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Thursday, October 30, 2014

BEATING ON PALIN

"Now it can be told! Now it can be told! We were scared!"
-Van Jones

I am not a big Sarah Palin fan.  She can give terrific speeches (such as the very well-received and highly viewed 2008 RNC speech she gave) and she can be pretty good with statements.  She's not bad looking, and I admire her willingness to go after her own political party to crush corruption when she was governor.
My problem is that conservatism doesn't seem to come first had to Mrs Palin; she seems to be a bit of a rebel and a politician but not innately conservative in her worldview, so she has to get her ideas from people she trusts or listens to rather than from inside.
In the end, I suspect she's more show than substance, and I never liked the fawing admiration she got for a while from conservatives.  Still, she never deserved the raw, screaming, frothing hatred that she got and continues to get from the left, the entertainment community, and the clueless low info voters who want to be with the cool crowd.
At the time it was pretty obvious what was going on; they needed to obliterate her.  She was a charismatic, attractive, well-spoken woman with a Reaganlike folksy ability to reach the public that the left feared and hated.  She would be too effective.
As I wrote about in my Common Knowledge series, the left pulled out all the stops to wipe her out, and they had good reason to fear her: as soon as she was added to the McCain ticket, he tied with or pulled head of Barack Hussein Obama in polling.
What's interesting, though, is that the line has always been "oh we never were afraid, we were laughing at her!" from the left.  They insisted she was just so ridiculous they had to mock and attack her, not out of fear or concern but just hapless natural mockery.  Obviously this was a blatant lie, since they started it before anyone knew anything about her.  News organizations didn't send far more reporters to Alaska to dig into Palin's background than they committed to Barack Obama out of humor.  They did it out of fear and desperation to find something, anything to stop and destroy her.
Recently, they've admitted it.
Communist and former Obama cabinet official Van Jones recently admitted that on CNN:
Sarah Palin .. people forget. She had the Democratic party shaking in our boots in 2008. She came out, she gave that speech at the convention. That was, hands down, one of the best convention speeches - not by a woman, by anybody in 2008. People were running for the hills.
The reaction by the left was outrageous.  She was a strong woman in politics with a great speaking style and charisma and they treated her like an idiot, a piece of trash, there was no depth too low to dealing with this woman and her family.  
And there was more than fear behind it.  Charles C. W. Cooke writes:
Here, progressive hypocrisy has been utterly breathtaking. Day in and day out, the more trigger-happy feminists within America’s media circus are moved to pen extravagant disquisitions on the nature of sexual inequality if and when a man they dislike so much as looks at them askew. Elsewhere, wholly substantive criticisms of Elizabeth Warren or Hillary Clinton are held up as shining examples of deeply embedded sexism within the United States, and of the subtle, sometimes invisible role that “hatred of women” plays within the country’s political culture. To take potshots at clownish figures such as Lena Dunham, we have learned, is to invite indignant death threats. And yet, when a veritable legion of male comedians elects to use foul, carnal, and, yes, “gendered” language to dismiss Palin and her family, our contemporary Boudiceas shrug at best and offer endorsements at worst. Sarah Palin, as the abominable bumper sticker has it, “isn’t a woman, she’s a Republican.”
That pretty much puts it as clear as it gets: the problem with Sarah Palin is that she wasn't a dutiful obedient drone for the left.  She dared to defy their order, their ranks.  She was off the plantation and had to be destroyed lest other women follow her path.
The comparison between Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin was striking.  Clinton comes across as strident, shrieking, and unpleasant.  She's not a good public speaker, she seems bitter and arrogant, contemptuous toward the people she's forced to deal with.  Sarah Palin comes across as happy, fun, and welcoming.  It wasn't a pleasant comparison, but in 2008 it was inevitable.
And the significance of this isn't so much the political as the cultural, for me.  Whether Palin is done for politics or not, she's representative of the left's approach toward anyone who dares defy their order of things.  If you happen to belong to one of their favored groups and won't go along with their ideology, they hate you more than the white male.
Whether you're hispanic or black or homosexual or female or any other protected group, if you won't go along with the left politically, you're worse than an enemy.  You're a traitor who loses the right to be even called part of that group.  You're not black, you're a conservative Uncle Tom.  You're not a woman, you're a Republic**t.
And this is the worst sort of behavior, its the kind of actions that led people to lynch blacks in the south, burn books in the north, create lampshades out of prisoners in Poland, and burn witches in Scotland.  This is the attitude of the inquisition, this is where the worst in humanity comes out.
This is the epitome of intolerance and hatred of the other.  Its exactly, exactly what the left claims to be opposed and depict their political opponents as being characterized by.
For the left, its open season on someone that betrays their niche identity by daring to think for themselves.  That's why Bill Maher can say such horrific things about the Palin family and get a pass, but when he notes the brutal evil of Islamofascism is hated by the left.  Its why David Letterman gets a laugh and a wink when he jokes about Willow Palin being raped.  Its why a gubenatorial candidate for Democrats can call his opponent a whore in a speech and get cheers and laughter, not news and pundit condemnation.
Because as I've noted in the past, the left thinks not just that they are right, but that they are holy and enlightened, and that anyone who varies from this is not just wrong but evil and corrupt.  So they're fair game.  After all, no one cares about mean things said about Pol Pot or John Wayne Gacy.  The presumption of malice and monstrous hate in anyone who varies even a little from the left in political ideology is so ingrained that they simply don't see any wrong in such behavior.  Its totally reasonable!
And again, this is the same sort of argument and attitude used for genocide and evil in the past.  Those Irish aren't even human, who cares what you do to them?  African slaves aren't even human, they're property!  Jews aren't even human, you can do anything you want!  Dehumanize, reduce your opponent to a cartoon, to less than you and everything suddenly becomes okay.
And at the risk of repeating myself too much, that's exactly what the left claims to be opposed to.  Exactly what they do and say is what they accuse their enemies of being.  It makes me dizzy at times trying to keep up with it all.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

THE BIG CAMPUS NOOKIE POST

“I am still trying to wrap my mind around the idea of any two intimates in the world agreeing as to ‘why.’”

