Monthly Archives: January 2013

The Sailor, the Three Sisters, and Hope

A “reprint.”

ONCE upon a time, there was a shipwrecked sailor. He had been knocked out in the storm that sank his ship. He was lucky to wake up on the beach. But he had nothing. Not even his memories. He didn’t even know his name. His only possession aside from the clothes on his back, was a pet pelican. The pelican’s name was Hope.

The man subsisted on coconuts for a time, and then he decided he needed to explore the island that was his new home. After walking for a day and a night, he saw a modest little house next to a small wharf. In the house he found a friendly old man who liked to fish. The old man was kind enough to lend the sailor some of his gear, and his bait. The sailor loved fish after living on coconuts, and he and the old man became fast friends. Every day they’d go down to the end of the wharf, the old man, the sailor, and Hope the pelican.

The old man had three daughters. Their names were History, Logic and Rhetoric. One day, the old man announced he would like the sailor to be his son-in-law. Nobody knew too much about the old man’s finances, but he had put away a tidy sum, and thought it would be just enough to buy a new house. He would be pleased to offer it to the sailor as a dowry.

But one problem remained. Which daughter would the sailor marry? And so it was agreed he would date each one of the daughters, starting with the oldest, and working his way down to the youngest. That night, he spruced himself up just as well as he possibly could, and he, his pet pelican Hope, and the oldest daughter History went walking down the beach in the moonlight.

The sailor found History to be a very sensible lady. She had a decent, working memory and used it to great aplomb. However, the sailor noticed History had a strange relationship with his pet pelican Hope. Sometimes History was very kind to Hope. Othertimes…not so much. He wasn’t always sure if History had a problem with Hope, or whether Hope had a problem with History.

And so it came as a surprise to the sailor when History started to talk seriously about the future. She sensed his concern and asked him to excuse her…she got that way a lot of the time. It was a habit she formed after many long years of noticing most people didn’t think about the future very much.

History continued: “Have you heard of that new housing community on the far side of the island?” No, the sailor had never heard of it. “Taxcutland,” said History. “It’s a wonderful place to live. I know of many people who have bought their houses in Taxcutland, and it has always worked out well for them.” “Is that so?” said the sailor. “Absolutely,” she replied. “In all the time I’ve been around, I’ve never known it to work out poorly for anybody.”

The sailor tossed and turned that night, thinking about his date with History. She did seem to be a very sensible lady, and he got the impression he should pay more attention to her than he did. But her looks bothered him. Sometimes she looked pretty, othertimes rather homely. Occasionally, when the light hit her really wrong, she could be downright ugly. And then there was that thing with Hope the pelican.

The sailor decided he would start dating the middle sister, Logic.

Logic was even more sensible than her older sister, History. Like most middle-children, she had often been neglected in her childhood. In large crowds, when she was ignored completely, she tended to stay by herself and find ways to stay entertained, alone. Logic was most capable; she was able to do amazing things, whereas History had a tendency to leave things more or less exactly the way she found them.

In spite of her personal tendency to stay away from people, Logic seemed to be somewhat more experienced in dating than History. The only problem was, for some reason, men tired of her quickly. She was accustomed to rejection.

The sailor, being the practical type, was favorably impressed with all the things Logic could build. But again, one thing put him off: Logic had a sweet-and-sour relationship with his pet pelican Hope. It wasn’t bad all the time; sometimes Logic and Hope got along great. But when they didn’t, the tension ran high.

The sailor thought he’d try and talk about the future, with Logic, just to see what would happen.

“Your sister was telling me about a new housing community called Taxcutland.” “Oh, yes!” said Logic. “I know all about it! It only makes sense that the community is doing so well, you know; the people who live there are free to do as they like.”

Again, that night, the sailor tossed and turned, wondering what to do. He was intrigued by the possibilities involved in a future spent with logic. And she was beautiful in her own way. But there were many fun things he thought he might not be able to do with her. He got the impression she was a bit of a killjoy…and, again, there was that matter with his pet pelican Hope.

The sailor decided he would date the youngest sister, Rhetoric.

Rhetoric was different from her sisters — passionate, carefree, spirited, bubbly, vivacious. The girl never stopped talking! She raised the sailor’s spirits in a way no one had before. But best of all, the pet pelican Hope just loved Rhetoric. They got along wonderfully, ALL the time. He was especially pleased to see how often Rhetoric talked about the pelican. Sometimes it seemed she had nothing else on her mind…just Hope, Hope, Hope.

The sailor had one question on his mind: What would a future be like, in which he turned his back on History and Logic, and gave his devotion to Rhetoric? He decided to try and find out. “Have you heard of this housing community from your sisters?” “Oh, that dreadful Taxcutland,” sighed Rhetoric. “It’s a fool’s dream, you know. Tax cuts. Same old story…the rich get richer, and the poor get poorer.” “Well if you had your choice, where would you buy a house?” “Oh I have no question about that at all,” said Rhetoric. “Stimulusville, that’s the way to go! I just think, when you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody!”

The sailor had never heard of Stimulusville. But Rhetoric’s voice was so dulcet and sweet, if she liked it, he was sure it would be a fine place to live. He made up his mind. He would marry Rhetoric.

It was a wonderful wedding, the weather perfect for it. Hope the pelican served as ringbearer. The old man gave the sailor the dowry, as promised, in gold bars. And the sailor used it to buy a house in Stimulusville. He would pin all his dreams on this community, just as his new wife, Rhetoric, wanted him to.

The house in Stimulusville cost a lot more than the sailor thought. But he, Hope and Rhetoric were so happy, he figured it was worth it. Rhetoric told him to think of it as an investment.

But then the bloom wore off the rose. Stimulusville, it turned out, was leaking money pretty fast. Every year, it seemed the city council ran a serious budget deficit. They raised the taxes to cover it, but then all the businesses would pack up and leave — usually to Taxcutland.

The sailor’s taxes went up, and up, and up. Rhetoric would always say it made perfect sense — the money had to come from somewhere, and where else would the money come from? The city elders used the money for “stimulus” packages for chronic welfare queens, druggies, carjackers, perps, and other losers. Then they’d run their budget deficit, raise taxes, and drive more businesses out to Taxcutland.

Worst of all, his new wife Rhetoric seemed to be sleeping with every other guy in town. She was a flirtatious, precocious young lady, not at all unpleasing to the eye. Everyone liked hearing what Rhetoric had to say; she made a lot of friends, and there was no limit to how friendly she’d become with them. That was always the problem with Rhetoric; she never seemed to know where to stop with things.

Eventually, Rhetoric ran off. The sailor’s house, now mortgaged two and three times over, anchored him to Stimulusville for the rest of his life.

After a good cry, he realized he hadn’t seen or heard anything from his pet pelican in awhile. He searched all over the yard, and finally found the pelican, drowned, by the pond. His pet pelican Hope was dead. How he’d miss that pelican! He realized, he’d chosen his wife mostly out of concern for the pelican’s welfare, and that one single act seemed to have been exactly what killed it.

One day, a while after he buried his precious Hope, but not too long after, Logic came to his doorstep with a casserole. She heard he’d been having a tough time of it. He told her how much he missed her, how much he regretted turning his back on her. He should have bought a house in Taxcutland and married her. Logic agreed that was quite sensible. Why, she wanted to know, did he marry Rhetoric and move into this awful place? I don’t know, said the Sailor; it seemed to make good sense at the time.

No, Logic said; it didn’t, and you always knew that deep down. The sailor realized she was right.

You know, said Logic, nobody’s ever told you this, and you didn’t have too many chances to figure it out for yourself. But I disagree with my older sister almost as often as with my younger one. When you saw Logic and History both found the same plan appealing, that really should have told you everything you needed to know.

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Guns At School

From here.

So it seems that the good legislators of South Dakota have decided to take my advice – arm the teachers in the hopes of preventing another attack.

I was discussing this over at The Hello Kitty of Bloggin’ with a friend just now and decided to expand upon my thoughts there. A few quotes from the FoxNews article above caught my eye and I responded:

Supporters said school boards, particularly in rural areas where no law enforcement officers are stationed in school buildings, need the option of arming teachers, administrators or volunteers to protect against attacks like last month’s school shooting in Connecticut.

