Monday, April 30, 2007
  Vive la France, part trois




Starting here, Polistra has made it clear, (most powerfully here), that she loves France and considers the French way of doing things to be an example that we should follow.

With the latest election results, it appears that Sarkozy will become the French president. He has been serving as Interior Minister, and is the only Euro leader who takes the threat of Mohammed seriously. He is also verbally pro-American, which could mean that France, already a strong ally, will become a partial friend as well. Who knows, maybe some of our politicians will even .... no, they won't learn anything from him.

We could also learn from the French - more generally the European - system of party politics. France has four major parties, each representing an actual set of ideas; typically no party wins an absolute majority, so they must negotiate in Parliament to get things done. And they do in fact get things done, because each party's leader knows what he wants, thus has a firm basis for negotiating.

Our system currently consists of one organization operating under two brand names. There is no party with a set of ideas, nor any party that serves the interests of America.

Despite this complete lack of representation, our people still fall into the same categories as the four Euro parties. These four sets of ideas could be described monosyllabically as Mao, Dow, Home, and Rome.

Mao is the hard left: abortionists, environmentalists, feminists, judges.
Mao's platform is simple: Exterminate! Exterminate! Exterminate!

Dow believes that the bettors in the Wall Street Casino are the only important factor. In other words, China and Mexico should benefit from every move made by America. Both of our political brands are primarily Dow-worshippers.

Home is the old Populist position; its platform is that every move made by the government of this nation should favor the people of this nation, not some other nation. In European terms this is called the 'far-right', and Sarkozy decidedly fits here.

Rome is Catholics and some evangelicals; in Europe they would be the Christian Democrats. They tend to favor the welfare state but dislike the culture of the Left. They disagree firmly with the Maoists on abortion and feminism, but stupidly and suicidally agree with Mao on the environment.

Polistra consists mainly of Home, with a sizable dash of Rome.

= = = = =

Afterthought: The new 'Unity 2008' is an actual third party with some prospect of success, but unfortunately it proves my point about the utter insanity of modern American politics. You'd think a new party would try to capture a specific set of ideas, but Unity is trying to be EVEN LESS IDEOLOGICAL than our two brands. I honestly don't see how that's physically possible. It's like trying to be less spicy than water, or less dazzlingly colorful than fog.

However, if Unity wants to find a middle position, that would be easy to locate with absolute precision. The only difference between R and D is that many R politicians (say 70%) are against abortion, while only a few D's (say 20%) are against abortion. So Unity can simply count those groups precisely, find the average, and insure that its politicians adhere to that average.
 
Sunday, April 29, 2007
  Dumb Albert

This morning while walking to the store, I saw a truly dumb bumper sticker.

You cannot simultaneously prevent and prepare for war.

The sticker had Albert Einstein's face behind the quote. A bit of googling verifies that AE did in fact say it.

The quote comes from a 1955 letter discussing the Cold War. In larger context:

But our responsibility is particularly great, for circumstances have temporarily placed the United States in so powerful a position that our influence on current events is of very great significance. In the face of so heavy a responsibility, the temptation to abuse one's power is great and potentially very dangerous.

You cannot simultaneously prevent and prepare for war. The very prevention of war requires more faith, courage and resolution than are needed to prepare for war. We must all do our share, that we may be equal to the task of peace.


Einstein was, of course, a standard Gandhian pacifist and socialist, though definitely not a Marxist. And his abhorrence for war is completely understandable, just as McCain's abhorrence for torture.

The basic problem is that Einstein was a theorist, not an experimentalist. Within the realms of physics, he held a fine contempt for empirical knowledge; his job was to imagine new ideas and check them for internal consistency. Learning how nature actually works was not his department. But in discussing human nature, he wasn't even a good theorist.

Consider: "The very prevention of war requires more faith, courage and resolution than are needed to prepare for war." This isn't a theory, because it doesn't specify a connection between faith and prevention. You can't grab any part of this sentence and try to test it.

Is he advising that we pray for the conversion of our enemies? I severely doubt it, since he was some kind of deist but not a Christian. If not by prayer, then how in the world would "faith, courage and resolution" cause Osama and Ahmedinejad to calm down and become Gandhians themselves?

No, this is just a set of words assembled into a sentence. It sounds nice but it has no meaning, let alone any concrete value. At the risk of repeating myself, every rational observer of human nature in the last 5000 years has known that preparing for war is the best way to prevent war. It doesn't always work, but "faith, courage and resolution" never works.
 
  "Image"

Andy McCarthy, former prosecutor, has a wonderful piece this morning on McCain's dangerously weak approach to torture and interrogation. McCarthy expertly knocks down the notion that a tortured captive will always give bad information: it depends on the quality of the questions. If you let him know which answer you want to hear, he will probably give you that answer; but if you ask open-ended questions, he won't be able to decide. He may still give you bad info, but you can check.