Something very weird is going on at America's colleges and universities.  No, I'm not referring to their generally leftist tilt and lack of ideological diversity, I'm not talking about their vast expense, or their loading up on administration at the cost of students.  I'm not even talking about how studies have shown that students aren't even getting much of an education at these institutions.
I'm talking about sex.  Now, college campuses have been having "sex weeks" for a while now, and more seem to be adding this to their regular yearly activities.  The idea that college students, bombarded with information and porn on the internet, need a week to learn more about sex is ridiculous of course; the point of these is to attract students and for students hoping to get laid to find someone.
But at the same time as new courses on sexuality and sex weeks and what have you is a sudden trend toward stopping molestation, rape, and abuse on college campuses.  Its everywhere all the sudden, with Mother Jones claiming that rapes will be increased by Global Warming no less, and even the president has made this a high priority, pivoting away from jobs again.  But look at these two graphs:


Those charts show first, the rate of rapes over the last 30 years, which has been on a 20 year decline, and the rate of federal investigations into college handling of sexual violence reports.  See the opposite tangents there?  And the federal chart is just in the last seven months.
The shocking thing, despite the FBI data shown above, is that repeatedly its been claimed that rape rates and sexual assaults are up, that they are skyrocketing, higher than ever, its a horrific crisis!  A student writing at Brown University, home of one of these reports writes:
Newlon and numerous other activists make the bold claim that one in every four college women is a victim of rape or attempted rape. This number is astonishing and no doubt eyebrow-raising. To put it in perspective, in the nation’s most violent city (Detroit), the total violent crime rate was 2.1 percent in 2012. That figure includes murder, rape, assault, and robbery. If the one in four figure shouted at feminist rallies is correct, the nation is willingly sending its daughters to places with a violent crime rate several times that of the most dangerous city in the country.

The number seems even more dubious when compared to statistics put forth annually by the Bureau of Justice Statistics. The Bureau interviews a random sampling of nearly 150,000 Americans about their criminal victimization, and in 2009 and 2010 they determined that the occurrence of rape of women was 0.23 percent and 0.21 percent, respectively.
How did these numbers get decided?  Well a few shoddy studies on campus, some people massaging numbers, and a generous helping of fakery.  For example, one of the questions asked if a girl would have had sex with that guy had she not been drinking or using drugs.  A bunch of the girls honestly answered "no if I was thinking straight I'd have never done it" and the person doing the study determined that this was... you guess it, rape.  It doesn't matter that it was completely consensual, it doesn't matter if these girls (who did, at a 35% clip) had sex later with the same guy.  They were raped, according to this study.

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Friday, October 24, 2014

GRIGGS vs DUKE POWER COMPANY

"Qualified minorities who performed well on an intelligence or aptitude test and would have been offered a job directly 30 or 40 years ago are now compelled to attend a college or university for four years and incur significant costs."