In some rural areas, the police can take up to 30 minutes to respond. A single assailant could mow down dozens of students in that period of time, as we saw in the Virginia Tech shooting. And the attacker doesn’t even need those dreaded “assault weapons” with those evil “high capacity magazines” in order to pull it off. Many of the stomach-turning headlines we’ve read recently, would have turned out very differently if someone had at the scene had drawn and put a round through the psycho’s black heart.

Opponents countered that arming teachers could make schools more dangerous because it could lead to accidental shootings and put guns in the hands of people who are trained to teach, not shoot people.

I don’t see why the two are mutually exclusive, personally. Seems to me we’re going to need people who can do both at the same time. Maybe these “opponents” haven’t turned on a TV newscast in awhile or browsed a news site online.

The bill’s main sponsor, Rep. Scott Craig, R-Rapid City, said the measure leaves it up to each school board to decide whether to train and arm teachers and others. Schools are now inviting targets for potential mass murderers because they are considered gun-free zones, he said.

“The possibility of an armed presence in any of our schools is a deterrent,” Craig said.

Yes. When is our society going to understand that “gun free” zones…aren’t, and that all they do is disarm the good guys? Does it even logically make sense that a bad guy would see a sign advising him he’s entering a “gun free” zone, then actually call off his attack? I suspect that even the advocates of these would simply tell you that it provides a means for the police to launch a pre-emptive strike, as it were…a pretext to arrest someone found “carrying” in such a place, without having to wait for him to actually draw and open fire. It’s much the same idea as anti-loitering laws or California’s new law banning open-carry of unloaded pistols (followed by another doing the same thing to rifles and shotguns). No one actually believes that bad people are deterred from violence by “gun free” zones. But there’s a real possibility they will be deterred by the promise of being shot by one of the teachers.

Another interesting aspect of this bill – the sponsor doesn’t want to mandate that schools arm their personnel – merely to give them the option of doing so. Isn’t it interesting that it’s usually the conservative who wants to give people choices, while it’s generally the liberal who wants to keep choice out of the picture and require that security be provided a certain way? Yet the Left assures us it’s the other way around.

Rep. Ray Ring, D-Vermillion, said he opposes arming school personnel because it’s more likely to lead to accidental shootings than to stopping attackers. He noted that associations representing local school boards, school administrators and teachers oppose the bill.

“Educators believe arming teachers and volunteers with minimal training will erode the learning environment without significantly improving security,” Ring said.

Yeah…you know what there, Sparky? You admit that it’s “associations representing local school boards, school administrators and teachers” who are against the idea. Did you ask the teachers themselves, or did you assume that the educators’ unions really do speak for everyone? I won’t even go into your pointless speculation that we’re going to have bullets flying hither and yon just because some of the teachers are packing. You gun-grabber types said the same damn thing when states started opening up concealed carry and it hasn’t happened.

Even if Rep. Ring is right, the bill merely extends districts this option under state law. It doesn’t force guns into schools. Yet there he goes again…arguing that “associations” oppose choice. That much I believe, actually, considering that they’re also usually against school choice, against parents having the choice to pull their kids out of class to avoid objectionable lesson material, and every other kind of choice except for, you know, that one kind of choice. The one that liberals always want to make sure is available to everyone for any reason at any time.

Supporters argued the bill would require that anyone taking part in a so-called School Sentinel program complete training that would be designed by the same commission that sets training standards for law enforcement officers. Local law enforcement agencies also would have to approve such a program, and school employees could not be forced to take part.

…thus demolishing the Democratic legislators’ (ostensible) primary objection: that guns are going to be put in the hands of teachers and other school personnel who aren’t trained to use them.

Do you think any of the opponents of the bill were listening when this was pointed out, or  were they too busy trying to score political points with their anti-gun voter base?

Rep. Steve Hickey, R-Sioux Falls, said arming school personnel in some districts is only part of an overall approach to school safety. Some schools need to make their entrances more secure, and more mental health counseling is needed for students, he said.

Come on…we can’t have government taking a comprehensive, common-sense approach to a problem like gun violence in schools, can we? Any fool knows we need a simplistic, one-size-fits all strategy, like disarming the law-abiding of their “assault weapons” equipped with “high-capacity magazines” that are “suitable only as weapons of war.” We can’t have legislators suggesting that the real problem is schools leaving their doors unlocked all day, or that something needs to be done about crazy people walking around the halls of these schools, not getting the help they need before it’s too late.

Actually, that addresses an important point – how many school shootings in the last few years have been perpetrated by some maniac who wandered in off the street…versus how many by a student who’d gone off the deep end, stolen his dad’s AR-15 or his mom’s .38 handgun, and exacted his revenge on those at school he deemed responsible for his misery? Maybe it’s time our society started getting a handle on collaring these ticking time-bombs before they explode…instead of simply trying to pre-emptively disarm everyone.

 Rep. Troy Heinert, D-Mission, said he doesn’t want his son in kindergarten to think about his teacher being armed.

“Doesn’t this bill blur the line between a teacher and a law enforcement officer?” Heinert said. “Do we want to tell our children the only way to be safe is to carry a gun?”

As a matter of fact amigo, I think that’s exactly the message we need to be sending to our kids. Maybe it’s time you learned what the rest of us already understand – that there’s ONE way to stop a bad guy who has a gun…and it isn’t with a “gun-free-zone” sign.

49 states with some form of concealed-carry, nearly forty of those with a shall-issue policy, and four more that don’t even require that much…gun crime is the same or down in pretty much all of them…and we still have people in our statehouses and in Congress saying things like this. I’m speechless.

Besides that, I happen to think that taking away the mystique surrounding firearms is one of the best ways of preventing gun misuse. Start showing kids early in childhood what firearms are. Teach kids age-appropriate things about them and when they’re the proper age, to handle one themselves.

That, and it’s also time people started figuring out that we’re all responsible for our own security. Any police officer will tell you that the cops simply can’t be everywhere at once.

Rep. Stace Nelson, R-Fulton, said educators are trusted to teach students, so they also can be trusted to protect students from harm. Nelson, a retired law enforcement officer, said teachers can be trained to handle guns safely and effectively.

Precisely. It’s always struck me as odd that the people charged with guaranteeing our kids’ safety, are usually denied the one means of doing so, of protecting them from attack. Some are going to argue that this move by the South Dakota legislature is going turn our schools into war zones, but I’d argue that we’re halfway there already.

And this gets me to another important point – while we’re discussing the wisdom of arming the teachers, why not take the opportunity to explain to the kids why we’re doing it?

My friend on FB jokingly asked, “Perhaps instead of teaching ‘gay tolerance’ we could teach gun safety in schools?” My response: “Feh…that’ll be the day. Next you’ll be telling me that schools are supposed to be teaching third graders to read.”

All kidding aside, he’s right – back in the day, educators weren’t afraid to teach students about firearms. Many of these kids were getting some instruction at home also, but in my opinion the kids definitely need something more than, “If you see a gun, don’t touch it, tell an adult.” Great, fine….but that advice doesn’t do anything to solve our problems with gun violence. It also doesn’t address the natural curiosity that children have about firearms. How many kids do you know that’ll actually obey this directive? When I was a kid, if I’d been told that, the very first thing I’d have done in that situation would be to go over and fool with it. And I’ll bet I’m not alone. That’s just how little boys are, and I doubt the girls are any better.

I’m in my late thirties and I spent the 1980s in elementary school. I was in sixth grade around the middle part of the decade. I remember during that school year, a man came to our school and took part of the school day, each day for a week or so, teaching us – gasp – hunter safety. Yeah! For real! In the mind of the school administration, it was a given that the kids in the class, at least the boys, were expected to want to go hunting at some point.

My hometown had around 25,000 people at that point and was surrounded on three sides by open terrain, some of which was public. Dozens of game species could be found within an hour’s drive of town. It was simply taken for granted that the kids in my class were going to run across firearms at one point or another (or at least want to run across them), so we might as well teach them how to handle one responsibly while pursuing our dinner out in the bush.

