Archive for August, 2016

Why do Young People Support Socialism and Old People Don’t?

Tuesday, August 30th, 2016

This question on Quora intrigued me, not quite so much because of the educated-above-their-hat-size, “solve all the world’s problems while we still know everything,” seldom-correct never-in-doubt sophistikateds that talk with smiles on their faces & their eyes closed; that’s a Quora staple right there. Rather, I was taken by the unusual experience. You have to read down quite a way to see it, but the answers under this one constitute a healthy mix. Eventually someone with good old-fashioned horse sense weighs in on the issue…yeah. Someone must’ve forgotten to close a door or something.

The answer most representative of the average floats toward the top, and reads like this; the number in agreement is so overwhelming, after awhile you wonder if it’s worth your while to read all the others…that, too, is a typical experience on Quora…

Conservatism, by definition, is about maintaining the status quo. For typical young people, using the US as a benchmark, the status quo isn’t that good. Their interests are thus best served by change, and change is a progressive or left wing thing. They came of age during the right wing G. W. Bush era, with its war mongering, governmental incompetence, crony capitalism, growing economic inequalities, and to cap it all off, a severe economic downturn that has left the employment and financial prospects of Millennials in dire straits compared to prior generations.

And they came of age during the internet era, so unlike prior generations who had to rely on the establishment’s media gatekeepers of TV and newspapers for information, younger people today grew up with ready access to information that directly contradicts shibboleths that prior generations took for granted. So they are far more inclined to question things and challenge the status quo.

The irony is, of course, that this all indicative of an under-challenged, and altogether unchallenged, status quo. “The status quo is not good and we need change,” George W. Bush is a warmonger, economic inequality, blah blah blah…same with the doddering oldsters relying on insufficiently diverse “media gatekeepers” for information, and the young, intellectually nimble New Hotness taking charge, armed with their dazzling array of learning resources.

We’ve seen it all before. And also, bushels and bushels of snooty condescension. Don’t forget that:

The entire world is moving progressively toward more comprehensive welfare states. The era in which it’s OK for a government to let its own people freeze or starve is coming to an end. This is right and proper.

It all seems just so correct and reasonable. Until you stop to think — just how current are these ideas, which are ushering in this bold new age? And the answer is, not very. Discarding phrasing styles and words that have only recently come into existence or fashion, like “[I]nternet,” this all could’ve been written in…well, just about any year from 1917 onward. The overall sentiments of progressivism have remained unchanged in all that time. We’re battling these “conservatives,” who want to keep things the way they are, but our victory is inevitable, because we’re for sharing and economic equality, and the old bastions of stodgy traditionalism favor inequality, but the world is changing. There isn’t a thought in there that’s less than a century old. And the basics of it are considerably older than that…again, still unchanged.

As I’ve noted before, the terms “conservatism” and “liberalism” work much better when you think about it in terms of creation, preservation and destruction. To say, “conservatism is all about what came before and liberalism is all about what’s coming” gels with a lot of definitions that are written and spoken, but those definitions are incorrect a good portion of the time; just as you’d be incorrect a good portion of the time if you said, “East is whichever way my boat is headed (so I don’t need a compass).” The modern era has seen a lot of retreats from liberalism, in other countries as well as in the USA. It happens whenever people figure out liberalism is incompatible with freedom, opportunity, prosperity and stability — which is often. That is somewhat akin to a boat righting its course after heading into the wrong direction, at which time it would be incorrect to say “East is wherever the bow points.” Sure you could say it. But you’d be wrong.

A lot of people are wrong about this. Many among them cling to this fantasy…this old (!) fantasy…that the younger generation, manifested by themselves, is on to some hot new idea and is in the midst of re-making the world around them into it. It does not seem to slow them down, even a smidgen, that they can’t name anything actually, provably new about the idea.

Still, the original question remains. Young people and old people do not look at property rights the same way. This old duffer nailed it, I thought:

Probably, because in order to be conservative you first need to acquire something worth conserving, and that takes time.

Probably, because in order to be conservative you first need to understand how society works, and in order to do that, you have to accumulate enough experience to figure out that your political science teachers were shameless lefty demagogues.

And another one made a good point:

Having trouble getting their first full time job when they get out of school makes people more likely to be a eoconomic liberal. That is they reject the conservative claim that to be unemployed means you’re lazy not unlucky. The generation that came of age since 2000 and especially since 2008 had a lot of trouble getting any job let alone a good one. However I question that they are really socialist any more than the peope who came of age during the1930s were.

This inspires some share of depression, I must say. Young people start working, or trying to anyway, and discover that it isn’t always immediately gratifying. Many among them, I suspect, through this initial effort are forced to cope with prolonged discouragement for the first time in their short lives. If the resulting frustration has a tendency to incline them toward left-wing politics, and I find that quite credible, that would mean it is to the left-wing politician’s advantage to make this experience more discouraging. What evidence is there to suggest this is not the case? And if it is the case, what evidence is there to suggest our left-wing politicians haven’t figured this out already, and are in fact acting on it, doing whatever they can to make it less likely that the average business will go so far as to actually hire someone?

I see precious little evidence to refudiate this…and much to support it…

Asphyxiating Deluge of Symbolic Gestures

Friday, August 26th, 2016

Save me from symbolic gestures. I’m not yet at the point of begging for the sweet release of death to avoid the next one…but, I might very well miss an important surgery appointment to do so. I’m definitely at the point where the food tastes better and the air seems fresher, when there are none in my presence and none looming on the horizon.

I’m not sure what’s causing this glut. I’d say there are many factors, most of them cultural, some relatively recent and some others decades in the making. My county’s particularly obnoxious plastic-bag rule clearly shows the Overton Window has shifted, and there is something wrong.

