Feeding the Ether

Went up into the hills yesterday with a friend of mine, to go hiking and make some far away inanimate objects dance around, by way of burning gunpowder. Great fun. Turns out, there’s a big bright round thing up in the sky and that might have something to do with why there are shadows and stuff. As we were walking along chit-chatting about this and that, we hit on the observation that some of the Internet-arguing people, the left-wingers debating non-debatable things endlessly under cutesy pseudonyms, flinging accusations around, moving goalposts, engaging all sorts of nonsense hyperbole and logical fallacies — they often act like this whole thing is, for them, some sort of a gig. They show all the surface-level passion of a car salesman in a teevee commercial. And I think you know what I mean by that: He acts more animated in delivering his message than a “true believer” would show in delivering his — you can tell he’s getting paid, or hoping to get paid.

Amateurs behave differently. They at least consider good, hard evidence that might upset their views. If someone is really and truly concerned about gun violence killing people, and their proffered solution is gun control, they may not ultimately accept or approve of the clear and obvious rebuttal, “Oh, like Chicago?” But that should at least slow them down a bit. My friend was getting frustrated because he was able to recall when the liberals put up bad citations, he had the citation of some other work that clearly proved the other one was faulty, fraudulent, a study made in bad faith, or some such; and, a little later in the comment thread, the lib would put up the same link all over again, as if he hadn’t dealt with that, like the earlier exchange never happened. Such frustrating behavior might very well be the work of an amateur, but it doesn’t seem likely. It certainly doesn’t reflect the characteristics of someone who’s truly concerned about the problem being discussed. And, it is exactly what you’d expect out of someone being paid.

We already have people who vote for a living. Could it be we have large number of people who argue on the Internet for a living?

I can recall when that was a very silly question to ask. Nowadays, there’s been a shift, I think, and we need to seriously consider it. Lord knows, it’s gotten much tougher to get a “real” job under Barack Obama, and there is a perceptible increase in strange, weird activities representative of the swelling ranks of people who, ya know, gotta pay the bills somehow. Registering the home phone with donotcall.gov doesn’t seem to do a bit of good anymore, you just get the same dinnertime phone calls from companies conducting “surveys.” I’ve occasionally been tempted to ask the person on the other end what the terms of their employment are. Truth be told though, that conversation so rarely happens because when I take the time to pick up the handset and say hello, and hear some machine whirring away or clicking or whatever to connect me to some other human who couldn’t manage to actually dial me, I hang up immediately. It’s a great feeling. But it would be better to skip the whole stupid exercise.

I digress, though.

Are these teeming multitudes of “gotta pay the bills somehow” people being recruited by liberal activist organizations to argue on the Internet, hmmmm. I haven’t seen anything that would create an actual problem for the theory. And for the things already seen, it’s a bit tough to come up with some alternative explanations. The Internet-arguing lefty says, here is a study that says X; my buddy says, here is the study that proves your study is a sham; a dozen comments go by, over the next day or two, and the lefty puts up here-is-the-study-that-says-X all over again like the earlier exchange never took place. Frustrating, maddening, and downright weird. If it isn’t paid trolling, it looks like brain damage.

One alternative explanation has the virtue of being simpler. Simple explanations are valuable. They deserve our attention, and maybe they even merit a friendly bias. The simpler explanation is the one we have always been assuming: People who are passionate about something, just don’t listen very well.

By way of explanation, and perhaps making good use of the earlier digression: I recall a certain older male relative who received one of these phone calls from a real estate “firm” of questionable repute, who called him up and got him all excited about a house-flipping opportunity out in the crumbling suburbs of Detroit. There followed a flurry of hasty long-distance family-conference, during which time my brother and I endeavored to shake him from this. Boy, was it ever tough. My brother then took an interesting tack on the whole thing, conceding the point that going into house flipping was the RIGHT thing to do, since the senior relative wanted to do it so badly, but then outlining the steps that should be followed if this is to be done right. The oldster, surprisingly, conceded back that this plan made all sorts of good sense. But then continued to chatter away excitedly about the shysters who called him.

This intrigued me as much as it perplexed me. I spoke to him about it some more and directly inquired: Why is it, exactly, that we’re hoping for good results from following a bad process? Doesn’t it make better sense to hope for good results from a good process?

That stopped him, and made him think. For a moment or two.

Then, he continued to chatter away excitedly about the shysters. Some more.

This is Confirmation Bias.

A series of experiments in the 1960s suggested that people are biased toward confirming their existing beliefs. Later work re-interpreted these results as a tendency to test ideas in a one-sided way, focusing on one possibility and ignoring alternatives. In certain situations, this tendency can bias people’s conclusions. Explanations for the observed biases include wishful thinking and the limited human capacity to process information. Another explanation is that people show confirmation bias because they are weighing up the costs of being wrong, rather than investigating in a neutral, scientific way.

Confirmation biases contribute to overconfidence in personal beliefs and can maintain or strengthen beliefs in the face of contrary evidence. Poor decisions due to these biases have been found in political and organizational contexts.
Experiments have found repeatedly that people tend to test hypotheses in a one-sided way, by searching for evidence consistent with their current hypothesis. Rather than searching through all the relevant evidence, they phrase questions to receive an affirmative answer that supports their hypothesis. They look for the consequences that they would expect if their hypothesis were true, rather than what would happen if it were false. For example, someone using yes/no questions to find a number he or she suspects to be the number 3 might ask, “Is it an odd number?” People prefer this type of question, called a “positive test”, even when a negative test such as “Is it an even number?” would yield the exact same information.

I have noticed something over the years about confirmation bias, that might go a long way toward explaining the Internet behavior. Confirmation bias has a tendency to be LOUD. Ever notice that?

People who fall for this and start to engage the poor decision-making that results from it, seem to be a lot more interested in the confirmation than in the bias. They don’t want to do it all by themselves. They want to socialize their poor decisions. From watching how all this goes down, I’ve often formed the impression that there is real, and perhaps measurable, confirming going on here. The subject is perhaps 60% certain of the proposition before talking about it with others, and 80% to 90% certain of it afterward, even if no actual supporting evidence has been provided. For examples of this, I don’t have to think back too far or recall too much: As I drove home from the excursion, I passed one of those idiotic atheism billboards that said “‘Tis the season to apply reason” or some such. There. That right there is what I’m describing. Proselytizing a lack of belief. What’s it cost to rent a billboard? How does this emerge as a good decision, even if you have all the money in the world? Aren’t your resources still limited? Why do this? Seriously. Stupid.

A genuine and respectable atheist wouldn’t give a fig.

Humans have a way of welcoming confirmation bias, of working hard to make it happen to us. We all have an inclination, I think, to treat our own endorsements of something before audiences of familiars or strangers, as if it’s hard evidence. Blogging provides an enormous temptation toward doing that, by the very nature of the exercise. You have to work hard, with pretty much every paragraph, asking yourself “Waitaminnit, how do I know this is true?” The answer that comes easiest — few will admit it, but this is universally true — is: It must be true, I just wrote it down, and heck the whole Internet can see it! That, obviously, is faulty thinking right there. But you have to work to stay out of it, to not be sucked in.