I’m involved with a gal who teaches the primary grades in a smaller town about 30-45 minutes from the neighborhood where I grew up…and she assures me that the hunting spirit is still alive and well there, even among the kids who are under 12 or so. It’s the same story at the high schools about an hour to the west, where there was a story last year about a sophomore who got himself in trouble when the principal found his shotgun in his truck after he’d gone duck hunting that morning. And this is California I’m talking about, not Montana or Mississippi!

I don’t know if hunter education is still going on in schools today – maybe in more rural areas, maybe not at my old elementary school – but I’m left asking “Why not?” Does it really do any good to teach our kids to be afraid of guns? I’m not suggesting that a five year old ought to be told to go pick up someone’s 9mm Glock and check to see if it’s loaded – that’s the job of the adult that the kid is supposed to go and find…but we’ve got an issue when kids that are twelve and fifteen are still hearing this advice.

In my blog posts here at Rotten Chestnuts, I’m going to keep hammering on this point – the guns AREN’T going away, no matter what laws the government passes. The solution, then, lies more toward accepting the fact that bad guys ARE armed and that won’t be changing…and from there understanding the need for gun education and for arming the good guys.

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A Question I’d Like to See Asked

David Stove — who, if we get to canonize people around here, I’d like to nominate as one of Rotten Chestnuts’ patron saints — diagnosed a common trick among his fellow philosophers.  He called it “the Meaning Argument.”  I can’t begin to do justice to his prose (or, unfortunately, quote him; The Plato Cult isn’t on Google Books) but it goes something like this:

Berkeley once said “there was a sound; that is, it was heard.”  Which we all know is false; trees do make a sound if they fall in the forest.  But if you want to get people on board with your philosophy, a little bit of this kind of anthropocentricity goes a long way — you can say “by X, we mean Y,” and as long as the Y is sufficiently anthropocentric, people will cast around for reasons to believe what you say, no matter how ridiculous your claim is.  Nobody ever does the only sensible thing, which is to say, “that is not what X means!”

The left does a lot of this kind of thing.  Have you noticed?

Take “rights,” a topic much in the news of late.  Have you ever heard anyone ask a leftist, “so just what is a right, anyway?”

Of course, if you did ask one, she’d immediately launch into the typical laundry list:  “Well, abortion is a right, and so is health care.  And contraception.  And a living wage.  And gay marriage, of course.  And…”  But if you asked her what rights actually are — where do they come from? how do we get them?  and how do we know? — it’s a million to one the question never even occurred to her.

Near as I can tell, the left believes “rights” emanate somehow from the ether, achieve some kind of jelly-like consistency by passing somewhere in the neighborhood of the media, and are finally made solid via Supreme Court rulings.  They’re essentially procedural — our rights are what the New York Times editorial board tells us they are, as soon as Anthony Kennedy agrees.

This is not to say that your typical conservative could slug it out in Latin with John Locke in a steel cage death match, either.  But the answer pretty much every conservative has ready to hand — “they come from the Constitution”– easily passes the “good enough for government work” standard, since the key feature of the American social contract is that the Constitution serves as our country’s operations manual.

Liberals want to claim this too, of course, but they run into PR problems almost immediately — it takes a subtler mind than I, the average American, possess to figure out how things that clearly are in there really aren’t in there, and how things that can’t be found anywhere near the document itself are in fact the cornerstone of the republic.  More importantly, they run into a philosophical problem:  The problem of origins.

The guys who wrote the Constitution were, to a man, believers in some sort of Higher Power (yes, inevitable angry atheist commenter, even Thomas Jefferson).  They traced their conception of natural rights back through Montesquieu and Locke, who attributed them, ultimately, to Nature, which to them derived directly from God, specifically the Christian God.  Which puts your average liberal in quite the dilemma:  If they don’t come from there, then the “rights” enshrined in the Constitution are either:

  • arbitrary (they’re what George Washington and James Madison decided they are);
  • irrelevant (they’re products of the society of our times; the right to free speech is no more relevant than the right to bear arms, since as modern guns aren’t muskets, modern speech isn’t via goose quill and town crier); or
  • entirely procedural (they’re whatever you can slip past the Supreme Court, whose authority is also — uh oh — either arbitrary, irrelevant, or entirely procedural, based as it is on the self-same Constitution)

Just once I’d like to see somebody press a liberal of consequence on some of these points.

Alas, I fear it’ll never happen. But I also fear I’ll be asking these kinds of questions here a lot, so I’ve invented a new category / acronym for them, QUILTS (QUestions I’d Like To See).  It’s ugly, but so’s the topic….


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A great many liberal arguments begin with the word “Ordinarily.” I do not mean to say they are actually worded in this way; what I mean is, to state the sentiment behind all that is said on the left side, you very often can…and, more often than not, will be forced to…adhere to the following template:

“Ordinarily, you are correct, we should [follow some rule that is common sense and non-partisan in nature, or damn well ought to be, but would not be friendly to their specific proposal here]…HOWEVER, we must consider…[statement of situation of community, or some sad-sacks within it, in order to arouse an emotional, and therefore non-reasoning, response]…therefore, in this isolated case, we must [deviation from rule, which involves investing power in one class of people over some other class of people].”

A lot of their positions, both foreign-policy and domestic, follow this. Ordinarily, for example, yes of course we cannot expect greater harmony to endure among the races if they do not go through life playing by the same rules. However, we must consider the history these people had to go through. Therefore, we must confer special rights on them.

Notice the triumvirate: Ordinarily, however, therefore. Notice, also, that the “therefore” completely contradicts, as opposed to satisfying, the concern acknowledged under the “ordinarily.” This is significant: The “however” did not come up with some exceptional situation at work here that would mollify or obviate the concern; it didn’t even come close to doing that. The whole triangle is a cow-catcher argument, of “just don’t worry about it, m’kay?” that just nudges the concern off to the side, before trudging onward. Forward!

We see that with our favorite discussion of climate change: Ordinarily, yes, climate science is more concerned with the present state of things, than with identifying future predictions, and it darn sure well falls short of saying what policy changes we need to make. However, climate calamity blah blah blah endangered species blah blah blah life as we know it blah blah blah. Therefore, we must raise taxes on energy, give lots of power to the United Nations, and call it “science” even though we know it isn’t.

Ordinarily, you’re right we should expect a student at a prestigious Georgetown law school to pay for her own personal upkeep items; however, war on women. Therefore, yes, students who have been strangely afforded educational opportunities that were never available to you, should be spared from the personal expense you yourself have always had to meet, and we’re going to whine and cry on their behalf until it works that way as if some BasicHumanRight has been denied to them.

Ordinarily, if we’re going to claim to follow the Constitution, we’d be obliged to follow it…however, when they ratified that Second Amendment they just had muskets & stuff, besides of which those Founding Fathers were just a bunch of powdered-wig-wearing slave-owners who pooped in buckets…therefore, we’re going to have to make an exception here. An exception that involves our “leaders” protecting themselves and their families with guns, while you’re not allowed to do the same.

Ordinarily, we should feel great resentment for having to live within our means while our government doesn’t have to, however…fiscal cliff. Therefore — what was that you were saying about everyone else having to live within their means? I forget.

Ordinarily, we should support our allies and Israel is supposed to be an ally. However, Palestinian babies being carpet bombed, besides of which, we should be deeply ashamed of our own history, therefore

Ordinarily, yes if we want the economy to get better, the first step toward that would be to make it alright for people to make money. However, so-and-so made such-and-such money last year and only paid this much…therefore

The list goes on and on. It isn’t much of an exaggeration to say that most, perhaps all, liberal arguments follow this. In fact, liberalism itself follows the template. Ordinarily, yes if we want to make the decision well, we should endeavor to make it logically rather than emotionally, howevertherefore

Liberalism is the ideology of darkness, because it stands alone, divided from reasoned centrists as well as conservatives, in declaring information to be a contaminant. It regards its audience to be better informed if it has never been told things harmful to the liberal agenda in the first place (as opposed to, hearing of the antagonistic argument, and then being informed of some reasoned rebuttal). This is just another way to censor the information, to distract from it. As anyone knows who’s bothered to trek out of town, onto a hilltop, to go look at the stars — light itself can pollute the visual experience, become a distraction against the effort of detecting other light. That’s exactly how this works. The “however” is like one of those phosphorus bombs The Batman throws down when the cops, or the crooks, are closing in and he has to make his hasty getaway. That’s the maneuver. ++POOF++, and, uh where’d-he-go??