There is legislation, and there is enforcement. If plastic bags have a deleterious effect on our environment, it is by way of littering, which is against the law already. As one of my Facebook sparring partners ably summed up the argument, “Since people (as a whole) seem unable to keep the environment clean without the benefit of rules, it’s time to make some.” Yeah alright, that creeped me out a little bit. Insanity does that to me.

People shopping for groceries are not doing anything harmful to the environment. People who litter are doing that. The rules are already in existence, the enforcement may be lacking. A legitimate argument can certainly be held about what to do next, but “let’s make some” more rules is not part of that, if it is to be any sort of reasonable discussion.

This is the old saw about the cop finding the drunk guy scrounging around in the parking lot looking for something, which turns out to be a watch he dropped. After helping with the search for a minute or two, the cop asks some more questions and it turns out the watch was lost six blocks away. So…why are we looking here? “The light’s better.” That’s what these people are doing. Confronting evil is hazardous, takes some balls, and most importantly — is unlikely to result in increased, fawning publicity. I would connect it to the frothy outrage in response to the invasion of Iraq, all those years ago. Right? Passing the resolution authorizing member nations to enforce: No problem! A member nation actually enforcing: PROBLEM.

If we discuss this cultural shift honestly, we have to see it for what it is. You simply aren’t supposed to do any enforcing; you aren’t supposed to confront evil. You’re only supposed to go through the motions. More rules, more rules, more rules…don’t ever enforce anything. It makes the people who’ve already decided not to do any enforcing, look bad.

The rules are always aimed at the same places. Soft, rule-abiding types. They may go along enthusiastically, racked by guilt, or they may go along the way I do, full of resentment. But an uprising is unlikely, so this is the soft, fatty tissue — the yummy part. No claws, no thorns, none of that messy back-fighting stuff. It’s quick, it’s easy, it’s popular. Hey you homeowners, don’t water your lawns, because drought! And hey you law-abiding gun owners, it’s high time we passed some (more) rules against you! Someone who is not you just shot up a school.

We seem to be living in the age of “Go after the ones who didn’t do it.” I’m not sure how we got here, or how to get out of here. But, we’re here. If we really do want things to get better, that’s our first step. We have to break free of that diseased mindset. People are looking for ways they can vote in elections to make things better, and that’s the answer to that question. Skip that step, the rest of the effort isn’t going to matter much.

Phrathouse Phobia

Monday, August 22nd, 2016

This past week, just gone by, is where maybe I can show some cautious optimism. Not that I’m bullish on Donald Trump being our next president, but like many millions of Americans, I accept it as a pressing priority that The Pantsuit has to be kept out of that office and sent home. To wherever home is.

Well, maybe now that can happen. Following the resignation of Manafort and the new hire of Bannon and Conway, I’m seeing a new smartness along with a slowly reassuring time-gap rolling by, without too many dumb things being said or done. The “language that caused pain” speech, from what I understand, was all-Conway and that was smart. The “law and order” speech was smart. Heading down to Louisiana was exactly the kind of smartness that had always been needed.

Golden Rectangle DonaldWhat is left to trouble me, then? I have lots of friends who will line up to ply me with all of Trump’s shortcomings, how he’s “just as bad as, if not worse than, Hillary” — but that’s bull. They’ve allowed their hyperbole to run away with them. I’ve availed them of every opportunity to prove otherwise, and no, there are no fortifying specifics behind such a silly statement. Hillary’s worse, and they’ve made the mistake of taking their eyes off the prize. I’m much more troubled by the idea that Trump could still lose, than that he could win.

And yet I’m still troubled, even discounting the possibility he might lose. I suppose we’re all making the mistake of looking for the very best-case scenario in this match-up, in which all sorts of Americans from different walks of life get to have some say, therefore, nobody’s getting everything they want. Everyone’s got their dream-outcome; everyone’s ratcheted down to their current dream, from many others that would have been better for them, so it feels like we’re all embracing reality when we’re all just really doing more wishing. Mine was, Trump would win and Hillary would lose after more of these — indelicacies. More of the stupid. Not that I like seeing Trump do stupid things.

But I do think the American electorate needs to grow a thicker skin. Without that, let’s face it, when it votes the right way it’s just like the busted clock. Years like this, it seems beyond their ability to even vote for anybody at all; anybody else get that impression? It’s like the voters, as a whole, can only manage to deny, by way of granting consent to the opponent of whoever. It can only reject, never accept. Therefore, who knows what the beast really does want? And why should anyone care?

I’m tiring quickly of this sense that “Everybody Knows” how Trump is unsuitable for this prestigious, high, powerful office. I personally find the whole attitude rather obnoxious. If the reasons are good, give them. As opposed to

You’ve got somebody out there saying things that used to only be said in the shadows…I think what he’s saying represents something pretty dangerous for our country.

Silly people. You’ve been wasting my time all year long with these things-that-don’t-say-anything. I am left to conclude that what we’re talking about is:

• General decorum;

• The previously-mentioned special strain of Stockholm Syndrome;


If the Trump campaign has started to act smart, of course it’s a good thing because it increases the chances that Hillary will be kept out of the White House. But for all we know, maybe that’s assured already. What’s potentially wrong with it is that the American voter was just starting to go through an awakening, by way of intense discomfort, which is how all such awakenings are achieved. To, when you get right down to it, the difference between substance and packaging.

