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It Runs, and It Doesn’t Run

Thursday, July 4th, 2024

Last car I had to get rid of, was & was not mobile. The CarMax guy asked the question, the tow truck driver asked the question, everybody had to ask and I had to offer this Schrodinger’s-Cat answer of “yes and no.”

There was a crack in the outer wall of the engine block where the water pump was supposed to be affixed. So if your intent was to move the car from one parking lot space to another under its own power, it worked fine. If your vision was for anything of a longer and more useful term than that, then realistically the whole car was finished. This was a total.

If you worked hard at being foolish, you could say: Why get rid of it? It runs fine. Look, it’s going five, ten minutes…this obviously means it’ll go on forever. Drive it to work, go shopping, whatever. But if you live in the real world, that doesn’t work. It’s stupid.

My nightmare is that this is might be a suitable analogy for the United States of America whose birthday we celebrate today. We do all these things that cause overheating. Sophists seek to overhaul our culture along with our system of government, constantly. Their argument is “You know I’m wrong, and I know you know, and you know I know you know…but I’m going to win because I’ll scare people into thinking they’re racists sexists and bigots if they don’t agree with me.”

It must work. It’s worked before. Like moving my Honda Civic from parking lot space A to parking lot space B. Things get a little toasty but it works, right?

If you’ve got a brain in your head though, you know this doesn’t work. If you’ve got a brain in your head, you know this is a total. Time for the car to go. Car no longer among us. Car gone. Car doesn’t know it yet, but it’s dead. Dead car rolling.

I hope to heaven my analogy doesn’t work that way.

But I don’t know. I’m seeing an awful lot of overheating. On purpose. By some very smug people. And I’m seeing it often, like nobody who matters knows any other way to do it. It’s become the Modus Operandi by default, the way we’re gonna do it until & unless some other strategy emerges: Figure out who our enemy is, and then piss ’em off on purpose.

The engine runs, but the cooling system is broken.

Can you really keep it rolling?

Memo For File CCXX

Sunday, June 30th, 2024

The version I heard of this joke, it was the husband who asked the question. They were a brand new married couple, just back from their honeymoon. The very first home-cooked meal. Also, there was an extra generation inserted because these jokes always have to have three iterations. The new bride cuts off the ends of the roast and the husband asks why. That’s the way my Mother always did it…

She asks Mom. Mom asks Grandma. Grandma asks great-Grandma. Great-great-Grandma still walks among us, thank goodness, in a nursing home…proceed to the punchline: “If I didn’t, it wouldn’t have fit in our pan.” It’s a commentary on business and how easy it is to get caught entrenched in policies and procedures that aren’t there for any established or rational reason, just that’s-the-way-we-always-dunnit. One of my own Mother’s favorite jokes. I’ve often wondered if, in the decade she and Dad were married before my brother and I made our appearances, something in real life happened to make her appreciate it.

That all having been said, did you catch what happened during the debate? President Biden, summing up the position of our friends the liberals…accurately, although incoherently, and frankly a little stupidly…but accurately. Summarizing the liberal take on the Dobbs decision:

It’s been a terrible thing what you’ve done.

The fact is that the vast majority of constitutional scholars supported Roe when it was decided, supported Roe. And I was – that’s – this idea that they were all against it is just ridiculous.

And this is the guy who says the states should be able to have it. We’re in a state where in six weeks you don’t even know whether you’re pregnant or not, but you cannot see a doctor, have your – and have him decide on what your circumstances are, whether you need help.

The idea that states are able to do this is a little like saying, we’re going to turn civil rights back to the states, let each state have a different rule.

[snip]

I supported Roe v. Wade, which had three trimesters.

First time is between a woman and a doctor. Second time is between a doctor and an extreme situation. A third time is between the doctor – I mean, it’d be between the woman and the state.

The idea that the politicians – that the founders wanted the politicians to be the ones making decisions about a woman’s health is ridiculous. That’s the last – no politician should be making that decision. A doctor should be making those decisions. That’s how it should be run. That’s what you’re going to do.

And if I’m elected, I’m going to restore Roe v. Wade.

[snip]

For 51 years, that was the law. 51 years, constitutional scholarship said it was the right way to go. 51 years. And it was taken away because this guy put very conservative members on the Supreme Court. Takes credit for taking it away.

The/this idea that…look…here’s the deal. Why does this guy have any supporters at all, let alone 81 million votes, when everything that comes out of his mouth is an insult to the intellect of the listener. Well that’s a different subject I suppose.

But did you catch it? This terrible thing the previous President did. Presidents do not decide such things, nor do they decide who decides them. They don’t decide states get to decide. Presidents nominate Supreme Court justices, along with other federal officers, with the advice and consent of the Senate by simple majority vote.

And then, once made whole — or not — the Supreme Court takes a look at these issues of interpretation and application of codified law, to see if established interpretations make sense. The nine made a call that the established interpretations, in the Roe v. Wade decision, didn’t make sense. The six justices affirming this decision included the three Trump nominated and saw confirmed, plus three others who were there already. “Terrible thing what you’ve done” is not so flagrantly inaccurate as to merit some kind of a “fact check,” as those things have worn out their welcome and become obnoxious distractions anyway. It’s spin. Not falsehood, but not the truth either. President Biden, in taking such a position, is talking down to idiots who don’t understand how any of this works.

He proceeds from there to fill us in on why the Dobbs decision is wrong and why the Roe decision was right. Because he’s a stuttering, incoherent, senile, possibly stricken and none too bright inarticulate boob, there’s a lot of nonsense in there. But if you peel away the “look” and the “here’s the deal” and “the idea that” — what you’re left with is an argument for unified authority sticking by one set of consistent rules. Biden and the liberals don’t like the fifty laboratories.

They liked Roe v. Wade, and it wasn’t because “the vast majority of constitutional scholars” liked it. For 51 years it was the law of the land, 51 years…

That’s the way we always done it!

This is exactly what “conservatives” are supposed to be doing, by way of definition: Defending ideas that aren’t entirely worthy of being defended, just because we’ve always done it that way. Now he’s got some other supporting arguments to make. A woman can go six weeks, or even more, not even knowing she’s pregnant and a state’s proscription and various restrictions against abortion can put her in a plight. But we’ve had 51 years to noodle through that, during which time the argument has become weaker and weaker. People have had time to realize some things.

“Politicians” don’t “make the decision.” Legislators legislate laws, that protect people. That includes the unborn.

We don’t “let” each state have a different rule. The states have that right, and they get it from God, not from the feds.

When judicial officers act like legislators, someone is getting gypped. Roe v. Wade is widely recognized as bad “law,” in no small part because it hasn’t got any business being a law at all. All Biden needed to realize this was step out of his echo chamber and talk to some “constitutional scholars” who aren’t marching in lockstep with liberal ideology.

This is an important observation to make because it reflects the times in which we live. We’re in uncharted territory here. Our “liberals” are not doing any liberating. They’re not for any new ideas like they’re supposed to be; quite to the contrary, they’re the homemaker cutting off the ends of the roast and throwing them in the trash, because Momma always did it that way. You heard what happened when Biden tried to summarize who decides what, when, and why, according to the always-done-it-this-way. You got a jumbled mess.

Liberals, we’re taught, are looking forward through the big windshield, while conservatives are obsessed with the halcyon images in the rear view mirror. That isn’t quite right. Conservatives are looking both forward and backward. Their arguments frequently reflect this: “If we do X, we’ll get such-and-such an thing; we know this for sure, because we’ve tried X before, over here…and here (good or bad) is what happened.” They want the car to get what it’s going, unscratched, with all its passengers uninjured.

Whereas liberals are focused on the steering wheel. They just want to be in control.

Not accountable for results, or anything like that. Just in control.

It’s a maturity thing. They never learned how to share control with anybody, to depend on anybody, to trust anybody. To share a society with other people who are deserving of respect.

Cult

Wednesday, June 19th, 2024

Some people are “Ridin’ with Biden” and not relying on social services of any kind. We should look into that very carefully.

Back when it was Obama versus Romney, this crowd could say they were going after the superior leadership, the better wisdom, the Replacement Jesus. Now all the leadership, or whatever looked like it, is gone and it’s just Joe — stumbling, babbling, and having to be led offstage by his wife. People cay say they see leadership in that but it’s a lie and not a convincing one.

So what do they want?

The death of western civilization? The United States brought to its knees by an illegally permissive geographical border, manufactured famine and forced Diversity/Equity/Inclusion (DEI) policies? Are these all investors betting on America’s fortunes, and selling short? Maybe that. But there’s something else, something middle-class.

Americans, after all these years, are still struggling with the group dynamic. Some people commune with some other people, and in so doing create a conglomerate that is bigger than the sum of its parts. The hopeful narrative is that all communities are like that. “Not a one of us is as smart as all of us.” So seductive is this leitmotif that people can go their whole lives, seeing the opposite demonstrated to them over and over again, watching committees make some of the most execrable decisions just because they’re committees; and still they’ll cling to it. Some of the more toxic groups, meanwhile, have a way of handicapping their members. “You can’t be part of us if you think for yourself,” they’ll say. “Our emulsifying agent is fear, not hope. If you show you can do things without us that you can’t do with us, or if you merely aspire toward such an ability, you will be shunned.”

To be clear, not all gatherings are like that.

But when you’re in such a cult, it’s hard to see.

Even when you’re constantly put on the spot to prove your loyalty. To say “No, I don’t read anything, I don’t learn anything by myself that I don’t learn in the group. I can’t do anything for myself. I’m not like those people over there. I’m not M.A.G.A.”

That’s why people vote blue when blue won’t do anything for them. When they’re not poor enough to be fed by the blue, and not rich enough to speculate blue. In between, in the middle classes, they congregate-blue. Eggs milk and meat costing double means nothing to them; they’ll give up that, and much more, to maintain their good standing in the cult. The kind of community that demands individuals amputate the best of themselves — sometimes literally! — to avoid ostracism.

They don’t see themselves as cult members. And to be fair, that’s not an entirely precise term. They’re more like mediocre choir singers. Belting out a tune, hitting the right pitch, reciting the right lyrics — with just average competence. Sometimes below. Getting it right just maybe three quarters of the time. Not good enough to sing solo, hiding behind each other. So not “Ridin’ with Biden” but more like “Hidin’ with Biden.”

But if you want to stay in the group, you better keep hidin’. If you’re good enough to sing solo, or if you merely try to improve so that one day maybe you can — you’re making the other mediocre singers feel bad. So stop that. The group dynamic won’t tolerate people who are in the group just because it makes them happy. The group has to be needed.

It’s an ancient dilemma in the saga of human development: Grow up, ALL of the way…learn how to do all you can learn how to do, and be all that you have the potential to be…or, be part of the group. But pick one. You can only have one of the two.

And if people pick the group, they can’t see it. They don’t want to see what they’ve given up for their happy community membership. The Faustian bargain warps your thinking, because it demands you accept terms without acknowledging their imposition or their existence.

This is why, when liberals summarize the conservative beliefs for other liberals, what spews out of their maws is such a confluence of dizzying spellbinding ignorance. It’s a blind spot within a larger blind spot. They don’t have a clue what their opposition wants, because they’ve been so diligently avoiding admitting what they themselves want. What they themselves want is to hide behind each other, to live less life, to kill off a part of themselves for sake of continued membership in their dysfunctional communities.

It’s not that extravagant of an idea, you know. “Make America Great Again” offends them.

Symbols

Saturday, June 1st, 2024

“Symbol(s) of hate.” I’m not quoting any one particular thing. It’s the concept. Progressives see a S.O.H. and they want it covered, removed, preferably destroyed. You put up text or an image on Facebook expressing a “hateful” idea, their cops will see to it the display is as temporary as possible. Get rid of those symbols.

I mean think about it. It’s weird. Symbols are symbols — manifestations of something else. Manifestations, not causes. Do the fish make the river flow? Did we invent an alphabet so we’d have a way to read the books that were already lying around?

Does a ballot generate a voter? Hmmm…

For all the importance progressives put on symbols, they don’t understand the concept. And I notice this stuff works with supply and demand too: They think they can create a prevailing acceptance of a thing that wasn’t accepted before, by flooding us with instances of the thing so that we can’t get away from it. Minorities, women, gays, transvestites, their bathrooms, fat people in electric scooters, electric vehicles, and environmentally-friendly spoons, straws and cups. If we’re saturated with them and can’t opt out of them, we’ll learn to like ’em.

And, stuff we’ve been accepting that they don’t want us to accept. Masculinity, smoking, classy refined women who wear modest dresses, Christianity, guns, patriotism, kids who are respectful of their elders, western civilization, committed monogamous romantic relationships, being able to tell boys and girls apart. Get rid of it, make it so no one ever sees it, after awhile people will learn to loathe what they haven’t been seeing for a long time. Of course that’s the opposite of the way human nature works.

That’s What You Get For Threatening The Establishment

Friday, May 31st, 2024

Laura Ingraham sums it all up in a one-hour video. It’s interesting that, thus far, Trump’s guilty verdict has had a far greater unifying effect upon The Right than on The Left. Isn’t this what the latter has been wanting all along?

But they’re unable to answer the question: What happens next. Trump in an orange jumpsuit is supposed to be the first step toward making everything better. Well? I’m still seeing tents under overpasses, still paying six dollars a gallon for gas. You guys got what you wanted. When do the rest of us see a benefit?

I’m not a lawyer, but there looks to be so, so much to merit an appeal. The instructions to the jury, for example, which culminate in the conviction itself on falsification of business records to conceal a crime without agreement as to what the crime is supposed to be. The crime is what makes the falsification a felony, right? And if it’s not a felony then none of this would have happened.

I’m seeing a lot of graphics on social media that look like this:

This isn’t working on any level. It’s not galvanizing people opposed to Trump, nearly as much as it’s galvanizing people who support him. As a political stunt it’s failed, since everyone voting against him now was voting against him anyway; but, people who were on the fence can see what’s wrong.

And as a function of our legal system, it’s a stink-bomb. It has nothing to do with me not liking it. No one anywhere is taking real pride in it. Or very few, anyway. What, in criminal law, got fixed here? What’s the precedent?

I’m still learning, all these years later, about what we mean when we say The Left. I notice this theme permeates everything they do: Some new fad is about to fall on all of us, which doesn’t reflect legality or morality, in any way, but it will be “real.” It will separate winners from losers, and people on The Left want to be the winners. They want to be the ones complying, and therefore not ostracized.

I saw it with the COVID hysteria. I see it in the environmentalism.

Black Lives Matter, the radical feminist movement, transgenderism, the bathroom lunacy.

“It may not be just, but it’s real, we got on the good side of it and you didn’t, sucks to be you.”

Times like this, I seriously think they don’t have any other goals in mind. They just want to be the villager watching his friends & family ushered to the city gates, or to the boxcar, leaning on his shovel — the guy who’s allowed to live his life a little while longer, because he complied.

They’re the compliant ones. Not with the written law, but with the latest fad. The fad with teeth. That’s the one objective that remains consistent across time: “Monster eat me last, because I do what I’m told.”

Wounded, Incomplete, Toxic Females Saturate Social Media With Their Execrable Ideas About Bears

Saturday, May 4th, 2024

Internet phenomena are rather like campfire fuel: Some are like wet logs, you can sit there until your butt gets tired trying magnifying glasses, matches, Bic lighters, whatever have you, putting unlimited effort into it — and some people do! Nothing happens. They end up embarrassing themselves and tiring out their butts. Other things are like gasoline, the white variety, burning so fast that there’s no time for the flame to take to the wood and the accelerant can’t do anything but forcefully explode.

Most are in between the two extremes. This dumb bear thing is more like the latter. Match, toss, kaboom. I think it can be truthfully said, in all my Internet years, I’ve never seen anything quite like it.

Alone at last!I first became aware of it by way of this Daily Mail article, which leans hard on the social-activist lever, struggling to raise awareness of the perceived dangers of strange men. Women, given the choice, would rather be stranded in the woods with a bear! Oh noes! What’s wrong with the men? There must be something wrong with the men.

That’s not where the phenomenon took off, though. At least it doesn’t look that way to me.

Just like with the little boy and the Emperor With No Clothes, it took just one solitary voice to point out the obvious, and an avalanche followed: Women shouldn’t be choosing the bear, and if they are making this choice, they need to smarten up and it isn’t a male problem.

I have noticed these women who’d prefer a bear over a (strange) man, where they are sounding off in video clips and text messages, don’t have husbands or at least don’t have any worth mentioning. So okay. You ask women who haven’t yet figured out how to co-exist with men, if they would choose to co-exist with a strange man, you’ll get back a negative. I choose the bear! Yes of course. Urban chicks, compelled by circumstances to be around these “strange” men they don’t get to choose…when, being urban women, they get to choose just about everything else. I’m sure they’ve racked up lots of encounters, close & distant, with these substandard men around town, at social events, in the subway. But they haven’t been around bears. Yeah, I’d probably pick the bear too. If I were female, single, young, inexperienced…and extraordinarily un-curious. Haven’t seen a bear before. They’re probably okay.

Some have come out and said it: If I don’t harass the bear, it’ll probably leave me alone.

Oh, Honey…no. Sweetheart! Stick to the city.

Yeah the bear will probably leave you alone…IF…there’s nothing going on with its hibernation schedule, its apetite, its cubs, the weather, an imminent storm or earthquake or who knows what else in nature can agitate a bear. Or maybe it just likes the way you smell. That time of the month? There are reasons why, in agrarian constructs, for thousands of years hunting was left up to the men. Or are you wearing perfume that might smell like steak sauce in an ursine sinus cavity?

Probability plays a gender role. I’ve noticed some of the bear-choosing females are ready, willing and able to acknowledge even a strange creepy guy is unlikely to actually hurt you. Saw a man peg it at 2-3%, and the bear-choosing woman acknowledged this is in the ballpark. Whereas the bear mauling you is a near certainty. She acknowledged that too, then…stuck to her feelings. Whoa whoa whoa feelings. But I feel! So she continued to choose the bear.

At this point we need to pause and remember all women aren’t like this. So if you’re hiring or taking volunteers for a job that needs doing and it’s a critical job demanding good decision-making, you should go ahead and consider females for it. Just not females like this one.

There are lots of layers and permutations to this, but the core of what matters is neatly covered in this screenie right here:

Right-O. The wounded, incomplete, toxic females imagine this is some kind of learning experience for someone else — specifically, males, familiar & otherwise, who have failed to meet their approval. We’re to go off-line, perhaps collaborate among ourselves, and work to improve.

Sometimes the message is not so subtle:

Simp!

To a real man, two obvious questions emerge: What exactly is it we’re supposed to be fixing?

And when we get it fixed, can we have some of that sweet, sweet, mommy-approval from the females that is being so deliberately and so theatrically denied to us?

Easiest questions in the world. Nothing…and…no. It is an occasion for The Morgan Rule: If I’m gonna be accused anyway, I wanna be guilty. Toxic women who are just shells of what they’re supposed to be, don’t want us. We’re supposed to change something so they’d prefer us to bears. Well some of us are decades and decades ahead of that. We realized early on there are certain women who we don’t want wanting us, we’d rather keep our distance from them. And you’re it, sweetie.

That, too, is often displayed in Internet-land none-too-subtly:

Now, about that. Something I’m seeing over and over again, is this continuing reference to “incels” and other males who are reacting to the “I choose the bear” verdict with anger. Grrrr! And the rejoinder to the reaction to the answer to the question, is repeated cookie-cutter style, without so much as a single word of variance: “That’s why I choose the bear.” The male anger.

Anger? I myself haven’t seen any. And I’ve been looking.