No one is immune. And of course, it’s always fun and entertaining to point it out in the other side. But no greater harm in doing it, contrasted with not doing it. These things should be corrected. “Sayin’ so don’t make it so,” when someone just talks out their ass about the Tea Party being full of trigger-happy weirdos or something similarly slanderous and uninformed.

We’re all here by accident and there is no God? Sayin’ so don’t make it so.

The point to all this is: These people — assuming they are NOT being paid — are engaging in an ancient social pastime. They seem to inwardly know that their comments are not intended to observe the state of an object, quite so much as to change the state of an object. This is learned behavior from early on. You see it in classrooms of little kids arriving at a consensus about something; If some of the more charismatic ones happen to have their minds made up earlier than the majority, for whatever reason, they are very often heard using their “outside voices” inside. They are building a skill, which some of us are missing I notice. The skill of deciding and measuring things, that can be decided or measured only by way of including the human element.

Some everyday examples of this:

  • Where this emerging consensus is going;
  • Whether the decor in this room makes it delightful/cheerful;
  • Whether a newly discovered political figure has “charisma,” or as it is commonly phrased, “is the real deal”;
  • Whether a baby is beautiful, or ugly;
  • Whether the dance performance was worth a 10.0;
  • How to interpret an ambiguously worded test question, like “one hundred and one over five eighths”;
  • He’s a jerk (pass-fail assessment);
  • …but he’s an even bigger one (relative assessment);
  • He does, or doesn’t, “need” that money he has;
  • Joe Biden won that debate.

You go see a movie with a group of people, and one among you might say: “That actor really nailed the part, didn’t he?” The truth no one wants to acknowledge is that the “didn’t he?” is more important than the preceding statement. This is someone welcoming, on top of practicing, the exercise of confirmation bias. Actively seeking to have the bias confirmed. The question implicitly acknowledges the possibility that the actor didn’t really do that well. It grudgingly allows for this, in the sense that it seeks to eliminate it. There’s no point trying to eliminate something that isn’t actually there.

You can see the conflict, everyday, if you only take the time to look. As fewer and fewer people think Obama is a good president, the bullying-narrative that He is the greatest ever, has become more forceful. More intense. Any day now the healthcare.gov site is going to be working wonderfully…it’s said over and over, although there’s no evidence supporting this at all.

Matters to be decided in that bulleted-list up above, share common characteristics and these are worth some serious thought. They are testable, it could be said; it could even be said the tests are reproducible. If a hundred randomly selected people all agree that a room is tastefully and pleasingly decorated or that a baby is beautiful, you can go pick out an additional two or three participants and they’ll probably agree. What distinguishes them from the harder and firmer stuff, like “what is 2 + 2?” is that the human element is required.

Some of these squish-ball questions work very hard at masquerading as something objectively measurable. “Mitt Romney doesn’t need all that money” comes off sounding like an assessment has been made of what the Romney family “needs,” and either the income or the net worth has been mechanically and coldly assessed at something far above this. That is the implied sales job. We all know that is not the case, and that is not what is being expressed.

I have occasionally commented, to the surprise of some people I know, that if Autism was as trendy when I was a kid as it is now, I’d be diagnosed for sure. I don’t follow it up with a “wouldn’t I?” because there’s no confirmation bias taking place there, you’ll have to take my word for that. I’m absolutely sure of it. Of all the things that are different between a middle-age Morgan and a school-age Morgan, one thing that has remained absolutely consistent is my poor performance on written tests, even on tests confined to subjects on which my conceptual understanding is complete and strong. Even achieving total command, best I can do is about 70% at the end of it because I keep running into idiotic stupid questions like this one…and, responding much the same way as this so-called autistic kid:

You see, when the biggest part of answering the question is resolving the conundrum of “What did the test designer really mean to say?” — well, ya know, that’s a problem.

But we have a much bigger problem than that, in our society. We are conflating these squishy questions with firmer questions. We are essentially intermixing questions that cannot be resolved…read that as, cannot be resolved without including the human element, questions that require the engagement of confirmation bias in order to be answered at all…with questions that rely on objectively measurable truth. We are making an everyday habit out of mistaking the former for the latter.

It’s only impacting those of us who never learned how to socialize our poorest decisions, never learned how to acquire and ingrain a sense of certainty about them. A sense of certainty that, it should be noted, never belonged there in the first place. Only we notice it, because only we have any reason to. And we’re not only being outvoted on this matter. We’re being diagnosed with learning disabilities that don’t actually exist, at least, not in the way they’re being portrayed.

The loud majority is fortunate…I guess they are. They get to run around saying risible, silly things like “the science is settled on climate change.” What they are doing is something they’ve been doing for a very long time, since back in those school days where, when the group is asked a question…the heads swivel left, then the heads swivel right. Everyone knows whether or not to put their hands up, after they’ve had a couple moments to check and see what everyone else is doing. They are affecting the state of an object while deluding themselves, and others, into thinking they’re just reading it. That object is ethereal and omnipresent — everywhere, surrounding us all, binding us together. It’s almost mystic. And they’ve managed to achieve some weird symbiotic relationship with it. “The actor really nailed the part, didn’t he?” feeds this ethereal object surrounding us and binding us together. They tell the ether what to think. And the ether rewards them by confirming their certainty, and in so doing, sustaining and nourishing them.

After a lifetime on the outside looking in, I’m still confused about whether I should feel jealous or not.

Their answers are always “right.” Until they’re not…and then, as we see in some examples of group-thinking error, like the “Obama’s gonna fix our health care” thing for example…they become not only estranged from reality, but resentful of it as well. The traumatic collision between theory and reality is airbrushed out of the recent history; it never happened. Anybody who brings it up is demoted to pariah status. Needs to leave. It is “futile to discuss” the matter with such people………….isn’t it?

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

Pre-Halloween Festival

Wisdom from my Hello Kitty of Blogging account:

I’d like to take this opportunity to propose a new holiday, a pre-Halloween holiday. I’m proposing a week-to-ten-day-long festival called “Get all the people who hate fun out of the way (they don’t want to be involved anyhow).” Or something.

Frumpy housewives who want to start tongue-clucking because the womens’ costumes are too slutty. Religious zealots fretting away because of the “occult” overtones. Liberals who want the kids collecting the most candy, to share it with the other kids who didn’t bother to go out. March them all into a great big, I dunno…big ol’ pumpkin or something. Seal it shut.

Let’s get something straight: Whatever else might have happened in its history, in modern times Halloween is the first big fun thing to happen after school opens up. It teaches — reminds — kids to enjoy the passage of time. This is important. It’s true they get plenty enough fun & relaxation during summer…maybe too much…if you want to start bitching about that, I’m in your corner. Halloween tells them, you get a good solid block of work done FIRST, then we start stretching into the holidays, and you start to think about blending the fun with the work. This is something you need to know how to do when you grow up. And let’s face it, the grown-ups need a chance to bust loose too.

Yes, of course you can disagree. Just get your ass in that pumpkin, and see you in ten.

