Ahhhh, “Experts”

They don’t know what they think they know.  Nor are they interested in learning.

You see, “we covered it and know everything about it and how it works and all” only works as an argument when you can actually demonstrate that you do actually know what you’re talking about. When you write a breathless column, as Ezra Klein did in 2009, urging people to not read legislation because reading legislation is hard, don’t be surprised when people don’t take your interpretation of that bill you didn’t read as gospel

All together now: There was a consensus that the bill said X.  All the experts agreed it said X. And they peer-reviewed each others’ comments about X.

But it doesn’t actually say X, and the “experts” know it doesn’t say X, because we’ve got a couple of those self-same “experts” on the record expressly denying it.

Thanks to “experts” like these, I’m really truly coming to believe that everything an “expert” says is a lie.  Galileo must be spinning in his grave.

We Need a New Word

Anytime Israel does anything, the internet’s stupidity quotient goes up 500%.  And while it’s nice (I guess that’s the word) to have the left’s virulent, disgusting anti-Semitism re-re-re-re-re-re-reconfirmed, I can’t hardly read right-wing sites anymore either.

images(Look, y’all, it’s pretty simple:  The Israelis are no angels.  But they’re not controlling your mindthoughts with fluoridated water either).

We need a term for this.  “Internet Israeli Affective Disorder,” or something.  Any suggestions?

It Feels Like 1946 Around Here

I don’t know why this Jeff Goldstein piece, which is very inside-baseball, got me thinking about this, but….

I imagine this is how 1946 felt.  The specter of communism was looming.  Evidence of Stalin’s, and Mao’s, bad intentions was massive and overwhelming.  And yet the US didn’t have the stomach for more war, so we wrote off half the world to the reds, buying ourselves 50 more years of Cold War in the process.

Meanwhile, over in Britain, the Empire was finished, but a thousand old men refused to see it.  Here’s Goldstein on the electoral fate of the Tea Party:

The TEA Party elections of 2010 gave many of us hope; the GOP establishments actions since then, however, have turned that promise to pessimism — reaching its nadir with the McDaniel “defeat” in Mississippi that it turns out was bought with GOP establishment funds and sold with leftist race-baiting rhetoric.
It’s probably just me, but the GOP reminds me an awful lot of Colonel Blimp (or, at least, Orwell’s use of the phrase) — the Empire’s dead; the public simply will not stand for more young men dying in faraway jungles; the whole country’s broke and even basic goods are still rationed years after the war; and yet more than half the House of Lords still thinks world affairs are a simple matter of the Horse Guards sticking it to the Fuzzy Wuzzy somewhere East of Suez.
The American Century is over.  It was dying for a long time; Obama just held the pillow over its face.  We can either pull back, look at the situation honestly, and emerge smaller, leaner, and more robust, as Goldstein advocates… or we can piss away what’s left with Malayan Emergencies and #SaberRattling.
Y’all know which way I’m betting on that.
Either way, it’s gonna suck to be Israel and Syria and Vietnam and Poland and Kazakhstan and Nigeria for a while.  Fascist China and USSR 2.0 are much nastier than their previous incarnations, as the Persian Gulf and Eastern Europe and Inner Asia and East Africa will soon discover.  And the Fuzzy Wuzzy, too, for that matter — if you think the IDF is the Waffen SS, my idiot leftist friends, you have no fucking idea what the Spetsnaz and the People’s Liberation Army do to folks who lob rockets at them.
But hey, the late 40s had some good movies and music.

Magic, Magic Words

Mulling over a theory here… it’s totally mushy at this point, but it goes something like this:

For a certain subset of people, the power to name is the power to control.

Not literally, of course.  But something like this really does seem to be part of the “delusional architecture,” to steal a phrase from abnormal psych, of Our Betters.

For instance, here.  Morgan quotes economist Tyler Cowen:

If our domestic politics can’t handle changes in income distribution, maybe the problem isn’t that capitalism is fundamentally flawed but rather that our political institutions are inflexible.

In one sense, of course, he’s totally right — government interference accounts for way more “income inequality” than any inherent “defect” in capitalism.  But on a deeper level, I’m starting to believe, the real problem is the belief that there’s such a thing as “capitalism” at all.

It’s a psychological tic — you can’t use a word that ends in “-ism” without thinking of a conscious agent.  There’s no racism without racists, for example, or Buddhism without Buddhists.  But here’s the problem:  “racism” and “Buddhism” describe both actions and motivations.  They’re value-laden by their nature.  You can hire a white guy over a black guy without being racist, just as you can refuse to eat meat without being a Buddhist.  Saying “Steve picked the white candidate instead of the black one” (or, “Steve ate the salad instead of the steak”) doesn’t necessarily imply anything about Steve’s beliefs or personality; saying “Steve’s a racist” or “Steve’s a Buddhist” does, by definition.