Here’s how it works. Trump says something that is obviously stupid, and yet it is equally obvious it doesn’t really matter. These conservatives who saw their will thwarted when Rubio and Jeb! dropped out of the race, then when Cruz dropped out of the race, say to themselves, THIS time I will not be denied! And that is when they start to say risible things, like “Hillary is no worse.” This is not a summation of perceived reality. If that were the case, their passions would be on a downward slope as they continue to settle for less and less. That is not what we’re seeing. We’re seeing a level of passion in them that was not displayed previously, when Trump was competing against Jeb!, Rubio, Cruz, et al. If they were honest about it, they would admit that this is a new tactic; a “boy, this will really show ’em, when they see me voting for her, they’ll finally know how mad I am.” But, who among us is honest about what really motivates us to do things?

Live and Let LiveAs far as this recognition that a “higher standard,” or something, is good for society. I agree. It’s one of my 42 definitions of a strong society.

Coarse humor and other material are kept away from children, as well as adults who might not prefer it. The girly mags kept behind the clerk, rather than at knee height out front; the blogger who takes the effort to write “not safe work work language in this video”; the curtain in front of that special room in the back, at your video store; South Park scheduled on the cable teevee for 10pm or later. These are fundamental building blocks of any civilized society. The spicy stuff is freely available, but walled off.

That’s #5. But, speaking as the author, you know, #1 is #1 for a reason…

There is a vast, yawning gap between laws that are written down, and unenforced cultural taboos that are universally observed as a sign of respect the individual pays to the sensibilities of the community. There is an abundance of little things that are frowned-upon, and because they are frowned-upon they are very seldom done. They carry absolutely no penalty whatsoever. In fact, making any kind of “hard” law against some of these things, is one of the taboos.

Decency is a lot like a fart sometimes: If you have to force it too much, a lot of times it turns out to be shit. Oops! Think I just broke the taboo…

If you think this is going toward something about political correctness, you are right.

I am worried. I’m worried that it’s been so long since we’ve seen a problem actually solved, we don’t know what it looks like anymore and we don’t understand the process. The partisanship has just made things worse, when a U.S. President or some other executive inserts himself. Half the time, nothing identifiable actually gets done; if it does get done, then the party opposed to that executive will find all sorts of things wrong with it, while the executive’s own party just cherry-picks anything that might be interpreted as positive news, and hogs all the credit, casting blame upon whoever came before for whatever might not be so positive. People have resigned themselves to the reality that that’s the process. The idea that there are simple and reliable ways to forecast things from other things…genuine causes and effects, with genuine relationships tying them together…gets lost.

I’m also worried about the decisions being made by decent people. If this was some sort of enchantment being worked on indecent people, I would not be worried. But these are salt-of-the-earth types, who have grown weary of seeing “fuck” and “shit” and the like, casually dropped in common discourse. There was a union between them, and the South Park Republican types — they were unified by things that actually worked. Now we have Trump. There is a realignment, a wedge being driven between these two. The decent, salt-of-the-earth types are mulling over the idea of abandoning what works, going with the hot-air politicians who spew empty rhetoric.

Did Trump do it? I think not. He illuminated it. Salt-of-the-earth type used to have a meaning associated with it; you might be a farmer. Or, someone else who does things that actually work. Maybe that’s slipping out of our grip, maybe we’re moving past that.

There is no excuse for going with political correctness. You thought that had something to do with decency? That that was, perhaps, this long-awaited desirable fusion between the high wall that keeps spicy things out of the reach of kids, and the softer cultural taboo as opposed to hard laws? Thought that was it?

No. Political correctness is destruction, plain and simple. We’ve been wandering through the thick of it, like through a fog, since I was a kid. And I just turned fifty.

A little while ago, one of my decent, salt-of-the-earth type friends tried to get me to see the light after I took note of the high level of energy being spent by a couple of annoying cunts, to behave like annoying cunts. He tried to convince me to aspire toward a loftier standard of behavior, and I know that’s what his motivation was because when he failed to do so, he simply…failed. The next step would be to erect whatever sensible divisions became necessary, between his enclave of reverberating opinion, and my own, to keep out this R-rated talk where it is not appropriate. He didn’t, and he wouldn’t, make an attempt to destroy me for my transgression. Or, put me in my place…really show me who’s boss. A crusade for political correctness, as we all know too well today, does not look like that. Political correctness may exact a promise to never repeat the offense again, and it will bulldoze onward in this spirit of “No, you said it! We still GOT YOU!”

Political correctness is political. It is not decency. An attempt to enhance decency, resulting in destruction of the person who caused offense, but realizing no acknowledgement that the better behavior is better behavior — will have failed. Political correctness is about the destruction. If P.C. can bring about the acknowledgement of better behavior, and a sincere promise not to re-offend, but fails to destroy, then it, too, has likewise failed. It’s got nothing to do at all with bringing about a more enlightened or civilized society, and some among us are quite tired of this obligatory expectation that we should treat it that way.

It’s about getting people canned. Period, full-stop.

As such, it does not promote civilized-human behavior. It promotes shark behavior.

We just saw it, didn’t we, in Port Angeles? Quoting from the piece on profanity, linked above:

Whetham’s comments cited by Kidd occurred Aug. 2, when the council discontinued fluoridation temporarily on a 4-3 vote at least until a Nov. 7, 2017, advisory election.

That partially reversed a 4-3 Dec. 15 decision to continue fluoridation for 10 years after Mayor Patrick Downie switched sides.

Whetham was on the winning side Aug. 2 and the losing side Dec. 15.

The roles were reversed for Kidd, a fluoridation proponent.

Whetham did not return repeated calls for comment Wednesday.

“Will we have a list of profane words?” Whetham asked Kidd at Tuesday’s meeting.

Kidd responded that she did not want people to “use profanity, period.”

Got that? The article is worded just terribly…here’s the best I can make out of what happened.