I suppose, if you’re looking too, and you’re a thin-skinned drama queen seeing whatever it is in the world around you that you want to see, ready to invent it when it’s not there…some of the reactions might come sufficiently close.

Yeah…no. There’s no desire here for men to change or improve in any way. That’s the dirty little unspoken secret here. “Bear-choosing women” do not want to choose the bear. They want to be seen choosing the bear. That’s an entirely different thing.

And if they knew how they looked to normal people as they choose the bear, they probably wouldn’t want to be seen quite so fervently.

But these are not real women. Try as they might, they don’t represent all women. A lot of women have common sense about them, and understand that a bear is very likely to maul you to death for one reason or another. BloodyIt will incapacitate you and start eating you, face first, while you’re still alive. This isn’t Teddy Ruxpin or Winnie The Pooh.

A real woman has either learned how to live with a man, or has the capability of learning to do that after she’s been around men. She’s not spoiling for a fight like these bints. And real women, I daresay, or at least I like to think, outnumber the bints. It’s a possibility. After all, they’re much, much quieter. Nobody anywhere is saying “I choose the man”…because it’s just common sense. Nobody says “Water is wet” either. It isn’t necessary.

Someone is missing the point. The bear girls, and the simps who align with them, seem awfully sure it’s the fellas missing the point; the fellas like me, who are reacting with snotty derision, or disagreement, or anything outside of fawning color-within-the-lines compliance and obeisance. We’re not getting it, they say. And sometimes the male simps are more outspoken about it than the bear girls:

A lot of my fellow men have really misunderstood the assignment with the whole man vs bear thing.

Your job wasn’t to come charging in to manaplain [sic] to women why they were wrong for choosing the bear.

Your job was to listen to them about WHY they would choose the bear.

And THEN to hold our fellow men accountable so that in the future women would not feel inclined to choose the bear.

That was the assignment fellas.

Job? Assignment?

Fellow men?

This is a case of the blind leading the not-blind. A real man knows some psychologically fractured cow on the Internet has no business giving him “assignments.” And he understands perfectly well that, within the Internet and outside of it, most of the disapproval aimed at males is pre-fabricated and pre-packaged. It’s there for its own sake. Someone is climbing the social ladder. It has nothing to do with what the singular or plural male entity has been doing, or failing to do. Nothing at all.

It’s all about scolding males. Scolding males is quick, easy, fun, socially rewarding and doesn’t cost anything. It’s simply what you do when you don’t know what else to say. So…hold my fellow men accountable? Against what? Women who want to choose the bear, wouldn’t choose the bear? Silly boy.

The bear-lady who “hope[s] this pisses you off” nailed it on behalf of everybody else, I think. This male reaction of pure anger, far from exceeding in supply what is spelled out in demand, is quite the reverse. The dumb bints are spoiling for a fight. I mean, it’s so obvious it’s just right out there in front of us, like the elephant in the room. Can we just admit that this motivation is there? It’s silly to deny it. You end up having to pretend, and that sort of pretending is unhealthy.

And if they’re trying to make us angry, that’s important. The narrative is that they’d prefer the bear because we’re just so unpredictable and scary, introducing unstable elements to a protagonist who would strongly prefer the stability we’re dislodging. Obviously, if that’s the narrative, there are problems with it if someone’s pissing us off on purpose. It doesn’t matter if they’re successful or not.

If there’s disharmony between the sexes, they’re the ones bringing it.

Some of them might not be aware. There is a type of thinking going on here, and it may be female-dominant but it’s likely not female-monopolized…it says the whole point of discussion is to emphasize agreements, not to reconcile disagreements. If you’re a man married or thinking of getting married, you’ve no doubt heard it said that when a woman brings a problem to you, you’re just going to confuse, bore or frustrate her if you do what comes naturally to a man — leapfrog to the possible solutions. That she just wants to vent. She doesn’t want to hear your opinion, she wants to hear her own opinion, with a male voice behind it.

Now, being a man, I don’t often have such conversations with men unless there’s a time sheet and a paycheck involved. Problem-solving on my own time, I tend to do by myself. Like Batman. If I’m collaborating with someone and no one is paying me to do it, I’m usually collaborating with a woman, and better than even odds I’m running into that ancient, ancient issue where I’m torquing off the woman because I’m offering solutions when she just wants empathy or whatever. But I daresay, based on my admittedly limited knowledge: Men don’t do this.

I do not consentWe don’t script out in our heads, how the other person is supposed to validate our feelings about the problem, and then get “sad” when the other person veers off into some other direction, offering further analyses or — heaven forbid — the makings of a possible remedy. I’ve noticed even healthy, whole women who know how to co-exist with men, sometimes do this, and it seems to me to be a female thing.

But the damaged, broken, toxic “bear girls” do it even more.

They say they have experience, with the men “attacking” them and they anticipate the bear won’t be doing this. They make it sound like rape. But I know from #MeToo that a lot of people get high on making lots of things sound like rape. They made dirty jokes sound like rape. They make “He walked into the room and it made me feel uncomfortable” sound like rape.

I’m wondering: Mere disagreement, or “are you sure?” challenges, or any other behavior outside the tightly-scripted this-is-where-you-say-this-line stuff…could that be the “attack”?

I learned something about this last time I was available as a single man: A lot of women who are available as single women, are available for a reason. They don’t want, or need, a man at all. Any thoughts they want out of you, they’ll figure it out on your behalf. And then give you signals to peg down exactly what it is you’re supposed to say. What they really need and want, are stuffed animals. They simply haven’t matured to the point where they can share their lives with another thinking person with thoughts and reactions all his own. Being First World Females, and thus the most privileged demographic that has ever walked the surface of the planet, they’ve never had a reason to develop this need or the skills that would have to come with it.

No, not all women. Not even all the single women, or all of the single women I dated. Just a big chunk, out of the available ones. It was a recurring pattern I couldn’t help noticing.

I recognize the people who need to hear it, don’t want my opinion or any male opinion for that matter (except for the simps I suppose). But to me, that’s what this “I choose the bear” thing has manifested. There is a problem brewing within the female half of our population, or I should say mostly within the female half — “My choice is the final word.” She makes a choice. What more is there to be said? It’s the be-all end-all argument-ender. She’s handed down her decision as final arbiter.

But the bear will kill yo–

Omigaw!! You’re still talking! Why are you still talking? I made my choice!

Now…how did this mindset come to be so ingrained? I’m given to understand that we’ve been living, knowingly or not, in a “patriarchy.” Women have supposedly been subjugated and oppressed, just like the subjugated and oppressed classes that have been better recognized: Slaves, Jews, Jewish slaves, Catholics, Protestants, trade unionists, homosexuals, other various pariah classes…

The question that is left standing is, How does a pariah class come to take it as a given that its members should have the final word on things? To such an extent that any rejoinder to a nonsensical opinion like “I prefer the bear because it will leave me alone” is nothing more than annoying buzz?

And I’ll just leave that question there. Pull pin, walk away.

Update: Fellas…no. It is not going to work for you.

Props for trying, though.

Someone is Indoctrinating Women to be Afraid of Men

Tuesday, April 30th, 2024

Yes, the headline above is probably not the takeaway I’m supposed to be putting together in my head…but, if I said I got anything else out of it, I’d be lying.

Would you rather be stuck in the forest with a man or bear? Why this simple yet loaded “viral” question is leading to breakups across the world

• Woman reveal why they would rather encounter a bear or a strange man

Women who went to a Sydney rally that called for an end to gendered violence held up signs that said “At this point I’d rather the f**king bear”, “Ladies prefer the bear”, and “[I’d rather be] alone in the woods with a bear.”

“Men are scary,” a woman argued, while another said: “Bears don’t always attack you unless you [provoke] them.”

[snip]

Many Australian women on a popular Facebook revealed that they’ve been arguing with their boyfriends and husbands over the matter after receiving the “wrong” answer from them.

“If a man can’t even acknowledge the risk many of them pose to women or the atrocities they have committed against us then he doesn’t care,” a woman said. “I don’t think it’s stupid to end a relationship over this.”

I agree. Way back in my younger days when I was kind of dumb, I was in relationships with some liberal women. At least, to such an extent it’s possible for a man to have one with them. Like the man-hater said, clearly, men are scary. So if it comes time to end a relationship over this, I think it likely both the men and the women involved will make a surprising discovery: There never really was a relationship in the first place. So frightened has she been taught to be of human males, she’d prefer the bear.

In all the reporting on this “viral” question though, I’ve not seen anyone try to answer the obvious question: Who’s teaching them this? Someone somewhere doesn’t want men and women to get along. Someone’s sowing the seeds of division.

Meanwhile, for the guy, it’s much better to mix things up with a real, whole, grown-up woman. A woman who’d prefer the man over the beast. These guys who are about to be dumped because they’re giving the “wrong” answer to the question, are about to trade up, and for a lot of them it may not take too long at all for it to become obvious. I know from my own experience that when this narrative just hangs in the air like a bad smell seven days a week, that you’re a towering asshole just because you’re human and a man, it’s a drag. It drags you down into the dirt. It’s like wearing a belt of lead weights around your waist, interfering with everything you try to do. It’s a relief when it isn’t there anymore.

Friends

Tuesday, April 30th, 2024

“Friends.”

I’ve noticed, over the years, there are some that just don’t work as friends. They want you to do something, or to stop doing something, and won’t take no for an answer. Something serious or not-so-serious.

I had a friend who was a real friend. We were at a Chinese restaurant having lunch, and he upbraided me for not having just one beer. I was driving, and I have a twelve-hours-between-bottle-and-throttle rule. Comes from a confrontation I had with a cop, back in 1992, that I needed to have happen. So that’s something weird about me. So my friend encouraged, and then did some lecturing, finally a bit of good-natured mockery. Then he dropped it, because he was a real friend. He’s dead now. I miss him.

A fake friend will come up with some kind of narrative about other things you do, or what you are, to try to manipulate you.

“You’re trying to control me.”

“You think women are property.”

“You lack the sophistication needed to recognize there are more than two genders.”

“You don’t think black lives matter.”

“You’re insecure in your masculinity.”

“You’re afraid of strong women and can’t handle seeing them in a movie.”

“You MAGA Republicans are a threat to democracy.”

“You like to go around making people feel like idiots.”

“You cling to your guns and your bibles.”

Some of them make it impossible to continue the friendship. The exchange is quick and efficient and goes something like:

You’re motivated by such-and-such.

I assure you, I’m not.

Oh yes you are!

What do you do with that? It’s hard not to interpret it as an accusation of lying. How can you take it otherwise? And how do you take it seriously? Oh dear. You caught me. I tried to fool you but you’re way too smart for me. Yes, you’re right…I’m out to whatever, and I shall not rest until all the whatever are whatever’d. See? Doesn’t work. You can’t take it seriously.

Real friends don’t manipulate this way. It’s really the first test of friendship, and we need to get back to recognizing it as such: A real friend will want you to do something you don’t want to do, nudge you about it for a little while — and then drop it. A real friend will ultimately say “Well, that’s your decision.”

Maybe if it’s something important, and they’re so sure they’re right, they’ll come back around after the consequences have landed, to ask “Did we learn anything?” Which is annoying. Some friendships have ended over that, I suppose. But that shouldn’t be the case. We need to be ending friendships over the manipulation, the narrative-building. That’s the real sign of a fake friend.

What we’re missing, is balls.

It takes balls to take an attitude of: You won’t do what I want you to do, okay that’s just fine. We can stay friends. It’s your call; up to you.

It takes balls to respond to the narrative-building with: Okay, you think I’m an “incel” who hates strong women in movies. So be it. I’m not going to like your crappy movie to prove you wrong.

Western society, currently, is in trouble. Too many people have crafted these narratives about other people they’re trying to manipulate, to get them to do what they want them to do. And too many people have caved in on this. “Oh no, I don’t want anyone thinking that about me, so I’ll do what you want.” Which never works.

But at some point, while we were snoozing, that became the default way of selling things. People don’t want to take no for an answer. They don’t deal with rejection. They respond to the rejection with these efforts to manipulate.

And then it works.

And then they respond to “I’m doing something slightly different from the what you would have me do, if I were a puppet” with more manipulation. It becomes a vicious cycle. An expectation sets in that you are, after all, a puppet, and to pull the strings all anybody has to do is come up with an unflattering narrative about you, and then you’ll do it. Some marriages work this way. Some people live out their whole lives that way.

The Men Coming Out on Top

Thursday, April 4th, 2024

The “Women can do everything men can do” craze — that’s what it is, a craze, as in it doesn’t make any sense — started somewhere in the late 1960’s to early 1970’s. Probably with Angie Dickinson in “Police Woman.” Then it became a way for hack writers to stay relevant, which is where we are now. Mara Jade is just as powerful a Jedi as Luke Skywalker…which, again, doesn’t make any sense. Supergirl is stronger than Superman, and that doesn’t make any sense either.

SupergirlThis is all fiction and it shouldn’t impact real life. In any way. But you know what, these are affairs of human beings, which also don’t make any sense. Fiction is affecting real life. Girls of dating age are ready to start some “serious” relationships with guys, and they don’t know how to do it because they’re not sure why we need guys. At all. For anything.

Mrs. Freeberg isn’t keeping up with the times. She and I have a “Martha and George Washington” height difference…or a Mathilda of Flanders / William the Conqueror height difference. Oh, she has step stools and when I’m not around and something’s on the top shelf, she does what must be done. But when I’m home…Honey? Can you get the thing? Usually the flour. Third shelf above the dishwasher.

She’s my Number One. Of course I jump up and get her what she needs. I may be a lazy asshole, but I’m a six foot tall lazy asshole, and she’s cooking my dinner. So I can continue to be an obese six foot tall lazy asshole. Oh yeah, and then the jars. She needs to open jars. Honey…?

I say: She’s smart. These “Women can do everything men can do” types are the dumb ones. They should be learning from her.

This targeting of men for uselessness — it’s counterproductive and cruel. It’s the cart before the horse. The conclusion comes first, and then we’re supposed to shoehorn reality into it. That isn’t how it’s supposed to work, at all, anywhere. And reality isn’t complying, because it turns out men can do quite a few things women can’t do. The cruelty is what’s inflicted upon the boys-coming-of-age. The message has gotten across to them that they lack value, aren’t supposed to be able to do anything, and if they’ve learned to do anything women can do it so much better. That’s a terrible message to deliver to anybody who’s teetering on the brink of adulthood, no matter what their gender is.

“Women can do it all” is false. It’s an argument that’s over before it’s started. You just pay attention to the “reality” taking shape around us, and you see even the title of “Woman of the Year” is being taken by a man.

And you know what else? It’s boring. It didn’t start last year, or the year before. It’s been going on for decades. Decades, and decades, and more decades, our noses being ground into it, like it’s punishment, the way you would grind a puppy’s nose into its own mess during the housebreaking. Except this is not our own mess.

MasculinityIn addition to being false, and boring, it’s divisive. We don’t need this. Women and men complement each other. We belong together. My wife is five feet one inch — no more than that — of amazing-ness, and if she sees something needs doing she’s going to do it even though her knees are missing cartilage, her neck bones are fused together and she’s allergic to everything. But I’m the never-sick guy who can’t find anything in the drug store because he never needs anything, full size, full height. So if I can see she’s going to wreck herself trying to do something, I’m going to do it first.

The current cultural norm, and target of motion, is: Men are useless. We should just lie in the sunbeam, like cats, waiting for our mistresses to do everything.

But it isn’t going to work, because it doesn’t mesh with reality. It doesn’t even mesh with the fake-reality we’re building elsewhere, doesn’t mesh with the Mulvaney “reality.” Men come out on top here and there, now and then, in a lot of places. Because we should. Just like women should & do come out on top in other places. That’s the design, in both intent and in effect.

If you like, you might say God knew what she was doing when making that call. But the call got made, and that’s the way it is. We don’t work well as replacements for each other, because that’s not what we are. We’re all built for a higher purpose than that.

When They Tell Us How It’s Gonna Be

Thursday, April 4th, 2024

Sometimes bureaucracy doesn’t tell. It asks.

And it seems quite out of place. The IRS sends you a letter saying they think you still owe $4,500. They’re probably right — they made sure they had you dead to rights before they sent the letter. But they ask. There’s an appeals process.

Ditto with Facebook removing your content. Sometimes they ask. They provide a way for you to protest the decision. Sometimes the link even works! They ask, don’t tell, even if they mean to tell and their openness to the dissenting opinion is merely an illusion.

Now there are other times where the bureaucracy makes a point of telling not asking. And that’s what has happened with DEI. The new officials and their salaries, the programs, the promotional materials, the mandated training, the indoctrination about “white fragility” — none of this existed just a handful of years ago. But it’s here now. Settled. There is no appeal. Don’t even think of it. You’re going to class. Resign. Submit.

Young people who have been herded through the public school K-12 system, have this tendency that’s entirely understandable. They think the more emphatic the bureaucracy is, the more right it must be. If you are lacking an appeals process, don’t worry about it because you probably don’t need one. Just worry about appealing the things you can appeal.

Well, I used to be a young person. But I’ve seen some years come and go, and I’ve been impressed by something. It’s the opposite that’s true.

If the bureaucracy doesn’t provide an appeals process, it’s because of one reason, and that one reason is that they’re afraid it will be used. The judgments and edicts handed down without any pathway for questioning or appeal, with very few exceptions, turn out to be ridiculous. The bureaucracy renders the judgment without appeal, because if they allowed for an appeal, ensuing events would show that the appeal is right, and the judgment was wrong. This is why nobody ever brags about having founded a “bureaucracy.” It’s not a good word.

And among the ones we have, nobody anywhere relies on them with genuine faith. They’re just there.

The less a bureaucracy allows for dissent, question or appeal, the less sense the decision makes. That’s because it’s less likely it would remain standing in the end with all credibility left intact, if the discussion were allowed to happen. You don’t need to take my word for it. Just pay attention. Paper straws, yanking Uncle Ben off boxes of rice and disappearing the Indian girl from Land O Lakes. Dudes competing in women’s sports. Pronouns, pronouns and more pronouns. “In establishing whether sexual harassment or aggression has taken place, it is the impression of the complainant that decides everything. The intent of the offender is irrelevant.” Do these decisions make sense? Really?

Let’s put Dr. Fauci in charge of everything, including how we let each other know we care. Make him the national Miss Manners. Let’s wait for Saint Anthony to tell us it’s okay to barbecue in our own back yard…with four people. Masks. Vaccination mandates. Who told you it’s okay to collect rainwater off your own roof?

Fact checkers. “Our ruling is false.” Oh is it now? Is your ruling supposed to be determined by the facts, or are the “facts” going to be molded and shaped by your ruling?

Whether to tag allegations about the 2020 election, and associated shenanigans, “baseless,” or “false.” It looks like, as they say, “a matter of fact.” Yes, it makes perfect sense that we shouldn’t consider public opinion in evaluating those; they are what they are, regardless of what anybody thinks. But when a star chamber of nameless and faceless deciders leaps to the conclusion they want and hands it down to the rest of us, is that really what’s happening?

Because after they do that, a lot of people are going to like it. And then those same people are going to tell us the Supreme Court, or some lower court, screwed up and made the wrong decision. This is where my interest hits a spike, because deciding on matters of fact and where logic leads from those facts, without any deference to public whim, is what those courts are supposed to do.

Meanwhile, there’s supposed to be a lot of distress over how much heat there is around our various issues under discussion — how divided we have become. We’d be a lot less divided if someone stopped and asked the public at large about the paper straws, or if it would be alright for men to pretend to be women in women’s boxing matches and swim matches.