I’m inspired by, among many other things, this

In the latest example of small-mindedness plaguing our educational system, schools around the country are attempting to ban costumes and candy on what is surely one of most kids’ favorite days of the year. The excuses range from vague concerns about “safety” to specific worries about food allergies to—get this—fears of breaching the wall of separation between church and state.

Fun HalloweenBut whatever the motivation, the end result is the same as what Charlie Brown used to get every time he went trick-or-treating: a big old rock in the candy bag. What sort of lesson are we teaching our kids when we ban even a tiny, sugar-coated break in their daily grind? Mostly that we are a society that is so scared of its own shadow that we can’t even enjoy ourselves anymore. We live in fear of what might be called the killjoy’s veto, where any complaint is enough to destroy even the least objectionable fun. [emphasis mine]

I think what bugs me more than anything else is that this is one of the last vestiges of the “neighborhood.” I don’t mean that in the physical sense. We have all sorts of neighborhoods. Trouble is, it’s becoming rare that anybody knows the first names or the last names of whoever’s living a hundred fifty feet away…or five hundred feet away…I’m concerned that they don’t have any reason to. I’m concerned that they have all sorts of reasons not to.

Everyone loves to brag about respecting “diversity.” Here’s the trick: Without intimacy, diversity’s easy. When it’s just that funny family down at the end of the block who moved in last year, of course you don’t care about their country of origin or whether they speak English. Heck, are they still there? Oh, so it might be credibly pondered that you’re all burning the same oxygen with your lungs. How courageous of you.

The more years I see come and go, the more amazed I am that the people who insist we “all come together to get things done” and that we give up our profits, liberties and personal ambitions “for the greater good,” are the ones plagued with the lion’s share of human-interaction handicaps. They say it is an impermissible manifestation of religiosity they can’t handle, but the truth is they can’t handle any dialogue or social configuration outside of their very narrow confine of the tolerable: “I tell people what to do and then they go do it.” That, or “I tell people to knock something off, and they must stop even if they’d rather not.” Besides those two things, anything else is out of their league.

Test it sometime. Do something truly sociable that puts everyone on equal footing. These people will be missing from it. The same people will always be missing, every time.

The truth of the matter is, that having real fun takes balls. No, I shouldn’t say that; a lot of women know how to have fun. Let’s say it takes a thick hide. One of the tragedies of our modern society is, the people with thin skins get to tell the people with thick skins how they’re supposed to live, work, learn and recreate. We’re not all getting an equal say here, and because of the dissipation of natural threats against our species, or society has turned into an Idiocracy. It’s the shrikes who are calling the shots now. The bossies. The knuckle-whackers. See, the eerie-prophecy movie didn’t quite call that one: We’ve started to crave taboos, invent new taboos, meaningless taboos that have no history and serve no purpose, just so we can shush each other. Like the article said: “Any complaint is enough to destroy even the least objectionable fun.”

In fact, I’ll bet a pillowcase of Milk Duds that if we could go back in time and review the true history of Halloween — not what’s been preserved for us, but the real thing, right down to the most arcane details — we’d find out it had something to do with fixing exactly that sort of problem: The thin-skinned people running everything. Perhaps not at the earliest origins, but somewhere along the way. Something to do with throwing off questionable taboos, celebrating the completion of a whole lot of work, or cutting loose with one last festivity before hunkering down for a suffocating and tough winter. Perhaps, making a point of knocking back a few with friends, relatives and neighbors, being unsure of whether they’d make it to the spring thaw? Kind of a “see you on the flip-side”? Makes sense to me…

So off with you, shrikes, strutting martinets, zealots, killjoys, seacows and scolds. Into the big pumpkin you go. I exorcise you like the evil spirits you are. See you on November 1.

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

The Fail

As I get older, I notice my observations about things — on some level — become, paradoxically, simpler. Perhaps this comes from OO design methodology. You remember the classic XYZ Corporation example: Salespeople have regions and make flat salaries, commissions and bonuses; but before they are instantiated as salespeople objects, they are employees, and as such have employee numbers and seniority dates. At the next level up, they are U.S. citizens and have Social Security numbers, then they are human beings with heights, weights, genders and dates-of-birth. The point is that one learns to look for the common attributes. It is a skill as well as a habit, and one is never finished fully developing it.

Now, how long have I been studying modern liberalism. It was impossible to ignore which side was right & which side was wrong during the Ford/Carter/Reagan years. My interest in the whole thing waned sharply during Reagan’s second term, along with everybody else’s I think, and I was entirely apolitical by the time Bush and Quayle were sworn in. Bill Clinton fixed that for good. First time I saw a photo-op of him in a school classroom babbling away about a whole lot of nothing, realizing this was our next President of the United States, I formed more-or-less the realizations I have right now: We are in the middle of a culture-clash about superficiality. The central issue involves what you might say is the proper response to snake-oil salesmen selling bad products, who sound good. And have already managed to convince “everybody” else. With scare-quotes around “everybody,” since what is meant by that is the illusion of everybody. That faction which has managed to erect a veneer of unanimity. Managed to dominate the conversation.

After that, the forces in my personal evolution have consisted of merely more nudging, mostly gentle but occasionally jarring, in the common direction. I found out the woman I divorced before Clinton came along, was a passionate democrat, and realized how much money I’d have saved if I simply took the time to figure this out sooner. Then came the shutdown and the Lewinsky scandal, both of which proved that there is an aristocracy of charisma in our superficial society, filled with lovable bumpkins who can get away with pretty much everything, things that would destroy you or me in an instant, and there are teeming throngs of adoring airhead fans who think that’s just wonderful. Then came the Florida election debacle, during which our liberals became much nastier, and the 9/11 attacks. Throughout all of this I have spent much more energy studying modern liberalism for one reason: It’s been proven to me that I have to.

Liberals are just like a roaring house fire. I have other things I have to get done that don’t have anything to do with studying liberals. But, at the same time, if I attend to those things and ignore the liberals, they’ll flare up and fucking consume whatever I manage to put together anyway. And, I’m picking up the vibe, generally, that I’m not alone in this. Those of us who build things, or want to build things, are conflicted. There is only so much time in the day, and we can spend a lot of it ignoring the liberals — but if we never pay attention to the damage they’re doing, they’ll destroy all our stuff and everything we manage to get done will be for nothing.

Which brings me to a realization already familiar to me. Futility. Perhaps it is not merely an effect of modern liberalism; perhaps it is the goal.

I am entertaining the notion, as I have before, that it is all about failure.