The mayor switched sides…so this bitter old crone who won the fluoridation vote back in December, lost the vote just this month. So here comes that attitude, we’ve seen it before: “Well, darn it, I’m gonna win at SOMETHING here!” Probably aggravated by the anti-fluoridation guy being a little smartass, twisting the knife a little after his victory. So now Port Angeles is suddenly embroiled in this hoop-de-doo about language.

But, it’s not language. That would carry the implication that this is good for the city. It’s not about the city, it’s about this one crone and her hurt feelings. It’s about feelings and not about thought. “Kidd responded that she did not want people to ‘use profanity, period.'”

The request for a list might have been smartass too. But, not entirely unreasonable. The offensive word was “hell,” which is around the periphery of profanity in this day and age. Not Fuck, Cunt, Shit, Asshole or anything of the sort. I just used “smartass” twice, just above. Would I get dinged for that if I sat on the council?

It’s not a trivial question. A rule worth making is a rule worth defining. It’s really all about the definitions; and any of these salt-of-the-earth decent types, if they’re that way because they’ve been busying themselves with building things that actually work, that other people actually need, then they should be able to appreciate that.

The perfect tyrannical society has exactly one rule: “It is a crime for people to do things I don’t like.” That’s just a fancy way of saying, tyranny is not in the cruelty of the punishment, or the innocence of a seemingly innocuous act that could land you in real trouble. It isn’t even invested in the inequality of authority. We live under tyranny when we live under lack of definition. When the severity of a crime is decided in the aftermath. That’s tyranny. That’s what it is.

And we seem to be sharing our citizenship status with fellows who are hungry for it. It’s almost like, in their world, everything turns out okay if we just get rid of fratboy behavior, everywhere. Well, that’s not a rational thought process that leads to good results. That is a phobia, and it should be treated as such.

Why is Star Trek Having Trouble?

Saturday, August 13th, 2016

Forbes investigates. It comes away with a mix: People are generally not in much of a movie-going mood; summer started earlier this year; inadequate marketing.

I have a couple more ideas.

Star Trek’s appeal, as a vision for the future, is reassuring. We didn’t wipe ourselves out of existence, people of all sorts of different nationalities are getting along together. That’s fine, but “reassuring” is boring. Also, the franchise didn’t rely on that part of it as much as it does now. There used to be this thing about “boldly go where no man has ever gone before!” Then that was declared un-P.C., so it became “where no one has gone before.” Then it got reversed, in the worst Star Trek episode ever made, in which the courageous and intrepid Enterprise crew discovers that the warp drive is tearing apart the fabric of the universe or something. Although they didn’t put it like this word-for-word, this effectively flipped the motto around like a pancake being turned: “To timidly avoid going where just about everyone else has already been.”

TriskelionThey just wanted to be socially conscientious progressives, I’m sure. Well, they nuked the spiritual essence of a beloved and revered cultural tradition when they did that…which is what progressives do. So, we’ve got this huge tub full of good-hearted people wearing uniforms, being very careful not to go faster than Warp 5 so they don’t break anything? What’s the point?? How about…just not go? Starting with the premises provided, that is where common sense goes.

Star Wars, in contrast, is two stories. One takes place in the technological realm, involving pilots, ships, space stations, and lasers that go pew pew pew…the other takes place in a spiritual realm, unseen by all who are not “force sensitive.” Good and evil battle each other, in both realms. There you go. Spiritual…and…good & evil. Star Wars believes in the compass points. Evil is objectively evil, no need to debate it. There are good people doing evil things, but that’s consistent with real life — people are books, their good & evil deeds are pages within the books.

Star Trek has a way of crossing this line, into the Hipster Zone in which the deeds themselves can be subject to endless debate, with great points made on both sides, about whether this is good or evil. This complicates things needlessly, since it is not consistent with real life. Best Star Trek movie ever? There’s little or no disagreement: The Wrath of Khan, within which there is no necessity, none whatsoever, to tediously debate the good & bad parts of stealing the Genesis device and killing Admiral Kirk. That’s all-the-way bad, and this bad guy must be stopped. That’s good drama. But this has been receding. With every good act debatable as a potentially bad thing, and every bad act debatable as a potentially good thing, the whole story dissolves into an opera about characters in uniforms flying ships and feeling certain ways about things.

Well…if we don’t relate to the characters, that’s all it takes to send the whole thing over a brink.

But this brings me to my second idea. Following is a list of what the villain is trying to do in each movie, and why; see if you can figure out where I’m going with this.

I: Merge with The Creator, so I can learn my purpose.
II: Kill Admiral Kirk, because I blame him for killing my wife.
III: Steal the plans for the Genesis device, for fortune and the glory of the Klingon Empire.
IV: Talk to the whales, to make sure they’re still there.
V: Go to Sha Ka Ree, to find God, because……….??
VI: Sabotage the peace conference, so we can keep fightin’.
VII: Extinguish the star, killing everyone in the solar system, to go into The Nexus.
VIII: Go back in time and mess up First Contact, to assimilate Earth into the Borg Collective.
IX: Poison the entire planet, killing everybody, because I’m angry about my prior banishment.
X: Kill Captain Picard, and everyone on Earth, because I’m angry about being abandoned by the Romulan government.
XI: Kill everybody on Vulcan, and everybody on Earth, because I’m angry that Spock didn’t save my planet.
XII: Kill everybody I can, because I’m angry that Admiral Marcus woke me up from my nap.
XIII: Kill everybody on the Yorktown, because I’m angry that Starfleet didn’t come looking for me or something.