Fact Check!

Monday, April 1st, 2024

After I’m done reading a “Fact Check,” I am not left with an impression of “Oh good, now I have the whole story, then.” My impression, instead, is one of “I’d sure like to see a back-and-forth debate about this, as opposed to a simple ‘Fact Check’.”

I admit I have biases that could lead me toward that. But honestly, I don’t think they are. Seems to me this is a natural reaction. It is felt by, or ought to be felt by, all persons who think sincerely about things, all throughout the ideological spectrum. Right? I’m pretty sure about that. I’ve seen “my side” fact check some things and I’m left with the same question, of “Yeah but what do the other guys have to say about that?”

Fact checks are essentially ads. They are sponsored by interested organizations. They are about as credible as ads. They answer questions no one anywhere was asking, to give false impressions, like “This peanut butter has no cholesterol.”

I do think the public at large has fallen behind in their understanding of how misleading a fact check can be. Once I saw someone fact checking Ann Coulter in one of her books, where she points out notorious socialist candidate Norman Mattoon Thomas was the father of Newsweek editor Evan Thomas. He’s not!, said the fact check. Right…not father. Grandfather. The fact checker deliberately concealed that. Coulter had the necessary correction included in the next edition. Stuff like that.

In this case and others, you’d be better informed if you’d never seen the fact check.

And then there’s the out-and-out failed stuff. We were on the receiving end of a fact check that Hunter Biden’s laptop was actually just planted Russian disinformation. An opinion, not an established fact. But, the opinion of fifty-one highly qualified intelligence experts. So that drove a “fact check” — which turned out to be wrong. The laptop was Hunter’s and there was nothing Russian about it. Apologies all around? Eh…nope.

I’m left wondering: These fact checks are for…whom? Who has faith in them? I think we’ve outgrown them at this point. They’re ads. You litter the landscape with thousands of ’em, like fliers stapled to telephone poles, and one or two out of those thousands will have the desired effect. From that, you justify a budget to run off thousands more. That’s exactly the way they work, and that’s not what honest people have in mind when you use the words “fact check.”

But it makes it easier for some people to WinTheArgument — when they don’t really deserve to win it. So they like it. That’s the truth.

It’s really time for the whole thing to go. No one’s fooled by it anymore. Just barely enough of a false impression, falling on just barely enough people, to justify its continuing existence, as advertising. Just like scam artists calling your elderly parents on the phone to swindle them out of their life savings. Just enough for something like that. Not as anything else. And it’s been this way for quite awhile by now. Just like with many of the other things we do, future generations will be left wondering: Why’d we tolerate it so long? And there’s no good answer.

Trans Day of Visibility

Sunday, March 31st, 2024

It’s a day-of-visibility for something that’s already highly visible all the other days in the year.

It is associated with a pledge to remember something everyone is already remembering, and can’t forget about even if they want to forget about it. Because reminders are everywhere. Yes, all days of the year.

Also, to drive something from the planet forever and ever, something that will never be driven from the planet — ever. Just like a bunch of other “get rid of it forever” vices, like pollution, war, jealousy, bigotry, blight, poverty…

It is an annual celebration conceived and designed to make sure we never get past something, to preserve resentments.

I say, let’s use the day to think about how easily manipulated we are.

Market Value

Sunday, March 31st, 2024

I notice on social media lately there are lots of comments for me to read about men and women forming relationships with each other. It’s funny that I’m happily married and I’m not in need of this “wisdom,” which comes from male and females who have yet to form a lasting relationship with the other. It’s the blind leading the not-blind.

I’m seeing a lot about “market value.” There seem to be a lot of people in need of being told: This is not a male-female thing. I sense much confusion about this. Females seem to think it’s a win for females if males have to prove their market value. Males seem to think it’s a win for males if females have to prove their market value. That’s not how any of this works.

Market value is a real thing, but it’s a courtship thing. After courtship there is supposed to be attachment, some inertia built up if you want to think of it in those terms. Affection. At that point, market value isn’t supposed to matter, and if it does, then you’ve established a relationship that isn’t going to last.

But at some point, it’s a real thing. There is filtering that has to be applied here. Stenciling. Sometimes it matters and sometimes it doesn’t. Our evolving society has settled this the way it settles everything else that sometimes-matters and sometimes-doesn’t: By kissing lady-butt. Marketability matters when the females like it. When it puts them at a disadvantage, we’re not supposed to acknowledge it or talk about it, and we’re supposed to pretend it doesn’t exist even though it does.

In high school, girl is plugged into the social framework, boy isn’t, he’s a scrawny, geeky sort of thing — marketability matters. He doesn’t bring market value, doesn’t “bring anything to the table.” He needs to “up his game.” She is “out of his league.” We can go ahead and talk about marketability.

Ten years after, she’s a single mom reeking of baby puke twenty hours a day, and he’s an up-and-coming successful software engineer. Then you don’t talk about it. What’s she bring to the table? By asking the question you have offended every female. And he’s a “high value male”? You’ve just offended them again…even though it’s true.

We love to talk about how she needs to make her suitors prove their worth before she goes out on dates.

We don’t like to talk about how he needs to do the same thing, with his various pursuits. Even though disaster follows if he doesn’t.

We’ve filtered this out incorrectly, because we crave female approval. We have built all these customs around female approval. The truth is that marketability applies to everyone, but it is pre attachment. Once you’re with someone, you’re with them. That’s how it’s supposed to work. But when you’re just in the courtship stage, if things don’t go beyond that, like ever…maybe there’s an issue. “Bring to the table” becomes a real concept. It’s possible someone needs to go and look at that. Maybe there’s a little too much ass-sitting and not enough self-building.

That could apply to either one. Neither one is automatically entitled to one of that special someone. You have to show respect to the other. You have to earn it.

But…what do I know? I’m off the market. So don’t listen to me.

If the Fly Lives, the Spider Starves

Saturday, March 30th, 2024

For those who are presenting themselves as newcomers to politics and desiring a simple, one-line explanation of “right” vs. “left”; you could do far worse than this.

The Left sees things in terms of “Thunderdome” competition; two go in but only one comes out again. A good day for the lion is a lousy day for the gazelle. If the fly lives, the spider starves. If the economy is good, you can count on them to weep and mope about “The Forgotten Man.” Their big thing is not forgetting people who would ordinarily be forgotten. Remember perspective; the sinking of the Titanic was a miracle for the lobsters in the kitchen.

With the emergence of the environmental movement, they reached an apex with their “what about” attitude and became particularly vexatious: A dam that helps everybody! Well, what about the snail darters? Logging that helps everybody! But what about the spotted owls?

They think this makes them positive, and broad-minded. In reality, it makes them scary. As they acknowledge, or invent, these situations in which one side must lose so another one wins, their method of resolving the conflict is to vote. Democracy, as the old saying goes, is two wolves and a sheep voting on what’s for lunch.

This creates a difference, and it’s probably the most important difference. The Right believes in running a society — right. A rising tide can, and should, lift all boats. There’s a right way to control traffic at this intersection, or to collect garbage weekly, and if you do that then we win. We do. All of us.

You’ll notice a lot of the time when The Right is provoked into offense, or action, or a combination of those two things — the issue is very often one of incentives. The Left doesn’t seem to understand this. They might say “What about someone who needs the thing and doesn’t have the means to pay for it?” and so the thing has to be provided. Then The Right will say “If it’s free, then people will consume the thing who otherwise would not.” If you want more of something, subsidize it, and if you want less of it you tax it. The Left doesn’t engage this. They miss out on the whole subtopic, or they pretend not to understand it, or they change the subject. The Right thinks big and The Left thinks small. The Right is more concerned with making society work.

For any of this to happen, you have to have law and order. This distinguishes humans from animals. We have figured out how to make advanced societies, and the whole point to having these is that everyone can win. Everyone, everywhere, all at once.

The Left, confronted with this, puts on their “what about” hat and creates conflict where there is none. “Law and order? But what about the persons and groups historically oppressed by police?” So they talk of defunding the police. They may as well be discussing the dismantling of civilization itself. Look, they say; we cooked up a situation in which your law-and-order costs somebody something. So get rid of it.

Well — if what you’re trying to do is break the law, then yes. Law and order would get in the way of that. It’s supposed to do that. That’s the only way we can get to the “public good” the way The Right sees it, where everyone benefits, and you don’t need to hold a vote so that 51 can enjoy the omelet while 49 fill the role of the eggs. Far from The Left being broad-minded, they’re actually the narrow-minded ones, who can’t see this. They’re the ones who only see omelet-diners, omelet-chefs, and eggs. But when the governed provide their consent to the government, we’re actually supposed to be trying for something more benign than that, more sophisticated and grander than that.

We Need Humility

Sunday, February 25th, 2024

We have a problem with humility.

You have heard it said that humility focuses on what’s right, while the Sin of Pride is concerned with who’s right. Everyone wants to be right all the time. It’s understandable, but all sins are understandable or they wouldn’t be sins.

Women aren’t being held to standards. You find one little shortcoming with a woman or with what she’s done, people swarm out of the woodwork to point out a man did something just as bad or worse. Which changes the subject. What the woman did wrong, doesn’t get addressed. And they’ll be right. But, it’s not a contest. Very few people care about whether men are better than women, or the other way around, and the question is as unanswerable as it is useless. But what’s wrong with the men anyway? Their shortcomings are pointed out all the time…men engage, get criticized, they disengage and get criticized some more. Many have gotten to the point where they just don’t care. They self-isolate and play video games. Two sexes, two entirely different problems. They are diametrically opposite problems. Neither one gets effectively worked, either by the person showing the shortcoming or by anybody else. Humility.

Our so-called “leaders” want us to curb our carbon emissions while they fly around on jets. That’s a humility problem. Do as I say, not as I do. Everyone can see what’s wrong about it. So many people don’t do anything about it, in fact a lot of people sign up to help the phony carbon misers chide the rest of us. Scolding is fun.

There are a lot of bold new decisions being made about how to write and produce movies. “Reimaginings,” and so forth, with this-or-that white straight character made black or gay. But these decisions are not really bold, because when the ticket revenues fall short and the poor reviews come rolling in, the people who made the movie blame the audience for not liking it. They’re steadfastly unready to receive any criticism. Humility.

People say it is of paramount importance that Donald Trump be kept as far away as possible from the presidency, or any office of trust, honor or authority. Ever again. It’s certainly their right to vote that way, and to voice their opinion about it. But their attempts to prosecute him reveal that if the majority is still with them on this, they’re not too confident about it. And the content of the cases against him reveal a quality control problem. They’re laughably stupid. Such cases exist only because of this drive to keep Trump out of office, which should be limited to votes and speech. Everyone knows it’s wrong to abuse the justice system this way, but people are doing it anyhow because they’re afraid to lose. Humility.

As far as Trump’s wealth, I keep hearing about how he inherited it. But nobody anywhere is asserting that he inherited all of it; he’s worth more than what he got. He made money. If people are so fixated on it, shouldn’t they be more concerned about what Trump knows how to do, to make this money? You don’t get to inherit it and then just stick it in a mattress and expect it to grow.

Now we have people talking up the Biden presidency as some edifice of greatness. Joe Biden, so goes the narrative, far from being senile has it all together. He’s sharp; he’s energetic; can’t keep up with him; gets more done in an hour than some people do all day. Silly. Not even worth arguing, just risible nonsense. People, seeking to attend to their social standing, making asses out of themselves. They don’t want to admit voting for Biden was a mistake. Don’t want to admit the lesson they got, when you kick a guy out you need to think more about the quality of his replacement — which they didn’t do. A mistake, followed by a second mistake of refusing to admit to the first. Humility.

Social media has woven people together with a net of social engagement, that’s a bit too effective; the strands of the web are just a bit too thick. People are making judgment calls, and decisions about what to do, based on how these choices will affect their social altitude, whether they’ll generate lift or drag. They want to be “right” all the time, but only right in the judgment of their peer group. To make a decision that’s right from the perspective of nature and nature’s God, in the sense that it will make things better, is of decidedly second priority to them. That’s the Sin of Pride.

In fact it’s worse than that; we have a month where we actually celebrate pride. We’re proud, and making dreadful decisions, about everything, often. It’s hurting us.

Humility. We’re missing some. Need to get it back again.

Defining the Cause and Effect

Monday, February 19th, 2024

Republicans and democrats both hitting me up for donations…

I notice something. The democrats, who I’ve long noticed are opposed to the preservation of any definitions we rely on to make society go, and in fact are strongly in favor of destroying the definitions we have already (legal immigrant, illegal substance, marriage, man/woman)…continue their perfect streak of defining absolutely nothing when begging for votes and money. “My opponent is too extreme for California!” …like…in what way? One quickly gathers the impression Adam Schiff isn’t saying, because he can’t afford to say. California where you still have to pay five bucks a gallon for gas. Yeah, I want to pay Trump-era gas prices. Real extreme.

It seems like Republicans are taking a page out of this playbook. Define nothing. Like, you’ll alienate voters and potential donors if you say anything about the actual issues. We all know why we don’t want democrats elected, so it’s smart to just leave that unmentioned.

I say: No. It isn’t smart. It’s dumb. People are so much more eager to say “I’m conservative” than “I’m Republican,” because the latter has not often been the former. The people who might be persuaded to support the Republican party with their votes or with their donations, are typically jaded. There’s been a long string of abuses, a track record of bait and switch, and they’ve had enough of it. They want assurances. Also, a lot of them became Republicans or conservatives in the first place because they’re hypersensitive to this business of “I just give you tiny teaspoons of information because if I tell you too much you’ll go away (because you’ll figure out you should).” If you’re worthy of their support, you’ll say what you mean, and you’ll mean what you say.

I have to wait for Donald Trump himself to give a speech to find out what it means to Make America Great Again. Nobody else is even mentioning it, except democrats, by way of the single word MAGA which they use as a put-down. Yes, an undefined put-down. “Those MAGA Republicans.”

Gee I don’t know about that, Joe & others. I never saw any MAGA Republicans install local prosecutors who refused to prosecute felons, or bus in violent thugs and child molesters to crowded cities to stage dangerous, destructive George Floyd protests. And I haven’t seen any of them bench-press the cost of energy upward, to make me poorer, on purpose.

It’s aggravating. The 2024 election year shouldn’t be a nail-biter, shouldn’t be any kind of photo-finish. The other side has the Senate and White House; the case to be made for a change in leadership is strong, and their election-year bragging rights are as thin as during any election in my living memory.

If it isn’t a Reagan-Carter rout, that can only mean the Republican leadership is making bad decisions, heading in the wrong direction. And it almost certainly is not going to be that.

Specify stuff. State your case. Define things.

It is the essence of conservatism to define that which should be defined. Liberalism obfuscates and obliterates definitions; it takes **liberties** with them. Define the things. Or, give up and go home.

You might start with what causes what. Connect them together. Yes, you’ll be unable to prove it, and the “fact checkers” would jump on such fastenings like hungry hyenas on a carcass. But the fact checkers are hyenas; they’ll do that no matter what.

Let’s look into that. And start with recognizing the disconnect, and correcting a misconception. Liberals say conservatives are extreme and conservatives say liberals are extreme.

But people generally agree, conservatives want to keep things the way they are and liberals want to try out new ideas. Unfortunately, this common ground is faulty. There are situations in which it does not hold. For example, right now we’re looking forward to the day electric vehicles can entirely displace, at least in some efforts, internal combustion. Do you know of any conservatives taking the position “Nosiree, I will keep my gas engine forever and ever, no matter what”? I’m not like that. I’m too cheap. Stubborn, sure. But also cheap. You get me an electric unit that can save me money, I will buy it as long as I can count on it.

And really, everything is like that.

So it’s more like: A new idea emerges; liberals pounce on the idea, while conservatives are still asking questions about it. Sensible questions. The kinds of questions grown-ups ask. Conservatives want to treat the new idea as a new idea. Has it been tested? Are we going to phase the roll-out, in an isolated sandbox first? Opt-in? Opt-out? Reliable rollback strategy if it goes to shit?

Whereas liberals go rushing after the idea, like a dog chasing a car. That is your distinction between the two — the real one. Conservatives think, liberals don’t.

As such, conservatives have a better and more disciplined understanding of cause and effect. They believe in it. Liberals don’t believe in cause and effect unless they’re blaming a bad thing on Republicans; then they believe in it. Republicans did the bad thing, humans are trashing the planet, other than that nothing causes anything in the liberal world. It’s a world of sensationalist headlines, effects without cause. Refugee crisis, energy crisis, inflation crisis, and don’t forget the poor people, losers of life’s lottery.

Of course the thing about cause and effect is, with very few exceptions, no one can really prove anything.

But if you want to make a plan that’s got a better chance to succeed than a random selection, you have to think about the C&E. That is at the heart of all strategy, what causes what. Without those connecting rods, it’s all just a crap-shoot, a roll of the dice followed by a “let’s hope.” That’s not strategy.

I think…

1. When the Government prints money without anything to back it, that results in inflation. Really, I’m stunned that anybody who thinks highly of their own understanding of economics would disagree, but people do. And I can’t prove it. But I know it’s right.

2. When you tighten down on gun restrictions you really only impose the restrictions on the people who are willing to follow the law, which criminals, by definition, are not willing to follow. The tendency is going to be for crime to increase as a result, including violent crime.

3. Lowering the voting age results in less wise voting, by which I mean, stupid. It takes awhile to figure out how to vote like you’re not an impressionable dumbass, and a lot of that learning has to do with — yup. Cause and effect. Shutting your mouth, sitting back, and watching it.

4. Female conduct leads the conduct of society overall. Women deciding, en masse, to shun family life and limp from cradle to grave as spinsters, leads to large numbers of women becoming disoriented and unhinged, and that leads to society overall becoming unhinged.

5. Men become disoriented too, if they’re missing a sense of purpose. Without a sense of benefit to their deeds or consequence to their misdeeds, men lose their way. Very, very few men will maintain their sense of direction without anyone depending on them, and even they will become disoriented if their decisions and actions don’t seem to affect their own prospects.

6. Children require discipline. They have to learn at a young age to respect others. If they don’t, they grow up to be assholes.

7. People who read too much about how to do something, without actually doing it, will become clean-hands idiots. It’s in our nature. We’ll start to think of ourselves as superior to the dirty-hand people who are actually doing the work. If anything, it should be the other way around, because when people get their hands dirty they get to experience first-hand — yup, cause and effect. The book-reading people with their clean hands, generally speaking, are sheltered from this. But they’re offered a superficial impression that their education is better and they know more. It’s a dangerous combination.

8. College tuition, legal services, petroleum products, housing and food are expensive because government has stepped in at some point and started subsidizing these goods. When government “helps” people to acquire something, you can expect the market price of whatever that is to skyrocket. That’s because whoever opts to pay for the thing themselves, has to wade out into the market as a consumer and compete with the government.

9. Feminists are the progressive activists most keenly invested in our evolving culture; they are affected by it, and they also induce an effect upon it. As you look at their various efforts over the years, you’re going to see a pattern where they label something as oppressive evidence of patriarchy, and when you look at who wanted that thing in the first place, you’ll see it was the feminists. They clamor for something, get it, and a generation later they’re complaining about that very thing.

10. Technology has an atrophying effect upon the mind. As it provides us with more conveniences, raising our safety, our security and our standard of living, it compels more people to think like idiots. It essentially manufactures liberalism. People feel like they can make it without parents, without family, without God, without any stable definitions of anything anywhere — but, at the same time, they can’t make it at all. Need Government to give them freebies, or else they’re doomed to become victims of the patriarchy.