You've probably heard of some US Supreme Court cases that have had a significant impact on our lives, and ones that were just awful (Roe vs Wade, Dred Scott v. Sandford, Kelo v. City of New London).  The courts can have immense effect on culture, law, policy, and economics often without meaning to.
Like ripples spreading on a pond, as George Will notes in a column a few years back, a decision can have wide reaching consequences far beyond what was intended or understood at the time.  In theory, justices are to have the wisdom to understand this kind of thing, but they don't always, and sometimes are blinded by their personal viewpoints.
One case you've likely never heard of is Griggs vs Duke Power Company, decided in 1971 in the Warren court.  The backstory is basically this: Duke Power Company required any employee who wanted a promotion beyond a certain point to have a high school diploma and to pass an aptitude test.  Willie Griggs decided the test was racis' and sued along with a group of other black employees who were unable to pass the test and had no diploma.
Duke Power Company pointed out that they provided funding for people to get a GED and that white employees had failed to pass and were not given promotion as well, and courts agreed all along the line... until they got to Chief Justice Warren's leftist-packed Supreme Court.  I'll let Bill McMorris tell the tale:
The Supreme Court wasn’t buying it. This was North Carolina after all. The court compared the tests to Aesop’s fable of the Fox and the Stork, in which a fox offers a dish full of milk to a stork, whose beak prevents it from satisfying its thirst. The implication that black and white workers were of a different species did not strike any of the justices as racist, unlike the objective tests. Griggs found that if blacks failed to meet a standard at a higher rate than whites the standard itself was racist—a legal doctrine known as disparate impact.
That's right, the court ruled that requiring blacks to face the same challenges as other ethnic groups to achieve promotion was racist because... well apparently they thought blacks were somehow incapable of taking the tests, or were innately different as human beings.  Even the civil rights acts of the 1960s specifically stated that tests not designed to be racist or discriminatory were perfectly acceptable for employment standards, but the Supreme Court ordered congress to change that.
So now what were employers to do?  The tests worked - as McMorris points out businesses were just following the military's successes against "the two most efficient peoples known to man" in WW2 and decided they'd use the same system of aptitude testing to place and screen candidates.  It worked, while it was legally possible.
Without testing, businesses turned to colleges and universities to handle it for them.  They reasoned  about this court ruling that these institutions would weed out the less able in a field and pass the more able, so they could use diplomas.  "This is, of course, just one reason why college attendance increased from 5.8 million in 1970 to 17.5 million in 2005," as George Will wrote in 2009.
But it was basically free to take an aptitude test and get a high school diploma.  It costs more than a car to get a college degree.  So poor blacks, the very kind that the Griggs decision was supposed to help, are the very ones that now have a harder time getting and advancing in jobs.  In fact, the GI Bill resulted in only 1 of every 8 vets coming home going to college; the rest were able to use aptitude testing to get into jobs, something no longer possible.  Meanwhile education costs have gone up and up. 
With more people pushed into the university system to get higher paying jobs, combined with massive government programs to help pay the bills, colleges and universities began raising their fees, costs, and rates.  Since Griggs was handed down, the average cost for a college education has gone up 440%, far more than the rate of inflation. 
The Project on Student Debt showed that the average college student today takes out nearly $30,000 in debt, graduating into a job market with an unemployment rate around 20% for their age group.  Some point to a stat showing that unemployment for college graduates is just under 5%, but even during the worst of the Carter years, it was under 2%.
Ive written several times about why those costs have gone up and where that money is going (hint - nearly none of it to education), but with that supreme court decision, businesses have gone from individual testing to just letting colleges handle it.
In the process, colleges and universities changed how they promoted themselves, trying to get more people into their doors.  McMorris again:
By the late 1970s, universities were in crisis mode. The baby boom produced more students than they knew what to do with, but declining birth rates left them with a smaller pool of tuition-paying students. Their new role as the gateway to respectable careers and higher salaries solved that problem. They replaced comprehensive liberal arts education with career-oriented majors that displaced the apprentice, rise-from-the-bottom system that had previously defined the American labor market. Curriculum quality and homework rates plunged, but endowments swelled.

“To keep their mammoth plants financially solvent, many institutions have begun to use hard-sell, Madison Avenue techniques to attract students. They sell college like soap, promoting features they think students want: innovative programs, an environment conducive to meaningful personal relationships, and a curriculum so free that it doesn’t sound like college at all,” academic Caroline Bird noted
Standards have been steadily lowered, educational quality - judging by the difference between Freshmen and graduates - has declined, and costs have gone up.  More than half of new graduates (about 17,000,000 young people) are working in fields that have nothing to do with their degree: getting that diploma doesn't help you get a great job.
And yet businesses today require a diploma even for jobs that have nothing to do with a college education, because they can't use aptitude testing to screen or find gems in their applicants.  But the increased numbers of people getting bachelor's degrees is decreasing its value to employers.  In fact, the need to find work to pay off huge college debt is pushing students into fields they are technically overqualified for:
There are 100,000 postal workers, 317,000 waitresses, and 18,000 parking lot attendants with undergraduate degrees. One out of every four bartenders has a diploma, and though they listen to moping for a living, few majored in psychology. Nearly 6,000 janitors have doctorate degrees.
And every one of those guys is taking a job that someone without qualifications or a degree could have done, but now cannot get.
This kind of decision, meant well, but poorly considered, has had very negative impact on the economy, lives of people, education, and culture.  It was poorly decided (like many of the Supreme Court cases from that time period) to fit an agenda and has had poor impact on the nation.
So if you ever wondered why that management job at the Pizza Shack required a college degree, or why the Personnel department treats any degree at all as better than clear experience and skill in a job well, now you know.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

SOCIAL JUSTICE KITTENS

Bitterness is cancer - it eats upon the host. It doesn't do anything to the object of its displeasure.
-Maya Angelou

Over at American Digest I saw a strange and humorous, yet miserable sight recently.  It is of a real calendar that you can order from SquareUp called the Social Justice Kittens Calendar.  It is a series of adorable pictures of kittens coupled with social justice statements and quotes.
I cannot tell if this is meant to be ironic, satirical, or is a serious product, but I'm leaning toward satire.  Each picture has quotes on it like this (some are Not Safe For Work and contain foul language):