Cross-posted at House of Eratosthenes.

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39.2 Percent of Statistics are Made Up

Let’s try an experiment. Say I argued as follows:

Since 1970, both the number of female pharmacy students and the number of home runs per season in major league baseball have gone up every single year.  It’s obvious that the increased good karma from greater female participation in a STEM field has upped the number of home runs in baseball.  In fact, you can mathematically model the karma-caused correlation between the two, and thus I can predict with complete confidence that a player will hit 84 home runs in the season in which females comprise 62% of the American pharm-school population, which will be 2019.

Pretty silly, no?  But give me a fedora with one of those “Press” cards tucked in the band and I bet you I can get lots of people believing it.

For instance, how many times have you seen a newspaper story like this:

The Pharm Team

for baseball fans, a surpisingly pink link

LONDON (AP) — For Elmer Jerkins, this might be the year his beloved Atlanta Braves win the pennant.

His daughter just got accepted to Johns Hopkins pharmacy school.

To most it sounds farfetched.  But some scientists aren’t so skeptical.  The link between female participation in pharmacy school and the number of home runs in major league baseball — jokingly called “karma-ceuticals” by some — doesn’t sound so crazy to Dr. Lloyd Pennyfelcher, Chief of Complicated Surgery at London’s elite Squidmere-upon-Redbush General Hospital.

“Do I think ladies in pharm school affects home runs in American ‘base-ball’?”  Pennyfelcher mused.  “And do I believe that karmic credit is behind it all?”  Scratching his well-manicured goatee, he slowly replied “Well, I suppose it’s not completely impossible.”

Pennyfelcher, 53, graduated summa cum laude from Oxford in 1984….

There are reporters at the New York Times who make a living on this kind of thing.  And from there it’s easy.  You start with the weekend puff pieces:

Down on the Pharm

Brattelboro, North Carolina — Tyler Stehr-Royd, a handsome, muscular blonde with a winning smile, spends a lot of time thinking about pharmacy school.

Not because he plans on attending.  At nineteen, Stehr-Royd is the first round draft pick of the Atlanta Braves, and he currently plays right field for the Brattelboro Beekeepers, the Braves’ Carolina League affiliate.  A highly touted power hitter, “Ty-phoon,” as his teammates call him, hopes the current uptick in female enrollment at the pre-pharmacy program at Brattleboro Community College heralds great things for his professional career.

“Have you heard about this ‘karma-ceutical’ thing?” he asks, after knocking yet another longball over the fence at the team’s afternoon batting practice.  “Yeah, some doctor at like Oxford or something figured it out.  The more chicks that go into pharmacy school, the more homers we hit in the majors.”

Once you hit the op-ed pages, you’ve arrived:

Stop Pharming Our Daughters!

by Jane Sun Moon Wyatt-Earp-Tyndall-Smythe, Professor of Women’s Studies, Shrike College

Critics of America’s sports-industrial complex are by now painfully aware of so-called “karma-ceuticals,” the scientifically established link between female participation in pharmacy programs and home run production in major league baseball.  So well known is it, in fact, that Major League Baseball, a multi-billion dollar citadel of patriarchial values, has teamed with several so-called “institues of higher learning” to establish the Barry Bonds Memorial Chair in Gendered Pharmacology at my beloved Shrike College.

How can we, as concerned feminists, allow our daughters to be recruited into any field, especially a putatively “scientific” one, simply to help an already exceedingly rich organization squeeze yet one more dollar out of the laboring poor?  The histories of exploitation and baseball date from the game’s creation….

It’s just that easy.  Once you get a story or two in the paper — just enough to give it that all-important political twist — you’ll have people vehemently defending your theory for you.

But c’mon, I hear you saying.  Surely the American people aren’t that dumb?

Wanna bet, Sparky?  Behold the wonderful lunacy of the Fox Butterfield Effect:

“The Butterfield Effect” is named in honor of ace New York Times crime reporter Fox Butterfield, the intrepid analyst responsible for such brilliantly headlined stories as “More Inmates, Despite Drop In Crime,” and “Number in Prison Grows Despite Crime Reduction,” not to mention the poetic 1997 header, “Crime Keeps on Falling, but Prisons Keep on Filling.”

Fox Butterfield, a veteran reporter of thirty years, doesn’t have the first concept of cause and effect.  Fox Butterfield has a Pulitzer Prize.

From there it’s simply a matter of endless question-begging and assertion, like so.  You say karma ins’t a real thing?  Then how else do you explain both the uptick in female pharmacy enrollment and the increase in longballs?  Oh, it’s just a coincidence, is it?  Correlation doesn’t prove causation and all that?  Well it’s not our fault you won’t look at the data.  What data?  Well, there’s Baseball America, and The Chronicle of Higher Education, and….

What do you mean those don’t prove anything?  Why won’t you look at the data?  And yes, you’re correct that smaller park sizes and better athlete conditioning account for a lot of the uptick in home runs.  But those are just two of the effects of good karma.  They’re the signature of good karma, you might say, at least in a baseball context…

What do you mean that still has nothing to do with karma, which doesn’t exist?  Again:  how else do you explain the increase in female enrollment and the increase in home runs?  We can agree, surely, that there were more home runs hit in 1992 than in 1982?  And more homers hit in 1982 than 1972?  These are facts; you can’t just hand-wave them away by claiming I’m pulling this stuff out of my ass. You’re obviously against women in pharmacy school for some reason, but that doesn’t eliminate those pesky findings!  Baby steps….

And so on.  And you know I’m right, because this blog has been thoroughly peer-reviewed.

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Diversity Über Alles: Putting Women In Combat

I like diversity. Without it, my life would be one boring continuous slog through sameness. I love trying different foods, meeting different people, seeing different scenery, and enjoying different experiences. But this diversity obtains because I desire it — there is no need for some bureaucrat to mandate it into my life. True diversity comes from the freedom to choose the best. In my professional life, I have worked with and befriended team members from Korea, Japan, China, Hong Kong, India, Pakistan, Ireland, France, Italy, Turkey, Hungary, England, Syria, Jordan, Israel, Canada, and from all over the United States. These talented men and women were picked because they excelled in their chosen profession, not because of their looks or background. And because the companies I worked for wanted to pick the best people for the job, the natural outcome was a wide diversity of people, ideas and backgrounds. It was freedom, not the soft-racist cry for diversity at all costs, which made this outcome possible. And the companies were better off for having hired the best, not for filling some mandated quota.

That’s not how liberals see it, however. They believe diversity should be an end in itself. A hoary old chestnut of American liberalism is “Diversity is our strength.” Is that so? In my experience, it works the opposite way. When we look primarily for strength — the will and ability to accomplish the task at hand — diversity will be a natural side benefit. But when diversity is championed as the primary goal, it’s strength that suffers.

Don’t believe me? Well, let’s see what happens when filling quotas becomes more important than seeking out excellence. Let’s look at the police force of Dayton, Ohio.

The city’s Civil Service Board and the U.S. Department of Justice have agreed on a lower passing score for the police recruit exam after it was rejected because not enough blacks passed the exam.

Dayton has decided it is no longer seeking the best recruits for its police force; it’s more important for the police to look racially diverse. To fulfill this mandate, it decided to lower its standards, which means that less-qualified people are getting police jobs in Dayton. The quest for diversity for its own sake has resulted in lower-quality police officers. Diversity is our strength? Not in Dayton’s police force, it’s not.

This brings me to the main thrust of my article: the recent decision by the U.S. military to allow women into combat roles. I see this as another quest for diversity for its own sake, at the cost of getting the best soldiers for combat situations.