As I've said before, McCain's feelings about torture can certainly be understood. And this is exactly why he cannot be a wartime President. His feelings, his personal history, will make it impossible for him to do necessary things. We already have an occupant of the Oval Office who cannot do any of the necessary things, for different reasons. We don't need another.

Let's get down to the basics. Yes, Darwin again. Why do we have things like families, cities, and nations? So that each of these entities can provide civilization and other goodies for its members, not for outsiders. Most of the time a family or nation doesn't have to bother with outsiders, but when outsiders intrude with knives, guns, bombs, or 747s, the family or nation must destroy the outsider.

Bush and McCain go wrong by confusing the layers of this structure.

It's true that an individual or a family can behave nicely and non-violently, when placed within a functional city or nation. Again, that's exactly why the city was created: to provide police and fire services, so that a family doesn't have to spend most of its time and money on fortifications and guns. This frees up the individuals to pursue their own talents, in business or art or science. Niceness and pleasantries are important lubricants in business, art, and science.

But a nation is never free to be nice and non-violent. There is no structure above nations that serves as policeman. The Bush family seems to believe that the UN serves this purpose, which is why they always ask the UN for permission, and always try to get the UN to act like police. This is simply idiotic. Every rational observer knows that the UN has been totally useless since its founding.

I'm not sure what McCain's reasoning is; he seems to think that maintaining our "image" is important to survival. This is again true for an individual within a civilized structure. If you have the reputation of fierceness and nastiness, you probably won't be a good employee or a respected neighbor, though you might be a good robber baron. But McCain's "image" is precisely and suicidally wrong for nations. An "image" of niceness guarantees constant attack by not-so-nice countries and tribes.

If you want to keep your nation's internal niceness intact, you must show outsiders an "image" of unforgiving fierceness. They must have the "image" of unending torture, for them and for their families, if they dare to insult us, let alone attack us.

Even nice people understand, better than Bush and McCain, the limits of niceness. Look at a drug-infested ghetto. You'll see plenty of fortifications: bars on every window, fierce dogs in every yard. These nice Christian grandmothers understand that there is no effective police agency, no civilizing influence; so they have chosen to spend their money and time on the fortifications and weapons that should have been provided by the city, in order to preserve their lives and the future of their grandkids. They don't bother to argue their case before the City Council, because they know it won't work. They know instinctively that the gangs own the Council, whether directly or through the mediation of Jackson, Sharpton, and the ACLU.

Instead, they just put up iron bars and buy dogs and guns.
 
Friday, April 27, 2007
  Distractions




This is an "artist's conception"** of my actual house (not Polistra's place by the mill) with its brand-new roof, finished last week. The process has been highly distracting: several days of hammering overhead, and many days of waiting around for various contractors to arrive. It's thrown my narrow little life out of kilter. Now I can fall back into normal patterns.

The roof was already bad when I bought the house in '91, but the constant rain and wind of last winter did so much damage that there was no question of further delay.

One pleasant surprise: even though the roofers didn't add any fiberglass, the new roof makes the house considerably warmer on cold nights. The back part, which had been leaking water, was apparently leaking air as well; there was always a chilly draft from the back room no matter how carefully I weatherstripped the door and window. The draft is now gone, and I can set the heaters considerably lower. Probably won't compensate for the cost of the roof, but it's still a nice bonus of comfort.

= = = = =

** Artist's conception means, of course, that the lines and shapes of the house and landscaping are accurately drawn, but the real thing is considerably more grubby, and more crowded in by neighboring houses!

 
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
  Thank heaven for RINOs.

Never thought I'd say that. Never. But it's true today.

Continuing to watch as Congress "works" on math and science legislation. In the Senate, Coburn of Oklahoma is doing something hopelessly dumb. He's trying to pass amendments to cut out various research functions of the government. And most R senators are blindly following him, because the votes are almost exactly party-line. Luckily, the RINOs are either smarter, or else just naturally follow the D party line, so that the Coburn amendments have failed.

Research, especially agricultural research, provides an easy, ah, bulls-eye for the 'pork-busters'. It's easy to laugh at wheat diseases, cow farts or bee food research. It's not so easy to fight a wheat fungus (which is zooming around the world right now, destroying entire crops) or to figure out why beehives are dying (which is happening right now) when you've knocked out your own ag research facilities.

One of Coburn's proposed cuts was the Advanced Technology Program at NIST, which offers partial grants for a lot of commercial research that wouldn't otherwise be done, because small companies have to please their stockholders and lawyers first. Several of ATP's grants are done on a competitive-prize basis.

Here's a sampling of research assisted by the ATP. It includes new manufacturing methods, improvements in surveillance, replacements for petroleum, cheaper ways to cultivate stem cells, improved medical record-keeping, and lots of other stuff ... none of it on the grand scale of Fire or Wheels or Telephones, but much of it related to national security against bioterrorism.