It may not result in Republicans winning reliably right away; may not give us a red-wave rout this year like we should be getting. But we really should — need to — start debating issues in terms of what causes what, rather than leapfrogging ahead to policy changes or reversions of earlier changes. When we jump ahead to “what’s our next move,” that’s when we alienate people needlessly, and we tend to argue around the real disparities, avoiding explorations of other things. Those things we’re leaving unexplored, discussed in the daylight more openly, would prove injurious to liberals and other people with bad ideas who should by rights be losing.

Of course…I can’t prove that either. Such is life.

The Problem with the Problematizing Problematizers

Sunday, February 4th, 2024

So I was reading this epistle posted on this Internet woke-kiosk called The Mary Sue, which was sounding the familiar clarion call of the woke, “Oh how much I hate this thing, come gather around and help me hate it.” In this case, for today, “it” would be J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter adventures.

The author piqued my curiosity by willfully using the word “problematic.” This isn’t a good word. It doesn’t say anything. Take an object, let’s say it’s a beehive, or a pair of salt & pepper shakers. A milk bucket. You tell me it’s “problematic” and what does that say about the thing? Nothing. You’re telling me about yourself, and your objectives. You’re trying to start a new cultural more in which the thing is generally disliked, for some reason. You’re instigating an exchange. You’ll grant me approval if I help you dislike the thing. Or, you’ll withhold the approval unless I help you. And…that’s it. That’s all you’re saying.

You don’t need to overthink it like this to see the — problems. The word is just awkward and weird. It is a punchline all unto itself, fairly screaming “educated beyond my intellect.” But our newer generation of woke-people just can’t stop using it. The walls of their echo chamber are so thick? They can’t see this?

It’s like they’ve become, bit by bit, now perfectly willing to ‘fess up to anyone paying attention

1) They haven’t got anything to say besides telling us about their dislike of something;
2) They haven’t got any reason for disliking it, other than someone else gave them instructions to dislike it;
3) If the thing they dislike were to go away, it wouldn’t help anybody besides them — in short, there’s really no reason for anyone to listen to ’em.

Van Harvey clued me in on something that gave me a bit of a shock. There’s a verb to go with the adjective: Problematize.

Problematizing is, as adherents to Critical Social Justice and other critical theories would say, the process of making those oppressions (and other moral failings) “visible.” Put otherwise, problematics are what critical theories criticize, and problematizing is how it does its criticism. The goal of this activity is to replace false consciousness (especially internalized oppression) with critical consciousness (i.e., wokeness) and thus agitate for a social and cultural revolution.

So wait…what? The anti-woke, like me, have been accusing the woke of just looking for reasons to be upset. Advancing the notion that peace with them is impossible, that if their demands are ever met in total, they’ll just come up with more. And here they are, not only admitting it, but being proud to do so?

It seems like something they should only be talking about behind closed doors.

Well if this isn’t a secret, or hasn’t been one, then I can only conclude the “progress” progressives have been making is due to a monumental misunderstanding.

We entered a cul de sac, doomed to stall or beat a retreat, way back in the prior century. When we allowed progressives to assume a role as final arbiter in the rules of good manners.

It isn’t because my biases are the opposite of theirs, and I don’t trust their judgment. Although those apply. No. I would expect a reasonable progressive, if you can find one, to concede the point that never being happy is an indispensable part of their ideology. This is easily defined and easily tested. Just give them whatever they want, which is something we’ve done many times. They’ll find a new way to be unhappy, to say “Still not good enough.” Progress, remember?

This sounds so captivating, especially to decent people. “We’re making a perfect new world, one in which that behavior, acceptable now, simply isn’t good enough.” Who could say no? What could possibly be the problem?

The problem is that, ironically, it makes us all into wretched people.

We become a society in which, if any one of us plays Rip van Winkle and falls asleep for twenty years, when he wakes up he finds himself a pariah among those who used to accept him, through no fault of his own. It doesn’t matter which guy. It doesn’t matter what twenty years those are. Our society is one in which you’re obliged to stay up on where all these reforms are going, and what ones are coming along next, in order to keep your status. In fact, in order to remain only marginally acceptable.

The higher standards are not the focus. The whole point of the activity is the rejection. The goal is to find more things “problematic.”

It’s a motte-and-bailey argument. The motte, the mild and easily defended argument, is: People shouldn’t be annoying each other on purpose. They should put just a minimal amount of effort into complying with these new rules, to avoid offense. Unfortunately this comes attached to a whole slew of baileys, as reliable as a thunderclap following the lightning. Ignorance is no excuse. If you don’t follow these rules we made up, you’re unfit. Your shortcoming must be deliberate. It must prove something deficient in your character, irredeemable. And if you occupy a position of authority, profit or honor then you must be unfit for that and the rest of us have to separate you from it.

We can’t continue down this road.

Ultimately we’re going to have to admit society took a wrong turn, quite a ways back. This is a tough thing to admit, because it all started with “It’s a sign of bad character to treat a black fellow differently from the way you’d treat his white counterpart.” Which is true. Progressives want all the credit for guiding us out of that sort of discrimination. Well, a lot of people gave it up without progressivism helping them, and a lot of people never started on it. But more importantly: It’s not a manners thing. Can we admit that now? That’s a “make society go” thing, a “the American dream is for everybody” thing. A don’t-be-stupid thing.

Very subtle difference but an important one. You can be a rude cluck and concede that the American dream is for everyone. Manners were not on the bill.

We goofed way back there. Nowadays, it’s many times a year progressives have new ideas for our ever-evolving “manners.”

Whoever proposes a bold change for all of us, should be ready to deal with rejection. The bolder the change, the greater the readiness, and the bigger the problems that emerge if the readiness is not there. Now we’re armpits deep in this wreckage of progressives telling us “The change we have in mind for today, is [blank]”…and they’re entirely unready to deal with any dissent, or even any questions. To the contrary. We’ve become accustomed to their readiness for the opposite, to destroy anybody who so much as hesitates to go along, let alone those who refuse to do so.

This is unmaintainable even if the progressive ideas are good.

A pattern has emerged in which, the more impractical and extravagant the progressive idea, the harsher the social penalties to be lowered on those who resist. We have to pretend men can get pregnant now. Use the pronouns. Go to the training. Our ability to earn money to pay our mortgages, utilities and grocery bills depends on accepting the falsehoods.

We’re running out of road.

We shouldn’t have put progressives in charge of manners. It’s not their thing anyway. Their agenda is not for people to be better mannered or less offensive to each other. They thrive on the offense. They aren’t about manners. They are about control.

We’ve accepted clear and obvious falsehood, and now we’re paying the penalty.

Trump Haters Are Wasting My Cycles

Saturday, January 13th, 2024

So Chris Christie is out. I’m amazed he lasted this long. He never had anything to sell, not one single thing, besides “I hate Trump.” And as a champion of that particular movement, he is also just the latest piece of evidence that they’re like mosquitos — annoying, quite memorable, in-your-face at the worst time, ruining things that ought to be better than they are, but when measured, perhaps not as numerous as they appear to be.

Just like Congresswoman Cheney, he made it a point to keep his Trump-complaints non-specific, up in the higher altitudes of “wink wink nudge nudge, we all know why we hate him.” Even though we don’t. Details were avoided, for sake of the constant-complainer’s political longevity. And just like with Cheney, over the longer term of time, or even over the not-so-long term of time, this didn’t work. But defeat doesn’t mean disappearance. And I see both Christie and Cheney are keeping it up, like the cartoon coyote who hasn’t yet realized he’s walked beyond the brink and so doesn’t quite yet start falling. Selling more of what didn’t work. “Trump has to go away. I’m not saying why. I know you know I know you know.”

Alright, we’re left with no reason to take this seriously whatsoever. But let’s do it anyway: When we achieve this dream of soundly and finally ejecting Trump so he can never hold any office of trust or honor ever again, that leaves us with…whom? Is Trump so far below the median that, with him gone, our prospects with the remaining immediately brighten? Say it. Form the words. While Kamala is speaking. I really want to know if that’s the position. How incoming-information-averse these haters really are.

No more lying about anything? Tell me that while Joe Biden is telling his tall tale about being a truck driver, or being at Ground Zero the day after 9/11…yet again.

Trump never told me if I like my doctor, I can keep my doctor. There’s a lie that did some real damage, and upon the millions.

All this colluding to get rid of Trump. I thought that was one of the reasons for getting rid of him, the colluding. Nobody colludes, and in secret, quite as exuberantly or energetically as a Trump hater. Collude, collude, collude. So much collusion.

I could ask you directly what your problem really is with him. But I’ve done that already. I just get back this laundry list. It’s not a straight answer, because spewing it, ratcheting down the list from the top item to the bottom one, is part of the mission. It’s not answering my question.

With Trump gone, we’re not exactly left with the cream of the crop. Any reasonable discussion must start there, and all parties must concede this fundamental truth before an earnest exchange of ideas can continue. So, what’s the real beef?

I suppose we’ll never know.

There may be an earnest feeling of discomfort over our recent transition. Back when JFK ran for President and then won, I can see we entered a phase where hopeful and promising presidential candidates ceased to be knowing father-figures, and started to become ideal sons-in-law. The kind of handsome, bright-eyed and well-mannered knight in shining armor a girl would be pleased to bring home to meet Mom and Dad. It was an early expression of female empowerment: We can’t have a woman President yet, but the girls have veto power, because of the males in the running don’t positively impress the wives mothers sisters and daughters, they might as well quit. Our public schoolteachers brainwashed us into thinking that was a good thing. Isn’t it wonderful? Lascivious and ditzy females can alter the course of history without so much as a shred of male cooperation. And look how splendid those male candidates look, with their poofy hair and puffy neckties! Right or wrong, this became the status quo. It’s been the chiseled-in-stone and yet unwritten rule for sixty years now.

Even if you like Trump, he’s not part of this. A girl or woman dating him wouldn’t want take him home to meet the parents. You wouldn’t want to raise your son into this “Didn’t start it, but I’m gonna finish it” attitude, at least, not going around displaying it so brazenly. Running around, all day every day, calling his opponents losers and suckers. As a role model for young people, he’s not ideal, and he is the icon of our transition away from “What a nice young man” presidential candidates.

In that sense, some of the resentment against him may be sincere.

And, magnified by this gossip about how he’s told thousands and thousands of lies. (No, he actually hasn’t.)

They’re wasting my cycles. I have to keep revisiting this question, because they continue to have an effect on things, albeit not nearly as much of an effect as they’d like to have. But they are not, as the young people say, “a thing.” They don’t merit the attention. Every single test they encounter, upon their actual numbers — they fail. Resoundingly, and consistently. They themselves don’t seem to know what drives them. They are eager to impress other Trump haters. And that seems to be most of the source of inertia, maybe all of it.

Absent a straight answer, I have to conclude the real problem is: Too much law and order. People would be going to jail, who belong there, and we don’t want justice there — for whatever reason. They’re our friends, it’s too scary to us to admit the crooks are in charge, etc.

Someone needs to clue the Trump haters in, that it looks like that. It doesn’t look like anything else. They’re certainly not maintaining any sort of minimal standard, of character, honesty, etc. Certainly not that. Their surface appearance is not what they think it is.

And that’s a big part of why they keep losing politically. You can’t win, politically, without maintaining better control over your own appearance on the stage, than what they have. They’re preening to themselves, and themselves only, and they don’t seem to understand what a tiny crowd that is. He’s got enemies just like any candidate has enemies. A few of them are within his own party — and that, too, is true of most other candidates. The evidence says he doesn’t have more of these detractors than most. They’re just pushy and loud. Requesting the attention they’re getting, soliciting it, demanding it, receiving it. Month by month and year after year. But not earning it, in their numbers, or in the thoughtfulness of their never-ending campaign. Not worthy of it.

I’m Going Into 2024, Thinking 2020 Was Rigged

Monday, January 1st, 2024

In 2012, the incumbent President Barack Obama received 65,915,795 votes and His challenger, Mitt Romney, received 60,933,504. That’s a total of 126,849,299.

Four years later, 62,984,828 people voted for Donald Trump, and 65,853,514 voted for Hillary Clinton, which adds up to 128,838,342.

So among just these four candidates, in four years, there was an increase of 1,989,043 votes.

Suppose the increase was the same between 2016 and 2020. That would mean there were 130,827,385 votes legitimately cast between Trump and Biden, right? We can probably believe the 74,223,975 going to Donald Trump were legitimate, because there certainly wasn’t anybody behind the scenes putting thumbs on the scales for his sake. So that would mean Biden legitimately received 56,603,410 votes, which would be less than his “official” take of 81,283,501 by a difference of 24,680,091.

Why should we doubt these twenty-four million?

Three words: Vote by mail. We have a national tragedy of loudmouth people running around talking about how the 2020 election was the most honest in American history, and they have no idea what sort of loopy statistics they’re trying to sell. They have no idea how much the electorate swelled, if you’re buying into the idea that each of Biden’s 81 million votes came from a unique and authorized voter and was entirely legitimate. They don’t know what they’re saying.

The electoral base leaped from 128 million to 155 million? When in the previous four years it swelled modestly from 126 million to 128 million?

The swelling between 2016 and 2020, exceeded the natural swelling between 2012 and 2016…by 1,240 percent?

Really?

If you radically change the methods, which we did…China Virus, remember…and then you get radically changed results. Your default premise should be the results had something to do with the methods.

There’s only one way that can happen.

Fraud. Just admit it. Like in all other pursuits where there’s an information asset that has to be safeguarded against bad actors, the threat actors advance their technology and techniques, and the good guys do likewise. You hope the good guys are out in front. But there’s really no reason to assume it.

Especially not here. You’re just hearing from all over the place that you shouldn’t think such things. That’s because you’re hearing from people who liked the official result.

Goodbye, 2023

Sunday, December 31st, 2023

Year 2023 is the third year of waiting for the Biden administration to make things better. That’s a fact, right?

His singular accomplishment is that now, in wintertime, in some places, the price of gas is down to the high watermark under the Trump administration. Yay, we’re back where we were before, after lots of suffering. You could rationalize that as a win. But only if you’re exceptionally creative, and not in a good way.Don't Hate People Enough to Vote democrat It also comes after having splurged the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, for sake of affecting elections, when it’s supposed to be disbursed judiciously in times of extreme emergency for sake of national security.

Let’s be honest: I am judging the democrat party unfairly here. I’m not measuring them according to the yardstick they provided, or expected. It doesn’t build its agendas to appeal to people who monitor situations over time, and remember things. There is no “Year Three” of something in that party. It’s a peacock party, a show-off party, a flash-in-the-pan party.

They say: People are oppressed, and we need to re-build the economy so it works for everyone. Then they get into power and we see they have no standards. Are the oppressed still oppressed? In what way?

What standards are to be applied to the economic policies, and their results? President Biden commented on these policies in his usual creepy way, whispering into the microphone, “It’s working.” When is it not working? How do we assess?

This is an important aspect of leadership. A core component. Standards. Direction. Bearing and vector. Where are we? Where are we headed? It’s fine to head out into the tall grass if you know what you’re doing, but beyond that lies a cliff. So you should always know where you are, and you should never conclude “It’s working” just because that’s the narrative the “leaders” want to put out there. They’re always going to want to put that out there no matter who they are, so you need some other criteria.

At the end of 2023, it’s something like: Prices are still going up across the board because there’s still inflation, but the rate of inflation is going down. Is that a standard? Consider that, if the prices were still going up because the rate of inflation was going up, they’d be able brag that the rate at which the rate of inflation is going up, is going down…and why are you peasants not happy? Oh yes. They’d say that. And they’d get pissed as hell at you for not taking them seriously.

That’s the situation. Form your own opinion about whether or not “it’s working.” I’ve formed mine.

As a final sign-off, I should add that I’ve got a good feeling. It’s true that democrats are experts at crafting and disseminating narratives, because they need to be. And their most emotionally invested constituents are suckers for them. Right now, they run everything, and they’re taking it in the chops because of it. America, as a whole, is running out of patience. This may mean 2024 is a ghastly year for them, which would be good, or it may mean we need to do some more suffering before enough people learn the lesson. If justice be done, this coming year is 1980. If not…then it’s more like 1996.

We’ve survived both. That’s how I see it.

Christmas Uppers and Lowers

Sunday, December 24th, 2023

People think of Christmas spirit as: Hey look over there that’s a homeless guy. Shivering in the cold. Let us bring him warmth.

I’ve been given occasion to think about this. Fifty-eight Christmases. And I can’t help but think something needs re-working here. I mean…what are you doing, ending the year on a high note? Assuming the homeless guy you see is representative of the people who really need your help, which is stretching it a lot now. He’s supposed to make it January 1 to December 15th or so just slowly wearing away? Kind of like your underwear?

It makes no sense. Starving to death is slow, but it’s not so slow it takes eleven and a half months.

I think the whole point to the season is…needs to be…that we’re all beloved children in the eyes of God. This is why we feed the hungry. It’s not for the “homeless community,” it’s for the people who cannot repay us. There’s a difference. “Verily I say unto you, inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these My brethren, ye have done it unto Me.” Matthew 25:40.

Consider our “normal” behavior throughout the year. We do kind things for each other all the time. That’s easy. If you look a little closer, you’ll see people are doing nice things for other people who can do nice things in response. They may not say so. They may not explicitly expect, let alone demand, a reward. But you’ll see the people who can’t ever hope to pay it back, are neglected.

The people who are sufficiently disciplined to wait for gratification, and go without so others can have more — they end up doing a lot more than just waiting. If you pay attention to the situation, they end up neglected entirely. It’s in our wiring. Masters and slaves.

The older I get, the more i see that is the very definition of human history. Uppers and lowers. These people up here are supposed to get everything they want, and in the moment they want it. Those other people down there are supposed to wait…we’ll get around to “rewarding” them later…and later still. And then, not at all.

It used to be slavery. We got rid of that. And we replaced it with tax-and-spend — these people are supposed to toil away, so that those other people can enjoy the fruits of their labor. Reparations. Carbon offset vouchers.

Serves ’em right. They exist solely to gratify the uppers, right?

That’s the real point of Christianity, right there, the way I see it: No. That’s not right.

Doesn’t mean Christ was a socialist. No, in socialism that’s actually where you have the uppers and lowers. That’s not a correction of our natural inclination; socialism is our natural inclination, our flawed wiring. It is the sermon of Satan. “It’s this guy’s place to say where the effort goes, your place to provide that effort,” uppers and lowers. Christianity is what gave birth to western civilization, and it says: The little people count. To go without, entirely, womb to tomb, is not anybody’s place. And if you see that happening, you are to act. Not wait for some angel to come along and fix it.

These are not entirely jolly thoughts I am having on this Christmas. But to a practicing Christian, this shouldn’t be news: We were built for a glorious purpose, and then we bit out of an apple and ruined it. Now, our place is to repent, and repentance calls for action. That doesn’t mean waiting for Governor Gavin to pump a few billion dollars more of stolen taxpayer loot to enable the bums and druggies living in tents under the freeway. It means to act, and think, yourself, correct real injustice, and treat your brothers and sisters with the dignity they deserve, as fellow children of God. Peers, whose place it is to live alongside you, not to toil away endlessly and without recompense or acknowledgement for you. Next to you. Not beneath or above you.

Don’t be poor, to help the poor. Adding to their numbers doesn’t do anything for them.

Live better, and find a way for others to live better as you do. Teach, when you have something to teach and the student has appeared. Learn, when you’re ready to learn and the master has appeared. Earn, then share…then, engage the people with whom you’re sharing, so they can earn and share. Even more than you ever could. That’s okay. Not a competition.

Merry Christmas.