The sentiments put in these calendar pictures are the sort that certain classes in some colleges and universities will promote and professors will say, even unrelated to the topic at hand.  And they seem extreme but I've read these quotes or things like them from people who are not saying them as a joke, but with absolute earnest and honesty.
The bitterness, anger, and even hate that radiates from them is shocking to me.  "This conversation doesn't make me feel safe" is genuine, actual college speak, in the "microaggressions" school of thought.  The purpose is to silence speech that the listener does not care for or that threatens their worldview.
They care nothing for liberty, or truth, or honesty, they do not want a world where people interact and learn from each other, they want nothing save a continual, comforting womb of support and confirmation of their worldview.  And they're more than willing to crush anyone or anything that threatens this.
This attitude might be a byproduct of the bubble wrap children, who were raised so carefully, protected, and supported that they never encountered anything that challenged or made them question themselves.  It might be a subversive method of silencing speech and dissent from a political agenda that cannot survive rational discussion.  It might be the result of a psychosis that cannot abide being questioned.  It might be a combination of some or all of those things.
Certainly it is uncomfortable, even frightening when someone challenges your presumptions in a convincing and rational manner.  Nobody welcomes being wrong, particularly on deeply held presumptions about life and belief. 
For as long as there has been human life on earth, there have been a majority who never even consider their worldview, only live it out.  And among those people have always been some who find any doubt terrifying and intolerable, people who have great certainty only because they refuse to consider or even listen to an alternate viewpoint.
This is no bastion of the left or right, or any other political persuasion.  It is a human characteristic to one degree or another to reject things that trouble, threaten, or weaken our resolve.  Some in any group are like this.
What's most troubling to me is that the loudest, most insistent, and most publicly conspicuous of this group are those who at the same time insist that they are lovers of liberty and will not tolerate intolerance.
And yet here we are, in the 21st century, where academics have churned out an entire system designed to do exactly the opposite of what academia is meant to be: silence any debate, questioning, or interaction that in any way threatens one specific certain viewpoint.  And its done with passive-aggressive behavior taken to an astounding depth of creativity and precision.
These are the chocolate sipping onesie boys of the world, who emote without thought and cringe at perceived aggressions by people who challenge their certainties.  Brutality, bullying, rape, they cry.  And in a polite society, their approach tends to shut down any talk.
Its the flip side of the Online Forum Effect where there is a tourettes-like tendency of some to bring up in any conversation and any occasion their pet political viewpoints.  They do it loudly and angrily, and become so unpleasant that everyone around them learns to just shut up about some topics in the hopes that they won't provoke another episode that ruins everything for everyone.
And in the process, they win by silencing any dissent or alternate viewpoint.  By not allowing anyone to gainsay or question their absolute certainty on a topic, all that everyone is left with is their regular outbursts on every subject.
And in time, that wears down all but the most strong of wills by the Big Lie. After all, I don't hear anyone disagreeing with them or showing how they are wrong, and they wouldn't be so very strong and insistent about this if it wasn't at least somewhat true.  They aren't crazy or lying all the time, nobody would do that...
And until this changes, until this atmosphere at institutions of higher learning changes, until this approach toward academia and culture is different, then the entire exercise of education is pointless.  How can you expect anyone to get an honest, valuable education in this kind of atmosphere?  What kind of worldview and what sort of behavior is being inculcated by this kind of attitude?  Nothing healthy.

Monday, October 20, 2014

OLD DOGS

"This old dog can learn new tricks.  I just got better things to do."

The older I get, the better I understand the saying "you can't teach an old dog new tricks." I used to think this referred to some weakness of the mind or obstinance, which I rejected as foolish and even cruel.
I've come to understand That saying differently. The older you get, the less patience, time, and energy you have with new things. You've seen decades of new things and are beginning to tire of their novelty. You only have so much time, and most of it is taken up with the rest of your life. And you have less energy to spend on something new. 
In addition, the older you get, the more experience you have. Starting to learn a new operating system at 20 seems like just a matter of picking up some new tricks, but at 50 you realize just how long its going to take and how annoying its going to be after the previous 5 times through that process. And sometimes it feels like this old Far Side cartoon, where you've filled your mind up with 50+ years of stuff like old phone numbers, how to call information on a rotary phone, and the name of that character on Adam-12. 
So its not so much you cannot teach an old dog new tricks. Its that the old dog has been through this once too often and has better things to do.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

THE FAILURE OF THE LEFT

Just wanted to pass on this article that makes a good point:
The Obama administration - and indeed the left in general - is great at creating new faux crises and threads during peaceful and stable times, but lousy with dealing with actual crises and threats when danger looms.
James Longfield writes at American Thinker:
It is often observed that liberalism is steeped in feelings and emotion.  It is guided by what others think and feel at the expense of dealing with reality.  Perception reigns supreme, and liberals are good at it.

Greg Gutfeld made a salient observation the other day.  He pointed out that liberalism thrives in times in which there are no crises.  In times such as those, liberalism raises lightweight issues and gives them gravitas.  School lunch programs, child obesity, the size of soda drinks, gay rights, free contraception, are their rallying “causes celeb”.

However, when crisis presents itself, we reap the consequences of liberalism in governmental leadership.  More frequent now are the vapid responses to crisis led by the conveniently appointed, those “politically correctly” installed into position of power.  The responses tend to be inept and politically expedient.  Imagery, polls and elections are the focus rather than the required action and solution.  Is seems to be contrary to their DNA to depart from the warm and fuzzy to the tactful, strategic and necessary.

Keynesian economics is owned by the liberals partly because the solution to economic woes is easy, print money. No budgetary trimming or tough decisions here. Does anyone think that the late Secret Service head was installed for her ability, or was it for her gender? Was Susan Rice anointed for her special talents regarding national security or her allegiance to the talking points? Was the head of the CDC installed for his quick thinking and responsive resolve?  All seem to crumble under the weight of responsibility.
Its worth reading the whole thing, but it comes down to an academic, detached understanding of reality I've noted many times in the past.  The left is led by people who are lousy at dealing with real life, but have a head full of offenses and horrors that the rest of the world consider unworthy of serious concern.
This makes them interesting theoreticians, but unequal to the task of any governance or wielding any degree of power.  There are people on the left who aren't in this idiot box, but they aren't the ones in charge.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

THOSE NONEXISTENT WMD

"Since the outset of the war, the scale of the United States’ encounters with chemical weapons in Iraq was neither publicly shared nor widely circulated within the military."

So sue me, I'm going to keep hammering this because I keep hearing and reading the same idiot talking points.
In the news recently?  Soldiers suffering from aftereffects of Iraq war.  And what were those aftereffects?  I'll let C.J. Chivers at the New York Times explain:
It was August 2008 near Taji, Iraq. They had just exploded a stack of old Iraqi artillery shells buried beside a murky lake. The blast, part of an effort to destroy munitions that could be used in makeshift bombs, uncovered more shells.