You see the issue now? There is a gradual but increasing over-reliance on “kill everybody indiscriminately because I’m angry”…which, with all these terrorist attacks, could be said to mirror real life somewhat. But, that isn’t why they’re doing it. This second problem ties in somewhat with the first problem. Star Trek, now immersed deeply into the Hipster Zone in which so few evil deeds can be recognized as decidedly evil, all of them have to be put up to some endless debate, is grasping at straws in a futile search for the few evil deeds that are irredeemable and thus not subject to this debate. And they’re left with only one.

There’s no strategic thinking involved in this. Last time any Star Trek villain did any of that, was twenty years ago. And that, it should be noted, has not aged very well now that it’s established that traveling back in time and changing history, merely launches a new universe. So what the heck? Why not let The Borg go ahead and gobble up Earth like a big fish swallowing a guppy? Earth Prime is still safe.

As the Wrath of Khan decisively proves, the bad guy has a lot of pull in deciding if the movie is going to be any good or not. A lot of pull. More than the hero. It also proves vengeful bad guys can be interesting; there is a way to do this correctly. The bad guy’s lust for vengeance has to make him into a Determinator, that seems to be important. But there are other rules too, because many of the above films had that going on, and they still didn’t work.

Bottom line is, Star Trek is having trouble because it’s in denial of the worthiness of the instinct of self-preservation. What it really needs is good old-fashioned submarine warfare — which Wrath of Khan did have, and which elevated at least one old episode to true greatness. The producers, in their current mindset, won’t green-light this. It would shrug off the hipster mentality that says all life forms are equally worthy, and sometimes the gazelle should stumble so the lion can have a decent meal. That’s not the way it used to work. It used to be, “They’re coming for us, it’s us or them” was sufficient to establish the roles of good guy and bad guy. Today you can’t do that. The lives that are at stake have to be truly innocent, at a distance, multiple in number, and most important of all…strangers. The bad guy’s not coming for you, he’s coming for Boston, or London, or Africa or India, or that solar system over there, or Earth, or the Yorktown, or…

Now that they’ve taken this step of debating all goodness and all evil, into incomprehensibility, for sake of embiggening horizons; they have achieved the exact opposite. Star Trek movies can only have one kind of bad guy anymore, and he can only be doing one thing, for one reason. That doesn’t excite people into attending repeat viewings. And after the movie comes out on video, this doesn’t get the disc back into the player. That’s not enough to make these into bad movies, but it doesn’t make them good movies either.

What Conservatives Must Do

Thursday, August 11th, 2016

Nobody ever reads this blog, since it’s The Blog That Nobody Reads, and all…and one of our nobodies wrote in this morning with an inquiry.

Do either of you remember one of Morgan’s posts where he was talking about how conservatives have ceded so much of the public square to liberals because “we’ve got shit to do” and now conservatives are starting to realize that such was a mistake? (I found a few posts where he mentions the idea but I could swear there was one where he fleshed it out.)

These assignments are always pretty tough, for me most of all, because these thoughts are hovering in the background ready to find their way out into the open — and they do, multiple times. As the interested party notes, and this happens often…there’s one post where I really tear down the bunny trail, and it would be good to find that one, not one of the others that came before or afterward.

Well…Score! I think. Half a year ago, this time. Turns out I was talking about science, and what lately has been happening to it. Then I drifted just a bit…

Think back to decades ago when our liberals commanded us to question authority, as opposed to agreeing with authority all of the time to prove we’re not racists. I don’t mean in the build-up to the invasion of Iraq, I mean more like Vietnam. In those days, politics became the dominion of liberals. Conservative parents wanted their liberal kids to get haircuts, and jobs. The liberal kids wanted to protest. From this split came a situation in which the liberal kids concentrated on getting, keeping, and using a voice, and the passion persisted until they were no longer kids. Conservatives, meanwhile, figured out the chickens weren’t going to gather their own eggs, the roofs weren’t going to repair themselves…they didn’t have time for this shit.

Throughout this time, you see the liberals still lost elections. But they lost them after having won the previous elections, after the public got a good clear view of the harm that comes from liberal policies. These decades represent repeated laps around the unnecessary-mistake track; laps taken by, unfortunately, the entire country.

Now we are at a critical juncture. The conservatives who clean the crap out of the sewer lines and lay the foundations upon which buildings will be erected, that will house all sorts of publicly funded liberal-egghead think tanks, have come to the unpleasant realization that previous generations never quite learned: They have to make the time for politics. They’ve got to attend to it, as if it’s yet another chicken with eggs not yet gathered, otherwise everything else they’ve done is for nothing. They’ve got to write the code that works, they’ve got to build the diesel engines that successfully contain the explosions, they’ve got to manufacture the action boxes for 9mm pistols that don’t rupture under the stress, and do all the other things that liberals can never do. Then, they have to participate in politics like the liberals do. And the conservatives have to grow all our food.

Can you imagine a liberal being a potato farmer? It would never work. He would decide “this soil is good for growing potatoes,” and then he would do what liberals do all the time: Promulgate the narrative. The very last thing to figure into his actions would be the lingering question of whether or not the soil is any good…and come harvest time, there’d be no potatoes. If you want a big bundle of excuses about how everything is Republicans’ fault, liberals are your guys. Or, gals, or zhers or whatever. But if you want something to actually work then that’s not where you go. It’s not their bag, baby.

If liberals ever toil away under any sort of standard, their first move is to re-negotiate the standard. They’re so busy re-defining things, they’ve made themselves into strangers to the concept of ever getting any actual work done.

So conservatives have to make things work…food that can really be eaten, code that can really be run, combustion chambers that really do contain explosions…then they have to make time to argue with liberals who don’t have to worry about any of that. Wrestle with the pigs in the mud.