Arguing About Politics

Tuesday, December 5th, 2023

People frown upon it and they often disallow it, but they don’t understand it. “Arguing about politics” is pondering the effects of decisions made. It is evaluating consequences. It is examining the situation.

It is a mere extension of voting…which, if that were to be suddenly taken away from them, would make people scream and whine about it, including the people who grouse away about arguing about politics. It is reading a room before making a speech. Finding out if the wedding is Jewish before you bring ham. It is figuring out how shallow a lagoon or cove is before you pilot your boat into it. It is looking up from your cell phone and out the windshield when you’re driving a car. Very fast.

We haven’t been doing too much of this.

Indeed, as people look around and notice how ludicrous things have become, with the homelessness and the statues being torn down and the arrows on grocery store floors telling you which way to point your cart, the ruination of Indiana Jones, James Bond, Justice League, Marvel and X-Men superheroes, the shaming of men in gyms in the TikTok videos, protests over this, that, and some other thing, kids in universities learning less and paying way more than they used to pay…all these households with months or years worth of unsecured debt, no emergency funds, so little security, so much instability, the feeling of apprehension all around…

That’s all the result of not “arguing” enough.

Too much sounds-like-a-swell-idea, full-speed-head. Not enough inspection. Too much go. Not enough look/think. That’s what has brought us here.

And you’ll notice no one is happy about it. We have all these “leaders” grabbing power they didn’t used to have, forcing us to do this, making us pay for this, stopping us from doing that. And nobody, even the people who voted for them, has any real confidence in them.

It comes after decades, generations even, of “No discussion of politics allowed at this table / in this bar.”

Carlin Henry Freeberg: August 13, 1931 — November 24, 2023

Wednesday, November 29th, 2023

Dad pointed out to me one time where he was born, now ninety-two years ago. If the house still existed, it would be at a spot under the entrance ramp to I-5, 48°44’36.5″N 122°28’03.5″W. This past Friday evening, he closed out that existence. The spot where he took his final breath wasn’t quite there, but close, half a mile away as the crow flies. That house, of course, still stands. Grandpa paid cash for it in the later Depression years, and that’s where my brother and I spent our formative years, like our father before us. The U.S. Census records that he was living there by age eight, in 1940.

So. Born down there by the neighborhood park; moved up onto the hill a few years later, where he would eventually kick the bucket. Just two or three thousand feet. A little bit of globetrotting, state-line crossing, family-making in the middle of it. Eight years shy of a full century.

You can achieve greater stability than that, in your life. It’s conceivably possible. But you won’t beat this by much.

This was the fulfillment of my brother’s life-chapter, which he began a handful of years ago. “Going to make sure Dad leaves here feet first, and not have to go to some crummy rest home. It would kill him.” Well, mission accomplished. They are both to be commended.

Dad was the middle of five children, final survivor of the clan. He enjoyed the simple pleasures of life. He loved salmon, for Grandpa Freeberg was an avid fisherman; lamb, on occasion; and “pot roast” — beef chuck, especially the way Mom cooked it on Sundays. For special occasions when I visited the family homestead, like for birthdays, this would occasionally cause disappointment as I tried in vain to embiggen his horizons. “It’s wasted on me,” he explained. Eventually I would figure this out and stop trying, but he did appreciate the better wines now and then. His other passions were cars. He achieved considerable expertise working on cars, and honing his craft as the years went by and the cars became more sophisticated. There are, and have always been, huge stacks of Motor Trend and Car & Driver magazines at the Freeberg homestead.

For the yawning gap between his cultural preferences and mine, I always liked to sum it up thusly: The Great Depression ruined him for good, and Europe ruined him some more. The date of his marriage to Mom was August 15, 1954, two days past his twenty-third birthday. Within just a handful of years about that time he achieved maturity, a teacher’s certificate, became a married man and off they went to Europe. They bounced around there for a handful of years. France, Germany, Italy and some others. He called Mom the string to his balloon, and this was a metaphor that worked well with his impulsive, pie-in-the-sky ideas, and her beneficial grounding effect. Dad and BoysThe kids — me and him, not in that order — were her idea. She had to work him over for just short of a decade.

Mom was the afterthought in a family that was hit hard by the Depression. There was a cultural gap there, too. You might say they were more into material success than my Dad was, and his economic class was a disappointment to them. His sense of priorities caused further conflict. But we kids came along so late in the game, that everyone had started to behave with grace and maturity, to bury the conflict and act like adults. And so our immediate family remained financially strapped, and uniquely so, but we didn’t know. Like the “Alabama” song says: We didn’t know the times were lean, ’round our house the grass was green.

Dad’s greatest sacrifice for the good of the family, came when he earned his degree at Arizona State University. It was quite the ordeal. The move from Washington State down to Tempe took place before my earliest memory, around the time I was 2-3 years old. So my earliest memories are of palm trees, flat suburbs, lots of desert. This was when life was simple, and in its own way, desirable. Men were men. Working on your car, in the driveway, stripping it down to the frame and pulling the engine out with a cherry-picker — these were the norm. Birthdays were celebrated on kiddie tables in the back yard. That tiny house didn’t have a swimming pool; today it does. We made liberal use of the neighbor’s pool when it got intolerably hot, which was often. Star Trek had just been cancelled but was in syndication. Dad “hated” the show, but was always in a hurry to get home from work before six, the opening credits for the “stupid” show. Yes those famous, famous opening credits, all the Star Trek fans have seen ’em. William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, to boldly go where no man has gone before…

Life events intruded on the degree. We had to move to that boyhood home in Washington State, in 1972, and then Dad went back by himself to finish things. It must have been like a slug crawling on salt. By this time, he was a family man through and through, but he toiled away hundreds of miles from us in his crappy little apartment, in the Phoenix summer heat toiling over the typewriter, in his underwear under a half-ass swamp cooler. But, he stuck it out and earned his Ph.D., thus becoming “Dr. Dad.” How much of a career did he manage to build on this? More than nothing, but less than what he’d hoped, I think.

It was forty years following these events, spring of 2014, I took my son back to where it all happened. I was impressed with how much the house…shrunk. No, we didn’t impose on the family living there, we just looked at it from the outside. I was 47 that spring and the last I’d seen of it, I was just 6. Everything was shorter, the driveway was narrower, and the cement walls separating backyards from alleyways, which seemed to pierce the very sky before, were practically mere decorations.

The walk to my old Kindergarten school was a different story. We retraced it, just for fun. Quite a hike for a five-year-old. And in the 1970’s we were on the dawning of the age of serial killings and kidnappings. It just goes to show what a risk-averse, foam-rubber-cushioned crash-helmet society we’ve become. Back then, kids went wherever. When the street lights come on, get your butt home for supper or it’ll get beat. That’s how we did it.

A helmet was for when you pretended to be a pro football player. Nobody had knee pads. If you jumped off the wrong thing and landed the wrong way, you took your road rash to go in and see your Mom and she’d apply a disinfectant that stung like hell. Then, back outside you went.

Terrace St., TempeThe move from Arizona back to Washington State, that is the first one with the whole family — that was a herculean effort that sapped the energy of all involved, until there was nothing left. Mom found it unforgettable, and in all the wrong ways. She drove the moving truck and Dad followed along in the family sedan. They/we must have bisected the trip making it two days and one night. There are no details that survive the stretch of time, verbal or written. My parents were beat. My brother and I…weren’t quite. It was quite the adventure for us, watching teevee shows in a Motel 6, in what could have been Southern Oregon, but more likely was Yreka or Weed. Listening to the druggies outside, what sounded to our young ears like a witch’s cackle followed by a huge explosion. Mom and Dad slept right through it, their bodies draped on top of the covers, face-up, snoring. So my brother made sure to wake them up and tell them all about it, or try to anyway. Heh. Kids are adorable.

Our consideration or lack thereof made very little difference to Mom. At the end of the move she announced she was done moving, anywhere, and for good. She was going to leave that house feet-first. And that’s exactly what she did. The same house Dad left, the same way, thirty years apart, with her time coming February 27, 1993. Same time of day, or within an hour of it, interestingly enough. Mom on a Saturday, Dad on a Friday.

Anyway, forgive the bouncing-around in the timeline; back to the fall of 1972. Thus ensconced in Dad’s boyhood home for the remainder of childhood, my brother and I picked up new routines fitting our tender age and rotated in new routines as we advanced. Dad had a fetish for farm life which was at odds with our suburban location, but the spread is half an acre and there are “chores” aplenty. He parceled them out to make sure we were busy, which caused some rancor as we approached teenage years and could start to see the priority was questionable. To us, at times, it looked a bit like “Dig a hole, dig another hole, take the dirt from that hole and put it in the first hole, now dig the first hole again and put the dirt in the second hole…” So we learned something that could be called a work ethic. The household income continued to dwindle, and when things didn’t go well for Dad, Mom helped. We kids helped too. We delivered for the local newspaper, yes kids could do that back then. I started a lawncare “business,” with Dad’s “encouragement.” My parents were both genuinely thrilled with my customer list, which secretly worried me. Really? This changes our financial prospects? Like for the whole household? A snot-nosed kid mowing lawns?

These were all team/family efforts, of a sort. Dad and I spent much summertime time together cutting those lawns. It must have been a humbling experience for him: Closing in on fifty, when most men should be prospering, cutting lawns with his son to make ends meet. But Dad went at it, as cheerful as ever, like it was just another chore to be done in our own backyard and he got his batteries recharged doing chores. In fact the only time I saw his disposition change was when I followed him as we cut a double-swath, a lawnmower under the command of each of us, and in a moment’s inattention nearly ran over his foot.

To his credit, he played the extrovert, always. I say “played”; I slowly caught on to the reality that he was an introvert, conquering a fear. He was always a shy man deep down inside. But I remember the dinner parties with our neighbors on the street. The dining room still exists and offers an impressive view of Mt. Baker and all the vast acreage between mountain and house, so you can see why this would be the choice meeting spot for the neighborhood. This is something I’ve tried to emulate in my role as head of household, the informal congregation, meeting-of-minds, re-enacting the birth of civilization. Back then we could talk politics without attacking each other’s character. We vote for Ford, you vote for Carter, but we’re still friends. Funny, huh? And they’d talk over what causes what, the values that lead to decisions and preferences, and it would drag on until one in the morning. Nobody got bored.

But Dad didn’t turn activist until a developer showed up in town to build a shopping mall. This ignited his passions. He was on the Luddite side, the “But this is where I grew up” side. It was a losing battle. From that point onward, purchase-planning was consistently done with a footnote, express or implied: “Not at Bellis Fair.” Soon after the battle was lost and the permits were approved and the cement poured, this was easy. But lately, you go visit Bellingham and you just try it. The mall is right there, in your face, sprawling across acre after acre and it’s where the business is done. Can’t stop progress.

My brother joined the Marine Corps. Mom was furious. It was among the first, if not the first, of his signatures applied to paper that carried legal force as he’d reached majority age. She made sure to point this out to him. She went full Sonny Corleone on his decision, but it was too late, and his decision. It was after he completed boot camp that the U.S. Marine barracks in Lebanon were struck by two truck bombs, October 23, 1983, with a death toll of over 300. Naturally, my parents’ faith was shaken. But, my brother was a champion drummer, world-class, and wound up in the Commandant’s Own band. Mom’s relief was palpable. “At this point, my son is probably safer than yours,” she would say to the churchgoers expressing their concern and interest. These were turbulent times. She might have been finding a tactful way of saying, I’m more concerned about my other son than that one.

With me a virtual only-child, my brother missing all the local drama, Dad “ruined” Thanksgiving repeatedly. His brother, my Uncle Albin, was a functional schizophrenic. Capable of living independently, but handicapped, on assistance, occupying public housing. Dad showed his Christian good feelings by shuffling off to the other side of town, in Fairhaven, to the subsidized apartments, with me in tow and sometimes doing the driving. It was an ordeal. You approached the locked doors, looked up the apartment occupied by the person you wanted to see, and you “buzzed” them so they’d press a button granting you access. Albin didn’t have a phone. So…we’d stand there like jackasses pounding on the door hoping a kindly denizen would get curious enough to bend the rules. Once in the lobby, we’d express our profound thanks and head up to see Albin.

Albin had a memory for this ritual, much like a house cat’s: None. “Oh, there you are interrupting my nap again” the cat might say. Whaddya want? And Dad would explain, and re-explain, every year, that it was Thanksgiving and we were there to see to it he didn’t spend it alone. Albin’s interest piqued with the description of the food. Oh, well that sounds good. And then back we’d go. After the meal, he’d slump in front of the teevee while we’d clear off the dishes…then he’d slip quietly out the door and walk home.

Dad never gave up on Albin. He might chuckle good-naturedly at some of this quirky behavior. But he never complained. I complained, occasionally, until I was well acquainted with the futility of it. It looked like just a way to torture me. But I came to realize it wasn’t about torturing me, and it wasn’t really even about educating me, although there was some faint hope there. He was being a true, good-hearted, decent Christian. Maybe making up for some other behavior not so desirable. But I came to realize in the ensuing years that whatever the motivation, it was not to gussy up his community image or preen. It was just good old-fashioned kindness, to a recipient who could not do anything to repay. Now, as then, the world could certainly use more of that.

Opportunity came in the direction of my Mom, who managed to fill out her half of a partnership offering word processing and secretarial services in downtown Bellingham. After a little while in that situation she bought out the business and grew it into a charming retail establishment, The Paper Crunch. This soon became an all-consuming family affair, and I could write an entire tome about just that. But, it hasn’t got a lot to do with Dad. As I was getting my adult life started and leaving home, that made my parents empty-nesters and the business was giving Mom a renewed sense of purpose. It was nice to see her thriving and making use of this new income to support our/her family. But it must have been crushing to Dad, having this final verdict delivered that his Psychology degree wasn’t, after all, paying the bills. And I got the impression after awhile that one of the business’ key reasons for existing was to keep me from leaving town.

So, of course, I left town. Seattle beckoned.

After a few years of this new configuration, with both sons going through bumps in the road getting our respective lives started and having our parallel madcap misadventures with women and marriages and divorces; in the fall of 1991 I was living in Everett, working for a software startup down in Sea Tac. I was summoned back to Bellingham by can’t-remember-what, phone call or something. Mom and Dad had established a new routine, filling their empty-nester lives with participation in clubs to stimulate the mind and make new friends, potentially establish business contacts. One of these was Toastmasters. Mom was honing her skills at delivering speeches to audiences, an activity at which she’d always been a little skittish. There was nervousness and there was stuttering. Well, one day the stuttering was worse than usual and she realized she was having difficulty getting the words to her mouth. It felt to her like a physical problem so she had decided to go in and get scanned.

They found something.

The tumor was cancerous. And, as the months went by and she started to outlive the various diagnoses, it emerged that she wasn’t going to outlive all of them. This was entirely inoperable. There was, I recall, a brief flirtation with chemo and some resulting hair loss, but there never was too much optimism about this. A year into it, it was time to send her home for good and make her comfortable. By this time I’d accepted a job offer in Detroit, and I could write another lengthy tome about the conflict that arose around that, and Mom’s stalwart way of dealing with it. Dad just didn’t want me to go. It was a weird thing our parents had happening; Mom was the Dad, and Dad was the Mom. String, balloon.

From Detroit, I was transferred to California, partly as a mercy act because of this family situation and partly in response to my performance which was distracted and ultimately disappointing. I’ve lived here ever since. At this point Mom was months away from death, perhaps just a few weeks, so I did what I could to visit more frequently. Her powers of speech continued to elude her as the tumor grew. The last time I was ever to see her conscious, we all knew it. It was that final Christmas visit. I remember Dad was trying to distract, and trying to keep me from leaving, asking some meaningless question about the television and how it worked. Trying to make me feel needed, trying to keep me from leaving, ever. And then this weird pall fell over the room, like someone had swung a perfume censer. Nobody said anything for a few moments, and then Mom wordlessly motioned for me to come over and say goodbye. We embraced. She couldn’t say anything. She didn’t need to say. Her message was clear. Get out of here, go kick ass. Don’t look back.

Mom at the Grand Canyon
Mom at the Grand Canyon, when life was simple

The next time I came up from California, it was mid-February. She was in her coma. I remember my flight arrangements had been screwed up, and it took me around 24 hours to fly the 700 miles or so. I was disgusted with the whole process. For the funeral, I drove. At the graveside service, Dad’s hands visibly trembled as he lowered the container of Mom’s ashes into the ground. We the sons were 29 and 26, and we were both cringing, imagining the carton tumbling out of his enfeebled hands and spewing ashes and bone fragments. It didn’t quite happen. Dad was trying to keep a brave front, a cheerful one, but we all knew his whole life had been up-ended.

Even in times as dark as these, he could be funny. I remember him nudging me as we were sitting at the service. He must have seen I was lost in thought, and maybe could use a chuckle. He whispered, “Mom always called this my funeral suit.” And from the various dusty pockets he started to pick out…the program for Grandpa’s funeral back in ’75, Grandma’s funeral ten years afterward, Aunt Thyra’s funeral, his friend T.J. Pirung’s funeral…etc. Dark humor for dark times. No, Dad was not a “suit” person. He just had the one.

But the rest of the time, after that, he was morose. Without a woman around, the family started to disintegrate. Dad wasn’t up to living on his own. He married Mom’s hospice caretaker, Sharon, which caused some rifts with us, his sons. But, at least the old man wasn’t completely miserable. On the other hand, Sharon was disabled, and some of her problems were mental. So he was taking care of her. Over time though, he lost his cognitive abilities and it began to emerge that her job was to take care of him. It was a bit unclear. Throughout the years, this turned into yet more drama as the reality set in to everyone, the two of them combined could barely clear the bar in the capacity to live independently.

When I married Simone just after Christmas in 2012, we flew Dad and Sharon down and put them up in a hotel downtown. Dad declined the offer at first, then went off by himself to do some thinking and realized the narrative was setting in that I wasn’t part of the family anymore. And so he reconsidered, and they arrived for the wedding. This was rather awkward. We spent much of the time we were supposed to be spending preparing for the ceremony, chasing after things. So-and-so left such-and-such at the whatever. Laptops, gloves, power cords. Dad apologized when it was all over and he arrived back home, conceding “we’re out of practice with traveling.” And, thanks for sending along the laptop that he’d forgotten at the security station boarding his return flight.

In 2014 after we bought the house, they visited again. This time driving down by car. This caused great consternation all-around, since he’d already had some episodes driving on long distance trips. He was 83 by now. He had visited us once before, in our palatial apartments, losing track of time and showing up well after dark. Lots of families have to go through this; you wonder when it’s time to take Grandpa’s keys away, and you don’t want to do it because once that edifice of independence is removed, you know the subsequent decline is going to be devastating, quick and tragic. But he’d already fallen asleep at the wheel one time, and with my kid in the car. That provoked an intense confrontation, and one could tell acute embarrassment on his part. We never permitted that again, which caused him anguish, but he knew the reason why. Old age can be cruel.

But I have to credit Dad with balls. He did visit us. Few other family members have.

Thankfully, the round-trip proceeded without incident. He was going to roll through and continue onward to repeat my visit to the old family homestead in Tempe, but ultimately recognized his limitations and headed home again.

Those who protested that his life was plenty complicated enough without travel, were correct. This childhood home of his has a linear driveway, which can store maybe up to eight cars depending on the models and styles, but only one can exit without disrupting the others. While Dad struggled to recover his auto-mechanic acumen in his advanced age, the other cars languished as projects. According to the letter of the law in Bellingham, that’s illegal. This created a confrontation with the local police department. Someone tattled on him, and he got cited. But then there was someone else, at City Hall, who felt sorry for him. And it seems a compromise was reached where he’d satisfy the letter, albeit not the spirit, of the ordinance by covering the derelicts with ugly tarps.