Modern liberals live on a wholly separate planet, strewn across its entire surface with opposite-thinking. They think they’ve managed to salvage our nation’s credit-worthiness, by selling the idea that debt doesn’t & shouldn’t matter. For those who have trouble buying into that, our Vice President once famously said we have to spend more money to keep from going bankrupt. If our country has a problem with ignorance because it doesn’t do enough listening, the people to whom our friends the liberals think we should do more listening are the…children. There it is again, see: The inexperienced are to be seen as experienced, and vice-versa. The ranks of the leftists seem to be disproportionately swollen with the presence of asshole-makers, those who treat nice people as if they were mean people, and mean people as if they were nice. The climate-change scam has now managed to achieve ninety-five percent certainty even though the predictions are wrong. ObamaCare is evidently their idea of great legislation. Hillary Clinton is evidently their idea of a smart woman. They’re constantly braying that the Tea Party is by its very nature stupid, intransigent, unreasonable and kooky, although the core message of the TP is really nothing more than “maybe we should try not to rack up so much debt.” Sarah Palin still scares them and they still hate her, even though she resigned and went home just like they wanted her to do, and she isn’t forcing anyone to buy strange creepy new insurance policies from a crappy website that’s never up. They think the national parks should be locked down. They think our country’s borders should not be. When President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid went on record to say they would refuse to negotiate during the shutdown, they strangely concluded that the Republicans in Congress must therefore be “holding the country hostage,” and should bear all the responsibility for the shutdown. They’re constantly in a state of fret that some sort of life-staple they demand from the government is going to be disrupted in its supply, and this apprehension of theirs seems genuine…their solution to this is always to have the government manage more things. They sanction discriminatory practices, in fact, insist on them at every turn, and they call this “equality.” Planet Liberal seems to be going through a “global warming” of its very own, of sorts, from which there is no terrestrial escape — of opposite-ness. Pole to pole, all around the equator, continent to continent and sea to sea. Everything is perceived by the vocal intelligentsia as the exact opposite of what it truly is.

To all of this we can add what may be the highest base abstract superclass: Victory is to be treated as failure, and failure is to be treated as victory. President Obama sucks, they admit, but they support Him anyway. If someone comes along to counsel or nudge toward success, they react with rage; the simpler the counseling, the hotter the rage. They seem to need, and want, and appreciate having, thin waists and fat wallets just like the rest of us. It is the dispensation of true wisdom that might lead to such desirable outcomes that really cheeses ‘em off.

Think of: Two men come across undiscovered land, stake their claims, and get busy building their houses before the cold winter rolls in. One man succeeds at this and the other fails. Normal people like you and me might say, the man who succeeded at exactly the same problem in exactly the same conditions, using the same tools, with the same supplies at his disposal, might have some good information to share with the man who failed. Not so to our friends the liberals, from the opposite-ravaged planet. To them, “true” wisdom comes from the sad sack who had to move in to his friend’s abode for the winter. What really matters is “what it’s like” for him; there may be some information in the universe somewhere that’s still relevant, but this is the first-and-foremost, most important thing. And among those who need to pull up a chair and listen endlessly, the one guy who most urgently needs to receive the information about how it feels to be a loser, is the guy who managed to get it done. He has the most to learn. He should listen, listen and listen some more to the endless caterwauling about the despair, the cold, the rain, the embarrassment, the dependency, how awful it all is…and then he should pay higher taxes for his friend who has to be on the dole now. Maybe they can dismantle that fancy house, then one guy can live under the roof and the other one can have the walls.

And this is true with every domestic policy they have to offer. Haven’t you noticed? Those who have managed to produce the things we all want, need to shut up, pay their taxes, and stand by waiting to be told what to do…by some “regulators” who are thought to be supremely wise in some way. Although, common sense says that if the regulators knew anything about producing, they wouldn’t be regulating, they’d be producing.

The point is: In their world, losers always have something to teach the winners. Winners have nothing to offer by way of useful knowledge, to the losers. No non-achievers can ever be told anything they might need to learn, to become achievers. That, to them, is hateful. It’s disrespectful. It makes the losers feel like losers.

It never seems to fall within their tight perimeter of thinking, that if anyone really thought of the losers as cradle-to-grave losers, the last thing that person would do would be disrupting his business — which obviously works — to stop and offer the losers some guidance. That would only make sense if the successful person saw some potential there. So by seeing the losers as losers-today-winners-tomorrow-maybe, those who give advice to the losers show the losers vastly more respect than our friends the liberals, who seem to be oblivious to the very concept of improved results by way of expansion of knowledge, as well as to the concept of time.

The disagreement here is about whether losers have anything to learn. From that, spring all the other disagreements, it seems. Which are much more contentious than they need to be, since the modern liberals are so far off-base that they insist it is the losers who should be doing all the teaching, and the winners should be doing the learning. From the losers.

It’s odd that when it comes to partisan wrangling in Washington, they don’t follow through. When democrats negotiate with Republicans, suddenly the modern left understands victory just fine. The same goes for elections. As incumbents and as challengers, liberals act during elections exactly the way conservatives act with things that are outside politics. They play to win. It’s only in the policies to which they want to commit the rest of us, that they treat defeat like victory and victory like defeat.

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

Maria Kang

Got a big controversy over the above photograph. She’s a local lady here, who’s created a national uproar. I guess it’s the “What’s Your Excuse?” line rubbing some people the wrong way.

Jack Armstrong of Armstrong & Getty was complaining that her occupation has been toned down, failing to find mention in articles like this one. She’s some kind of fitness trainer or something. So I guess the rebuttal would be…”my excuse is that I’m not a fitness trainer”? And it would seem I can throw stones like everyone else at hapless Maria, since I’m not a fitness trainer either and I seem to have packed on thirty pounds plus over the last couple years. So pass the rock and let’s get in line, right?

Sorry, no dice. This is not about fat.

There are two kinds of people in the world. Some say, “if one guy did it anywhere, that means anybody else who wants to, can do it everywhere.” The other kind say, “if one guy somewhere can’t do it, then nobody else should be able to do it either.” Perhaps the Facebook ladies getting all pissed off at Ms. Kang have hit a compromise: “I’m willing to do what it takes to get the weight off, so long as nobody, anywhere, does or says anything to make me feel bad.” It’s that last set that is the problem here, not Maria Kang. You have to choose your battles. The fact is, a lot of people who have weight problems simply want to have everything as good as they can possibly have it, every waking minute of every day. Why get a Quarter Pounder, when there’s a Double Quarter Pounder right next to it for only another dollar? “She said something that rubbed me the wrong way, now I must start a revolution” — that’s just an extension of that. Feel feel feel, every situation that comes along, it’s all about how it makes you feel. That’s how people put on weight.

You know, there are certain truisms about criticism, whether the criticism is personalized or not: Criticism is almost never one hundred percent on-the-money. It’s always wrong somewhere. But it very seldom entirely misses the mark, either. You have to, as the adage goes, “take what you like and leave the rest.” In the case of criticism, nobody likes any of it, so what you need to do is take what will help you and improve your situation…and leave the rest. Did Maria Kang’s flippant comment entirely miss the mark? With everyone?

Let’s answer that question with another question: Are the complaining-people not answering her question rather directly? “My excuse is that you’re making me feel bad about myself.” And in so doing, are they not proving the question has more than a little merit? “What’s your excuse” means, boiled down to its essentials, “how little does it take to make you abandon your goal of a better body?” And the answer is “some stranger on Facebook posting pictures I don’t like.” Pretty low bar. So there’s opportunity for improvement there.