So there are two problems here. One, liberals fancy themselves to be too good for any task that involves dirty hands…any task whose completion status is testable. We no longer live in the era in which such neglect bears consequences. If you think yourself too good to cook hamburgers, you can still get hamburgers whenever you want. So, liberals are running around on the Internet, on blogs and on other forms of social media, because Barack & Michelle have asked them to — and, they’re bored.

The other problem is that if the liberals ever did sweep the sidewalks or embalm the bodies or kill the weeds or design the car engines, they’d just do it until they found the entertainment factor to fall short of their expectations, which would be pretty damn soon. If they didn’t get the task done satisfactorily, who’s to say? So either way, they’ve got a lot more time for this than conservatives do, since the conservatives are doing things that are testable, which takes a great deal more time. Anytime you vote in an election, you have to be prepared to lose; anytime you gamble, you must be prepared to lose; and whenever you run tests in good faith, on anything, you must account for that proportion of times that the tests are going to fail.

Conservatives are building the bridges on top of which the cars are going to be driven — we wouldn’t have it any other way. Would you really want to drive a car upon a bridge built by a liberal? Not if you want to see your next birthday. So people are counting on the conservatives, the conservatives have to work away at the task until it’s really done, and the whatever really does work. While, the liberals are bored…so of course the liberals have taken over the arena of rhetoric. Add to that, the fact that conservatives are naturally harder to get engaged in any sort of coordinated political action, because they think too independently. Contrast the recent Trump vs. Cruz contest, versus the Hillary vs. Bernie contest; no need to comment further on that, I think.

Still, the conservatives win elections. The liberals only have the White House, nothing else. It isn’t because conservatives have gotten good at participating in this verbal cage match. Rush Limbaugh, and a few others in the same business with the same leanings but not nearly approaching his stature — versus academe, cable, liberal blogs that have become media phenomena, the residual power of the printed daily. On top of which, anything anywhere that is any sort of bureaucracy, naturally tugs left.

So why are the conservatives winning elections when the liberals are dominating what the conservatives still have yet to effectively challenge? Just the experience of the electorate, that’s all. Big government looks like the answer, only to people who haven’t actually dealt with it yet. People who haven’t gone through the experience of waiting in line for a building permit…because they haven’t built anything.

“How Technology Feminizes Real Men”

Thursday, August 11th, 2016

Greg Penglis, Canada Free Press:

You’ve all been watching way too many TV shows where all men, especially all white men, especially white men in commercials, are portrayed as morons. Like that commercial where Tarzan and Jane are looking for the waterfall. Tarzan is made to look like an idiot for not asking directions, yet it is Jane who is expecting the chimpanzee to speak English. But let’s be blunt ladies. Nagging or harping over stuff that you do not understand about men, is why you have no sex life, or no life in your sex, with your guy. The more years in denying and not appreciating who we are, or how we are not like you, or how we don’t think like you, the worse it will get. So if you really want to have the best sex of your life, say to your guy “let’s get lost honey, and then we’ll find our way out.” And then enjoy the process that follows: the fear of not knowing where you are, the challenge of many roads, the characters you meet along the way, the towns you discover, the hidden restaurant no one knew about — all these are possible. And once your guy gets to rescue you both, the rest, well, I leave to your imagination. But there’s one critical thing you have to do to make this work. You have to turn off the GPS. And this brings us to the point of this article…
Ask For DirectionsOne of the worst things to happen to cars was the automatic transmission. Women love it because it makes driving easier. Men, real men, despise automatic transmissions, because a manual stick shift gives you more control, more options, more capability, and most important, it is the driver not the car who decides when to change gears, and that is the essence of independent manhood…
My essential theory is that women feel free when they are secure, and men feel secure when they are free. That fundamental difference is at the root of all relationship problems, and in our case here, the root of how technology, or the lack of it sometimes, feminizes men.

He starts with the cars and the GPS…finishes with the guns.

Women, until they’ve shot them, hate guns. All they see are the dangers, the deaths, and the macho attitude they hate. Women who shoot predominantly do it for the self defense aspect. Men, do it more for the art. Now, there have been some absolutely horrible things happening with guns. And those are crimes, so I’m not speaking of the criminal use of guns. Rather, I’m talking about the legal use. I want to step away from the crimes for just a bit, and deal with the technology, and the attraction to guns, by men, who value freedom, and don’t want to be feminized by technology…

Guns go back hundreds of years. The technology is simple. There isn’t a lot to be added unless you get into computerized gunsights, highly advanced scopes, or other advanced technology out of the price range of your average guy at the shooting range. So the attraction is to put a bullet in the tiny center of a target sometimes hundreds of yards away. That is an art. Long time shooters will figure temperature, ammo type, distance, wind, humidity, and any other factor available. It is like telling the weather from clouds, or guessing shutter speeds, because all of these skills require developing talents, skills and instincts, in other words, man stuff. There is another thing men have lost to technology — fussing. Guns can require an amazing amount of fussing. You can take them apart, and put them together. You can clean, polish, work the action, practice, and do an infinite amount of fussing with the guns themselves. You can mount scopes, and all manner of other attachments. If you compete in pistol or rifle there are an infinite amount of modifications and parts that can be added and interchanged. If you load your own ammunition, a whole new category of fussing emerges…The fact that guns are also dangerous only adds to the fascination. Being able to control that force and power, and responsibility, is a huge thrill. Which in a way explains the complete opposition to guns by women and feminist men who don’t want that kind of responsibility. They just can’t understand the attraction because they just aren’t oriented that way, and because they can’t understand guns, or fast cars, or manual cameras, or sextants and ancient navigation, or maps and compasses, or airplanes without a radar baby sitter, or just the simple pleasure of getting lost, all of these have to be done away with, shamed, blocked, condemned, demonized, removed, made obsolete by technology, or confiscated by government regulation. And that ladies and gentlemen is one huge reason why we have a man crisis.