Can you imagine a politician in the middle of WW2 cutting funds for radar development, synthetic rubber, or the mysterious and wildly wasteful Manhattan Project? Coburn would have attempted it, and he would have been remembered to this day as a traitor.

One untrainable idiot is bad enough, but Why O Why do nearly all the R senators wish to join him in the historical junkyard? I truly, genuinely, non-rhetorically, sadly, DO NOT UNDERSTAND.

More generally, I think the pork-busters see the trees and miss the forest. By cutting out lots of small and silly-sounding items, they eliminate some genuine services that won't be replaced by the private sector; and by assuaging the voter's desire to see efficiency, they make it much easier to pass huge and serious-sounding appropriations. In other words, by saving a few millions, they make it easier to waste trillions.

= = = = =

Later: Come to think of it, C. Northcote Parkinson discussed this point. His observation was somewhat different, perhaps because he was talking about sane legislatures like city councils. He said: Legislators handle budget items in three different ways. Small items like a new typewriter for the mayor's secretary are instantly approved because the legislators (quite properly) feel it's ridiculous to spend more time on debate than the item is worth. Huge items like a new electric power plant are instantly approved because the legislators don't want to show off their total ignorance of the subject. It's the middle-sized items, like a new fire-engine, that get serious debate, because they are both "worthy" and understandable.
 
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
  One for our side

On those exceedingly rare occasions when the outfit in DC actually gets something right, I'm obliged to cheer.

Bravo for the House! They just passed HR 363 by a wide margin, authorizing the National Science Foundation to give a special brand of research grant to young professors in engineering and science, with an emphasis on exploring new areas.

There's also a larger competitive prize for new solutions, though I'm not sure if this is part of 363 or a parallel Senate bill. Also passed was a bill pushing for better math and science teaching. The latter bill is not worth a cheer; it appears to be the usual increase in unionized teacher salaries, with no pressure for performance.

A government prize for the best solution to a specific problem is a highly effective way of stimulating research. The standard academic routine of peer review and tenure encourages dull sameness, while a prize encourages true competition.

We desperately need more competition and less sameness!

Personal note: I worked for a year under an NSF grant back in '93 or so; the idea was my own, and was in fact innovative, though it didn't turn out to be useful. NSF does this sort of thing well, so I'm confident that the new law will yield some valuable new knowledge.
 
  Listen to Osama

Every candidate for President should be asked three simple and related questions.

1. Who is the enemy?

2. What is victory?

3. How do we get there?

The answers to these questions are not mysterious or subjective.

Osama himself has told us, as totalitarians always do. Why don't we ever listen?

= = = = =

In detail:

1. Who is the enemy?

Arabs fueled by Mohammedanism, not Mohammedans as such.

Osama says:

There can be no dialogue with the occupiers except with weapons. If we look at the nature of the conflict between us and the West, we find that when they invaded our countries more than 2500 years ago they did not have a sound religion or ethics. Their motive was to steal and plunder. Our ancestors in [the Middle East] remained under occupation for more than ten decades. We defeated them only after the mission of our Prophet Muhammad. It was the true commitment to Islam that reshaped the Arab character, liberated it from pre-Islamic concepts, enlightened hearts and minds, and released energies.

= = = = =

2. What is victory?

Show Allah that Jehovah is greater.

= = = = =

3. How do we get there?

Nuke Mecca, Medina, Riyadh, Qom, and any other place described by the primitive idolatrous savages as a "holy sanctuary".

On 2 and 3 together, Osama says:

Muslims, if you do not punish the Crusaders for their sins in Jerusalem and Iraq, they shall defeat you becuse of your failure. They will also rob you of the land of the Two Holy Sanctuaries. Today they robbed you of Baghdad, and tomorrow they will rob you of Riyadh and so forth unless God deems otherwise.

These quotes are from 'Messages To The World', p.217-218.

Needless to say, none of our candidates will give anywhere near the correct answers. They will babble about the 'tiny minority of extremist folks', and they will argue whether we should stay in Iraq until 2008 or pull out of Iraq in 2008.

We have already lost the entire war, not just Iraq.

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Monday, April 23, 2007
  Buzz, buzz, buzz

There is a genuine problem with 'commercial' bees in several countries. Large numbers of hives are dying off, which means that large numbers of crops will not be pollinated this year.

The blogworld is also buzzing with theories.

Sorting it out:

Many are saying that the huge pileup of electromagnetic waves generated by cell-phones is confusing the bees. This is plausible, because bees do use a magnetic sensor as part of their direction-finding mechanism. Pigeons, which also have internal compasses, are known to get confused when flying past a powerful radio transmitter, or when kept near magnetic emitters like a car's fuel injectors.