All that may seem like belaboring the obvious.  But think about what it means for the word “capitalism.”  It seems to presuppose that:

there are people out there who are properly described as “capitalists;”


these people are actively working for the benefit of something called “capital.”

Here again, maybe we’re belaboring the obvious… if you’ve read Marx recently.  But, as anyone who has spent any time “arguing” with Our Betters knows, they don’t read their own bullshit.  And that’s dangerous, because while Marx certainly meant it that way — you can’t read The Communist Manifesto without visions of Rich Uncle Pennybags dancing through your head — he was pretty obviously wrong.  In fact, it’s blatantly self-contradictory — you can’t have a ruthless war of all against all and a Billionaire Boys’ Club rigging the system for their mutual benefit.

And that, my friends, should really be belaboring the obvious.  But it’s not.

Does not play well with others.

Does not play well with others.

The reason it’s not, I’m starting to believe, is because the word “capitalism” gives those who use it a false sense of mastery.  If you can label a phenomenon — if you can look at an event and go, “oh, that’s capitalism” — you have no incentive to look further.

How does this “capitalism” work, comrade?  They don’t know, but they’re damn sure it’s wrong.

You see this everywhere in leftist discourse.  The problem with energy markets, for example, is “deregulation,” just as the solution to Wall Street’s excesses is “regulation.”  Which, to a cognitively normal person, suggests that the guy spouting off about “regulation” and “deregulation” has some specific statutes in mind.

Which laws do you want, comrade?  They don’t know, but damn it, there oughtta be some.

And you can take it almost all the way down the line.  We all know the horrors of Patriarchy, but let’s walk down the street together; you can point out all the actual patriarchs as we pass them.  You want to end “corporate personhood,” but have no idea what could possibly replace it.  Fine, ExxonMobil is no longer a “person”…. but then neither is the SEIU, the NFT, the Democratic Party, or Greenpeace, and now who’s going to save the whales’ pensions?

The point isn’t — or isn’t just– that Our Betters are woefully ignorant of all the stuff they so loudly, self-righteously support.  It’s far deeper and more troublesome than that.  Because here’s the thing:  Their ignorance bothers them not a bit.  I’ve never once gotten an answer to “which regulations do you want?” or “what happens when corporations aren’t persons?”, but five minutes after I ask it, I’m getting the same ol’ song and dance about “deregulation” or “ending corporate personhood.”

They don’t know, and they know they don’t know, and they don’t care.

The explanation for this, I’m starting to think, is that they feel the word is the thing.  They think everyone’s as good at make-believe as they are, and since we all throw the words around, we’re somehow influencing reality.  Naming it is controlling it.  That’s why they think this rhymes-with-jackoff is really onto something with his blather about “frames” and “metaphors,” while the rest of us think it’s laughable.  You know how to use the word “capitalism,” and so you somehow know what it is, in its nature, and if you change the word you change the thing.

In reality, of course, there’s no such thing as “capitalism.”  People exchange stuff for other stuff, each person attempting to get the best possible deal to fulfill his needs.  This has been true since we stopped swinging in trees, and probably before.  To call that exchange “capitalism,” and the exchanged goods “capital,” is simply shorthand.  And that’s all it is.  Humans will be self-interestedly swapping stuff for other stuff until we’re back in the trees, and it doesn’t matter what word you use to describe the stuff or the exchange.

And, most importantly:  You’re not better at swapping stuff, and your stuff is not superior, simply because you can hang fancy words on them.

But Our Betters are wired differently.

That’s what I’m starting to think, anyway.  Thoughts?

Haven’t We Been Here Before?

The Federalist’s David Harsanyi, on a possible Elizabeth Warren presidential run:

Still, it seems to me that a lot of people are overestimating the appeal, uniqueness, and popularity of Warren. What’s most enticing about Warren right now is the perception of her, not the reality.

Right-o.  And the American public has never, ever been bamboozled by an accomplishment-free nobody who deliberately bills him/herself as a blank slate upon which everyone can project their hopes and dreams….

indexI swear, it’s not Our Betters anymore.  Now everybody seems to think history began this morning.  For the record, I was saying the same kinds of things about Obama in 2007 that Harsanyi is saying about Warren now.  The difference is, I’ve been paying attention for the last seven years.  Sheesh.