The real tragedy is this: That is precisely the problem Ms. Kang was trying to solve, if I’m reading her message right. And I think I am. She took the time and trouble to reach the emotionally sensitive types, the kind of people who aren’t inclined to say “no pain no gain,” just-do-it, the kind who have not yet pushed past that first milestone. The must-feel-good-all-the-time types. And, those are exactly the ones who are biting her head off over it.

We can have a legitimate argument over whether or not she deployed sufficient tact. But she was trying to help. And the fact is, these people can’t admit that they’re the ones who have the problem. They’re showing the real reason why they don’t look as good as Maria Kang, from the neck down, and nothing is going to change there until something changes between the ears. That makes the whole thing personal, and a bit nasty. Maria Kang didn’t make it that way and neither did I.

“A New Variety of Privilege”

They know, Mr. Taranto, they know.

[Shanta] Driver’s position seems instead to be based on the contemporary leftist theory that groups certified as “oppressed” deserve special treatment at the expense of the “privileged.” Such a view, however, collapses in its own illogic. A system that gives special treatment to members of an “oppressed” group is simply a new variety of privilege.

Yes, The Left is supposed to be about “equality.” Yet, with every single issue that comes along, there is always one class of people The Left wants to win all the time, and another class of people they want to be beaten all of the time. And, of course, they’re full of complaints whenever they don’t win. All of the time.

They’re not about equality and they never have been. Where did we ever get such an idea? They said so?

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

Why it Went the Way it Did

Mkay, wish I was wrong about this thing, but in the end I was right.

US may avert default as Boehner blinks

US House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner told Republican lawmakers yesterday he will give President Barack Obama a proposal extending the government’s ability to borrow money through Nov 22 – but only if he agrees to negotiate over ending a partial government shutdown and a longer-term increase in the debt ceiling.

Though the Republican proposal could avert an unprecedented federal default that the Obama administration has warned could occur as early as Oct 17, it would not necessarily bring a quick end to the separate 10-day partial federal shutdown. Mr Obama has insisted that Congress reopen the government without condition.

And here is what I said:

I think the democrats are really nervous right now. They have a lot of spinning to do. They’re pretty good at it, they usually win, and my money is still on them winning this time. They probably don’t have too much to fear.

When there is a shutdown, Republicans pay a higher day-by-day political cost for it than democrats. It was true in 1995, it’s true now, it’s always been true. It doesn’t make any sense, since the Republican message is — at least it’s supposed to be — that we need to pull out of this cul de sac of centralized planning and government-administered everything. And in a rational universe, a “shutdown” would be seen as concrete evidence of exactly that, that this configuration isn’t good for us or for our country, and isn’t sustainable.

Complex and ProfoundBut there are a lot of things anchoring us in this irrational, silly universe. The prevailing viewpoint, both within the Republican party and outside of it, is that Republicans are loathed and cannot generate any sympathy or camaraderie with anyone who isn’t already a loyal Republican, and it’s the fault of those Tea Party types. They need to reject the extreme ideas of those zealots with identifiable ideas, and embrace the “mainstream”; lose the vibrant hues and paint with more pastel. I would say, ordinarily, that the thing they should do is neither accept or reject that theory, but instead put it to a test. Ordinarily. The thing about that, though, is that this has already been tested for the last thirty years or so, through our presidential elections. These “reach-across-the-aisle-and-compromise” types of Republican candidates, lose. Every. Single. Time. Meanwhile, you go back a hundred years give-or-take, and you see it’s rather exceptional for Republicans to lose. So there is a problem for this prevailing viewpoint, and as is usually the case, the problem is reality. The theory doesn’t test well.

The tests say, for Republicans to win, they have to do what political candidates from all parties have to do. They have to do what you and I have to do when we go to job interviews. Answer the question: Why you, and not him?

Well, when you lose, the thing to do is learn. Victory always comes to those who are willing to learn, you know. It may take awhile, but the thing about victory is it’s very often the culmination of lots of past defeats, coupled with learning. So, the Republicans could take the tack of “the public has spoken, now let’s all act like democrats,” but what’s the point? That only makes sense if you’re a politician. It’s like, due to the whim of majority rule, quit bailing water out of the boat, drop the bucket, grab an ax, and help make some new holes in it. Why would you do that? You want to be popular, or do you want to fix a problem?

Submitted for someone with real influence to peruse at their leisure; things the Republicans could address, first, if they wanted to fix the problem. Some of these have been broken for quite some time. But if they aren’t fixed before the next shutdown, I’m going to bet my money on the same outcome and I’m probably going to win that one too.

1. The media “watchdog” is a lap dog. There isn’t a lot that can be done about this, at least, not by Republicans. But, it still might be helpful to examine the reasons why. The media has a tendency to be staffed by progressives in the first place, since it’s appealing to the youthful to say “I’m going to become a journalist and change the world for the better.” That means activist journalism, left-wing by its very nature. Thinking on it a little bit harder and deeper, I think it’s pretty clear to everyone what responsible, unbiased reporting really is — and that’s boring. Nobody wants to be that when they grow up. Nobody wants to deliver the facts to the viewers & readers, so that the viewers and readers can make up their own minds. People like to talk about that a lot, but there aren’t that many who are really delivering on it. And then, you have to think about what news, as a commodity, is actually worth. The media has a vested material interest in lefty governance, because when unemployment is high, crime is rampant and resource allocation planning is centralized, news becomes much more important. Think about what a newspaper costs in Chicago or New York City. What’s the local paper cost in Mayberry, USA, or anyplace out in the “breadbasket” where addresses contain words like “township” and “section”; there is a reason for that. People want whatever they’re selling, to be precious. News people want news to be precious. So they want lefties to be running things. It’s just natural.

2. Feelings that glorify style over substance, and immediate gratification, carry the greatest currency right now. The expressed thoughts that are attached to these feelings, resonate most surely and most powerfully. Unlike #1 above, this is not a timeless/endless thing, although it might still be outside of the control of anybody who gives a rip. The most likely situation here is that there is something we can do, but the thing to do is wait awhile. It’s a cyclical thing, almost a seasonal thing. The national mood since about 2005 or 2006 can best be expressed as something like, “What’s this ‘debt’ thing, I just want my num nums.” I give that late date because that’s about the time the national elections started going that way, but anyone who was paying attention will immediately realize the elections were just the ignition point of a combustion process that had been building for a long time. There is a certain fascination with Barack Obama giving speeches as a panacea for every little problem that comes along, and it’s having an effect now that it would not have had in the decades previous. No, it’s not all because of racism. Bill Clinton is a white guy, he had this going for him too. It was & is generational. It isn’t the same thing as Kennedy beating Nixon in the television-age because he was more handsome. This is something new. We care about packaging more than we care about substance. Responsible thinking, grown-up thinking, cause-and-effect thinking, delayed gratification; these things resonate in certain communities, but they’ve lost their cachet that they used to have as “sea to shining sea” values. They’re being dampened in ways they used to not be dampened, in ways the “I want it now” thoughts are not being dampened. Think about those democrat accusations against the Republicans in Congress “holding the government hostage”; to those of us who actually think about debt and what it means, who pay a little bit more on the credit card when the balance is higher than we’d like it to be, it was evident how silly and backward that was. Much like a bully calling a non-bully a bully. But it resonated. My point is, that resonance of this backward-accusation was not merely a symptom, it was the problem itself. People are thinking of the credit card — our eyebrows-deep in debt government — the way our kids & wives think about credit cards right before we get really, really worried; as “free” cash. So, you see, the Republicans never really had a chance at this thing. Maybe now the era is coming to an end. Hope so. We’ll see.