Unfortunately, the known locations of the bee problem don't jibe with this theory. America, Brazil, and Europe seem to have the most dead hives. Brazil is not high-tech, so cellphones are unlikely to be the source there; Japan and Korea, which are far more 'celled up' than America, don't have the problem.

Another plausible theory is genetically-modified crops. Since the main purpose of GM is to accentuate a plant's natural pesticides to kill unwanted insects, it wouldn't be surprising if bees were also killed as a side effect.

But wild bees don't seem to be suffering, which knocks down both the cell-phone and the GM crop theories. It also tosses out artificial pesticides and (of course) global warming. Those phenomena would affect every bee, wild or domestic.






As it happens, the bees around here are swarming for the first time today, and these aren't any wimpy little half-dead bees. These are aggressive bees. These are some nappy-ass B's, to paraphrase a distinguished modern commentator. Seriously, they are more aggressive than in previous years. In running my afternoon errands, I've been struck on the face three times by bees. Luckily not stung. Is this an important observation? Maybe. It's certainly a true observation, so I emphasize it here.

One blogger has come up with a distinctly interesting theory that does fit the known pattern, though the mechanism isn't proved. Apparently one company that supplies commercial bee food (bee feed? bee chow?) uses the same source of Chinese wheat gluten as the poisoned dog food. This would certainly explain why only commercial hives are dying, and would also explain why the problem seems to happen country-wide but only in certain countries.

This theory could be tested quickly by examining which countries buy Chinese products instead of making their own, versus the countries that are intelligent enough to keep Chinese shit from invading their borders.

If the bees are dying only in the dumb countries, you've got proof.

In fact, I'd take it one step farther: if this connection is true, the bees, not the dogs, were China's intended killoff. Eliminating bees eliminates much of a country's agriculture; poisoning some dogs is terrible but not an economic disaster. And China is the world's most effective user of Mercantilism, commerce as a weapon of war.

Needless to say, if the United States had a national government, such a government would contain a Department of Agriculture capable of figuring out what's wrong and applying economic or military measures against the enemy. Since we are in effect a colony of China already, we aren't going to offend the Master.

The sting will continue until enough people get sufficiently pissed off to stage a Boston Bee Party, tossing crates of toxic Chinese crap off the dock.

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  Dollars from heaven?

A truly weird story in this morning's Spokane news. Traffic along Altamont, a fairly important business arterial in the eastern part of town, was totally tangled by piles of flying money.

The money was popping out of a vent on top of a travel trailer, but the driver didn't even know the money was there, let alone its airborne status. He was towing the travel trailer to a garage for his boss.

Apparently the boss had buried $14,000.00 some time in the past, then dug it up later and found it hadn't been wrapped properly. So he put the money in the vent of his travel trailer to let it dry out. He then forgot entirely about the money.

Obviously more here than meets the eye .... if you're burying money, its salient attribute is most likely 'hot' rather than 'wet' .... but even so, wouldn't it be nice to have so much money that you could casually put $14K in a trailer, then forget you owned it?
 
Sunday, April 22, 2007
  Forgotten moments



Listening lately to some news segments from 1941-42. Might not be precisely current, but much better for the mind than today's "news", with its dazzling diversity of vitally critical topics, such as Alec Baldwin speaking harshly to his daughter, Alec Baldwin speaking harshly to his daughter, Alec Baldwin speaking harshly to his daughter, Alec Baldwin speaking harshly to his daughter, Alec Baldwin speaking harshly to his daughter, Alec Baldwin speaking harshly to his daughter, and the unavoidable apocalypse of global warming, which we can only avoid by purchasing Carbon Indulgences from High Priest Gore.

= = = = =

The '41-42 news includes some interesting but forgotten facts.

One: Just after Pearl Harbor we seriously expected a total assault on the West Coast. A mysterious fleet of ships was sighted (or perhaps claimed by the government to be sighted?) and all radio stations in Washington, Oregon and British Columbia were shut down for an 'indefinite period'.

Two: The Brits were quicker off the mark in pinning down Japs: they immediately placed all British residents of Jap descent under some form of house arrest.

Three, and most relevant: Late in '42, in an odd semi-alliance with the French fascist government, we took over Arab countries on the northern coast of Africa.

Did General Eisenhower share the Bush/Wilson method of occupying Arab countries? Did he believe in devoting our entire military force to bringing free and fair elections to Arabs? Not hardly.

Here's my favorite newscaster Bob Trout to describe the situation.

= = = = =

Edit for fairness: to be sure, there was plenty of trivial crap and celebrity coverage on radio in the '40s. Don McNeil's Breakfast Club and Arthur Godfrey's morning show were just as superficial as today's cable morning shows. The important difference: these shows were not described as 'news' or anything remotely similar to 'news'. The News programs consisted of actual news: true events, well-checked facts, and thoughtful commentary.
 