Lisa Benson - Women in Combat

It’s often said that the primary purpose of the military is to kill people and break things. As a former military brat, I’d expand that saying: everything the military does should
fall under the rubric of its primary purpose. Whenever the military is asked to do something that reduces its ability to fulfill its primary purpose, the military should turn down that task. But since the American military is under the control of elected officials, it can easily fall prey to social experimentation and liberal do-goodery, such as putting women into combat.

In a scene from the cult film Joe vs. the Volcano, Joe’s boss Mr. Waturi asks repeatedly in a phone conversation, “I know he can get the job, but can he do the job?” Replace “he” with “she” and you have the key question to ask about placing women in combat roles. For the most part, women are neither as big nor as muscular as men. This means that women wanting to fill combat positions, where strength and endurance are key to survival, will be at a marked disadvantage from the beginning. If I were an army private wounded in combat, I would want my squad mate to be strong enough to toss me over one shoulder and run me out of danger. I wouldn’t care whether my mate’s first name were Sam or Samantha; I’m focused solely on the end result. But the likelihood of a Samantha being able to execute that life-saving task is far less than it is for a Sam.

“But Captain, there are strong women who can pass the physical requirements.” Sure, there are some very fit women who can pass the requirements, but they are the exception, not the rule. And I’ll bet you dollars to donuts that when the desired number of women fail to meet the physical requirements for military service, the number-crunchers’ first instinct will be to lower the requirements, just the way it was done in Dayton. End result: fewer prepared combat troops and more casualties in battle. How is this a good thing again?

Gary Varvel - Women in Combat

There is also the question of unit cohesion and behavior of the troops during combat. John Luddy wrote the following for the Heritage Foundation back in July 27, 1994:

History shows that the presence of women has had a devastating impact on the effectiveness of men in battle. For example, it is a common misperception that Israel allows women in combat units. In fact, women have been barred from combat in Israel since 1950, when a review of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War showed how harmful their presence could be. The study revealed that men tried to protect and assist women rather than continue their attack. As a result, they not only put their own lives in greater danger, but also jeopardized the survival of the entire unit. The study further revealed that unit morale was damaged when men saw women killed and maimed on the battlefield.

Ignoring the lessons learned from 1948, Israel decided in 2000 to put women back into active combat roles. My response echoes that of Mr. Waturi: I know she can get the job, but can she do the job? Time will tell, but hopefully not at a high cost in blood and lives.

“Diversity is our strength,” liberals like to claim. But when they value diversity more than strength — more than human life — the end result is often weakness, and it can have a terrible cost. That’s what happened to the police force in Dayton, Ohio, and it’s what happens each time liberals push for diversity for its own sake. In the end, liberals prove Quinn’s First Law to be in full effect: Liberalism always generates the exact opposite of its stated intent.

Cross-posted at The Captain’s Comments

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Alinsky #12 in Action


It has come to my attention that the 12,000 number often cited for gun homicides is, in fact, after all, actually excluding gun suicides. I knew over half were suicides, but the 12,000 number was the only number I’d seen until a claim I saw in the newspaper a couple of days ago of ~30,000.  I researched it, that number appears to be the correct ballpark figure.  I stand corrected. In my further research, I also found that of the total ~30,000 average gun deaths in the US, ~18,000 are suicides.  It still stands that of the remaining 12,000, about 70% are gang related, leaving ~3,600 non-gang related shootings, or about 1.12 per 100,000.   And it still stands that the number of those 12,000 committed with any rifles, assault or no, is on the order of 400.  “Assault rifles” aren’t the problem.

There is a concerted effort going on, right now — in your local & national newspapers, on your TV news, and in social media to defame, blame, and marginalize the National Rifle Association for the U.S.’s relatively high homicide rate compared to select other countries.

I’ve seen editorials comparing the NRA to the KKK, to the Nazis, I’ve seen cartoons depicting the NRA as holding guns to children’s heads (while calling The Obama’s children “brats”), and of actually shooting a person (lablelled as “Reasonable” Gun Control. Message:  You should be afraid of these crazy people — they’ll shoot at the slightest provocation!) and several like this one claiming that gun-rights “radicals” took over the group in the 1970’s.  Of course, none of this depicts anything the NRA is doing with any honesty.  They are everywhere. It’s Alinsky Rule #12, in action, on queue.

#12 “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it. Cut off the support network and isolate the target from sympathy.”

This is exactly what is going on here, and the truth doesn’t matter (which is right out of Alinsky as well). The people currently in control of the Democratic Party are intimately familiar with the man and his tactics, his philosophy. Hillary even wrote a college thesis on the man (“Why did you mislead the American people?”   “What difference does it make?”). None of this is any coincidence.  It is to manipulate the publics’ emotions for however large a step they can take toward outlawing the law-abiding citizen’s access to effective defense against criminals and tyrants.

A NY Post article from Jan 11 was brought to my attention today, a rather suspicious sounding story of a supposed “gun enthusiast” and why he gave up his guns.  In it, he depicts NRA members as egotists who dream of dressing up and acting out their own Rambo movies, and compares apples to oranges (a common tactic) beteween number of gun homicides in the U.S. (34 per day) and Japan (11 per day) to show us all how effective outlawing guns can be.  He says:

“For an organization that blames America’s gun crisis on violent movies, the NRA in particular seems deeply committed to cultivating the notion that we can all be the stars of our own personal action flicks.”

Bullsh*t. The NRA is about responsible gun ownership, which includes responsible gun use. Half those 34 “homicides” a day are suicides, (self-homicide by choice) bringing your number down to 17 per day. Considering that Japan has less than half the population of the United States, we’re looking pretty good by that point.

Then 70% of the remaining 17 are committed by gangs, usually against other gang members. This is an unfortunate cultural difference between the U.S. and Japan (which has never had a high gun homicide rate). Those 17 homicides a day are not committed by NRA members. The people who commit the crimes are responsible for the crimes they commit. Not the NRA.

He then relates a story about how he actually deterred an intruder simply by racking his pump shotgun (see, it works!  And you usually don’t have to shoot!)  But then he  relates with a Hawkeye Pierciean agony how he then was moved to sickness and revulsion as he ended up vomiting over the idea of killing another human being.  Hell he didn’t even point the thing at him! How different would he feel if he had no shotgun,  and the intruder came in, tied them both up, raped his girlfriend right in front of him, robbed them, and perhaps finished them off so there would be no witnesses?

“I got my opportunity to play hero. Not in fantasy, but in real life, the chance to flex my finger with three pounds of pressure and shoot another human being dead in my driveway because he wanted to steal my TV. Right after we moved, I sold all my guns. I never wanted to put myself in that position again.”

He’s an idiot then. You are not allowed to use lethal force to prevent theft. The only time you’re allowed to use it is when you feel life or serious bodily harm is threatened. You can get the gun out, but you do not point it at anyone until an actual threat presents itself. During this kind of theft, you can sit there and hold the gun and demand they cease (without pointing it at them) and call the cops (without pointing it at them) and take excellent mental notes so that you can be an excellent witness — these are the kinds of things NRA members would know.

Infringing my right as a law-abiding citizen to effectively protect myself and my family from those who would harm us is morally wrong and unconstitutional.

To paraphrase another favorite liberal chant, “If you don’t like guns, don’t buy one.”

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The Zachriel are representative of a new experience: Liberals who have taken the time to study the material to some depth. Granted, they have done this only to mimic what they’ve read, toward the laudable goal of winning arguments; which, in the case of climate change, unless you personally have access to some satellites or weather balloons, that’s generally about all you can do.

But the “sparring” with this group-construct entity has become far less an inspection of climate science, than an inspection into the “science” of how liberals do their arguing. I’m picking up the vibe that for those of us involved in the dialogue, that is the allure. I’m also picking up the vibe that The Zachriel are fully aware of this. I’m also picking up the vibe that they couldn’t possibly care less about it…and, I’m willing to entertain the notion that they are making a parallel study of how conservatives think.

As libs, they typically behave atypically, which has the side effect that they atypically behave typically. And so this makes for an occasional observation to be made about discussions that take place with other libs, who are not The Zachriel. Today’s hey-I-just-noticed moment concerns the word “valid.”