Two technicians assigned to dispose of munitions stepped into the hole. Lake water seeped in. One of them, Specialist Andrew T. Goldman, noticed a pungent odor, something, he said, he had never smelled before.

He lifted a shell. Oily paste oozed from a crack. “That doesn’t look like pond water,” said his team leader, Staff Sgt. Eric J. Duling.

The specialist swabbed the shell with chemical detection paper. It turned red — indicating sulfur mustard, the chemical warfare agent designed to burn a victim’s airway, skin and eyes.

All three men recall an awkward pause. Then Sergeant Duling gave an order: “Get the hell out.”
In fact this happened several times over the years, soldiers encountering those WMD that didn't exist, the ones Saddam Hussein never had and the inspectors couldn't find.
In all, American troops secretly reported finding roughly 5,000 chemical warheads, shells or aviation bombs, according to interviews with dozens of participants, Iraqi and American officials, and heavily redacted intelligence documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.
The stockpiles that Iraq didn't have, those WMD that we were told smugly and repeatedly were lied about... kept being found.  The fact is, Iraq did have WMD, was working toward a nuclear weapons program, and did possess stockpiles of banned weapons.
When some was found and reported on, the response was as painfully predictable as it was often ignorant: "those are old and decayed, they aren't usable," or "that's a lie, they got it wrong, its fake."  When countries in the coalition said "hey we found chemical warheads buried" the talking points spun into motion.  When tons of yellowcake uranium from Niger was discovered, the left ignored and buried the story - after all, Joe Wilson said it didn't happen.  He asked the Niger government and they pinky swore they never sold any to Iraq.
But if these weapons were so degraded and old, why is the State Department now - ten years later - worried that IS will find and use them?  Its almost as if they aren't so old and decayed, as if they were being produced and hidden, as the Bush administration and every intelligence operation on the planet said was happening.
And the stories kept coming out over the years.  UK Experts to help Iraq destroy chemical weaponsIS uncovers stockpiles of WMD.  Way back in 2006, then-Senator Santorum pointed out the discovery of five hundred chemical warhead shells which was ignored by most of the press.  Sarin Gas Shells found by the dozen, as reported by Charles Deulfer.  Now IS is using those nonexistent chemical weapons against Iraqi security forces.  Exposure to mustard gas was reported, vaguely, in the media as far back as 2004, but they tried really hard to avoid saying so.
Now the left is crying "no, this isn't the same, these are different WMD!"  They point out that these are quite old, that they are not from a WMD program in Iraq after 1991's cease fire.
Except the argument was never Iraq has new WMD, just that he has them and they are banned.  That he is not supposed to have any WMD, which is any amount more than 1.  He had these hidden away all over the place, stockpiled, for later use.
And that's not even getting into the WMD that Syria is using on its own people that came from Iraq.  The bottom line is that the left's parrot squawking about "Bush lied!" is utterly, demonstrably, and hilariously false, and always was.
And I'll keep pointing this out until the lies about it stop.
*UPDATE: Eric asks a good question in the comments; why did President Bush and his administration not bring these to light and why did they keep saying there weren't any WMD in Iraq?
One reason certainly is the same thing the CIA Duelfer report noted (and everyone ignored): they found WMD, but not the vigorous, active manufacturing they expected, and not in the quantity they were lead to believe.
But another possibility is this, courtesy Eli Lake at the Daily Beast:
Starting in 2004, some members of the George W. Bush administration and Republican lawmakers began to find evidence of discarded chemical weapons in Iraq. But when the information was brought up with the White House, senior adviser Karl Rove told them to “let these sleeping dogs lie.”
Karl Rove seems to me to be one of those non-ideologue politicians, a guy who is driven not by principle or policy ideas, but power.  Rove wants Republicans to be in charge of government, and everything he did and says is to that end, no matter what those Republicans end up being like.  For him its an "us vs them" thing, not truth vs lies or good vs evil.
So Rove saw revealing the WMD in Iraq as a negative, something that would not help Republicans beat Democrats.  He seems to have believed that bringing this back up would simply remind people of the controversy.  This idea was deeply flawed, and obviously so, but that was his position.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

PRODUCTS OF YOUR IMAGINATION

"They're playing the most phenomenal game ever created!"

One of the things that concerns me as a gamer - the real thing, not the "I play video games dude" kind - is that role playing games are on the decline as a hobby.  People are playing video games that label themselves "RPG" instead of the ones that require pen and paper and other people around.
Don't get me wrong, I like World of Warcraft and Star Wars: the Old Republic and so on.  They are fun and can connect you with other players.  And they are (nearly) always available, so you can play without waiting for other people.
But they aren't the same as getting your dice out and sitting down with friends to play a game.  And some think that RPG manufacturers need to advertise more.  Which brings us to this, a display of the old ads that TSR ran for their products. I'm not convinced they were very effective.
First this ugly paste job:
It doesn't get much more cheap and clumsy.  I kind of get what they are trying to say here, but it just doesn't work.  And why is the knight riding bitch and smoking a cigar?
Then there's this hideous thing.  I guess they were going for some kind of Peter Max op art thing but its just horrible looking:
I remember seeing that ad and the art always struck me as just being terrible looking.  They should have sprung for some David Trampier art instead of having someone's 9 year old sketch it.  The next ads are better, if a bit confusing:

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Thursday, October 09, 2014

POWER OVER WHITE PEOPLE

"Well, to be fair, the Times editorial board is as diverse as an Obama campaign headquarters."

