all the professors are engaged in a grand conspiracy of sorts to make them that way. Well you know, perhaps the professors really are; but allow me to stand up and offer a defense on their behalf, since no such conspiracy is needed. And if there’s a point to this Big Idea, that, surely, is it — we could harvest a whole generation of these lefty-leaning millennials, even if our colleges campuses were all solid-red Republican. There are other factors at work.

Parenthood has a way of setting one’s priorities. Get nothing else done, see to it at least that your kids have what they need. It’s an easy trap for us, a lot of parents fall into it. It’s hard to break out of it. But if we don’t, then after that leaving-nest-span, eighteen years, seventeen, sixteen, or twenty — there we are. Kid’s bellowing into the wind, demanding life explain to him what it’s all about, and life is remaining silent because the kid has always had everything he needed. So now, after life’s continued to remain silent after this little grace period he’s offered it, he has to do that highly irrational thing we all seem to be doing, and crystallize his “educated” finding, his decision.

Liberals are winning, right now, because they own a lot of “real estate” here. They own the man-child teetering on the brink of adulthood, who has concluded: “It isn’t about anything, it’s all futile.” That’s today’s liberal. The liberal who reached majority age yesterday, concluded: “It’s about avoiding this pooling-up of luxuries, so that very few of us have all the wealth, while everyone else starves…equality, man.” And with some, it has been: “Burn this bitch to the ground, no justice no peace.” Before that, it was: “Peace, make love, not war.” And before that — oh, yeah. Live long enough to go home. Or, avenge Pearl Harbor, if that’s your drift. At any rate, there’s a generational split for you.

So we wonder why the kids are starting to lean left. Or, lean nowhere, become smug little nihilists. We should be wondering why we’re wondering. You’ve heard that saying, “It’s not the destination, it’s the journey”? So have I. I loathe it. But, there’s a truth to it; there is a reason we tend to keep saying it. Show me the journey a man takes, and I will show you the man. The journey has that sort of impact on people, the destination does not. What journeys do our children take, right before they become grown-ups? What ones are they compelled to take? What ones must they take? Answer that, and you’ve answered the more pressing question of what they will become. Even if the answer to that is a nullity; that, then, is what they will become.

But of course, it doesn’t have to be that way. It’s really up to the person to decide if he wants to become a something, or remain a nothing. And he can decide that anytime he wants. The fact that so few people manage to do it in adulthood, means absolutely nothing. The options are open all the way.

Illinois Can’t Pay Big Lottery Winners

Tuesday, September 1st, 2015

…only the little ones. Time, via Power Line, via Instapundit:

Big Government
Image from Liberal Logic 101

Big-time Illinois Lottery winners aren’t getting the largesse. They’re getting left out.

Without a state budget agreement two months into the new fiscal year, there’s no authority for the state comptroller to cut checks over $25,000. That means smaller winnings can be paid out, but not the larger lottery wins.

Susan Rick, who lives in Oglesby, Illinois, planned home fix-ups and a visit to her daughter after her boyfriend won $250,000 last month. But they were told to wait.

Rick tells the Chicago Tribune that if the situation were reversed, the state would “come take it, and they don’t care whether we have a roof over our head.”

Lottery spokesman Steve Rossi says state lottery, like every other state agency, is “affected by the budget situation.”

A crisis! And you should never let one go to waste. Guess Illinois had better elect some more democrats, who can then screw things up even further.

The boyfriend, Danny Chasteen, told CNBC:

“For the first time, we were finally gonna get a break,” Rick said. “And now the Illinois Lottery has kind of messed everything up.”

Under state law, checks for such winnings must be cut by the state comptroller’s office and, since lawmakers have yet to approve a budget, the office cannot release those funds, the newspaper said.

From the comments:

The Illinois lottery is setup similar to the New Deal’s Social Security Fund which is also broke. Lottery funds collected are made available to the state government.

A quick check will reveal that the Illinois state government has more debt than income. Therefore lottery funds collected are spent before they are received. The same situation exists with the federal government. The difference is that the federal government can raise the debt ceiling, borrow money needed for todays expenses and defer payment to children and grandchildren. Illinois can not print currency and put it in circulation.

Every Quantative Easing dollar printed takes buying power from the dollars in your pocket and savings.

The Illinois version of Quanitative Easing is an IOU from the state. Which takes buying power away from lottery winners.

What Does Our Economy Make?

Tuesday, September 1st, 2015

From Bad Words:

What is Mara’s job like? Her sales figures are monitored…by the microsecond. By hidden cameras and mics. They listen to her every word; they capture her every movement; that track and stalk her as if she were an animal; or a prisoner; or both. She’s jacked into a headset that literally barks algorithmic, programmed “orders” at her, parroting her own “performance” back to her, telling her how she compares with quotas calculated…down to the second…It’s as if the NSA was following you around…and it was stuck in your head…telling you what an inadequate failure you were…psychologically waterboarding you…all day long…every day for the rest of your life.
Note what all the technology and bureaucracy that wonderful, noble company has invested hundreds of millions in doesn’t ask her to do. Learn. Think. Reflect. Teach. Inspire. Lead. Connect. Imagine. Create. Grow. Dream. Actually…serve customers.
The economy doesn’t make stuff anymore. That much you know. So what does it make?

It makes assholes.

The Great Enterprise of this age is the Asshole Industry.

And that’s not just a tragedy. It is something approaching the moral equivalent of a crime. For it demolishes human potential in precisely the same way as locking someone innocent up, and throwing away the key.

Consider Mara again. Who in Christ’s name would design such an inhuman system? Whose sick joke of an idea is a “store” like that? What do you even call it? Because it’s surely not a “store”.

Yes, I have noticed this lately on a subconscious level; when I move my purchases away from one source, toward another one, it seems to be less and less often over some issue involving quality, and more and more often over an issue far simpler. Like a lot of old farts, seems somewhere along the line I have embarked on a new mission to figure out who doesn’t want to do business with me, weeding out who is only pretending to want to do business. And there are more than a few vendors who only go through the motions of it.

Who would design such an inhuman system? I think I may be in a position to say: It is a conflict, as so many things are these days, between process and outcome. The writer errs in the presumption that the outcome must be the fulfillment of a design. I submit that you don’t get here by way of design, you get here by way of a great big jumble of smaller, incremental movements, enacted by a great and vast community of manipulators, which isn’t a community at all because they’re never meeting each other — all driving toward this final nightmare, with not a single one of them laboring away with that image in mind.

So then what were they trying to do? Ah, that answer is even simpler: They were hoping to find one anemic carrot in a thistle-patch full of sticks. “Great idea Barbara, wireless headsets, that’s the ticket.” “Never would have thought of that Steve, sales quotas in real time.” Trying to build up a little tiny bit of credit in their accounts, before the next beat-down.

Column concludes with a bit of welcome wisdom:

We’re obedient constructivists. Pragmatists. Rationalists. So you probably want to know: what can we do about it?

It’s pretty simple.

Don’t be an asshole. Remember the Asshole Factories? Here’s a secret: they’re churning out assholes by the millions. And so should you bravely decide to be an asshole, what you’ll really be is just another interchangeable, forgettable, rapidly depreciating commodity.

So who should you be?

Be yourself. The person you were meant to be. Whether you believe in heaven or the inferno, freedom or fate, the simple fact is: each and every one of us was put here to be something greater than Just Another Asshole stealing pennies from his neighbors to pay off Even Bigger Assholes.

Hat tip to Gerard at American Digest.