For all The Zachriel understands about climate research, they have repeatedly had to be reminded of what the current conversation is supposed to be discussing. I suppose it would be more accurate to say, they have repeatedly had to be reminded that they are not succeeding in distracting from the original and true focus. When that happens, a pattern emerges in which the word “valid” is used.

For example, they have lately been trying to sell us on the validity of Appeal to Authority, a well-known logical fallacy:

Consider a claim, X. Someone cites a valid appeal to authority supporting X. Your saying authority can be wrong does not undermine the support. It’s implicit that authority can be wrong, but they are more likely right than not when speaking to a consensus within their own, valid field of study.

An appeal to authority is valid when

* The cited authority has sufficient expertise.
* The authority is making a statement within their area of expertise.
* The area of expertise is a valid field of study.
* There is adequate agreement among authorities in the field.
* There is no evidence of undue bias.

The proper argument against a valid appeal to authority is to the evidence.

This is not entirely wrong; in fact, it’s a constructive exercise to undertake with regard to a great many fallacies, which are fallacious when certain conditions are unmet. Stating the conditions is not a bad thing at all. But one is left with the question: With what are we left, once they have been so met?

“Valid,” I notice, is practically meaningless here — I mean, the “valid” by the appeal to authority, not the “valid” by field of study. With all five bullets met, the claim may have merit and it may not. And with some of the bullets not met, the claim may have merit and it may not. So you have a situation with some of the bullets missing, you have essentially the same situations with all of them filled in. Uh, why are we doing this again?

Oh yeah. To make it “valid.”

I’m reminded of an exchange we had a week ago. Morgan:

[Quoting the Z:] Merely pointing to “outlook” is scientifically meaningless. You have to show that the bias is affecting the science.

Um…”You have to show such-and-such”…in order to…what, exactly? There’s an implication here of some task being attempted and potentially achieved, the achievement of which would be an objective determination not dependent on any intelligent observer’s feelings, preconceived notions or biases. Like dunking someone in a tank by throwing a softball at a paddle.

I interpose that with the five W’s and I see an explosion, much like what one sees when one drops a Menthos in Diet Coke.

– What would be the task attempted, here?
– How do we know when it has been achieved?
– Who arbitrates this?
– What other criteria are there for getting this done?
– Where are they written down?

The Zachriel:

To provide valid support for a scientific claim.


Unless I’ve lost track, [Captain Midnight] was actually challenging a scientific claim, not providing support for an alternative one.

Those are two different things.

The Zachriel:

He’s saying the scientists have misinterpreted the data, or rather forced the data to fit their models, which “are the object of veneration that all data must bow before.” That requires understanding the studies in question.

See the subtle shift? We are no longer responding to CM’s inquiry. We are now making an inspection into whether he understands the studies, and failing the presentation of any compelling evidence one way or the other, we are presuming toward the negative. The liberals’ favorite, and default, configuration. It reminds me a little bit of the protesters back in the day, receiving their training in how to be “dead weight,” to make it as difficult as possible for the authorities to haul them away from the protests.

I am reminded, as well, of the timeless joke about history:

The two most important events in all of history were the invention of beer and the invention of the wheel. The wheel was invented to get man to the beer. These were the foundation of modern civilization and together were the catalyst for the splitting of humanity into two distinct subgroups:

1. Liberals; and
2. Conservatives.

Once beer was discovered, it required grain and that was the beginning of agriculture. Neither the glass bottle nor aluminum can were invented yet, so while our early humans were sitting around waiting for them to be invented, they just stayed close to the brewery. That’s how villages were formed.

Some men spent their days tracking and killing animals to B-B-Q at night while they were drinking beer. This was the beginning of what is known as the Conservative movement.

Other men who were weaker and less skilled at hunting learned to live off the conservatives by showing up for the nightly B-B-Q’s and doing the sewing, fetching, and hair dressing. This was the beginning of the Liberal movement.

Some of these liberal men eventually evolved into women. The rest became known as girliemen.
Liberals produce little or nothing. They like to govern the producers and decide what to do with the production. Liberals believe Europeans are more enlightened than Americans. That is why most of the liberals remained in Europe when conservatives were coming to America. They crept in after the Wild West was tamed and created a business of trying to get more for nothing.

It’s great humor, because it’s so obviously a lot of bologna…in some places. And yet, it explains so much that is left mysterious, or at least unexplained, by the “true” version.

Somewhere, there is a version that points out that when the liberals showed up for the B-B-Q, their “contribution” was to make a bunch of rules about who-should-get-how-much meat that the conservatives had managed to catch. And that brings me to the word “valid.” I asked, “‘You have to show such-and-such’…in order to…what, exactly?” And I was told this was all necessary to “provide valid support for a scientific claim.” I pointed out that this was a distortion of the discussion, which it was, so I never did get a better answer to my question than that.

This, too, is a favored and default configuration for liberal arguing: “I’ve come up with some rules you have to meet”…in order to, uh, make it “valid.” The problem is that the “it” could be nothing more than good, common-sense skepticism, some old-school “I don’t think I’m quite ready to believe that yet.” Somehow, the rules still apply.

Liberals claim a monopoly on the privilege of saying, from one moment to the next, what is “valid.” This is an extension of “govern[ing] the producers and decid[ing] what to do with the production.” In this sense, they are simply following through on that first night at the B-B-Q, when they made their contribution: Some rules! This guy should eat more, that guy should eat less, you’ve had enough…

A few months ago, my family had a bit of a crisis when it was discovered one of our older relatives had been accepting phone calls from a real estate crook, who hoodwinked him into sending off a check to some fly-by-night outfit out in Florida. This is a common problem. You take those shysters who call these senior citizens…couple it up with a habit of saying “it isn’t valid for you to be asking me that” whenever an oldster shows some healthy skepticism that isn’t welcome…put those things together, and you have a liberal.

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The Stuff Liberals Worry About

Isn’t it funny what liberals worry about?

Over at Morgan’s place, for instance, the Thread that Wouldn’t Die was active up to just a few days ago, and there are several other threads on broadly similar topics being “debated” (read: “an attempted threadjacking by the same group of monomaniacs”) as we speak.

But let’s assume for a sec that Global Warming Cooling Climate Change Weather is a real thing that’s going to go down exactly as the Alwarmists say it will.  Here we run into the interesting issue of timing.  Because if they’re right about Global Weather, and everybody else is right about industrial engineering, we’re screwed anyway — even if we appoint a World Climate Dictator with the power to make sweeping, draconian changes with the stroke of a pen and the requisite police powers to back it up, the kinds of changes the Alwarmists say are our only hope will take a decade or more to come online, by which point, the Alwarmists claim, it’s already to late.

Don’t worry; this isn’t yet another post about how Global Weather is all politicized bullshit.  That’s just a good jumping-off point for some observations:

Just as a matter of probability, we’re overdue for some kind of pandemic, don’t you think?  There hasn’t been one since the Spanish Influenza immediately following World War I, which killed more people than the war itself.  In fact, when’s the last time you’ve heard of a good old-fashioned plague hitting anywhere in the world?

Liberals are blithely unconcerned about this.  They’ve never met a government program they didn’t like, but when’s the last time you’ve heard some lefty wailing that the CDC is underfunded?  Head Start is always some specific dollar figure underwater, with catastrophic consequences for our future economy, but your average leftist couldn’t guess the CDC’s budget to within a few billion, much less what it actually does.  Even the one candidate for our generation’s pandemic, AIDS, doesn’t cost Our Betters a minute’s sleep… except when it’s George W. Bush pushing for more aid to Africa, of course, when it’s yet another dastardly example of neoconservative neoimperialism.

And it’s not like we haven’t had scares in the past.  Remember the Avian Flu?  SARS?  Even weaponized anthrax in the wake of the 9/11 attacks didn’t get their juices flowing much.  If one liberal made more than a token reference to the CDC’s budget, I didn’t hear it.