Friday, April 20, 2007
  Get smart, get dumb

Lately I've been watching the old TV show 'Get Smart', which is rerunning in syndication. The plot and devices were totally foolish, but there was an underlying sense of common purpose, a non-ironic devotion to duty, that is absent from similar modern shows and modern life in general.

Observing that common purpose led me to the line of thought in Tuesday's entry, which I need to extend a bit more.

Here's what scares me most of all: The Communist media, including Fox, and many conservative and libertarian commentators, who should know better, have fallen in lockstep with a perfectly fascist recommendation: Let's just gather up the odd and quiet people, slam them in the oven and open the Zyklon valve. These commentators don't even seem to recognize what they're saying; they don't catch the unmistakable aroma of Stalin, Hitler, and Pol Pot. Rounding up the oddballs, the Jews, the eyeglass-wearers, is always a necessary step in establishing a proper totalitarian regime.

Rush, who understands human nature better than any other commentator, has not fallen into this trap. Medved has also firmly departed from this mindset. Bravo to them, shame on the others. Special shame on Dennis Miller, who until now seemed to be a thoughtful libertarian, but now proudly wears the two lightning flashes of the SS on his sleeve.

To run a proper Reich or Utopia, you need a nation of extroverted gregarious sports fans. Team loyalty above all.

A decent Christian civilization needs both sports fans and thinkers. Until recently America cultivated both types.

= = = = =

Now to extend and expand my previous entry with two clarifications.

(1) This probably doesn't apply to Cho, who now sounds like a full-fledged birthright psychopath, devoted to violence and harm from the start. It does apply to the earlier school shooter, the type who gradually takes the turn into darkness at each junction until the sunny road is out of his visual field.

(2) I'm not saying that we should suppress bullying and teasing. That's just pointless. At base, I'm talking about two words: respect and hope. Odd people, shy people, ugly people, are always going to be bullied; there's no fix for that. If we try to suppress teasing and bullying, it will pop up in other forms, and we would also lose an important signal among peers, which helps everyone to shape their lives toward success.

The question is, how do we arrange things so that odd youngsters can view the future with hope, and gain a sense of respect from somewhere --- because they're certainly not going to get it from their peers, and they're not supposed to.

I began thinking about this when Columbine went down. Klebold and Harris closely resembled me and my nerd buddies in high school. It was uncanny. Forced me to ask: why did none of us 1965-era nerds go wild, while several of the 1995-era nerds were snapping? What good influences did we receive that are absent now, and what bad influences are present now? It wasn't a question of guns, of course. Guns were more easily available then, and tools are never the important variable anyway. An evil impulse will find or invent its tools. The question is, how does the evil impulse grow until it takes over completely?

The good influence in '65, as I mentioned in Tuesday's entry, was a leftover respect for intelligence in general, and parents and teachers who insisted on shaping intelligence toward good ends. Literature had already surrendered to the enemy, so we didn't have many examples there. But the space program was a well-publicized connection of intelligence and adventure, understandable by boys. And in turn boys who pursued that connection were respected if not kissed by girls, who could see the adventure if not the math.

So we had respect and shaping from adults, and a hope for a decent and even exciting future to sustain us through the bullying and beating.

The hope didn't really pan out, as the space program fizzled shortly thereafter.

And that's more than merely symbolic. Eisenhower and Kennedy had pushed for better math and science education, and gave us the space program as a leading icon. The purpose of all this was to give us a better chance of defeating Communism. A mutual and meaningful goal, clearly visible in 'Get Smart'. Maxwell was dumb and clumsy, but he had no doubt that he was working for the triumph of Control over Chaos.

Nixon reversed both the purpose and the push. He carried Apollo up to the moon landing, then turned our focus to pollution. He established the EPA, which opened the door for our internal Communists to replace science with superstition. He implemented forced bussing and affirmative action, which opened the door for Gang Leaders Jackson and Sharpton to take over our culture, replacing poetry with rap, and making it culturally illegal for a teacher to encourage Christianity or decency. Nixon pulled out of Vietnam and turned toward negotiating with the enemy. It's still unclear if Nixon understood or wanted the future consequences of these actions, but he was unquestionably following the Left into perdition.

Worst of all, we have separated adults and adolescents into legally segregated camps, so that peer pressure is the only available influence on a boy.

Sexual harassment laws and suspicion of any adult-child connection, pushed by the left and the media, have made mentoring relationships dubious and difficult. In 1965 I could talk with teachers, male or female, and they didn't have to watch out for the thought police. They could listen to my ramblings and give me useful advice if they felt like it, or politely dismiss me if they felt like it. All quite normal and natural, and I learned something about adult values from both types of response. A modern teacher who established a mentoring relation with a student would find herself in the spotlight of Court TV, if not actually in jail.