There's a piece on Taki magazine (which I saw the link to at American Digest) which points out something poignant and sad.  After decades of the freshest efforts in educational theory and government work, the ranking of ethnic groups in education has gone from this in 1972:
  1. Orientals
  2. Caucasians
  3. Chicanos
  4. Blacks
To this today:
  1. Asians
  2. Whites
  3. Hispanics
  4. African-Americans
Such a change!  They've managed to re-label all the groups with laser-like precision and effort.  The skill it took to change the names of these groups while leaving them utterly unchanged is breathtaking.
This is just one little way of pointing out the obvious we all know but don't talk about; the left has been in charge of fixing society for 50 years and has had virtually no positive effect on their goals since the early 1970s. 
Racism is worse than ever, to hear them tell it.  Sexism, the same.  The environment is worse and worse, they claim. Poverty is at a pretty stable rate, with ups and downs for economic shifts, despite trillions spent to alleviate it.  Education has been degrading continually in quality, and on and on.  In their goals of helping people and overcoming their main enemies, the left is pretty lousy at the job, but wants more power to try again.
I can't help but think this cynical view of life as espoused by Instapundit Glenn Reynolds isn't accurate:
All this talk of tolerance and diversity is basically just a way for one group of white people to pursue power over other groups of white people. It's not about actually helping anyone.
Ultimately its not about fixing any stated problems, but about fixing the main problem the left thinks they face.  Its not that they do not want to help the poor, improve education, and so on.  Its that this is not their primary goal.
Their primary goal is to eliminate capitalism and any religious influence on public life.  They have had the same goals since the late 1800s, and have never changed.  They change their approach, they change their rhetoric, and they change their list of enemies, but the goal is always the same.
The theory is that once they eliminate these twin evils, then society will shift into a glorious utopia in which all the other ills - which are, naturally, results of these evils - will easily be solved and go away.
So in the end, nothing ever gets better, not only because they must keep pointing to greater and greater evils to justify their crisis-driven policy changes, but because they aren't really even trying to fix any of them.  It is about the power to eliminate what they think is the root cause (capitalism, religion), not their claimed goals.
So does education get any better?  No, and it can't, because that's not what they are interested in.  All they want to do is draw attention to perceived and actual problems as a lever to topple their enemies.  This talk of diversity, multiculturalism, tolerance, and so on is simply a method of controlling people's thinking, silencing foes, and gaining power to implement great goals.
Now, is this true of each individual leftist?  I have no doubt that some are genuinely interested in fixing these particular problems.  I am certain there are hard working educational specialists trying to find ways to better teach and lift up groups doing poorly in schools.  There are people working for little to no money to help out people in poverty.  Sure, their solutions are failed and discredited, the causes they identify are generally nonsense, but they really care and are trying to help.
But they are the vast minority.  For every one of these misguided heroes, there are fifty who sign on to the cause because it feels good and makes them seem like good guys, and twenty who don't care so much about the individual problems listed save how they are leverage to push toward the real goal.
Ted Danson doesn't really give a crap about the oceans, other than a conversation point and something that he donates to.  Al Gore doesn't care about the environment beyond a way to get power, money, and prestige.  Barbara Streisand doesn't care about racism except for how mean people were to her as a Jew in the 60s.  They care about what they get out of it, whether a nice feeling or attention and money.
If they really cared, they wouldn't just donate and make speeches, they wouldn't show up on talk shows and make presentations.  They'd actually hit the streets to help out, they would be working to fix the problem, and more than anything else they would live a life commensurate with their stated goals rather than flying around and taking SUVs to climate conferences and building homes on crumbling ocean shores.
And behind it all, even if some of them aren't aware of it, is the baseline presumption that its capitalism, religion (particularly Christianity) and stupid Republicans that are the reason behind it all.  Scrape away the rhetoric and it always ends up being about evil corporations, fanatics, and Sarah Palin.
Because they are driven by this leftist scheme since the 19th century to try the same failed schemes that have been disastrous in nation after nation.  Because this time it will work, since they are so enlightened and good and noble.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

POOCH PONDERING

Having a bit of a family emergency; my mother went in for minor surgery so I'm spending a day with her to watch over her and can't get a blog post up today or most likely tomorrow. So I offer this bit of doggy angst instead:


Friday, October 03, 2014

FREE WILL IS BUNK

You can choose from phantom fears and kindness that can kill
I will choose a path that's clear
I will choose freewill
-Rush, "Free Will"