Men have been feminized by technology, and with it, society has become feminized as well. [emphasis mine]

It’s an old problem, actually. But as we continue to describe it, the definitions deteriorate. Men and women, for example. At this late date, a lot of women get it now; and, a lot of men do not. Women, in fact, have often developed quite a passion about this, and in many cases that can be directly traced to the frustration involved in selecting a suitable mate. So the gender divide is diminishing even as the passions that ensconce all the individuals further into one side or the other of that divide, increase.

Woman Working On CarWhat you’re left with is a somewhat gender-neutral culture conflict. That’s why I like this thing about “women feel free when they are secure, and men feel secure when they are free.” Because today’s men are assuming woman-like preferences for things, and today’s women are filling the void in masculinity themselves, you have to add “and some men” and “and some women” into that to keep it accurate. But there’s your cultural divide. And I would go further to, just like working the reduction operation in a division equation involving two fractions, simplify it a bit: Security and opportunity. Who among us is prepared to offer up a some of one of those, in exchange for a bit more of the other? I would opine, everyone with a brain. But which is to be sacrificed for which? There’s your divide.

There is a common narrative here that the two sides are chasing, in different ways. It goes something like this: Without me involved in this excursion, failure was certain, but with my contribution we have a fighting chance. Of course that is always exaggerated somewhat — no job is indispensable. The point is that no one wants to be completely replaceable, either. Some of us chafe at the idea, when we learn how to do a new job, of being handed some sequenced script: Push this button, move this lever, light should come on after awhile, turn that key, close the door. Especially when we’re told things like “And nobody knows what the heck is happening when the light comes on, that’s the way we always done it.” How do we know if the light bulb has gone bad? And what if it’s working, and it doesn’t come on so we can execute the next step, what’s the procedure then? Besides of which: That’s not really a skill. A trained chimp could do that.

But to a good half of the people we’re going to meet on any given day, that’s all plenty good enough.

I met someone in one of my old I.T. support jobs who joked about this. “Network goes down, network comes back up again, every other Friday we get a paycheck.”

The two sides seek control in different ways. The people who think the way real men used to think, aren’t happy with their scripted procedures because they want to know how the mechanism works. They’re thinking ahead, to parts failing and breaking, when there’s no one else around to call. But it’s also instinctive; they don’t want to call anyone else.

The other people, who think the way women used to think, and both sexes think now, just want to execute their steps. If this reduces them to automatons who could be replaced with the next generation of unthinking robot, they don’t give a rip; for some reason, this doesn’t bother them. Must be nice. What do they do when the lever won’t move into the desired slot, or the light doesn’t come on when it should? They get nasty, start to assume an air of royal superiority I’ve noticed, and I guess that’s where the transfer of control is. The masculine side lusts after control early, the feminine side grasps at it later, after things have broken.

Someone from work was reading the post previous, and audibly admired the phrase “non-producers tell producers how to do their producing,” which is a bundle of words I’ve strung together many times over the past twelve years in these pages. I’m positive I’m not the first to notice it. I guess that’s how it happens. Someone becomes an “expert” in their job by learning a script, not bothering to learn how anything works…acquires a little bit of authority before the first time being put on the spot when a fuse blows, and then you have the lethal combination. Napoleonic complex, pressure to get the job done, a gizmo not functioning the way it should; and, a gap in technological ignorance that isn’t supposed to be there. Next thing that happens is someone bellowing “Plug The Damn Hole!”, or some variation of that.

Which carries us back to the first observation, about asking for directions. Technology, of late, has veered away from making new things possible and put a renewed emphasis on making things easier that were already possible. This has a tendency to reduce the humans operating the technology to the automaton role, which is keenly annoying to roughly half of us, whereas the other half is gobbling it down and demanding seconds, not seeing a problem with it.

Girl With GunI guess I’m more annoyed — and on occasion, more annoying — than most because of my profession. Most gratifying part of my job is when I get to design how a new software module is going to work, and I’ve achieved some measure of success here by sticking to my old credo of: Keep the humans doing what humans should be doing, and the machines doing what the machines should be doing. That’s served me very well. But, by going through that cycle to earn my next loaf of bread, I’ve become aware of a type of human that — who? or maybe “that” is appropriate in this case — doesn’t mind doing machine work, not even a little tiny bit. Doesn’t mind being replaceable, doesn’t think about it.

No, it isn’t women. There are a lot of guys in this camp. They want to follow the script, push a button, wait for the light to come on and push another button. They don’t care what’s going on inside…and, much more often than not, they hate guns. They’ve often made a promise never to own one, but they have all sorts of ideas about what the next batch of rules about guns should be.

Our Stockholm Syndrome

Sunday, August 7th, 2016

For a number of years now, I have been noticing there are two realities. There is the reality we think about and the reality we feel. A reliable way to distinguish between the two of them is to assess our own likely reactions to the spoken opinions of others. Which very often, as in you don’t have to wait long to see it happen, coagulates into a single chorus with a single melody, harmony and tempo. You also, regrettably, don’t have to wait long to see this consensus depart from the truth that is known. This presents opportunity; without such a conflict, things are not testable, and with the conflict in place, they’re testable. So when that happens, what do you think? How do you feel? And most importantly, how does it make you act?