The hearing aids became — there’s no other word to adequately describe it — a shitstorm. We always thirsted for more information about this, suspecting he wasn’t receiving the best care because his equipment kept falling out of his ears when he chewed his food. That’s not supposed to happen. The equipment prescribed racked up higher and higher price tags, reaching into the thousands. And then they’d fall out of his head, and he’d find them later in the gravel of the driveway.

My brother, at some point, had enough. He was between business engagements and between marriages, and made the decree that “The Marines Have Landed” and proceeded to move in and put everything in order. Dad found some weird ways to protest this. The Platoon Of One would clean up the basement stairs so it wouldn’t be so easy to trip on them. Then he would, in exasperation, e-mail me some pictures of the steps “fucked up again” when the Old Man dumped some more debris on them, very much like a dog piddling on a tree to mark his territory. Dad tripped, in the middle of the night, probably on a stack of magazines, and broke his hip. We were about to visit and take everyone to the new Star Wars movie. Dad’s enthusiasm for that part of the agenda was always lukewarm at best. But he chuckled when I told him “If you really didn’t want to go see it, all you had to do was say so.”

Equipped with a cane for his daily wanderings about the family property, he misjudged a landing, slipped, and rolled down a hill breaking some ribs. This was a year or two after the broken-hip debacle. He received a stern talking-to and resolved to mend his ways, which apparently he did.

This is how it was for the last, approximately, twenty years or so of his life. I shouldn’t assemble a complete chronology, even at a high summary level, because although it’s loaded with some good suspense and some things that make the reader go “OMG WTF”…you could describe most nonagenarians, and their experiences living independently, much the same way. Always the family is wondering what to do. The family is eyebrows-deep in passionate arguments about “Do something” and “No don’t do that”…with solid points to be made on both sides.

I’m going through the litany, here, to illustrate the challenge of proper remembrance. It’s tempting to think of Dad as this headache, and it’s especially tempting for the people who bore the brunt. But that’s wrong. He lived seven decades before all that happened. This is the man who sweated away in his underwear, in sparse, lonely Phoenix, probably in the most miserable summer of his entire life, and for us. I choose to remember that.

Dad had a lifelong fascination with the British sedan, the Rover, but unfortunately he waited until the winter of his life to figure out what was the deal with those rubber motor mounts. The Rover is powered by a longitudinally mounted inline-four liquid cooled engine, usually 2000cc displacement.

This part is sad: He put it on his bucket list to figure out why the inline-four needed the flexible motor mounts, and then when running proceeded to buckle and jostle back and forth, whereas a V-8 or flat-opposed six just sat there even if you red-lined it. And his youngest son had the answer. So, let the prying begin.

Patience, patience, patience.

I quickly learned this was a matter of what you might call “linkage.” Like many an old person, Dad would come up against a concept that eluded him, try to conquer it, and failing that become lost. This is, I think, why there’s such a durable connection between hearing loss and dementia, it’s an issue of isolation. I found I could restore the linkage by retreating back a few steps, into complex technical details he had already managed to conquer back in his youth.

Two cylinders are up when the other two are down. Why is this not balanced? Why the shaky-shaky? That’s the question.

They’re not secondarily-balanced because the piston doesn’t approach top dead center at the same speed as bottom dead center.

What? Why?

The inline four is primary-balanced because two are up when two are down. Remember how the crankshaft looks. Piston one, toward the front, is up when piston four is up; two and three are down. This drives a four-stroke pattern, there are 720 degrees in four strokes, 720 divided by four is 180 so that’s why the crankshaft looks that way. The firing order is one, three, four, two.

Yes! And with that, his eyes had a new light behind them, and he’d come alive. He’d re-engage.

Okay. We’ve restored. Deep breath…

Now, imagine the crankshaft turning another 90 degrees. One and four have retreated from the top, two and three have progressed from the bottom. All four pistons are at exactly the same height, but that falls short of the true halfway point. They’re slightly below that.

Uh…

Means the pistons are moving faster, up and down, when they’re in the upper half of a cycle than they are in the lower half of the cycle. All four.

Huh?

And we’d go around and around about this. He had the brain cells to understand the concepts. But he didn’t have the cells that were needed to grasp the new ideas and put it all together. One cocktail napkin sketch after another emerged from under my pen. I tried the Pythagorean Theorem, which Dad understood well. Putting it all together should have been a snap. But somehow he couldn’t quite manage.

We often caught him selectively failing to understand things he didn’t want to understand. This was not one of those things. He had racked up perhaps hundreds of hours working on Rovers, watching the inline-four rock back and forth in those rubber motor mounts like a galloping pony. He really wanted to know. He was able to almost grasp it, to comprehend that pistons were counterbalancing other pistons that were moving at slightly different speeds. But he could progress no further from that point, and he forgot that much within minutes.

For his 90th birthday, August of 2021, we journeyed on what today I consider to be the “Can’t Go Home Again” trip. We stayed in a hotel down in Fairhaven for five or six days, and without going into details, I’ll just summarize that it wasn’t a good idea. It started out fine. I got Dad a Ka-Bar. I went to our local sportsman’s warehouse, found the one that would allow for engraving, and managed to get hold of the grumpiest guy in the store to unlock it for me. But the clerk came alive when I told him it was for Dad’s 90th.

Ninety Years YoungShopping for this stuff is fun. People love this stuff. We don’t all live to ninety, and not everybody wants to do so, but if someone manages to get it done it’s a real blessing. All these old duffers have a story to tell about drinking exactly so-much of this kind of beverage every night for the last zillion years; with Dad it was Burgundy. One glass of the cheap stuff in the gallon jug, and a swimming ritual at the local YMCA, that carried him to ninety years and — cognitive issues aside — looking in fine shape to crack a hundred.

For an engraver open on a Saturday, we had to drive to Stockton. “Not A Kid Anymore,” I put on one side.

When it came time for Dad to open it, it took him four minutes. You always save the wrapping paper for next year, you know. We have the whole thing on video. He got the humor, and resolved to display the knife on its platform over the fireplace. But he was also impressed with its destructive potential. “Nobody better mess with me,” he said.

Things weren’t going terribly well with the rest of the visit, though. There was conflict. I shouldn’t go into details because there’s always a possibility for reconciliation, but I could see our family was lacking in the harmony that prevailed when Mom was alive. Although Dad wanted me there, a little of me went a long way with everybody else. Or, vice-versa. Bellingham required a much longer break from me, and the feeling was mutual. Dad’s sense of time was, mercifully, shot. At this point he didn’t know what month it was, and when he took naps and woke up in the evening, it was impossible to convince him it wasn’t morning. He also didn’t know how to conduct himself around people; didn’t know how to make the most of a rare visit. He tended to treat people like furniture, as my brother put it. He liked having the people there. But didn’t interact with them very much or at all.

It all pointed to one conclusion: This was a replay of that bittersweet Christmas, the last time I saw Mom alive. Except Mom at the time knew it. Dad had no idea. But I knew I would never see him again.

Exactly six months following that awful trip, I realized there was going to be an obituary, a remembrance, a funeral, or some occasion on which I would require a list. And so I picked up my notebook and enumerated the most important things, out of all the years, my Dad taught me.

Now the time has come to transcribe and put it where others can see it.

Enthusiasm Counts

Children require cheerleaders. This often seems not to be the case. We all know those artistic types who prefer to spend their time alone, honing their craft to fill the hours lacking any human interaction. I’m certainly in that crowd.

“Daddy look what I did.” It starts with that. I’m not saying success is impossible without that. But to have that audience is definitely an advantage, and to go without it is a disadvantage. Dad may understand what the child is doing. Or, he may be faking it. It doesn’t really matter. Later on, much later, the child will provide his own impetus and won’t need outside encouragement quite so keenly. In the tender years, it makes a difference, and no sorry but for a male child, the Mom can’t provide it as well. This is Dad Territory. Why we have ’em. And mine was far above the average at it.

My Dad, when I was just barely figuring out the essentials of things that might possibly interest me later, was my cheerleader. It wasn’t until many more years passed by, that I realized he made a difference.

Eat Slow, Eat Lots

An old Scandinavian custom. There’s something to this. The dinner, like the libation, should be a sort of celebration that the hustle and bustle of the day is in the past. Hopefully, what went unachieved doesn’t really matter, or can wait until tomorrow. The meal should therefore not be rushed. That’s healthy. Of course, when we were growing up television was a big part of the evening, probably much bigger than it should have been. “No television from the dinner table” conflicted with this. But that’s a good argument against television, not against a proper, leisurely-paced meal.

I mentioned that Dad had a routine built around the evening Burgundy. He also had one built around the morning oranges. One fruit, cut up into fourths, then he’d suck out the juices, pulp and all, out of each one. Every. Single. Morning.

You can’t argue with success. The man’s mind deteriorated, but his body lived out nicely throughout the nine decades plus, his alimentary canal intact and avoiding colds & flu more effectively than many of his contemporaries.

Arguing

Dad taught me to argue. He made the mistake of doing this when I was about 10 or 11, and it didn’t take too much of that before he and Mom tried to put things back into the realm of “Because I said so.” But, that’s like transplanting a tree from the backyard back into a small pot. I’m sure the world would work better if more people were taught how to do this, and I think Dad might disagree with that. Or, having it to do over again, would’ve done it when I was 15 to 17. Probably, the place where we’d find common ground is: Dependents shouldn’t argue. Beggars can’t be choosers. Argue to your heart’s content about how & why you should get the things you want, after you secure a source of income and pay for your own stuff. Not before then.

But on the other extreme: There’s this idea out there that if nobody is arguing, nobody is disagreeing. That’s not how it works at all. Social media has made that clear. Spend a few hours on it, and you’ll come away with the same impression others have had countless times: I’m being called an idiot, not quite so much because I am one or because I act like one, but because the other fellow can’t, or won’t, attack my position logically or defend his own. And that sucks.

More people should argue. I mean, properly. More people should learn how.

I see way too many people trying to intimidate others, by asserting such-and-such a thing is “a basic, human right.” Super duper emphatically. Well, sayin’ so don’t make it so. Food, housing, college education, a “living wage.”

Dad had something to say about that. Yes, there are rights. Of course there is such a thing. But what is it? There are those who say, if nobody has to pay for it, then maybe that’s a right but otherwise it isn’t. And then there are those who respond to this with: What about jury trials? They do have a point. Our Constitution guarantees the right to a speedy trial, which compels others to drop what they’re doing and pay attention. And so the government compensates those people. But it also conscripts them. You can plead hardship to kick yourself off the jury. The judge might buy it. He might not. In that situation you don’t have a right to attend to your own business. It gives way to the defendant’s right to a speedy trial. That’s guaranteed. Your own freedom from the ugly business is not. You might very well have to “pay” for this other person’s “right,” and under our system of justice that’s just fine.

Dad had a slightly more sophisticated way of reconciling all this, although it doesn’t address all of the inconsistencies. But it’s as good a litmus test as any.

A right, he said, is something that applies to things you would unquestionably have and be able to keep, if nobody else was around.

Life? Yes. You would have that, in solitude, so that is yours.

Liberty? Absolutely yes.

Happiness? If, under such circumstances you can find it, then you’ve a right to it. So right to the pursuit of. Not quite so much to the happiness itself.

Living wage? College education? Three hots and a cot? Health care?

If those things are provided, or guaranteed, to this person over here…then, that person over there is enslaved. What one person receives without having to earn it, another person has to work for without getting it.

This all seems so elementary. But it’s amazing how many people can’t seem to grasp it.

Did You Learn Anything?

Oh my goodness. This is dark. It made me want to wrap my fingers around his throat and squeeze until…

Because I was a teenager. Teenagers don’t want to admit to their mistakes. And they certainly don’t want to be reminded of them right after they made them. It’s not tactful to ask Wiley Coyote “What did you do wrong?” right after the boulder lands on top of him, right?

After I became a grown-up, my mistakes began to have deeper meaning and more long-lasting consequences. Then I gradually started to understand: Not a one among us is sufficiently fortunate or skilled to get it right all the time. The important thing is, Can you learn?

Since then, more than one person has called me arrogant. I can understand the feeling. They try to get me to admit I was wrong here, there, that other place over there…and I don’t. Seems arrogant. Well, here’s the thing: My everyday life is rather boring and repetitive. I do have my intellect. It doesn’t matter if it’s impressive intellect or not, it’s just there. I have some. I’d have to be quite the daffy idiot to do the same things over and over again as long as I have, and continuing to make mistakes, right?

Talk to me about it when I’m trying something new. Better than even odds, you’ll find the humility that was missing.

And that’s a good thing. Because someone taught me to self-assess, to admit as early as possible that I’d done it wrong, so I can get it right the next go-round. Not meaning to brag, but this is something rather close to a superpower. It makes me rather sorry for people who never get anything wrong.

Life is Like a Roll of Toilet Paper

This is like the opposite. Pure funny. I’m positive he stole it from somewhere, but it nails the truth shut so thoroughly that I have to give Dad +1 for it.

Life is like a roll of toilet paper. When you’ve just barely started on it, it doesn’t seem to be losing anything as you go along. But the closer you get to the end, the faster that sucker spins.

He was closing in on seventy when he said it. Now it’s years later and I’m closing in on sixty.

He bulls-eyed this. Or somebody did.

Good Friends vs. Many Friends

There are variations on this. A lot of people say: Be yourself, don’t change to try to attract more friends.

Dad’s way of putting it was that having good friends is much better than having many friends. When he told me that, I was in school and very far away from being one of the popular kids. It was easy advice to follow. A little while later I had some hard lessons about assessing people’s character, and it cost me. Looking back on it, I could have avoided such unpleasantness if I kept this in mind.

That’s on me. Can’t blame him.

You see? I told you I’m capable of admitting mistakes.

The Purpose of Life Is Not to Be Happy

This sounds cruel. It isn’t. It’s just plain true, and it continues to amaze me how many people don’t get this.

Can you imagine if we successfully purged our existence of everything that caused unhappiness? Disease, famine, war…and then what? Explore the stars? There are a lot of people who lust after this pipe dream of no-war no-starvation no-sickness, but don’t want to take on any heavy lifting with inventing or exploring. Just dangle like a grape, sucking up sunshine and nourishment.

People need to put more thought into this. There’s such a thing as purpose in life, which means there’s such a thing as altogether missing it. No problems and no obligations, would not be a dream. It would be a nightmare.

Identity would go first. And then after that, our sense of community. No one would need anybody, so no one would be needed by anybody.

So don’t despair that we’re not reaching this happiness-plateau, aren’t heading toward it, or that you won’t live to see it. That’s cause for celebration. You put some thought into it, you quickly realize you don’t want that.

When Anything Goes, Ultimately Everything Does

I’m sure he stole this one too, but I’ve tried to Google it and have yet to find success.

But it really doesn’t matter. This is just common sense. We have to have laws, taboos, standards. If we get rid of all of them across the board, and for everybody, then nobody flunks anything. Which sounds great. But that would cut both ways.

You wouldn’t be able to complain about anybody else failing to deliver or to perform. So…they wouldn’t have to deliver or perform. We’d all be left with nothing, save for the donations people make because it tickles their fancy. So there’d be some occasional dancing, singing, and playing musical instruments. But the sewage pipes wouldn’t be cleaned, the cars wouldn’t run, and there’d be no torts or laws.

Again, it continues to surprise me how much energy people put into toiling away for a perfect new world they think would be a dream come true, when it would really be a nightmare.

Am I My Brother’s Keeper?

This is the question Cain asked God, when the latter queried him about the whereabouts of his brother Abel. You’ll recall Cain had murdered Abel in a fit of pique when God accepted the victim’s sacrifice of meat cuts, and refused Cain’s offering of pottage. The blood of Abel cried out to God from the ground, and when God asked Cain where his brother was Cain asked if he was his brother’s keeper.

Cain was marked by God, and doomed to wander, for having committed this first murder. A lot of people think that’s the point of the story.

My Dad always read a great deal of meaning into this question, though. You’ll notice, he said, it was never answered one way or the other.

You see how this all ties together. The late night parties where we broke bread and drank Frangelico with the other families on the block, for no reason, just because we were all capable of making the time; the purpose of life is not to be happy, we have to help each other; and we may not have to account minute to minute where the other person is, but yes we are our brother’s keeper. It all points to the same direction. We may work in silos and we may spend time in silos. But we’re not supposed to live womb-to-tomb that way. We exist alongside each other. We’re supposed to support each other. We’re all brothers.

Delayed Gratification

Of all the things my parents taught me, this is probably the most important out of all of them. Because the other things I might have ultimately figured out for myself — but not this.

A lot of times in life, you have no choice but to take the long view. There are a lot of smart people who go their whole lives never understanding this. Don’t go assuming every little effort you make is a sprint. There are marathons.

Losing the battle to win the war — if you play it right — can be extremely effective. It is a strategic talent. You’re very far ahead in life if you can achieve command of this.

Also, learning the value of delayed gratification can make you much less of a pain in the ass to others.

I Don’t Want to Save This Planet Anymore

Tuesday, November 28th, 2023

For thousands of years, humankind fixated on some near-future date, at which point the deity of your choice was supposed to have scheduled the end of everything. Such dates kept passing and the end times kept not-happening.

And then…I think, for I wasn’t there…this all changed. I think it was The War To End All Wars. So, beginning of last century, we were to misbehave in some way and deprive the earth of its natural capacity to sustain us. This was a change in bearing; before, it was the gods who predestined our closure, and afterward it was to be our own bad behavior bringing about an entirely preventable event. It was the Age of Urgent Warnings, which still has yet to close. Ehrlich’s Population Bomb came out a good fifty years after this, so he didn’t start the fetish although he made a good deal of fame and fortune from it. Oppenheimer’s device made the dire prognostication much more convincing. The brink! The brink! We have to retreat from the brink!

When the communists switched from hot wars to propaganda as their tools of trade, Americans, who thought they’d defeated the scourge for good, were swamped with TogetherWeCanDoThis agitprop. Being a proud people with good hearts, they generally took this as benign advice on how to be good stewards of the earth. There arose a common theme: If you change your household management and consumer behavior, it may seem like a negligible effect, but imagine the cumulative result of all of us doing it. We can save the planet! So recycle!

And…get you some new light bulbs with mercury powder on the inside, that create a hazardous spill site if they ever shatter. Multi-use heavy plastic grocery bags. Paper straws. Electric cars. If you want to keep your gas-powered car, all sorts of new gizmos and doodads under the hood for “environmental regulations” that wear out & kick on your check-engine light…just when you thought you were about to have all your bills paid.

TogetherWeCanDoThis!! Toad tunnels under the freeway so the frogs don’t get run over by the cars when they cross. Little tiny trampolines under the trees so the squirrels don’t hurt themselves when they fall. It’s the only planet we have!

Surcharges built into everything. Sweet, sweet surcharges. Upon your power bill, your gas bill, your water bill, your sewage bill, your cable television bill…America has become the perfect mixing pot for communism and capitalism. We promote the communism, being very careful to never use the actual word, and then we use it to rake in the moolah making just a few people fabulously wealthy, at the expense of everyone else. Interesting. It’s exactly the opposite result from what communism is supposed to achieve. With capitalism as the tool. But it isn’t really capitalism if we didn’t order it; we’re just repeatedly falling for it.

I don’t want to save this planet anymore.

I’ve already done my bit. I’ve monitored the situation. Behind every battle-cry of TogetherWeCanDoThis, someone’s after my wallet. And it’s not escaped my notice, that while they’re in the process of draining the fruits of my labors and my savings…they’re not being any kinder to the planet than I am.