In a parallel way, the Roman church formerly offered a sheltered and productive path for thinkers. Many of history's ugliest and oddest oddballs have turned out great works of philosophy, art and science within the walls of the monastery or convent, where quietness is not considered dangerous. (Ahem: Vow of silence.) Partly due to the Church's own cultivation of bad impulses, partly from the Left's gleeful magnification of those impulses, this path is now lost, and will probably disappear forever.

Needless to say, all of these consequences are INTENDED. They are all part of Lenin's well-formed plan to confuse, disorient, divide and soften the West. And it works perfectly.
 
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
  Each in his own tongue




Very early in this blog, I questioned whether it was better to have a common stock of knowledge, as we had 50 years ago, or to have lots of alternate sources and varieties of knowledge available. At that time I concluded, though not firmly, that the modern condition is better because there is less room for propaganda.

I've changed my mind. I was starting to write on this point a week ago, from a different viewpoint and for other reasons that I'll return to later.

But today's events make the point more critical.

[Later addendum: the "event" was the Virginia Tech massacre.]

We need a common stock of culture.

Specifically we need a commonly respectable set of cultural elements, for two reciprocal reasons.

Example.





This poem was written in 1910 by an English professor at KU, and became nationally popular for a while. Its topic rings Polistra's soul, which is how I happened to locate it through Google's new and immensely valuable Books service, but the topic isn't what I'm discussing right now.

Think about it.

A poem. A nice poem. A lovely poem. A deep poem.

A poem with rhyme and rhythm.

An understandable poem.

Nationally popular.

Written by a professor of English Literature at a major university.

Nationally popular.

Nothing in this poem about bitches, hos, or Glocks, nothing about Transgressive Constructs or Endangered Elephants.

In 1910, professors and poets and artists and composers were respected because they offered something of value, something that ordinary people could recognize and enjoy. And in return, ordinary people had a common connection with fairly serious matters; when someone mentioned Ravel or Edison or Dickens, he could count on his listeners understanding the reference if not the deeper aspects of the subject.

Just after that, the Dada movement and Marxists gradually took over the 'formal' production of culture.

By 1940 the movement hadn't yet influenced most people. Modern artists were popular with the academic critics, but they were also the target of radio comedians; classical music was still commonly heard and used as material by Big Bands; newspapers still published daily poems, often by local poets.

By 1965 when I was in high school, the respect was still there, though running on vapors, but the products were already beneath contempt.

The takeover was dramatically and suddenly completed in 1969. At least symbolically, landing on the moon was the climax and endpoint of respect for learning.

Madame Mao's cultural revolution flipped the world upside down.

Now we still have 'formal' arts, but the products are at best incomprehensible and arcane, at worst obscene and deadly.

Maybe, just maybe, we'd see fewer Final Solutions to resentment and bullying if we had more respect for youngsters who try to think and create, whether in the arts or literature or science ... But we won't reach that point unless arts and literature and science become worthy of respect and worthy of common understanding.

= = = = =

Addendum:

To be clear, I'm not simply saying we need less crap in the arts and sciences. That would be a pointless recommendation. I'm talking about a cross between Gresham's and Parkinson's Law: Shit expands to fill the mental space when no gold is available. We need more gold, available, accessible, and socially approved.

In 1940, a boy with poetic or playwrightish tendencies could pick up a newspaper or turn on the radio and encounter new works, written with decency and depth. He would develop his skills by trying to copy this work, and he could envision making a career from decent writing.

In 2007, a similar boy can turn on the TV and see demonic shit. He will develop his skills and imagine his career by trying to copy this work.

Admittedly the old stuff is still available in libraries and now (blessedly) through Google Books, but it's a fact of life that young folks don't like antique stuff. They need fresh-looking material to observe and copy.

Laws and litigation are part of the modern problem. If our budding poet copies a style and publishes his work on the Web, he's likely to receive a Cease & Desist letter from Walt Disney or some other corporate content holder.

In the sciences:

In 1940, an electrically or mechanically minded boy could take apart a radio or a car; all parts were visible, adjustable and replaceable. In 2007, cars and radios are non-adjustable. No user-serviceable parts. Nothing to learn. Granted, you can still wire up 800-decibel speakers or replace your wheels with flashy '20s' to impress the hos, but it's not the same. Experimentation that leads to learning is no longer available.

Our 1940 boy with a chemical or biological flair could mix things over a Bunsen burner in his basement, or slosh around in the creek and capture odd creatures. In 2007, the budding chemist would be knocked down by a Hazmat team in spacesuits, who would proceed to evacuate the entire neighborhood permanently. The apprentice biologist would be jailed for violating the Endangered Species Act.

And what if our chemist somehow avoids the hazmat team and develops a simple compound that promises to cure cancer? Nobody will notice or fund his work, even if he's a fully credentialed professor in a medical school.