3. The democrats work much harder at getting their message out. Credit where it is due. They put a great deal of priority on whether they always get the last word. See, those of us who have to build things that actually work, have this built-in reluctance against making this Priority One. We keep thinking…wait a minute, if you always have to have the last word to make your idea look workable, that’s a sure sign that the idea isn’t workable! Our friends the liberals are not similarly troubled. They seem to understand that they’re dead in the water if they ever fail to have the last word. And where this would cause you or me a whole lot of self-doubt, to them it just raises the adrenaline level. I subscribe to conservative as well as to liberal organizations inclined to send out e-mails about the budget stalemate, to get in their version of what’s going on and what to make of it. Throughout this little tempest, the ratio has not been even close. It’s like fifty, sixty to one. Several times a day I get something from OFA, Media Matters, The New Republic, et al telling me what I’m supposed to think. Where’s the conservative counterpart? Maybe once a week something will trickle in. The tone will be almost apologetic, like junk mail put together by someone who hates junk mail as much as I do. It almost offers to throw itself away for me. To that, you have to add the consideration that when the democrats ask for some trifling amount from each person, like three bucks — and get it from lots and lots of people — that sends a very powerful message. As a politician or a pollster or a pundit, you have to treat that like the three-dollar-donor knew what the progressive movement is really all about, even if there are a lot of signs that this might not be the case. What to do? This is probably the easiest one to fix. When you suck at something, stop sucking. When your leadership sucks at something, replace them.

4. People don’t identify the GOP with the abrogation of an undesirable status quo. Practically no one thinks this country is on the “right track.” Furthermore, from talking to the people who think we’re heading in the wrong direction, the feeling is strong. The anger is palpable. Even among the politically uninvolved, it’s still often the first thing on their minds when they wake up in the morning, and the last thought they have before drifting off at night. Clearly, there is a heady geyser of energy erupting here that the Republicans are failing to capture. We’re in Barack Obama’s America, but when something is wrong with it, somehow Barack Obama achieves much better results in His effort to portray Himself as the Washington-outsider riding in on a white horse to fix it all, than His opposition does. These are, aggravatingly, problems directly linked to His own policies. This is immediately evident to anyone who’s been paying attention. But the people paying attention are not the ones responding to the polls. This one, like #3, is easily fixed. Just ratchet down this rhetoric about “coming together” and “common goals” and “reaching agreement at the table” and so forth. Stop pretending Republicans and democrats want the same things. It isn’t true. And when it’s repeated ad infinitum, the way people hear it is yeah, Republicans and democrats working together to screw me over. Can’t blame them for that, can you. They’re taking something that doesn’t have any truth in it, and trying to make it true; there is some truth in this interpretation. We have a 17 trillion dollar public debt now, the legacy of Republicans and democrats “coming together to find ways of doing things together” and so forth. Just because you’re going forward doesn’t mean you’re heading to a good place.

There is a bright spot to all this. The #2 problem, with the shallow thinking, it is probably the common-cause of the other three problems. I’m very sure this one can be waited out. There’s nothing else that can be done about it. But the waiting will probably work, since it always has. People are always about as superficial as they figure they can afford to be, and what’s happening right now is the country is learning it can’t be that superficial. It will have to do some growing-up, like it did in 1968 and 1980.

It’s the Stein Rule. Whatever can’t go on forever, won’t.

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

The Chinese Dragon Dance of “Science”

By which I mean

The basic skills are simple to learn, however to become a competent performer takes dedicated training until movements become second nature and complex formations can be achieved – which rely not only on the skill of the individual member, but on concentration by the team as a whole to move in co-operation.

For some six or seven years or so now, I’ve had in my glossary two definitions of “science,” a classic one and a modern one. The classic definition places emphasis on the learning objectives and the method, and the newer definition places the emphasis on the institutions, the phony consensus, and the elitism; the choreography, the “Chinese dragon-dancing.” Sad to say, I think that’s still correct. The word is undergoing a change. It would be dishonest to insist that it means what it has always meant, when it is abused constantly.

Around the time of entering those glossary items, I wrote:

I keep on hearing that science is in danger of being destroyed by politics. I believe this has already taken place.

President Obama, early in His first term, showed how concerned He was about this too (hat tip to Goddard).

When President Obama lifts restrictions on funding for human embryonic stem cell research today, he will also issue a presidential memorandum aimed at insulating scientific decisions across the federal government from political influence, officials said.

“The president believes that it’s particularly important to sign this memorandum so that we can put science and technology back at the heart of pursuing a broad range of national goals,” said Melody Barnes, director of Obama’s Domestic Policy Council.

That was then, this is now.

President Obama angrily blasted climate change skeptics during his energy policy speech Tuesday at Georgetown University, saying he lacked “patience for anyone who denies that this problem is real.”

“We don’t have time for a meeting of the flat-Earth society,” Obama said. “Sticking your head in the sand might make you feel safer, but it’s not going to protect you from the coming storm.”

This is a perfect exercise of anti-science:

Anti-Science (n.)

Whereas real science is a disciplined accumulation of knowledge, toward a more useful and complete understanding of the world around us, this is the exact opposite. It starts at the opposite end and runs perfectly backwards. The conclusion comes first, and then as evidence arrives it is compared to this conclusion. If the evidence doesn’t support the desired conclusion, an elaborate anti-treatise will be prepared giving reasons why the evidence has to be discarded.

In anti-science, it’s all about the consensus; the consensus is the product. And, just as you get a sharper point to the pencil by whittling parts of it away, as opposed to fastening on something new, anti-science works according to a subtractive process. You get rid of whatever doesn’t belong. Anti-scientist Barack Obama did a great job of showing how.

When no one is left with any authority intact, save for those who can repeat back the catechism, then you have a good dancing-dragon and your choreography is complete. That’s a successful (anti) science-ing. Quoting myself yet once more:

I think we should just cut the crap and go straight to the point.

[Anti-] Science is not about learning the nature-of-nature. It is not about accumulating any kind of information at all. It’s about arriving at a consensus and making it so that “everyone” agrees. This is done by conversion or else by some sort of obliteration/defenestration, that part of it doesn’t matter too much, the important thing is that everybody arrives at the same conclusion.

This metastasizing is long and slow, I can tell, given that I was making notes about it that now have six years of dust on them, and it isn’t hard to find some more examples three or four times as old. Some of the influences driving this, I believe, have been around since the very beginning. Scientists are human. It’s in the job description to fight the demons within, to resist the human temptations.