You don't have free will.  I know that sounds crazy, but its true, you don't have free will the way people usually mean it.  When the topic of free will comes up, most people think it means they have the ability to shape their own lives and decide however they wish about any topic. 
It sounds nice, and for modern man it is appealing in terms of self destiny and autonomy, but its all just bunk.  Each of us has a will, this is true.  We have the ability to decide what we want and a desire to direct our lives in a certain way.  But that will is not free the way people think of it.
Our will is only free within certain limits of our personality and circumstances.  And that doesn't sound truly real, does it?  That's because it isn't in the sense of what people usually mean by freedom of the will.
THE TRAIN
For one thing, our freedom of will is directed by our nature; who we are, how we were raised, what we believe, and our fundamental worldview.  The way we understand the world and others around us shapes our will and directs us into certain paths and patterns.  My will is shaped by who I am; what I want and desire from life and try to accomplish is designated by my worldview, ambitions, and character.  I am not free to utterly be anyone whatsoever, only me.
Like a train free to run on any track, we're free to decide and act within the limits of who we are and what our circumstances are.
Despite some slogans and the declarations of some thinkers, our will is severely limited by reality.  We cannot shape the world and the others around us by the strength of our will.  Because each person has a will of their own, no one's can be so totally free and powerful as to constantly manipulate reality to our will, because we would all be clashing with each others' desires.
Consider.  Almost all of life is out of our control.  We may have a will to be rich, powerful, successful, attractive, healthy, and live forever.  But our lives dictate a different path.  Few will themselves to become old, blind, crippled, diseased, poor, starving, or dead.  But that is our path, all of us to one degree or another.  All of us will die.  All of us will have ill health.  Very, very few will have enough money to not worry about having more for tomorrow.
I have the will to be a successful author, not wealthy, but comfortable from the income of writing.  I have a will to be strong and healthy.  None of that is true, not yet at least.  My will changes nothing about this circumstance.
At best, our wills can shape how we respond to and act within our circumstances, but even that is limited by our nature and the situation we find ourselves in.  Our will is not free, not in the sense people mean it.
FORCING YOUR WILL ON OTHERS
Yet our culture wants to act as if that's true.  And further, they wish to make a world where our will controls reality, even when it cannot.  Here's one recent example; Germany has announced that tuition at all institutions of higher learning starting next term are free.  Young people in the country celebrated, young people elsewhere cried "why not here??"
Older people said "what the??"  Because they know that this term "free" means something different than how it is being used.  Tuition isn't free, its just being forced out of everyone in the country at gunpoint.  There's no free university education here, its just being paid for by thousands of people who get no education out of it.  Instead of people paying for what they receive, they're demanding others pay instead.  Because even if a college student has a job that pays any taxes, they've only paid a tiny sliver of the cost of one student's education with their taxes so far.  They're just getting an education at everyone else's expense.
“Tuition fees are socially unjust,” cried one student named Dorothee Stapelfeldt.  Her term is undefined and vague, but essentially it means "we want this, so we should get it, without needing to achieve it."  She wants to assert her will upon reality, and is demanding that everyone else make it possible.  She demands that the world around her change to reflect her desires, rather than her change to achieve them.
And this is incredibly common today.  Each new demand for a "right" or "justice" is not about rights or justice at all, but about people frustrated that things aren't going their way demanding that everyone and everything change to make it happen.
Most of the Occupy Movement was highjacked by this perspective.  Why should I have to pay my bills?  Why can't you just give me what I demand?  The world isn't like I was raised to understand, its hard and cruel and cares nothing for my snowflake feelings!
Health care, contraceptives, feminine hygiene products like tampons, higher education, endless unemployment, food stamps, on and on it goes.  You should give it to me because otherwise its hard and I'd have to make my own way.  You should give it to me because that's how I think the world should be.  You must change to accommodate my will.
When the world got in the way of what Americans used to want, they rolled up their sleeves, dusted off their hands and started working harder.  It was a challenge, an opportunity to show what they were made of.  That's how the country got built, that's how the US went from a backwater bunch of crazy colonists into the world's most powerful country in less than a century.
Today, when faced with a problem, the country whines for government to fix it.  When we are confronted with how our will is thwarted or slowed by reality and the way we are, tantrums start, requiring that things change so our will can be obeyed.  I want.  I need.  You should give.  If you don't you're heartless, cruel, racist, bigoted, homophobic, sexist.
Its sort of pathetic, watching people pretend they can make the world be what they wish it to be.  The world is what it is, you can affect it, shape it, and influence it by your efforts, but you can't make it not be what it is.  Beating your fists on that rock won't make it into marshmellows.  But with a chisel, a hammer, and skill you can make it into a statue.
Your will is not free.  It is flexible and controlled by you, but not free.  And that's a good thing, ultimately.  Grow up and face reality, instead of demanding people fix it.

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

OF FOOLS AND SCIENCE

"A look back at the march of science doesn’t show an even line of progress led by smooth-talking popularizers who are never wrong."

Every so often I run across an article that I wish I'd written.  There aren't many out there in my style
or focus of interest, but sometimes I see them, and when I do, it seems that most often they are on a blog called Sultan Knish.
A recent post on that site is called "Science Is For Stupid People" and its very well done.  There's been a lot of analysis of science and psuedo science and pop science around the internet lately.  Basically people are getting tired of science being used as a bludgeon or a political weapon rather than a method of inquiry.
In short, people are using what they consider to be science to support their preconceptions and political ideas.  Evolution is good and if you disagree you're stupid and should not have any status or power.  Republicans are crazy monsters, this study proves it.  My meme with Neil DeGrasse Tyson against a field of stars proves that you're stupid.  On and on it goes.  But as Dan Greenfield notes at Sultan Knish, real science is uncomfortable and often makes us feel dumber:
The easy way to tell real religion from fake religion is that real religion doesn’t make you feel good. It doesn’t assure you that everything you’re doing is right and that you ought to keep on doing it.

The same holds true for science. Real science doesn’t make you feel smart. Fake science does.

No matter how smart you think you are, real science will make you feel stupid far more often than it will make you feel smart. Real science not only tells us how much more we don’t know than we know, a state of affairs that will continue for all of human history, but it tells us how fragile the knowledge that we have gained is, how prone we are to making childish mistakes and allowing our biases to think for us.