And then there’s the matter of loose nuclear material.  Pharaoh Barack made some mention of this the other day, that a government shutdown perpetrated by those dastardly Republicans would result in our loose-nuke-chasers not getting their paychecks.  Which is a concern, I’ll admit.  But what’s more concerning by far is loose nukes in other parts of the world, where the only Republicans to be seen are the Republican Guards.

Here again, Our Betters are blithely unconcerned.  But let’s assume that against all evidence Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is a level-headed, reasonable fellow, who just needs a touch of that ol’ Benghazi magic from the State Department to see the light.  There are lots of other groups out there salivating to get their paws on a nuke, the kinds of folks that even the die-hardest tie-dyed arms-are-for-hugging types would admit don’t have America’s best interests at heart….

Which makes tighter port security seem like a no-brainer, even if your sole concern is politics.  Democrats are quite rightly seen as soft on defense; tightening up the ports would be a PR boon.  It’s an expanded government program, of course, and since the docks are completely unionized and the TSA is a federal gig, that’s umpteen zillion more tax dollars straight to the Dems’ core constituency.  Successes are Dem successes; anything nasty that gets through is the result of under-funding, Republican-caused of course.  Why not do this?

I can only think of five reasons:

1. They don’t really think these are concerns.  I don’t spend much time worrying about them either, to be honest, but I’m a private citizen with a blog that about three people read…. and which guarantees my unelectability to any office higher than dogcatcher.  I can’t believe that the president’s security briefing says nothing about biological hazards.  Ever heard of clostridium dificile?  And unlike Global Weather, you can show the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria without juking the stats or drumming contrary evidence out of the “peer review” process.  So I hope that isn’t it.

2.  They impugn the liberal worldview.  Liberals impute near-mystical powers to the government.  Open any newspaper nowadays, for instance, or click onto any liberal blog, and you’ll find that the solution to “gun violence” is the government banning “assault weapons.”  Yes, just like that; one executive order from His Holiness and nobody in America will ever again die from a gunshot (except those fired at innocent minorities by vicious racist cops, of course).  But not even the hardest-core Obamaton will claim — publicly, at least — that the President can actually heal the sick.  Germs will get through; witness this year’s flu shot.  Similarly, any bad stuff caught at the border will have a port of origin, and of course the mere presence of bad stuff is indisputable proof that not everybody likes us, despite our good sense at electing Barack Obama and Elizabeth Warren to high office.  And Republicans might use this as an excuse to agitate for more war.  But given the palace guard media’s great success at un-reporting bomb plots, rapes, and whatnot from the Occupy crowd, I’d think the reward would be worth the relatively minor risk.

3.  They make causal connections too obvious.  Let’s say we catch a suitcase nuke at the port of New Jersey, or successfully contain an outbreak of super-flu that’s currently devastating some other part of the world.  These are good things, of course, and liberals could rightfully claim a large part of the credit for them.  Except:  Wouldn’t this argue for tightening up our borders even further?  After all, that stuff came from somewhere, and it’s not bloody likely the nuke-smugglers were Mr. and Mrs. Frank Smith of Indianapolis.  A successful plague stoppage would prove, moreover, that tight border security is not only desirable, but possible.  Which cuts the entire liberal argument about illegals off at the knees.

4.  They entail too much American sovereignty.  Looking at all the various Global Weather threads, I’m starting to think this is about half the problem.  You never see liberals worrying about isolated problems, do you?  Or if you do — like, say Darfur — you never see them suggesting that America alone could solve the problem.  You know what would really settle Darfur’s hash, for instance?  The First Marine Division.  Or consider George W. Bush’s much-maligned foray into AIDS activism, PEPFAR.  It saved, or at least prolonged, millions of lives, as the Washington Post actually acknowledged.  In 2012.

Back when G-Dub was actually in office, the story was, shall we say, a bit more nuanced.  Here‘s one, for instance, bashing the Bush administration for wanting AIDS organizations receiving US funds to condemn prostitution.  And here’s one that mentions Bush’s handouts, but only on page three of an article titled “Spread of AIDS in Africa Is Outpacing Treatment.”  And here‘s one from 2006 sharply critiquing the “ABC” plan — abstinence, being faithful, condom use — like so:

The studies’ results have something for everyone, and are not likely to end debate over whether ABC represents a balanced message of proven value or heavy-handed moralism out of touch with the reality of youth, Africa and gender inequality.

Typical media bias, you’d say, and of course you’d be right, but in this case the bias is much more revealing than the typical “Bush bad!” knee jerks.  Because here’s a program doing exactly what liberals wanted, funded in the liberal-satisfying billions, that actually worked from the get-go and only got more successful as time went on.  And yet it was entirely an American show…. which may be why the Obama administration has been allowed to quietly gut the entire thing, with hardly a peep from the media (that’s one op-ed in the New York Times and an equivocal piece in Time magazine, in case you’re keeping score).

Isn’t that weird?

5.  They don’t allow Our Betters enough scope for monkeying with our daily lives.  Most of us aren’t longshoremen or TSA employees, and short of washing our hands when we cough, there’s not much your average American can do about either loose nukes or super flu.  When it comes to Global Weather, though, there’s just scads of stuff Al Gore can’t wait to ban:  Lightbulbs that work.  Flush toilets.  Air conditioners.  The internal combustion engine.  We’re constantly hectored to unplug electronics, even though that doesn’t measurably save power.  And recycle, even though that’s often worse for the environment (and costs way more to boot).  Or to fill up our cars with ethanol, which, when you take the corn-growing and refining process into account, actually causes more pollution per gallon than gasoline.  If you just looked at the Global Weather crowd’s prescriptions, in fact, you’d be forced to conclude that “regulations seemingly designed only to fuck with us” outnumber “obviously effective environmental measures” by about fifty to one.

And that’s what they get all worked up about, not port security or biohazards.  Odd, no?

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Information as a Contaminant

Not sure the motives involved. They are probably scattered in all sorts of directions. But this has been a theme we’ve heard more and more in the last couple decades or so: Everyone is now dumber for having heard that. I’m sure a lot of it is the comedy value, some of it is cool and chic hipster apathy-about-everything, which overlaps with the phobia felt by our detailphobes against the idea of ever studying anything down to any depth, or caring about anything up to some level of passion.

The theme, condensed, is this: So toxic is some bit of information, that one is the wiser for never having heard of it.

This is a liberal theme. Liberal, as in the modern, statist, never-met-a-tax-or-law-I-didn’t-like version of that word.

It has taken me considerably longer to make up my mind about the second of those two immediately-preceding things, compared to the first. Real life, where such things are concerned, tends to work like a Venn diagram: Two sets overlap, forming an intersection of samples claiming membership in both sets. And then there are samples claiming membership in one but not the other, and vice-versa; finally, there are other samples outside the union, claiming membership in neither one. I have been confused by some episodes, not completely infrequent, of self-identified conservatives throwing up their hands and yelling “Bah! I don’t want to read such stuff!” This makes the Venn-diagram idea seem like the most, and perhaps the only, accurate representation of what’s going on. In fact, in the age of Obama it happens several times a week that Our First Holy Emperor President gives His latest super-duper-awesome-wonderful speech, and conservatives everywhere throw up their hands and yell “Bah!” and make a big show of not wanting to hear it. They think they are wiser for never having absorbed the information.

The problem that comes up for the Venn Diagram idea is, well, maybe that is the case. One certainly is wiser for having the humility to proclaim “while I may take some pride in my ability to keep it all straight and not be distracted, I do have my limits.” And is it at all unreasonable to infer that when President Obama wishes to address us, His goal is to distract? Were that not the case, His speeches would occasionally contain remarkable, quotable things, would they not? They would not roll out like new carpeting or butcher paper, with each square foot entirely indistinguishable from the square foot to its front, back, left or right. As one of my Facebook peeps put it (paraphrasing): “No, I didn’t watch the 2nd-inaugural speech. I have already heard an Obama speech.”

So information sometimes is a contaminant, if it is measured by quantity and not by quality, designed and deployed for the purpose to distract, to such an extent that it becomes a weapon. There are other ways it could be a contaminant. It could be a falsehood, of course. Now, that one doesn’t fly with me quite so much. As I explained before,

Given the choice between a sound knowledge base of verifiable & verified factual information, and the ability to think logically, I would choose the latter.