Think about when a prison guard or sheriff’s deputy is accused of being a bully. There is a certain air of immediate legitimacy to such a charge; if you are a bully and have yet to settle on a lifetime vocation, well…these are good jobs for you to have. So it isn’t unreasonable to suppose, within the ranks of such employment, you might find some bullies. Well, for similar reasons, scientists can be “bullies” too. The labels “science” and “scientist” possess such a positive appeal for those who detest debate, just want to say what’s so and impose an obligation on everyone else, near & far, to believe. If it really is science, you have to, right? It’s science!

But this situation is more hazardous than the prison-guard thing. A prison guard who is a bully, can get the prison-guarding done. At least, at the end of the day, the prison is guarded.

Science suffers, though, when people who loathe dissent and discussion, just want things done their way with no questions asked, start to saturate the ranks of those who are authorized to call themselves “scientists.” They may say that’s what they are, they may have the proper credentials, they may do some of what has classically been called science. And, on a wholly separate topic of discussion when they drift away from the scientific method, and start Chinese Paper Dragon Dancing and repeating the conclusions of others without understanding any of it, like David Suzuki did, they can certainly still reach the correct conclusion; the authority on whom they were relying, may be properly exercising the scientific method and the “web of trust” system may work beautifully here and there.

The fact remains. Dragon-dancing is not science-ing.

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

Enjoying the Culture of Poverty

Via Gerard. Christopher Orlet writes in the American Spectator:

If you move to a new rental every six months, yanking your kids out of school after school, and if you do drugs in front of your children, and sell your food stamps for cash, then chances are you are part of that culture. If you are 20 years old, living with your grandmother, with no interest in ever getting a job, or getting married, or doing much of anything, chances are you are part of that culture. If you do not have a kitchen table, but you do have a big flat screen TV, and when the social worker comes to visit someone yells, “The social worker is here, go get the light bulb,” then chances are you are part of that culture.

When I moved into the inner-city, I hoped to gain some insight and understanding of the poor and their situation. Two years later I left feeling the situation is intractable. Everything the professional uplifters do for the poor is but pruning the branches, instead of hacking at the roots of the problem. For the underclass to escape the culture of poverty they would have to cease doing most if not all of the above, and I don’t see that happening.

Besides, as I have written before, too many of the underclass enjoy the culture of poverty. They would feel horribly out of place in a tony subdivision where they would have to work to make a house and car payment, instead of drinking beer all day on the stoop ― they don’t even have stoops in the suburbs. They would have to cut their lawns and keep the trash and noise to a minimum. What fun is that? In the inner-city you can do whatever the hell you want. You can even shoot somebody, and chances are no one will rat you out, because that is the code of the inner-city streets, and people there hate the cops more than they hate the drug dealers.

My broken-record recurring chorus about Architects and Medicators grew out of an understanding that when the miscreant appears in front of the magistrate to determine guilt vs. innocence, and to receive his sentence, what we are seeing is not an instance of the errant appearing before the validating mechanism and then getting properly straightened out. What we are seeing is a collision between two different and contrary value systems — neither of which runs into any real trouble prior to impact. Just like planets, you might say. And this is why the meeting will likely be repeated not too far off into the future. The meeting is the real cause of the trouble. And the value systems have to do with feeling versus thinking — therefore, with instant gratification versus delayed.

In the land from which the convict comes, it is “right” not to pay your child support. Not, I hasten to add, a right — that is not the point. The point is, it is the desire that makes behavior proper. Wants before needs. You get a job if you want to. Make your car payment if you want to. Or act drunken and disorderly in public if you want to. Such a community ultimately becomes blighted, because mankind’s achievements are mostly connected to delayed gratification. But people adapt. They become entrenched further and further into the Architect-thinker-delayed-gratification way of living life, once they’ve made that initial choice, or they become entrenched further and further to the Medicator-feeler do-what-everyone-else-is-doing want-it-now-now-now way of living life if they’ve made the other.

Each community works according to an economic system. One of those economic systems has to do with helping other people do, or get, things before you can do, or get, what you want. The other economic system has to do with just demanding stuff; therefore, not very often building or fixing anything. Can you guess which is which.

“Drinking beer all day long on the stoop,” by the way, is literally medicating. Such people are, ironically, fastidious and perfectionist custodians of their own emotional state, if of nothing else in life. In the moment.

I would add many more bullet points to Mr. Orlet’s list. Softer ones, since I think those are the important ones; people who haven’t given it much thought, just starting to be seduced into the Medicator lifestyle. I would invade suburbia with my own list. If you voted Obama/Biden in 2012, or if you have a bumper sticker on your car saying so. If you had your school-age son “diagnosed” and strung him out on medication so he can “succeed in school.” If your kids send text messages at the dinner table, or if you don’t have any kind of dinner table, and don’t see anything wrong with not having one. If your spouse, and your kids, are essentially just bored and boring roommates.

Or if you are one of the kids — if you can score straight A’s on the latest test by “studying,” but know you possess little to nothing of the actual conceptual command, and wouldn’t be able to earn a passing grade 48 hours afterward…and don’t care. You’re part of it. If your first impulse, finding out something exists that you want, is to go clamoring to momma or someone else to get it for you. Pondering, not what you can do to earn it, but the who & where & when & how to do your begging, how sweetly to bat your eyelashes. Those are the signs. That’s enjoying the culture of poverty.

Not building things, not fixing things. Harassing your fellow citizens about their “carbon emissions” or what not, as opposed to helping them, servicing them, soothing them, becoming a part of their efforts.

Neither “planet” runs into real trouble before the collision. But there is a difference: Only one, in perfect isolation from the other, exists in a self-sustaining cycle. Ultimately, it’s a choice between the symbiotic and the parasitic.

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

Liberals and Conservatives, Left and Right

There are two understandings of this; The Zachriels’, and everybody else’s. Such terms are used to convey ideas among people who come together from different backgrounds and with different values and biases, so before anybody can communicate about such things, there’s going to have to be an effort brought to a successful completion getting the entire world to use these terms the way The Zachriel do.

Thought I’d help them out.

My understanding of it is, there is this cartilaginous binding between conservative/liberal, and left/right; the two disagreements correlate somewhat, but are not synonymous. Their words:

“Conservatives” tend to believe that traditional values and institutions are the bulwark of society, that too fast of change can result in unintended consequences or even anarchy. Rational conservatives believe in change and reform, of course, but believe the change must be gradual and moderated. Conservatives tend to look to the past for inspiration, cultural stratifications being a consequence of natural order.

“Liberals” tend to believe that traditional values and institutions can impede progress, that too slow of change can result in cultural stagnation or even disintegration. Rational liberals believe in the preservation of traditional values and institutions, of course, but believe they must be pushed to adapt to modern times. Liberals tend to look to the future for inspiration, the progress of history being seen as a march towards a more egalitarian society.

Right-wing “reactionaries”, such as fascists, believe in absolute inequality, and want to overthrow corrupt modern institutions and return to a mythological and heroic past.

Left-wing “radicals”, such as communists, believe in absolute equality, and want to overthrow corrupt ancient institutions and bring forth a mythological and glorious future.

Among the reasons this doesn’t work:

Newt Gingrich’s “revolution” of 1994, according to this, would be “left wing radical,” and so would the American Revolution.