Three Ways Corporate Personhood Benefits Progressives

Here at Rotten Chestnuts, our goal is to educate as well as entertain.  Now, Our Betters, the liberals, are confused on many, many (many many many many many) points.  But in the wake of the Hobby Lobby thing — which, we must note, is causing them conniptions on a lot of fronts — they seem most confused about the notion of “corporate personhood.”  Heck, even progressive darling and 2016 presidential candidate Elizabeth “Dances with Socialism” Warren has gotten in on the act:  Point eleven of her little manifesto (that’s a safe link to Vox Day) declares that

[We] believe that corporations are not people, that women have a right to their bodies.

See what I mean?  Leaving aside for a moment the fact that Warren was an academic specializing in corporate law — where, one assumes, the legal definition of “personhood” is a top-of-the-syllabus affair at freshman orientation — the rest of the left seems to have a problem with this, too.  So I thought I’d explain it to them.  And, special little snowflakes that they are, what better way to get the point across than by appealing to their narcissism?  So, without further ado, here’s three ways corporate personhood benefits progressives.

1) It enables nonprofits.  I hate to break it to you, Moonbeam, but when you sign on for that internship with Save the Termites, you’re actually working for The Man.  From every leftist’s favorite objective information source, Wikipedia:

In the United States, nonprofit organizations are formed by filing bylaws and/or articles of incorporation in the state in which they expect to operate. The act of incorporating creates a legal entity enabling the organization to be treated as a corporation by law and to enter into business dealings, form contracts, and own property as any other individual or for-profit corporation may do.

But don’t worry!  The two key things here are “form contracts” and “own property.”

2) Let’s take the second one first.  The termites you’ve saved need somewhere to go, right?  So the corpor organization buys a nice farm in the country for them.  Now, if it were just you and a couple of buddies who bought this nice farm, and some kid who’s allergic to termites wanders in and gets bitten, you and your friends would be the ones footing the kid’s medical bills until the end of time.  Because, you know, it’s your land, as you’ll discover when you get hit with the lawsuit.  And when you have to pay your taxes.  What, you think the government doesn’t want a bite of your assets in perpetuity?  Welcome to the world beyond the EZ form, kiddo.

3) And speaking of medical bills, let’s look at the first part: “form contracts.”  We’ll go ahead and assume that Save the Termites isn’t your typical soulless corporation, dumping all its employees onto the Obamacare exchanges to save a buck.  We’ll also assume that you are the typical hypocritical liberal, who’s shocked at the exorbitant prices and shitty care available on the public tit, and so instead of doing the noble proletarian thing you’ll take the evil evil corporate insurance bennies Save the Termites offers.

Well guess what?  If it wasn’t Save the Termites LLC, you couldn’t get that insurance.  The evil evil insurance company would have to contract with each of you individually — since, you know, it’s just you and a couple hundred buddies, saving termites.  And you know what, Moonbeam?  You’re a shitty risk, actuarially speaking.  Do you know how many exotic diseases termites carry?  On your own, you’re uninsurable, and like most Americans you can’t afford even the most basic Obamacare-mandated coverage.  But since Evil Insurance Corp can contract with Save the Termites as a corporation, it can spread out the risk pool.  And now you get your “free” aromatherapy to deal with the trauma of knowing you work for a — gag! — company.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg, Moonbeam!  Once you start to understand how this “corporation” thing works, you notice it everywhere.  For instance, you socialists love the notion of group rights.  In the old, bad, racist sexist imperialistic homophobic America, it was one person, one vote, and “rights” worked the same way.  But — obviously — that’s just not socially just.  I mean, look at Native American female senator Elizabeth Warren:

220px-Elizabeth_Warren--Official_113th_Congressional_Portrait--Back in the bad old days, she couldn’t hardly walk down the street without somebody calling her all kinds of awful racist, sexist names.  Surely she never could’ve gotten into Harvard on her merits.  So, for social justice purposes, we* decided that Indian-ness and female-ness trumped things like grades and accomplishments and all that other stuff from the bad old days.  We* decided, in other words, that chicks and Indians — as a class — got special breaks that whites and dudes — again, as a class — didn’t.  And what’s another word for a class of people?  That’s right:  A corporation.  Look it up.  It’s right there under number three:

any group of persons united or regarded as united in one body.

Isn’t that great?  And now she’s a senator.  And maybe president, come 2016.  And she owes it all to…. corporate personhood!!!
*By “we” I guess we* mean “straight white guys.”  I’m not really sure how that works, because according to you all, straight white guys used to have all the power, and in fact still do.  But somehow they gave up enough of it in this instance so that an Indian chick could beat out the straightest, whitest guy imaginable in a senate race.  The racist, homophobic Patriarchy really is quite stupid about things like that.  Have you noticed?  But that’s a discussion for another day, I suppose.