Yes, the Canadian Cancer Cure, which I've been covering here for a while, fits nicely. Stem-cell research fits the model as well. Our 'formal' and professional classes are so deeply immersed in outright fraud (global warming) and love of death (global warming again, embryonic cells) that they can't be bothered with simple and effective solutions to real problems.

Young people see this, and shape their thoughts and career plans accordingly. When golden material - decent, deep, informed by faith and rigorous thought - is visible and available, they will try to emulate the gold. When demonic shit is the only visible and marketable career path, they will pursue demonic shit.
 
Saturday, April 14, 2007
  Global warming causes extinction? Not exactly.

I've always been fascinated by the Ediacaran fauna, a set of fossils from a nearly alien set of animals that flourished before the current set started to evolve. Some of them are now known to be ancestors of present arthropods and mollusks but others, with five eyes and weird appendages, have left no descendants.

I hadn't kept up with developments in that realm ... now it turns out the Ediacaran period was even stranger than previously thought. New fossil finds since 2003 indicate a geologically brief period before the Ediacara, perhaps 15 million years long, in which the sea was densely and richly populated by large critters that don't fit anywhere in our basic distinctions between animal, fungi, and plant. They seem to have been fixed seafloor dwellers, but (here's the strangest part) they weren't built from cells. Their structure appears to be fully fractal; at all scales from near-atomic to "breadbox size", they are branched, feathery, ferny.

What caused this sudden explosion of new types and species, in an ocean that had been exclusively claimed by one-celled bacteria and algae?

It was the end of an ice age, with melting glaciers.

"Peterson argues further that the primeval ocean would have been bursting with dissolved organic matter freed up by melting glaciers. ... their fractal, modular design allowed them to evolve quickly and grow large quickly, to take advantage of this sudden burst of plenty."

This is from an article [subscription only] in the latest New Scientist mag; needless to say, the same issue is also crammed with the usual Gaia-worshipping panic over melting glaciers causing extinction of species. (I'll give the mag credit for occasionally featuring articles that contradict The One True Goddess; it's too bad they don't actually listen to the other side, though.)
 
Thursday, April 12, 2007
  Duke

Just tossing in, for the record, a couple of comments on recent Big Stories.

The Duke mess has finally come to a highly satisfying conclusion. It was obvious to me from the very start that the accusation was false, as it was to anyone who has been on the wrong side of the law, or in fact to anyone who has lived a less-than-sheltered life.

Indeed it's amazing and refreshing to hear the NC Attorney General state openly that the 3 men are INNOCENT. I'm genuinely and thoroughly surprised. Lawyers usually stick together, and usually refuse to distinguish between "technically not guilty" and "factually innocent". We have fallen into a pit of stupidity wherein "we must always wait for the jury to decide" and "we must always respect the decision of the jury." Cooper pulled us out of that pit, and for the first time in recent memory acknowledged that TRUTH DOES EXIST, regardless of what the Trial Process finds.

Bravo, AG Cooper! Will you be running for President? Or will one of the candidates declare a willingness to hire Cooper as US AG if elected?

One thing that hasn't been said: Obviously Crystal knew with fair certainty that she could get Criminal Nifong to go along with her false accusation. I doubt that she knew Criminal Nifong; probably didn't even know his name. But she knew - from long experience with our court system - that her accusation would not be filtered or tested, and that she could destroy those boys and protect her pimp without any hindrance.

She would have been perfectly correct under normal circumstances.

This measures the depth and totality of the corruption in our court system. Thanks to Comrades McKinnon and Friedan, any insane female can do anything she wants to any innocent male, and the court system will take her false case all the way to its horrible conclusion with no interference from such trivia as facts, law or truth.

We finally have a large and well-publicized exception to Crystal's assumption. Let's hope the exception begins to spread, so that non-wealthy victims of false accusers can also have a chance.

= = = = =

The Imus mess is hardly worth commenting, but again one thing that hasn't been said. Emperors Jackson and Sharpton are not elected officials. What is the source of their universal power? Simple. They are gang leaders. They can start a riot. So: by bowing down to Gang Leaders Jackson and Sharpton, the broadcasters are behaviorally stating that blacks are violent and undomesticated. If any public figure dared to make this statement openly and verbally, he would be defenestrated ten times faster than Imus, and quite possibly killed. Nevertheless, by acting on the implied threat, broadcasters are saying that gangs are the only meaningful segment of the black population. Does this help the non-violent and domesticated blacks? Not 'ardly, guvnor. They are the primary victims of the gangs, after all.
 
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
  Brownback on stem cells

Sen. Brownback is speaking right now on the Senate floor, making a point I've hit here before: Nearly all of the productive research on adult stem-cells is happening outside the US. Is this because of Federal limitations? No, because there are NO limitations at all on adult stem cells.