The definitions seem to have been internationalized, which really doesn’t work well in America. I would even venture to say this “cartilaginous” binding between those two disagreements is entirely unnecessary, and it’s safe to go ahead and fuse the bones together: Conservatives are right and liberals are left. I realize this creates problems when we look at other cultures in other countries. That is alright.

I have raised the point about the feminist movement, and the women who support it only insofar as the push for equal pay. Like my Mother, they jump off the bandwagon when it veers into man-bashing “men are the problem” territory. These definitions would make such women moderate lefties. I’ve never met one who self-identifies that way; they consider themselves to be, and seem to be, staunchly right-wing. So here, as well, the definitions don’t work.

The left-wing in America, for a very long time now, has actually championed disparate levels of privilege for different classes. The preservation of President Obama’s entrenched perks retains deep symbolic value for passionate and pie-eyed lefties. The definitions above would define that preservation to be “conservative.”

Adolf Hitler, according to the definitions above, would be a “left-wing” (on the “glorious future” part) “conservative.”

Liberals, in this day & age in America, hate. That is what they do. There’s always some bad guy, either a bad individual or a bad class, that has to be pruned down to size. The desire to make everyone equal, is incompatible with this mandatory hate.

Concerns about solvency, which would be necessary for a “glorious future,” are entirely ignored by the “left.” They only pretend to pay attention to it when a tax cut comes along that they don’t happen to like, and then they pretend it’s going to “cost” the treasury something. That’s the only time they show any concern. If any one of them shows some concern about something that really does cost something, that person ceases on the spot to be a proper leftist. Unless he’s talking about a military budget item.

In order for an egalitarian society to thrive, rights and responsibilities would have to be fastened together. Lefties in America are opposed to this; they want one set of people to have rights, and a different set of people to have responsibilities. In order to do that, you have to create classes that are different from one another. In this sense, and in others, I get the impression that I disagree with The Zachriel because they’re evaluating “the left” according to the left’s promises, and I’m evaluating that same thing according to deliveries made. I like my way better.

What might work better:
• In liberalism, nature has made something unfair and it is the job of people to make it fair
• In liberalism, there is always an oppressor and there is always a victim
• In liberalism, there is a “Dear Leader” who never makes mistakes because if he does, it stops being a mistake
• In liberalism, the people furthest away from the work make rules followed by people closest to the work
• In conservatism, a new rule has to be tried out in a “sandbox” and possibly revised
• In conservatism, it is desirable to provide for the possibility that a rule might turn out to be stupid
• Conservatives fear the eventuality that a dumb rule might lead to dumb decisions; liberals seem to count on this
• In conservatism, the elected should truly be servants, who serve for a limited time
• Liberalism is strongly associated, throughout history, with over-privileged dictators-for-life
• Conservatives tend to be motivated by profits, which they envision as the result of fulfilling someone’s demand
• Liberals tend to be motivated by the next revolution; therefore, by some kind of resentment or offense
• Conservatives favor a “legacy economy” in which people acquire by providing products or services to other people
• Liberals favor an “Occupy economy” in which people acquire by frustrating, annoying, or impeding the work of, others
• Liberalism favors change when it is not yet in power; once it is in power, it favors stasis
• Conservatism tries to preserve a linkage between rights and responsibilities
• Liberalism tries to push a new order in which some have rights, and others have responsibilities
• Conservatism advocates rewards, usually natural, for delayed gratification
• Liberalism advocates rewards, usually artifiical, for immediate gratification
• Liberalism pushes for more freedom in things that have something to do with sex, less freedom in everything else
• Conservatism pushes for more freedom in everything else
• Liberals are fatalists about net worth, standard of living, debt, and many other things within human control
• Conservatives are fatalists where fatalism makes the most sense, like salvation vs. damnation, and global climate
• Conservatism favors a strong national defense and limited government
• Liberalism favors internationalism, anemic defense, and a sprawling, out-of-control government
• Conservatism sees terrorism as an act of war
• Liberalism sees terrorism as a legal issue and, in John Kerry’s words, a “nuisance”
• Conservatism thinks charity should be a voluntary act
• Liberalism thinks charity should be a requirement, therefore stop being charity
• Conservatism favors thinking as an individual; an idea doesn’t make sense if it wouldn’t make sense to an individual
• Liberalism favors group-think; if a group can’t see a flaw that an individual could see, the flaw isn’t really there
• To a conservative, individual effort counts; the group merely coordinates, which can be useful for funding
• To a liberal, the group effort is everything and the individual effort is nothing (unless it’s Dear Leader’s effort)
• Conservatism sees a “right” as something that belongs to the individual
• Liberalism confers “rights” on classes of people
• Conservatism recognizes a “right” as something people have by virtue of their existence
• Conservatives, therefore, see the list of rights as something that changes very slowly or not at all
• Liberalism sees a “right” as something granted by the government
• Liberals, therefore, see the list of rights as something that changes all the time, shrinking and growing
• Conservatives believe in the right to private property
• Liberals believe everybody’s rights end wherever their feelings begin, and they feel someone has too much
• Conservatives learn from history
• Liberals are often caught trying out failed policies, behaving as if history only began this morning
• Conservatives understand people get tired of seeing the same things, and absence makes the heart grow fonder
• Liberals think people learn to like things they see often, and to loathe things that are restricted in supply
• Conservatives see commerce as a succession of transactions that tend to benefit both sides, so everyone wins
• Liberals see commerce as nothing more than a flurry of activity
• Conservatives predict the effect of new policies around realistic expectations of human incentive
• Liberals are consistently surprised when human incentive doesn’t go the way they wanted it to go
• Conservatives are concerned with outcome
• Liberals are concerned with process
• Conservatives value opportunity over security
• Liberals value security over opportunity
• Conservatives have more respect for occupations that create assets, and defend the realm
• Liberals somehow reserve their respect for occupations that do not do this
• To a conservative, a true contradiction is impossible; so an apparent contradiction is an opportunity for learning
• To a liberal, an apparent contradiction is just a problem, solved by discarding the least-desirable evidence that’s part of it
• If a conservative hears something on the radio he doesn’t like, he changes the station
• If a liberal hears something on the radio he doesn’t like, he wants it banned
• If a conservative’s most cherished theory is challenged by reality, he discards or reforms the theory
• If a liberal’s most cherished theory is challenged by reality, reality must yield and the theory must prevail
• Conservatives tend to be Architects, concerned primarily about matters of cause-and-effect
• Liberals tend to be Medicators, concerned primarily about their own momentary emotional state

If any authoritative reference material contradicts my bullet points above, I hold that such reference material is creating more confusion than it is curing; since, when people use the words, whether they be aware of it or not, the bullets above capture what they’re really trying to say. If The Zachriel want to reform or reverse that in some way, I wish them well.

What probably kicks the whole thing off:
• Conservatives seek to create and preserve things that create or preserve, and destroy things that destroy
• Liberals seek to create or preserve things that destroy, and destroy things that create or preserve

Another thing that might kick the whole thing off, as I believe I mentioned before, is the Conflict of Visions defined by Prof. Thomas Sowell in his book.

Cross-posted at House of Eratosthenes.