“I Don’t Understand That”

Read this.  Then read this.  The latter is a stream of Twitter reactions to the former.  And it’s bizarre.

Consider the following sentence:

The New York Yankees are the best team in baseball.

Now, I disagree with that statement.  I think it’s objectively false, and can marshal what I consider unbeatable arguments to prove it.  Moreover, I find that statement distasteful, as all good people hate the Yankees.  But I understand it.  It’s basic English, maybe second grade reading level.  It asserts your belief that the Yankees are the best team in baseball.

Simple, right?  But Our Betters, the liberals, have a flabbergasting capacity to misunderstand simple sentences when they feel like it.  Some are worse than others — we-don’t-understand-that is the jab in the Cuttlefishes’ combo punch of idiotic internet arguments — but check out that Twitter feed. Some choice cuts:


@scalzi So, a load of pseudo-intellectual twaddle to defend his insecure need for manhood only to be defined as “can lift moar than women.”

Exactly none of which appeared in either Morgan’s piece, or mine.  The former might just be some very odd sarcasm — because Twitter — but think about that last one for a sec.  Not only did neither of us say that, but that statement actually contradicts the entire point of both pieces.

The average man is stronger than the average woman.  This is incandescently obvious to anyone who has ever spent any time in the real world.  Anyone who claims to believe otherwise is either lying, or has put in a truly brain-boggling amount of effort to deny the evidence of his own lying eyes.  That was the point, expressed in clear, grammatical, idiomatic English.  And as such, “can lift moar than women” is actually the dumbest imaginable definition of masculinity.  Since most women can’t hardly bench press a Diet Pepsi, claiming to be stronger than the average girl is like claiming to be better than the average third grader at algebra — technically true, but what’s the point?  The comparison demeans us both, but Our Betters keep insisting we’re making it.

Or consider this gem of logic:

@scalzi: Isn’t it fascinating how they translate your “she can lift more than me” into “I can’t lift as much as her”?

Well, yeah, that’s how I translate it, because those statements mean exactly the same thing.  There’s a boulder over there.  You can lift it, and I can’t.  Which means — follow closely now — that you can lift more than me, and I can’t lift as much as you.  The proof is the boulder over your head, and my bulging hernia.

But always remember: Conservatives are the dumb ones.

And, of course, it wouldn’t be a liberal “argument” without

@scalzi how do you know what that site contains? I tried, but after a couple paragraphs I could NOT continue reading. It’s just..a mess

So you don’t know what we actually said, but you’re metaphysically certain we’re wrong.

Not that it matters – given the level of reading comprehension on display — but I’ll spell out my point here in itty bitty words:

Missing the point like this — and then boasting about it — makes you look retarded.

You’re embarrassing yourselves, and John Scalzi, and the cause of whatever it is you think you’re advancing by claiming that a guy bragging about being outlifted by his daughter is some kind of grrrl power manifesto.

If I’d written what I wrote on Twitter, and some dude Tweeted back at me

@severian haha ur right Redshirts sucked

I’d ban him on the spot, because he’s obviously not smart enough to understand the basic English of a 300-word blog post, and I don’t want my name associated with that kind of idiocy.  I’d be ashamed to admit my writing attracts that kind of audience.

You all, on the other hand, brag about it.  You advertise your ignorance.  You revel in it.  You act as if typing “I don’t understand that” is the same as refuting the argument you claim not to understand.  To bring us back where we started:  The Yankees either are, or aren’t, the best team in baseball, but claiming not to understand the sentence “the Yankees are the best team in baseball” doesn’t affect their record either way.  It just makes every single baseball fan on the planet think you’re an idiot.

Which y’all are apparently cool with.

And I don’t understand that.

Misplaced Effort

Morgan quotes me, John Scalzi quotes Morgan, hilarity ensues.

Skimming through that thread is a clinic in point-missing.  Or a classic illustration of Larry Correia’s first rule of internet arguing: Skim until offended.  Since Morgan mentioned “pulling his man card” in the third sentence….

For the record, the following are NOT the point of that post, or my original post, or the Vox Popoli post which inspired it all.

  • Ha ha, Scalzi is a weak weakling that’s weak.
  • Masculinity comes in card form.
  • Manhood is defined by one’s bench press.

All of that is just projection.  The point is larger and simpler: It takes a tremendous amount of effort to maintain a worldview like Scalzi’s.