This is the subject of The Emperor’s New Clothes by Hans Christian Andersen. This is a childrens’ fairy tale about an enclave, within which the spoken/felt reality and the thinking reality take off in opposite directions. The townspeople, reckoning with anticipated consequences, form their opinions based on punishment and reward; in so doing, these fantasy opinions begin to gel with their feelings. It’s a common mistake. And what’s right in front of their eyes, and gathered directly by way of their other senses, after a time carries no influence for them whatsoever. And we see this, here in America, in our elections. Time is another useful indicator of deciding whether an interested opinionated type is driven by thought or by feeling, since feeling is snapshot-driven, unconcerned with whatever came before. Once an election is over, of course, we’re going to all become…and this is as predictable as any sunrise…disenchanted with our day-to-day productive lives being managed by political types who produce nothing.

Not QualifiedAnd yet when the year number is divisible by 4, somehow this all changes. A non-politician as our President? Gasp! The horror! I’ve seen this in midterms, too; in 2010, I had noticed the word “unqualified” was taking on a strange new meaning. If you told things the way they really were, without trying to dodge the truth with diplomatic euphemisms, this set you apart from the political class that inspires our natural resentment during the odd-numbered years; and it made you unqualified for the office. We collectively seem to have a Stockholm Syndrome in place when it comes to the bullshit that keeps us hostage in our daily lives. It would appear we’re now at the point where we demand it. Anybody who can’t supply it to us on a regular basis is unqualified.

Another way to tell thinking apart from feeling. Feeling is loud. It has to be, because in the process of forming this coagulated consensus, it has to be communicated with these “Who’s with me???” text messages, posts, tweets — demonstrations. Thinking relies on perception. If you’re not doing some sort of experiment in chemistry, perception tends to be quiet. And so there is a “Loud Crowd” ready, willing, able and anxious to retort to the above with something like: “Oh no! Sarah Palin was unqualified in SO many other ways!! She’s SOOOOO stupid!!!eleventy!!” but that, again, is feeling and not thought. Thought relies on perception, and do these people personally know Sarah Palin? For the most part, no. Just like they personally don’t know Donald Trump.

Best argument I’ve ever heard for keeping Trump out of the White House: In 2018, under a Trump presidency, it is very easy to make the case that we need a democrat-dominated Congress to keep this narcissistic [fill-in-the-blank] in check. (Under a Hillary Clinton presidency, it is a persuasive argument that we need to elect Republicans.) That’s the best argument. The worst argument is the one I’ve heard most often lately: We cannot afford to have this kind of person with his finger on the nuclear button.

Again, this is feeling, not thought, because it is expression, not perception. Do these people personally know Donald Trump?

What happens when you really look into it? You might be surprised:

And…in the long history of our Stockholm Syndrome, this inter-generational feeling that we have to have unproductive people managing our nation’s production, tell me this: What sorts of men have had their fingers on this button? Forty-two men came before our current President. Those who base their arguments on the idea that occupants of this high office must fulfill some sort of lofty intellectual, temperamental and moral standard — which, it hasn’t been lost on me, goes largely undefined — demonstrate their ignorance of history of these 42 men. Simply put: No. We have not been honoring this high office by installing our best & brightest within. Not even close. Washington and Lincoln were probably okay dudes…Coolidge maybe, possibly Grant in some ways. As to the rest? Hey, they were what you should expect. We’re all human, all flawed. This office has been connected with disappointment, on average, much more often than with any sort of widespread elation over how something was handled. And for the most part, should’ve been. The “unfit for this lofty office” types imagine a halcyon White House history that seldom-to-never actually existed.

The political class, rushing to loudly communicate this feeling so it can be gelled into a consensus, ramping up on both the amplitude and the frequency of the message, expresses its displeasure and its shock that the electorate could even be seriously considering this dirty outsider. I’m guessing the displeasure and the shock are both genuine. And they should be. This political class is just starting to get a reading on just how disenchanted their constituents have become. Some of them might even have received it in full:

YES, there are all sorts of problems with Donald Trump, he’s even dangerous — but still way better than you.

I’m hearing an awful lot about how one candidate or the other is necessary for America’s continuing survival, that America cannot endure under whoever the opposition is. Let me add to that here: America is an organism, and lives under the same laws of nature as any other organism. Organisms endure problems, but only when they are capable of 1) addressing them or 2) adapting to them. When an organism perishes from a problem, it isn’t the problem itself that kills it, it’s the inability to address the problem over time. America has a problem and the problem is not hard to see at all: Our “leaders,” particularly on the democrat side, are not invested in the average citizen’s economic success. The current administration distinguishes itself by presiding over the most anemic economic recovery ever; and yet it, and its spokesmen, and social-networking fan base continue to crow about how awesome it’s all going. There’s your proof. And that’s your consequence of having non-producers tell producers how to do their producing. Is it any harder to start a small business, to keep it running, than it was thirty years ago? What matters is not the yes or no that follows that question; what matters is, why should Obama care.

But the problem goes back to well before Barack Obama. And it isn’t Obama’s fault. It’s the citizen’s fault. Maybe there aren’t enough among the citizenry who are actually producing? But there is this mindset that a politician’s job is to give good speeches. It’s like people have consciously realized, if the politician can speak effectively, he will just convincingly deflect blame for anything that goes wrong, and convincingly hoard credit for anything that goes well; so the “Are you better off than you were four years ago?” of Reagan’s era, will just kind of work itself out, if the figurehead can only speak effectively. So let’s elect charismatic types with perfect pant-leg creases, feel rather than think…all will be good. Take your Soma.

When & if the day comes we finally manage to liberate ourselves from that, we liberate ourselves from misery. President Trump’s temperament is not likely to help make that happen, but it’s unlikely to get in the way of it either. This country has been battle-tested, under the leadership of some very poor presidents with very poor temperament. Think, don’t feel, and you’ll see this is correct. Read your history.