I’m afraid to tabulate the total that I’ve spent, voluntarily and otherwise, to save the planet. I wouldn’t even know how to start. But I’m done. Shouldn’t we be thinking about other planets, if we’re so forward-thinking? If this one requires any more saving, seems to me that’s like the sopping-wet fire log that requires just a bit more lighting. But did it ever need any saving in the first place? We’re still here. It isn’t because we’re using heavier grocery bags. Those are disposable now, so with that effort alone, we’re clogging up the landfills five times faster than we did before. There’s no defending that boondoggle, and yet, no one’s stepping up to apologize or to chart a 180 degree change in course.

I don’t want to save this planet. I want to save my billfold.

The Tagline

Sunday, November 19th, 2023

I’m seeing this pattern…

There is a tagline for committed “conspiracy theorists” and “nutcases.” In the case of January 6, it would be something along the lines of “We have a ‘Deep State‘ and they arranged this spectacle.” For the 2020 election, it was “democrat activists coordinated within & across state lines to fraudulently bump up Joe Biden’s vote count in the key battleground states.” For COVID, it’s “The virus is a bioweapon that was grown in a Chinese lab.” And in general for all things related to Donald Trump, it’s “Hollywood is opposed to him because they’re full of perverts, pedophiles and pederasts who belong in jail and they don’t want him putting them there.”

For a year or two, everybody is watching, and everybody’s watching everybody else watching. Passing judgment on who’s a nutcase and who isn’t. And you gutterball yourself if you say anything approaching even a watered-down version of the tagline…

“Fact checkers” emerge to “debunk” the tagline. Once and for all! But also, repeatedly, like a lab rat hooked on amphetamine.

And then after a little bit of time, when 90% or so have stopped watching…the tagline that clearly called out the most obvious nutcases…migrates. It becomes not quite so nutty. Then it becomes more probable. Then it becomes a likelihood. And then, one by one, all the alternative explanations are logically ruled out and this one is the only one left standing.

I just keep seeing this over and over again. We have to wait for solid evidence to trickle in at a glacial pace, and that includes evidence supporting the “anointed” opinion as well as the opposing, kook-burger opinion. But the narrative anointing that anointed version, has all the wind in its sails it’s ever going to have, from the get-go. Hmmm. Gee. Nothing suspicious about that.

Throughout it all, beginning to end, the rebuttal against anything resembling the nutcase-tagline is something approximating “But if you go around saying that, people will think you’re a nut.” People do it right to your face — name-call you, as a rebuttal, when they have none other. We know the 2020 election was accurate honest and true, because if you believe otherwise you’re a nut.

Eventually we get down to the end-game situation, where if you don’t ignore the issue like the 90%, you’re left choosing between where the logic and the evidence clearly point, versus social acceptance.

This is not good. At that point, everyone’s a nut.

Check That Manifest

Saturday, November 4th, 2023

Arguments are like freight, with the people hearing them & passing them on to the next, like weigh stations.

Some unpack the freight and cross-check the manifest. They make a stink if something’s missing, or if something is riding along that shouldn’t be there. They go through it line by line with a marker. Double and triple-check the scales. Evaluate. Subtract. Compare. Confront.

That’s what you’re supposed to do. Confront. It isn’t necessary to be rude, but this is why we associate “argument” with “arguing.” There’s supposed to be some of that happening. A little bit of a back-and-forth, with some I-don’t-think-so mixed in there. A little friction is okay. Shows people are using their noodles, applying the concepts, seeing where things go. Unpacking the freight.

Others just let the whole truck, or boxcar, pass on through, padlocks left dangling, seals intact…

Now, some of these arguments are weak. They will survive someone passing them on through, without inspecting, but they will not survive a breakage of the seals followed by a proper inspection. If an argument is weak, and someone opens it to inspection, analysis and critique, it will be stopped.

What we have lately is a state of affairs in which the weigh stations, in large number, are closed. Far too many miles coming & going without anybody stopping and properly inspecting. Nobody’s being pressed to set the brake, dismount, open the bay, or account for the cargo or the manifest. The boxcars just roll on through from one weigh station to another weigh station. Getting replicated, and then picking up speed.

It’s a consequence of our silos. People live in their silos, consuming “news” from their silos, listening to speeches formulated for their silos. The biases of the speechwriters and of the consumers all lean in the same direction, so there’s no incentive to unpack. And so people don’t. The trucks and boxcars just keep rolling, padlocks dangling and seals intact, and the quality of the arguments continues to degrade.

Fallacious thinking abounds. Oh, we have our apple-polishing college kids with their lists of fallacies. They use those to yell “Strawman!” anytime they hear something they don’t like, and that’s pretty much all they do with it. That’s very far from running any sort of quality check, accepting strong arguments or rejecting weaker ones. The weak arguments are all over the place, because people are only pretending to know what they look like, but they’re not actually checking. Haven’t opened a padlock in months or years. Just letting things roll through from station to station…only stopping things on occasion, not based on quality issues, but rather when they’ve figured out they don’t like where it goes.

What’s “Extreme Right Wing”?

Wednesday, November 1st, 2023

Throughout the high drama involved in the elevation of a Speaker of the House of Representatives this month, and in the aftermath, I’ve been hearing about “extreme right wing” people and their positions. I’m unsure of what these positions are supposed to be.

I see “extreme left wing” ideas, but very seldom do I hear them called that. I have to make up my own mind that’s what they are.

When I look further into this, I see so many “extreme right wing” positions are left wing distortions. It makes me wonder if they all are. I’m wondering what’s the most extreme right wing position, that’s genuine.

No, “right wingers” are not opposed to climate change remediation because of a desire that the Earth should burn out and shrivel into a dried lifeless husk. Right wingers live on this planet too.

No, they don’t think inequality of net worth or income are good things, or are even better things when the inequality is exacerbated. That’s not the right wing view.

No, they don’t want black people back in chains.

They don’t want all the women barefoot, in the kitchen, pregnant.

There’s no serious movement to take away the woman’s right to vote.

If your electric car can operate in the heat and the cold, towing cargo like a gas powered truck, up hills, for a suitable range, economically, then what the Hell. Right wingers would generally say go ahead and buy the thing. Just wait until it can actually do this.

I could be wrong. But I don’t believe in “extreme right wing” positions. I hear about them. But I don’t see them specified in a way that holds up, when you take the trouble to ask people what they actually believe.

We don’t need a moderate position between “drink poison” and “don’t drink poison.”

It looks to me like people just don’t have the balls to admit one side makes more sense than the other. They have to play games. “Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, here I am stuck in the middle with you.”

But the jokers aren’t on the right.

It’s the left that’s made itself into both clowns and jokers. These are the people who want you punished if you say “all lives matter.” The right is just saying no.

Priorities, Not Luck

Saturday, October 14th, 2023

I emerged from the womb thinking, if something bad happens to me, it’s got to be luck.

Well I suppose it’s a bit more complicated than that. Let’s say, as I approached adulthood, I had a budding sense that it might be something else. That stupid decisions do exist. But by the time I was living on my own, that idea was still in natal development. Like a lot of people, I came into the world of adults thinking if things weren’t going the way I wanted, it was just how things went. I’d had this idea reinforced by others. “The important thing is to get up off your ass and try again.” There is truth in this. But it comes across like life is a slot machine, and each effort is just another pull on the lever. Maybe we should be clearer in our meaning when we tell young people things like this.

One day, I was able to look back and point to something…a decision I made…a blunder. And I realized, with all the good luck in the world, given what I did there was zero chance that could have come out alright. Zero. And once I realized that, it was like the sky lighting up with all sorts of regrettable decisions I had made, like stars in the sky. That was humbling. Not the realizing the one. It was the realizing of many that was a humbling experience. I had come to realize I needed to work on making good decisions.

I could point to some good ones I’d made, and fruit that had come from those.

But, it turned out…*those* were the product of luck. The good stuff. The misfortune was a natural consequence of simply not knowing what I was doing.

Some of this came before “the woman done dun me wrong.” Some of it came after. With the passage of a little more time, I came to realize relationships are special. They’re not “decisions”; not really. The other person gets to decide too. And I had a humbling moment when I realized I was a magnet for broken people. I was a young dumb person making lots of money, and I was attracting scam artists like a porch light drawing insects. I did some filtering. Thought I was diligent about it. But all that did was filter the scam artists, down to scam artists who didn’t realize they were scam artists.

People thought I was a diligent worker. They said so. I came to realize, they thought I was diligent because I did work. They were measuring me against a control group that didn’t do work. The measurement was flawed because the yardstick was flawed, and I came to realize diligent work had a lot to do with “luck,” and I wasn’t doing it as diligently as I thought I had.

Then, I began to work the hundred hour weeks.

That’s what software weenies do, right?

That’s when I learned about time management. I had another humbling experience when I worked several all-nighters in a row, and at the end of it thought…okay, it works…given that it works, how long would I expect a competent engineer to labor away at this, producing these results? And the answer was not 90 hours. It was more like 2, maybe 3 at the very, very high end.

Oh and by the way, here’s a bug. Bugs are to be expected with a first draft. But not like this one. I simply hadn’t done a very good job because my time management didn’t work. Like many 25-year-olds, I thought myself immortal and I ended up making an ass of myself.

Throughout all this, I gradually became aware of my conduct around others. I was occasionally professional. Sometimes, I wasn’t. My maturity progressed; the memories remained, and stayed the same, and so my embarrassment became acute. Interaction with people around you is a huge factor, so it’s not just a matter of dressing properly. Good manners, being on time.

People do things for you, and you can reward competence. You can tolerate incompetence and stupidity. That’s the big challenge; how not to tolerate incompetence, but keep your professionalism.

Empathy. Kindness. These matter, although they’re not the sole criteria for enjoying success in life. Jesus Christ had these, right? How’d that work out for Him.

I’d like to think that by the time I tumbled into middle age, I had a lock on this stuff. Maybe. Maybe not. I’ll accept the judgment of those who were around me. I’m sure there were gaps. But I still had much to learn about how to enjoy success in life, what more there is to things besides luck. There is attention to detail. Humans being imperfect, a lot of that relies on empathy. You’d be surprised how many people think they explained something, with zero ambiguity involved in it, when they’ve actually left quite a lot. You can’t turn all of these into instruction-opportunities for the other, all of the time. People do this stuff when they’re in a hurry. They don’t like to realize “Let’s eat, Paul” has a different meaning when the comma’s missing and they left it missing. Things like this aggravate them.

You might say, if you’re in the engineering profession, it’s your job to sweat out these details and part of the reason you’re there to do that, is so the other person doesn’t have to do it. So empathize. Figure out what they mean. And your ass is not covered if you guess wrong, so do a good job of it. That’s just how it works.

Remember things for later. Take good notes! If they’re ass-covering notes, then they have to be real notes. Write them down somewhere, the mental-notes aren’t good enough for ass-covering.

Learn as you go. After awhile, you can foresee how things are going to happen. It doesn’t take much to do this. Once you progress on this axis a little while, you’ll start to see. There isn’t much mystery about it. It’s kind of obvious.

And then there’s priority. How come your friends have accumulated [blank] in life, and they’re your age or younger, and you haven’t got it?

Priority. That’s the last one. The big one. You can do everything else right, and if your priorities are screwed up, then so are you.

In fact, when you think about it, priority is more than just the heaviest factor; it’s the bottom-line. This is ALL priority.

“Luck” hasn’t got anything to do with it at all. If you believe in God, as I do, I suppose you could chalk it up to His plan. Some people might call that “luck.” I don’t.

Anyway…that’s how I square the circles in what we call life. There’s just a long, long list of things you have to learn. There are people who think we need to drill little kids in all of it, before they cross the Rubicon and enter adulthood. If they’re right, I was woefully unprepared. Maybe they’re right. I’m not so sure though. Looking back on it, and looking at what a child-becoming-man-or-woman really does know about things, I have trouble seeing it.

And then there are our friends, the liberals.

They think it’s all luck.

Oh, I’m sure they’d argue about that. But when one of the members of their cherished designated-victim-groups has a sad story to tell, it’s their misfortune, or “society.” They won’t allow me to look into anything else, because they’ll argue about that too. So from where I sit, in their worldview, it seems to me like it’s all luck. It seems to me that that’s what they think; they’re not ready to allow for anything else. Like, the day they start to consider anything outside of that, they’re going to get kicked out of the good-liberal club.

I’m much closer now to the end of my time on this planet, than the beginning. And I’ve spent all that time learning how wrong this is. They’d have me engage in just a bit more deep-thinking, and come around to their way of looking at it, realizing belatedly that they were right all along?

If you can’t understand the impossibility of such a thing, then there’s really no way for me to explain it to you.

Performance Floors

Saturday, September 30th, 2023

I’m thinking about them pretty much all the time now. I got started on it in the aftermath of Nancy Pelosi’s weird interview with Anderson Cooper:

He asks her (8:36) if Kamala Harris is really the best running mate for President Biden. Her first answer is full of schmegegge. People don’t give Kamala enough credit; Pelosi’s opinion about that, and about a zillion other things, is relevant but with regard to the actual question she has been asked her opinion is so insignificant that it has to remain unmentioned. So he has to ask (9:22) again…

Imagine if Kamala Harris and Nancy Pelosi were Republicans. Just think about that. Think about, oh, just anything Chris Christie has had to say at any hour of the day or night, for the last three months. Politically, former Gov. Christie exists right now because of the supposed shortcomings of Donald “Duck” Trump. Pressed on this, I’m sure the average Christie supporter — if you can find one — would point to Trump’s “baggage” and insist that those who put some importance on it, and see the only path to success for Republicans in the dismissal of Trump, deserve representation. And he’d be right.

That’s rather silly as the sole reason for a challenger to exist. But it’s an adequate reason.

More to my point, it is a purely Republican reason. The democrats don’t do that. Pelosi is a married woman, is commenting on another woman whose political career started because she was Willie Brown’s girlfriend. Married women, by and large, don’t like that sort of thing. So if you’re under the impression there’s something negative here that’s being stripped out of the purified, filtered syllables that make it past the former Speaker’s judicious tongue, you can take it to the bank you’re not imagining it.

It’s not like democrats are too smart to attack their own. They are; smarter than Republicans, at least this way. But there’s something else.

There’s no performance floor. None.

With anything.

And I mean anywhere. A noun is a person, place or thing? Out of all persons, places or things, if you listen to all the complaining going on about any & all person places or things, Donald Trump is the only one out of any of them falling short of what he should be, to be where he is. Nothing else is falling short of any standard, because there’s no standards anywhere for anything to fall short. Except perhaps for the direction of the country right now; people aren’t happy with that.

Well. You know what? I see a connection.

I don’t see performance floors anywhere, except when it’s time for Republicans to beat up on other Republicans for failing to live up to one. They don’t apply anywhere else. I mean, by that a real “floor”: Performance descends, and descends some more, until it reaches a threshold that changes the situation and sinks beneath that. There’s an event. Something changes, or at least, someone somewhere with an opinion that matters, realizes something has to change. Then some things happen. I miss this. The entire scenario seems to have gone extinct…except when it comes to bitching about Trump.

Or…some of the things that have soured for us, since Trump “lost” the last election.

But that last one doesn’t seem to put any events in motion. Just bitch about the price of eggs, then go back to whatever. There’s no necessity to do anything about any of it, except for the complaining about Trump.

Without performance floors, no standard actually applies. Without standards, there’s no definition, and without definition, everything else comes undone. We’re wondering why so many people think the country is on the wrong track. Well, hmmmm.

It would be absurd to think it isn’t. The dollar is losing value so rapidly, that as Congressman Matt Gaetz cheekily pointed out, you have to use gold bars to do your bribing of democrat politicians. Heh heh. This month a lot of people started complaining because they’d come to realize men think a lot about ancient Rome. What’s wrong with men? After a whole summer of fantasizing about doll-universes in which men are to be properly stripped of any influence, people are ready to find yet more problems with the male sex. The question should be: Why is it so hard for someone knowledgeable of history, to think of anything besides Rome? The inflation is killing us. Just like Rome.

If my complaint were that there isn’t enough complaining, the complaint would be short-lived. There is complaining everywhere you look now. I’m looking for something more than that. Is the complaining about actual performance? Is it relevant? Did we really need someone to show up and bring their A-game, and instead, they just kind of dialed it in & called it good? Did the performance slip beneath some watermark that demarcates a change in the situation when the performance falls short?

Is this tolerated by someone whose opinion matters…like, whatever unmentioned shortcomings apply to the Vice President, as so blandly critiqued by the Former House Speaker, above? Is the deficiency in performance even detected? Is there a process for improving the performance? If the process fails, is there a process for dislodging the component or person falling short? Can the replacement complete with a minimum of disruption and drama? Without damaging agendas of revenge by the replaced person, or his/her sympathizers? Is there a plan to bring the replacement up to speed?

If yes to all of the above, then maybe you have a system that accommodates changes in demand and environment, across time. It’s got a shot at remaining useful over the long haul. Just a shot.

If no to any of the above, then you don’t have that.

And therein lies my observation. We are, indeed, like Rome; the gentlemen have it right. We don’t have many of those things. We are arguably lacking in all of them.

Again: We do have complaining. But even when the complaining is entirely valid, there arises immediately a wave of counter-complaining, typically involving name calling against the criticis as racist, sexist or transphobe. See, this is why there are no performance floors. For performance to fall beneath a floor, the performance effort itself has to exist. And we’ve taken on an unseemly habit of crystallizing these narratives about how wonderful and glorious some effort is, before anybody has put together the effort. Any valid observations about how the effort fell short, therefore, will run afoul of these crystallized narratives and so once they’re made, a shouting match immediately begins and we find ourselves awash and eyeballs deep in the latest round of “You’re a sexist” and “No I’m not.” We don’t have time to evaluate the critique itself. Might as well not even bother making it.

Congress keeps spending money. We wonder why there’s inflation. When our current President was just a Vice-President, he counter-complained against the complainers who were calling out the waste. He didn’t bother to contradict them. “We know some of this money is going to be wasted,” he said. “There are going to be mistakes made…Some people are being scammed already.” He then launched into entirely opinion-based summations of the benefits of the stimulus spending. “We’re seeing solid hints of stabilization in many markets, including housing.” The Press dutifully fell in line.

So they spend money after taxing it away from you…for a little while, they didn’t even have to put on pants to do it. The money gets wasted, and that’s okay. Inflation is the result, you’re just supposed to live with it. No floor. Nothing changes. Thankfully, the dress code did get reinstated after the great hue & cry. But how did things get that far? I guess there’s a floor after all…but it’s way down there. You have to put on pants to earn the money, but Congress doesn’t have to bother when it taxes it away, to raise the price of things you have to buy with what little money is left over?

It’s not just money things. The President’s dog has bitten a Secret Service agent — yet again. The eleventh known biting incident. Oh well! We’re continuing to work through it…but, as the article notes, it’s devolved into a workplace safety issue. Well no kidding. How many times can your dog bite people before something has to be done about it? “…[T]he improper removal of classified documents from Biden’s office when he left the White House in 2017 was [seemingly] more likely a mistake than a criminal act.” The performance floor is missing there too. How do you distinguish between a mistake vs. a criminal act? They’re not mutually exclusive. Is it a matter of intent? Does intent matter with regard to the issue of Trump’s classified documents? Why here, and not there?

No floor. People just do, like, whatever. You’re supposed to accept it. There’s no expectation placed on anybody anywhere, except on people who are doing the expecting. And of course, Trump.