He claims his daughter out-lifts him.  Which means one of two things must be true:

  1. He’s actually been in the gym recently, such that he can make an accurate head-to-head comparison with his daughter; or
  2. He hasn’t, in which case he’s just making that comparison up.

If it’s the former, he could hardly fail to notice that the average man is stronger than the average woman, and it’s not even particularly close.  Even assuming Miss Scalzi is in the top 1%, female strength-wise, and trains like a demon; and that Mr. Scalzi is in the bottom 1% of male physique (or has a degenerative musculoskeletal condition or something) and has never lifted a weight in his life, he can’t have failed to notice that most of the girls are over by the little plastic jazzercise weights while the guys are throwing plates around.  Maybe his girl out-lifts him, but the average girl is nowhere near the average guy, and five minutes in the gym is all it takes to see it.

If it’s the latter (which is my bet), it’s even worse.  The information-avoidance quotient is even higher.  The point, let me stress again, is not that Scalzi can’t lift a particular poundage; it’s that he’s advertising weakness.  The logical implication of this is that a teenage girl carries all the groceries in the Scalzi household.

Physical strength has always been radical feminism’s most obvious stumbling block.  As our friends the alwarmists have shown, you can use “statistics” to prove anything when you refuse to show your work.  But the differences between men and women show up around the house every day.  All it takes is a trip to the grocery store.  Somebody‘s got to hoist that 50-lb bag of kitty litter into the cart.  Is it the radical feminist herself, or does she have to call the stockboy over?


There’s another interesting dimension to this little dust-up.  Morgan proudly proclaims his site to be “The Blog Nobody Reads.”  Rotten Chestnuts is a flea on its hide.  Even if his daily readership isn’t quuiiiiiite what he claims it to be, Scalzi’s got to have both sites combined beat by several orders of magnitude.  He’s got a gazillon Twitter followers, not to mention a Hugo Award, some kind of tv or movie development deal in the works, a passive income that probably triples my yearly take, a hefty rep among his professional peers and the reading public…..

In other words, the proper response to a little light mockery from us is: Nothing.  Morgan and I (and the rest of the RC crew) could spend every hour of every day making fun of Scalzi online and he’d lose not one thin dime.  Hell, he’d probably make a buck or two — free advertising is free advertising, as he of all people knows.

And yet he had a tweet up about Morgan’s post within the day, and as of recently it had 30-some retweets and 50-some favorites.

Think on that for a sec.  Is this not the definition of chick behavior?  Oooh, somebody said something mean about me!  Quick, follow me to my fainting couch, and fan me with your adulation!  Reassure me!

Here again, think of the effort this must take.  Even as self-promotion, it’s got to take a toll, broadcasting criticism of yourself far and wide.

If he put 1/10th of that effort into hitting the gym, he might learn something.  Or, at least, be able to open a pickle jar.

The Five A’s

Stacy McCain raises an excellent point:  Reducing Miami’s carbon footprint to the level demanded by the eco-fascists would, in effect, reduce Miami to nonexistence.  The eco-fascists are, of course, ok with that, because Miami is full of rich people and the wrong kind of brown people (the ones that vote Republican).  But the rest of us ought to think it over.

Here’s my personal criterion for taking an eco-weenie seriously:  Have you, yourself, personally, sworn off the Five A’s?

  • Aspirin
  • Antiperspirant
  • Air conditioning
  • Antibiotics
  • Automobiles

If not, it’s time to STFU.  All of those things come directly out of the industrial revolution, and would not exist without it.  That’s the world you’re trying to send us back to.  No, really — you do realize aspirin comes from factories, right?  Nasty, Gaia-wounding, globe-heating factories.  As does everything else on that list.

And I do mean sworn off.  It’s not enough to ride your bike down to the co-op, because that stuff, too, comes from… automobiles.  What, you think Seventh Generation — headquartered in Burlington, Vermont — has a bunch of little elves right down the road cranking out their products?  It’s big ol’ honkin’, pollutin’ Jimmy Petes what bring that stuff to your local hippy-dip store.  So unless you get your food from a local farmer, transported by a horse-drawn wagon, you need to STFU.

Again, this is the world you want us to live in.  You first, buckaroo.  Try it for six months, and then get back to me with your grandiose plan to save the world from weather, mmmkay?

Settled Science Update

SAGE – a bigtime academic publisher — had to pull sixty (!!) articles from one of its journals.  The reason?

A “peer review and citation ring” was apparently rigging the review process to get articles published.

But don’t worry:  When it comes to Global Warming, the Science is Settled ™.  Because — all together now — it’s in peer reviewed journals.

Squirty himself had four peer-reviewed articles published last year.

Squirty himself had four peer-reviewed articles published last year.