Science is a rigorous way of making fewer mistakes. It’s not very useful to people who already know everything. Science is for stupid people who know how much they don’t know.
Science, properly used, is merely a system of study using measurement and technique to ask and answer questions.  There is no such thing as a bad skeptic in science; it is made up of skeptics, questioners, and those who wonder if what is commonly accepted is true.
Anyone who refuses to admit or even believe that they could be wrong is not doing good science.  What was once absolutely certain has later proved questionable or even false many times in scientific endeavors.  And when that happens, there's always a group of people who will at no cost admit they were wrong.  Those people are not good scientists.
Its a sad truth that it takes a generation for new ideas to take hold in scientific communities, because the old guard that will not give up what they believe or want to be true have to die out in order for the new to take hold.
For example, it was known to be fact that the human body was made up of various "humors" in the blood which would control health and mood.  Bleeding was a useful way to balance out those humors, by removing the bad humors that had built up.  Literally, cutting and letting some blood out.  Medicine was not about correcting chemistry or dealing with invasive bacteria or virii, it was about correcting these imbalances, often by causing diarrhea in the victim/patient.  Get it out of your system.
When scientists such as Pasteur found the existence of bacteria and proved it, the reaction was strong and angry.  Pasteur was thrown in an insane asylum for a time.  Think about it from the perspective of the time.  Every scientist on earth claims the humor theory, which has seemed to work and be valid.  Along comes this crackpot that claims they're all wrong and its in fact itty bitty creatures that invade the body.  Microscopic, impossible to see without special equipment.
He sounds insane from that perspective, doesn't he?  Except he was right and he could prove it through experimentation.  But the old guard knew their system, had reputations based on it, careers and esteem based around the old system, and even books sold about it.  Pasteur's proof was meaningless, it was in the way.  It took a long time to get that old system pushed away finally.
If tomorrow, someone absolutely, objectively proved evolution was the idiotic pile of nonsense it is, it would take decades for science to change, and even longer for culture to catch up.  A generation, even.  Because too many people have too much at stake and it is so ingrained in our culture and entertainment people just cannot give it up easily.
And since culturally, questioning some scientific proclamations is essentially religious heresy, a sign not of being confused but pernicious, destructive, and a knuckle-dragging sister-marrying neanderthal who'd vote for Sarah Palin, this would be an even tougher uphill battle.  No matter what the truth was, what was proven, or how clear it was.
And this is the problem so often with science. Its done by humans.  You aren't transformed into a higher being by getting that degree.  Putting on a lab coat doesn't make you any less selfish, corruptible, greedy, or biased than anyone else.  Scientists are no better or worse than anyone else, its just a job.  Being a scientist doesn't make you a smarter or truer person.  It just makes you a guy with that career.
But for some, needing an objective, absolute thing to trust in but rejecting religion, science becomes their faith.  It doesn't matter exactly what science says, as long as its Science.  A scientist said it, and I don't know any better so it must be true.  Someone disagrees or questions that, and thus, they are wrong, bad, stupid... heretical.
This lack of understanding but certainty combines into a hideous sort of quasi-science Greenfield calls "Tysonism" for the popularity of Neil Degrasse Tyson, current spokesperson for pop science.  By Pop Science, I mean the popular understanding of and publicized things people take for science, such as "humans are causing catastrophic planetary climactic change."
Tysonism is why ObamaCare suffered a disastrous launch, why the VA reorganization didn’t work and why we’re back in Iraq. Technocrats don’t make mistakes. They can’t. They’re only at the top because they’re smart. If they ever admitted to being stupid, they would lose their right to rule.

Like Lysenkoism, Tysonism uses ideology to determine the outcomes of science. That’s how we keep ending up with Global Warming as settled science no matter how often the actual science contradicts it.

Tysonism appropriates science without understanding it. Its science consists of factoids, some right and some wrong, which simplify and clarify everything. Its manufactured intelligence makes people feel smart without actually giving them the critical tools to question the false assumptions of a Tyson.
Pop Science isn't about the facts or evidence, its about who holds these positions and what they mean politically and culturally.  Few people who "F***in Love Science" as the crude Facebook page cries don't know much about science at all.  They love Geek Culture not out of any particular allegiance to comic books and fantasy but because Harry Potter films are so fun and Big Bang Theory makes them laugh.
People love Neil Degrasse Tyson's version of science because he promotes a certain aggressive atheism and contempt for the correct targets (such as George Bush) that fits their worldview.  He confirms their assumptions by giving them a veneer of scientific support.
Like the first episode of Cosmos which portrayed history as some kind of battle between science and stupid Christians, Pop Science is a method to wrap a warm and comforting blanket of virtue around what people already figured to be true.
Greenfield uses the word "stupid" when he means "ignorant" or at least "foolish" but his points are very valid.  And I can't argue with this ending:
There is no need to think about anything because the smart people have already done all the thinking. You can show you are smart by accepting their conclusions or show your stupidity by questioning them.

Science and skepticism are the tools of stupid people. As Socrates put it, I know that I know nothing. We have the most to fear from the smart people who don’t know and will never admit how little they know.
The truth is, science doesn't support or deny any political party or ideology.  Its just science.  Often it is mistaken, but corrective.  Some positions on the left are scientific, others are not.  The same is for the right.  Christians hold to and reject other scientific positions, as do atheists.  Science has no more to do with politics than sculpture or literature.
But for some, Pop Science is their religion and politics, their culture and their art.  It encaspulates everthing by being only what they wish to be true.  And the thing that suffers most from this is good, well-done science.