If I have a good understanding of how to figure out what a fact means, but my head is crammed chock full of silly “factoids” that aren’t really true even though they may be repeated by others verbatim, I should be able to ultimately determine some of these conflict irreconcilably with others. From there, I should be able to figure out which ones are suspect and, eventually, which ones should be questioned, and then reconsidered.

If I have a good solid repository of verified fact, but I don’t know how to figure out what these facts are really telling me, I might as well have nothing.

Fact is merely foundation. You can’t live in a foundation.

So — if it’s false, then learn it anyway, lock stock and barrel. Then go verify it. This is the age of the Internet, for cryin’ out loud. So no, I’m not in this camp. You can’t be wiser for having refused to hear something. There is no way you can come out ahead on that.

I am more-or-less entirely confused with this Phil Mickelson episode, which can only be described, to my great annoyance and continued confusion, in passive-voice: It is felt by someone, somewhere, that righteous umbrage was to be taken against the golfer for merely expressing an intent for exodus from California because of the tax situation. Because nobody seems to have the testicular fortitude to come along and put their verifiable name next to the statement “Yup, that’s me, I’m all ticked off that he said that,” we are left fumbling around in the dark trying to figure out what line has been crossed, or even where it is. Tax evasion is clearly not the issue. Did Mickelson cause offense by merely wanting to leave the state, or by going on the record saying so? What’s the rule? The former is only natural. The latter would be an example of information being a contaminant: He can think what he wants to think, pine away for another state as he likes to pine away…wince and squirm and shiver and wretch or whatever when he gets his latest tax bill. Just don’t say anything about it. Because somebody’s upset now!

I believe this is a liberal trait, because, and only because: Should a reluctance to “sit and take it” appear in Phil Mickelson’s economic class, this would be a major, major fallibility in the real-life application of “tax the rich” theory. I said “if.” So this is not a conservative or liberal understanding, it’s something that simply is. We’ve seen this played out repeatedly, perhaps hundreds of times, the city or county or state realizes that its coffers are dry and it’s seriously in the red — conservatives say, cut spending and make a more business-friendly environment; and liberals say, no just raise taxes on the rich. Conservatives come back and say, you do that and those rich people will leave the state. Liberals say no they won’t.

The taxes are raised, the rich people leave the state, and the problem ends up being bigger than it was the prior year.

At this point, I’m not applying a definition to the liberals insofar as their love for bigger spending and higher & more progressive taxes. I’m calling them out for their inability to learn from experience. For their almost institutionalized procedures and processes to avoid learning. Here, as well as with other issues, we see symmetry up to a point. Both conservatives and liberals claim a monopoly on certain knowledge, of which they charge their antagonists with the crime of remaining ignorant, at the expense of the community as a whole. The conservatives claim to understand higher taxes motivate rich people to leave the state, resulting in lower revenues. For the liberals, I suppose it would be that industrial activity is causing the planet to warm and this will cause some sort of natural catastrophe. Each claims to understand something, to be engaged in a frustrating process of explaining it to their ideological opposites, and that those other people across the net simply don’t understand. So there is symmetry up to a point.

Because there is symmetry, we can compare behaviors. After we compare the behaviors, we see the symmetry has tapered off. We discover an event horizon, after which the two sides are behaving differently.

Every single self-identifying conservative I know, at the very least understands what is being said about climate change. Oh they may get some of the details wrong, but they’re hip to the argument in the general sense. This is, I think, because the whole conservative way of thinking has to do with getting work done and preventing disasters. If they think things are a certain way but there’s a “hitch in the giddyap” about it, they’re going to want to know what that is. When I’m at the firing line, and there’s a cartridge in the pipe of my “empty” pistol that I don’t think is in there, of course I’m going to want to know that it is there. Even though, if I follow all the other safety procedures, nothing bad should come of it, and I intend to do that. Doesn’t matter. I want to know what’s going on with that gun, it’s in the rules. If I’m heading down the freeway in my pickup and I think the load is tied down, but it isn’t, I’m going to want to know all about that. So — I have an idea of what’s going on. I’m very sure. But if I’m wrong, I want to know I’m wrong.

What difference does it make?Liberals do not work that way. That’s what I’m learning from this. Where conservatives build their repositories of inferential information through an additive process, liberals work according to a subtractive one. You know what is a good analogy, coming to me from my professional endeavors: Definition of color, through light, versus definition of color through pigment. You’ve heard that green is a composite color “built” by combining blue and yellow; perhaps you’ve been confused to learn that yellow is a composite color, achieved by combining primary colors green with red. That has to do with light versus pigments. See how it changes everything around? This is why conservatives and liberals often talk past each other; two different worlds. With the subtractive process of pigmenting and inking and painting, if you mix all the pigments together, eventually you get black, because this pigment process is a filtration process. It is subtractive. That is how liberals deal with facts and knowledge. Another analogy: The old thing about how you make a statue of a horse. Some famous sculptor said something like “you start with a block of marble, and you chisel away everything that doesn’t look like a horse.” A subtractive process, and a perfect illustration of how liberals get to the answer they want, by “carving away” anything that doesn’t look like it. They start with the block, and they go carving…”What Difference Does It Make”-ing…through everything that doesn’t look like what they want.

And here, you’d heard so much out of them about how much more open-minded they are compared to the knuckle-dragging conservatives. The truth, as usual, is more-or-less the polar opposite of what they told you. It has to be that way, because they “accumulate” their knowledge by blocking it out, just like finger-paints make white into green by blocking out what isn’t green.

And so we see that liberals have done something strange and unusual with the Mickelson thing, something entirely unique to themselves. In this never-ending back-and-forth about “can we raise taxes on the rich and economically forecast them to just sit and take it, so we can pay back this money we’ve been blowing”…they have made it a bad thing to even mention the problem with the logic. This is not an isolated case at all. We see exactly the same situation with information about unborn babies; when do they develop fingernails, eyelashes, heartbeats, how do they move around. And when do these things happen. It creates problems for the liberal position that says it’s okay to abort, and of necessity must involve an entirely unique way of looking at human beings, and the life they live if they are allowed to live it. Because it creates problems, they’ll do what they can to avoid the information, and bludgeon others away from doing anything to proliferate it.

It has been explained to me that Mickelson makes more money from endorsements than he does from golfing, and one must be ideologically neutral when one is in that business. This explains nothing that was not clear before. But it does create a new understanding, in the sense that the liberals become connected to a situation, to which they were not connected before. The doctrine of “No matter how sure I am about it, if any evidence comes along to indicate I’m wrong, I want to know that right away” is now a political thing. Conservatives support it and liberals reject it.

If I have this right, it goes a long way in explaining why libs are so proud of not watching Fox News, and why they don’t want anyone else watching it either. They are getting to the answer they want, by way of a subtractive process. Like finger-painting, or carving the horse. Get rid of anything that doesn’t fit. Filter it out. “What difference does it make” — it away. Chisel it off, by essentially saying: I’m not paying attention to it, and you shouldn’t be paying attention to it either. Go on, sift through your memories and your archives, you’ll find every left-wing argument falls into that pattern. I do not recognize that bothersome tidbit of unwanted information. You shouldn’t be recognizing it either. A subtractive process.

Conservatives and liberals fight about tax policy — and liberals are “offended,” passively demanding an apology, from someone who merely provided (honest!) evidence for the thing that is ostensibly wrong with their plan? No, I don’t think conservatives do this; if they do, then they aren’t really conservatives. It is the cartridge loaded into the pipe. The conservative mode of thinking, an enlightened and additive process, by its very nature, demands that you should know what is wrong with your perception of what’s going on. Resolve this question right now, while the opportunity exists to correct whatever might be in need of correction, before someone gets hurt. Liberals do not believe in this. They do their “thinking” by forgetting. And they do not want to know anything about these things they have chosen to forget.

After all, what difference does it make?

Cross-posted at House of Eratosthenes and Right Wing News.

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