Seattle is a mess. A shithole. Why is that? Seattle was beautiful. It was always run by smarmy jackass liberals, and I resented that when I lived there. Thought I had little-to-no affection for the city. Well now, my heart is breaking. What the Hell are you people doing to my old stomping grounds? No floor.

The statistics demand performance floors. They prove something is wrong, somewhere. It could be with our formation of the statistics themselves. The homeless people living in Seattle: Used to be, here & there, now and then, you run into or hear about a homeless person. Now, all throughout the West Coast, homelessness is merely an alternative lifestyle, adhered to by a huge and swelling portion of the citizenry. Is that all economic? That seems to be the implication…but…no performance floor. More homeless, and the answer is to spend money “to solve the problem of homelessness once and for all.” No one whose opinion means anything, takes it as a warning sign that we’re doing something wrong. Queer kids in the public schools: Another one-percenter phenomenon, one-percenter no longer. The skyrocketing is impossible to measure with any precision, but we know it’s there. So Why? We’re left to discuss it in a shouting match, between people who point out the recent efforts to indoctrinate, and those who deny the indoctrination affects the numbers in any way, some of whom assert the increase is a good thing. Learning disabilities are pretty much the same way: It used to be one or two percent. Now it’s double digits. Just like with the others, here we could benefit from a reasoned discussion about whether we’re doing something to increase the numbers, either in reality or in the way we’re doing the measurements and formulating the numbers. But we just get shouting matches.

There’s a difference between the two. Discussion is fact finding, and deliberation about what the facts mean (along with whether or not you really found them). Shouting matches are just conflicts between two or more factions, each of which is seeking to win. With homelessness, queer kids and spectrum disorders, we have these Career People who have established careers tied to the statistics; and they’re understandably eager to participate in these shouting matches, and devolve any reasoned discussion that might take place, into the shouting matches. They all insist that the swelling statistics are accurate and true, and their dramatic increase doesn’t signal any need for reform in how they’re gathered, but rather a need for…something else. Something that has to do with giving them more business, and money.

The problem with shouting matches is that they involve a common narrative of: I am right, and so is everyone who agrees with me. Those other guys are wrong. And this is in all things, across the board. We’re smart, they’re stupid. It doesn’t allow for any exceptions, any nuance. It’s a jackhammer used where a surgical scalpel is needed.

We are losing our ability to discuss things. As a result of our loss of these performance floors.

Or: We are losing the performance floors, as a consequence of losing our ability to discuss things.

Which one is cause, and which one is effect, is an intriguing question. Both may apply; we could be living in a self-perpetuating whirlpool of despair. But we know both these things are happening, and they’re both happening in spades. This swelling consensus that the country is on the “wrong track,” is effect that is caused by the vanishing performance floors. I mean, how can you feel anything but despair, when everywhere you turn, every direction you look, you see shit where there’s supposed to be some decent performance, and a near total absence of any incentive or reason to make anything better?

Who are these people who think the country’s on the right track?

That is yet another intriguing question.

The Pink Billion

Sunday, August 20th, 2023

Okay, so there’s just no getting around it at this point. I’m going to have to blog the Barbie movie.

People are asking for it on multiple fronts, in the e-mail and on the Hello Kitty of Blogging too…which I find to be flattering and a little weird. Here was me thinking, well you know…nobody reads this blog. And many more talented people than me, have commented on Barbie already. But the demand for Barbie commentary seems to outstrip the supply, which I suppose is understandable in a way. “Barbie Fever” is everywhere and it’s affecting everything.

Which is not a good thing.

This is a bit like the bridge crew of the Titanic wanting to know a little bit more about where the icebergs are. It’s not for entertainment value. We’re in a situation here, and it isn’t good. Responsible and knowledgeable people want to know more, not because it titillates them, but because they know we’re heading into hazardous waters.

The movie has widespread and strong appeal, and the appeal is particularly strong when it’s felt by angry people. One wonders if any non-angry people like the movie. It’s supposed to be a nostalgia trip for people who played with Barbie dolls, so I’m sure there are some. But most-to-all of the positive feedback I’ve heard, comes from non-positive, angry people like Mark Maron. Who’s that? I don’t know. He talks like he’s just naturally vile and nasty, when extolling the virtues of something he likes. I can only imagine how he sounds if asked to comment on something he doesn’t like.Barbie

So perhaps non-angry people like the movie, but it doesn’t matter. This is an angry movie. It’s fueled by resentment, and if you don’t share the resentment you can still like it, but you’d be missing out on a big part of the experience. The core audience is people who are resentful, upset, and cruising for some chance to get even with someone about something.

There’s a lot of buzz about this Rachel Zeglar interview, which is only loosely connected to Barbie in that she’s so clearly sharing in this resentment. It’s looking like this is the summer of resentful, woke women venting all their frustrations with men for…I dunno. Being. The interview has a lot of people talking because whether Zeglar has made a winning move promoting her Snow White movie or not — and it’s looking like not — she’s providing definition for this new fad of “strong” women and princesses. And she’s accurate about it, the way people always are accurate when they’re sharing in an emotion-driven fad. These new, trendy, strong women are not quite so much strong, as woke. And this is an important aspect of woke, which I neglected to cover when I did my best to come up with a definition for the word: Women are not supposed to love or be loved. They are to be estranged, and to do the estranging, particularly when it comes to males. Male-and-female romance, if it’s not dead already, is to be murdered. And it doesn’t have to look like an accident.

Also, girls and women are to be leaders. Resentful both before and after. Resentful leaders.

This has been going on for a bit. It predates “woke.” When I emerged into adulthood, something that happened quite awhile ago by now, I quickly learned that pairing yourself up with a female wasn’t at all like casual dating in high school. It was a rite of passage back in these olden days. Wounded, incomplete, damaged and/or spoiled and anti-social females would sprout and then grow their trails of wreckage of failed & dysfunctional relationships with both men and women, romantic & otherwise, with this leitmotif of “I don’t take any crap and they can’t handle a strong woman.”

A particularly keen and disciplined observer might have noticed that whether these women thought of themselves as leaders or not, they weren’t running very much of anything, and were leading no one. Truth was, they just never learned to share an endeavor, or life itself, with another person. Or share nothing and just enjoy spending time with another. They were too broken and too damaged.

We quickly learned to run in the opposite direction when we heard the words “strong woman,” or “men are intimidated by me.” It’s a little disconcerting to see the negative energy from all those years ago, radiated yet again by someone who was so far away from even being conceived. It means something is sustaining this rot, keeping it infected and putrid. Something that packs a lot of influence.

That Barbie — this latest instrument for channeling this resentment — has managed to achieve billion-dollar status, and so quickly, just reinforces this.

Treacherous waters. Iceberg, right ahead.

Shoe0nHead, one of my favorite YouTube subscriptions, hit the nail on the head when she called the movie a Rorschach Test — after launching into this weird thesis about how it’s “actually pro-man” or something. I think that part was parody. Not sure. But it’s true there are some five or ten different ways of looking at it, and what we have here with all this buzz is lots of people each coming away with their own interpretation. I’m adding to that, of course. In fact I find it interesting that as people come away with their own Rorschach interpretations, each one of those interpretations, in & of itself, becomes another Rorschach test.

My favorite is the idea that it’s pro-man, because it takes pity on the men. Poor, poor men. Poor Ken. Let’s all feel sorry for Ken.

In this particular place, if in none other, Barbie functions effectively as a commentary on what we’re going through in real life. Feminism and pop-psych, for years now, have been peddling this idea that the social reforms they have in mind are actually pro-men, a soothing medicinal balm to be applied against the wounding done to our psyches by centuries of patriarchy. We’ve been victimized by our emotionally distant fathers who yelled at us too much when we were playing baseball. The chain of toxic masculinity has to be broken so we can get in touch with our feelings and enjoy Cats, something like that.

According to this, merely going about our business, acting like the men we are, is an act of self-injury. I’ve seen that in this article exploring male suicides. The male suicides are certainly there, but to me this looks like encouraging more of what made them happen, as opposed to curing the problem.

Or, maybe the movie isn’t commenting on that fad. Maybe it’s just participating in it. Again: Rorschach test. No right or wrong answers. You be the judge.

But as far as that fad itself, it’s clear a lot of militant feminists believe in it, either straight-up or they have faith in it as a recruiting tool, to bring some self-pitying males onto their movement. Is anybody going to explain to them what should be obvious? Here I go again…bravely, I step into the breach.

This “Actually the patriarchy hurts men too” buzz isn’t pro-man and it doesn’t make you look like you’re pro-man. If you hide behind that, you reveal that you don’t live in the world of men, and you don’t live in the world of grown-ups, either.

If you are “pro” someone, that would mean you know what they’re trying to do and you’re helping them get it done. It doesn’t mean to feel sorry for them or to start whining to others about their feelings in addition to yours. It’s a big world out there and there are lots of things for people to do besides whine about their feelings.

Men don’t cry as easily as women do. You know what? That’s just fine. Some men don’t talk about their feelings as much. That’s fine too. It doesn’t mean anybody is adhering to excess to some “social construct.” It’s just how some people tick. You’ve heard of “Ain’t got time to bleed”? Some people don’t have time to whine. They’re too busy doing things. Like…growing the corn that will be popped so you have something to snack on in the theater while you’re watching Barbie. Or, driving the trucks filled with groceries, including the box-wine you’ll be drinking with your girlfriends while you talk about Barbie. We don’t need a world in which everyone obsesses over their feelings and whines about how they’re treated, all of the time. You wouldn’t be able to survive in such a world. You’d run out of cat food.

Real men don’t want to be victims. Neither do real women.

Also, if your sympathy toward us has been exhausted or never existed, because we dared to have a different opinion about your doll movie or some other thing, it doesn’t bring us around to your side when you challenge or ridicule this male toughness. It’s not just plumage; it’s something that’s real, that we use to do the things we do, that you don’t do. So billboards like this aren’t likely to have the desired effect, because you know…we’re not in middle school anymore.

billboard

But I know, I know. If anybody needs to have this explained to them, they’re never gonna get it anyway.

This applies in a lot of situations, to a lot of people. The effort is out there to shame men into liking this movie that, one might reasonably infer, was never made for them in the first place. And that’s quite the silly thing; trying to shame someone who can’t be shamed, into liking something that doesn’t like them back, to bring happiness to yet other people like Mr. Maron, who’ve resolved to remain everlastingly unhappy. What sort of people engage in such silly things?

Do they find it as challenging to find the time to do so, as I find it to write up the more scrutinizing and loquacious blog posts, like this one? It would not seem so. Is anyone counting on them to do anything that really makes a difference in some way? It all reinforces this idea that none of this is really very deep at all, and it doesn’t rely too much on deep thinking or any thinking, that it’s all driven by emotion. Barbie has made a billion dollars triggering people, piquing their emotions, and starting a lot of talk about the deep thoughts that actually don’t exist. Which in turn persuades people to see the movie yet again and fork over some more money.

I tried, like an iced coffee customer struggling to access the last few ounces of liquid by probing the ice cube remnants with his paper straw, to glom onto and glean these deep thoughts. I really tried. There are a couple of monologues toward the end, one by America Ferrera and one by Ruth Handler herself, the inventor of Barbie, that are supposed to be deep. Maybe they went over my head. I was left sucking air. Something about…it’s tough being a woman because you’re subjected to criticism all the time?

As a man, my reaction was stifled laughter. Stifled, because other people were clearly getting more out of the movie than I was, and I didn’t want to disturb them. But if I didn’t stifle it would’ve been a horse laugh, a true guffaw. Tough being a woman because you’re criticized no matter what you do. Gee! I wonder what that’s like!

Handler’s speech was even more vapid. It didn’t miss the mark, because from what I could tell, she didn’t say anything. Just something about: Here, hold my hands. Now, feel. Barbie starts crying. Uh, hate to spoil the party but that’s not deep. Queen Victoria speaks for me: “That’s what I call twaddle.”

My sympathy is just not there. These are girls who played with dolls, in the comfort of their pinkified bedrooms. While, at the same age, I was out doing nonsense-chores, sanding down fascia boards and painting them, not quite so much because they needed painting but because Dad wanted to instill a work ethic. Now they’re grown up, watching Barbie, whining about how tough they have it. My heart bleeds.

This is the ugly side of Barbie. There are few things in human affairs more off-putting, than someone who’s been aided comforted and sheltered by some exclusive set of privileges denied to others — and then feeling sorry for themselves. It’s ugly when the reasons for their self-pity are well defined. And here, although I realize this may come as a shock to the movie’s makers and viewers, those reasons are not very well defined at all.

Nevertheless, some measure of respect is owed. The movie did make a billion dollars. Ben Shapiro, in his now-famous forty-three minutes of savagery, predicted the opposite. I might have made a similar error if I were called upon to do so, just because the public seems to be tiring of summer blockbuster movies. We really haven’t had one, post-pandemic, until now. I would not have expected this.

Why does it resonate?

There are those who credit the marketing, in several ways. The marketing was thorough. The marketing was brilliant. The marketing was…deceitful and sneaky. Those all contributed to the success, and they’re all true. This is a Trojan Horse of movies. It looks like a harmless nostalgia trip, a pleasant joy ride you can take your six-year-old daughter to go enjoy, while leaving Dad to…whatever. Girls Afternoon Out or something. But it’s loaded with a political agenda, and also, it’s PG-13 for a reason. Dissenters shout in unison: Please don’t take your six-to-ten-year-old to see this movie! And they’re right. It looks like it would be appropriate. It’s not.

I tend to gravitate toward the simpler explanations. I think of movie-watching as something that can be deep, but by default, is not. The most successful movies are the ones that brought the honest and effective effort, where things are shallow. Sound effects. Music. Visuals. Oh, the visuals in Barbie; even the trailer is a visual treat for the eyes.

Margot Robbie has a rockin’ bod and a pretty face.

The women are all gorgeous. And they smile.

Here I am writing about what the Barbie movie did well…and by the standards imposed by our present times, I’m full-blown sexist.

Tatiana Maslany is a good looking woman too, but in She-Hulk she didn’t smile that much. She frowned. She whined and carped and complained and scolded and whined some more.

Ladies, you have to have a nice body and mix in some smiles with your whining. Even better, maybe think about skipping the whining because compared to men, women actually have it pretty good. But be pretty and do more smiling.

It’s timeless wisdom. It works.

My favorite part of the movie: When the Barbie dolls, conspiring to retake Barbieland after the Kens have taken it over and made it into Ken-land, knock the Ken dolls off their game by pretending to be interested in Ken things. “Explain Godfather to me,” one of them says, setting off an avalanche of male wisdom about the complexities in the film classic. That was hilarious. Made me wonder about the beautiful, intelligent women who have said exactly the same thing to me, in exactly the same words, initiating the same avalanche. Hmmmm…

My least favorite part of the movie was right after that one. The mature, capable Barbie dolls who are now bringing beer and chicken wings to the Ken dolls and saying nice things to them, who have obviously learned how to coexist with them, get abducted by the wounded, incomplete Barbie dolls who never learned how to do this. And then the wounded, incomplete, immature Barbies brainwash the mature, capable, complete Barbies who know how to share their lives with men. Inside a truck! They interrogate them and browbeat them into not getting along with men. Yes this really happens. It’s the exact opposite of the way things should work. We don’t want wounded incomplete people to have an influence on mature, whole, capable people. We want it to go the other way.

I’ve long said this is the true division between conservatives and liberals. So if you really want to think of this movie as deep, maybe you could come away thinking it’s saying what I’ve been saying. But it seems to be advocating for things to go in the wrong direction, with the blind leading the not-blind.

This is not an isolated occurrence. Now that “superhero movies” have morphed into just a billions-of-dollars way of growing whole crops of these B.I.T.s (Bitches In Training) among the very-young female set…I am not optimistic about the near future. Looks to me like doubling and tripling down on what didn’t work before back in my day. Identifying the pollution and manufacturing a whole lot more of it.

How bad is it getting? Feminists fear and loathe their own sons.

So [HuffPost writer/contributor Wendy Besel] Hahn was “thrilled” that the smash summer movie Barbie, which has drawn widespread criticism among many conservatives for its heavy-handed feminist messaging, gave her the opportunity to educate her son about “the patriarchal American society we live in today.” As a former English teacher, she wishes “all teachers would assign their students to watch ‘Barbie’ in place of summer reading selections like ‘The Grapes of Wrath.’” She need not worry about that –there are plenty of activist educators who would eagerly swap out great literature from our cultural heritage for feminist propaganda. Hahn unwittingly makes a great case for homeschooling.

Of all the pieces you can take away from the movie, the most important one, in my mind, is the one it seems no one is discussing: The primary arc of drama. Barbie-Land versus out here, the “real world.” Frankly, I found the “real world” in this movie, to be less representative of the real world I know, than Barbie-Land was. “Men run things” in this “real world.” You can tell because when Ken is in the real world, he sees a lobby conversation among men, and when this lady-intern barges in with her prattling nonsense expecting to interrupt them, the one speaking offers her a polite reprimand because there’s a conversation already taking place and she needs to wait her turn. That’s “patriarchy” and, supposedly, our “real world” is filled with it.

Not from what I’ve seen. Like many polite men, I’ve become accustomed to letting women talk whenever they want. Chicks like to talk. They get to interrupt. Guys interrupting girls, something I’m told is happening all the time, is generally regarded in polite circles about on par with guys hitting girls in the face. You get to do that to another guy. You’re not supposed to do that with females.

But in the real-world-within-the-movie, chicks need to wait their turn like everybody else who has something of a non-emergency nature to say. That’s “patriarchy.”

What confounds me, almost to the point of agitation, is this drama about “running things.” The movie is halfway over and at a low point, when men “run things” in Barbie-land. It has a happy ending when the women are restored to “running things.” More Rorschach test outcomes here. It seems fairly straightforward, to some, that this makes it an anti-man movie; things are bad when men “run things” and things are good when women “run things.” Solid case, right?

Here’s what I notice.

In my world, running things is not about status. It is not uplifting. It is a burden. When you run things, you depend on a sort of a dashboard of living, changing factors, and on a premise that your dashboard includes everything you need to know to make good decisions. That premise is wrong a whole lot more often than it’s right. In my world, uneasy lies the head that wears the crown. Running things comes with something we call responsibility, and it’s not pink or plastic or fun.

It is, at times, a raging pain in the ass.

If you really do want to take an eight-year-old in to see a movie about “running things,” of either gender, it would be good to get that across to them. It wouldn’t necessarily discourage them from seeking out responsibility in their later years, in fact it might clue them in on the fact that we’re suffering a shortage of people who really know what they’re doing. It would also offer them a reason to show better and greater respect to the authority figures in their lives right now.

And that’s the biggest bee in my bonnet about Barbie. You bring up “running things,” I immediately think about accountability. In my “real world” that’s what makes everything go, how it all works. In this movie that’s so obsessed with who’s “running things,” accountability is like the water coming out of Barbie’s shower head; it’s not there, and you’re not supposed to expect it to be there, because it’s a doll’s world that has no running water and no accountability. That’s a punchline.

The jokes are intended for, or are more appropriate for, adults. The life-lessons aren’t really good for anybody. They’re aimed at mental children. Female Peter Pans, trapped in virtual childhood, who aren’t interested in growing up, now or at any later time. They’re still stuck, for whatever reason, in that innocent and halcyon phase of a lost childhood, back when “being the boss” was pure prestige, and had yet to carry any potential for failure or any real responsibility. Yeah, Age Eight is about right for that, if not right for the homoerotic jokes.

So…they’re dumping their boyfriends over this? Good on you, lads. That’s a bullet you dodged.