He quoted a researcher in Brazil, who has produced a promising cure for juvenile diabetes using the patient's own marrow cells, as saying that American researchers WERE NOT INTERESTED. Part of the problem was our ridiculous "ethical" requirements. The Brazilian diabetes research was done on adolescents because that's the best time to catch and fix the developing immune system; but the "ethicists" insist that research should only be done on adults. Essentially "bioethicists" are just another branch of the pro-abort machine. Their "answers" to "moral dilemmas" always seem to come out the same as Hitler's answers.

Another reason is undoubtedly the fear of litigation, which is nearly nonexistent in places like Thailand, Brazil and China.

Our problem is not lack of federal funding for a specific bit of the discipline which has not yet produced results. Our problem, here as in most areas of education, research, medicine, business, and life in general, is that America has been destroyed by lawyers.

Labels:

 
Sunday, April 08, 2007
  Madame Polisztra hears from her godfather

Madame Polisztra was surprised to find a Morse message waiting on her crystal ball this morning. It was from Charles Darwin, her dear Godfather.........

= = = = =



MP: Good morning, good Doctor! I'm humbled and honored to find your face here, along with ... another face.

CD: Good morning indeed, young lady. Many people in your era are taking my name in vain, using my words to support their exact opposite. Herr Marx, who is not up here, is the proper author of egalitarianism. I appreciate those few among you who take my ideas seriously and truly.

The other face is my beloved pet tortoise, Harriet, who joined me up here just a year ago. I believe she is trying to upstage me in your glass; only appropriate since she has carried survival to an heroic extreme!

MP: Can I assume, sir, that you have something specific to offer?

CD: Yes. In any aspect of life, the job of each individual, each family, each tribe, each nation, is to take its own side. Each nation must do its best to preserve its own form of culture and civilization, neither more nor less. Any individual, tribe, or nation that plunders others should be destroyed; any who fails to defend its own side deserves to die.

MP: Yes, go on.

CD: In a fight, the job of the defender is to stop the attacker. Kill it if necessary, but in doing so he is likely to lose his own life. A cheaper method is infinitely preferable. If you can deter the attacker by an impressive display of raised fur and feathers, or an impressive roaring sound, or a pose that sends him squealing toward the horizon, or an impressive display of rockets, forts and soldiers, this is vastly preferable to losing your own fur and feathers, your own soldiers, or your own existence.

MP: Well sir, how about our situation in Iraq? Or Mesopotamia, as you would know it?

CD: Yes, I have been watching Mesopotamia from on high. Your government, if it may be so described, is using up energy for no purpose at all, while paying no attention to the side of survival that Harriet so perfectly symbolizes. Your railways, dams, levees, fortifications and civil water supplies are decaying and even being sold off and abandoned. Your so-called government is destroying and losing those facilities, thus saving the enemy's labor. This is simply insane, if I may be allowed to say so.

MP: I'll certainly allow you to say that. But what about Mesopotamia?

CD: When a war is fought without conscription, you may assume that the people doing the fighting are innately the more belligerent element of the population. This is true of your volunteer Army, and equally true of the informal fighters for the various, ah, denominations, shall we say, of Mohammedans.

MP: So in other words, our enemy is currently using up its own best fighters. When they are used up, the remainder of the population will be genetically and intrinsically more peaceful.

CD: Precisely so.

I would suggest three steps:

1. You should thank the Lord Jehovah that his enemy has decided to destroy its own fighters.

2. You should stand back and allow it to happen, and apply yourselves to restoring your shell of defense.

3. And if possible, covertly supply all sides with an abundant cornucopia of free weapons and ammunition so they may destroy themselves more efficiently.

Now Harriet wishes to have a walk through the Elysian Fields, so I must reluctantly depart.

MP: I have listened carefully, sir, and will attempt to pass along the message. Thank you, good sir.


= = = = =

Technical note: It appears that Madame Polisztra has acquired a lazy eye from the excitement of meeting Darwin. I know how to fix the problem, but it's not worth reworking the animation!

 
  Intended

Polistra's Sixth Law of Human Nature: Ignore verbiage about goals and preferences. Assume that the situation - or action - that people actually achieve is what they really want.

There are a couple of limits to this law. It can't be fairly applied to youngsters who are still experimenting with goals, and it can't be applied when legal or cultural restraints prevent changes. But when discussing a moderately intelligent adult with few chains, it's absolutely valid and solves a lot of apparent mysteries.

Applied to personal situations: Why does she stay in that awful marriage? Because, despite her complaints, she likes it more than the alternatives. Why does he keep that awful job? Because, despite his bitching and moaning, he enjoys it. It doesn't matter if I would hate it or you would hate it. People are different.

An excellent political example in the news just now. George W. Vichy supported Teddy Kennedy's open-borders approach to immigration as long as Congress was under the "control" of the R brand. Now that Congress is under the control of the D brand, GWV is taking a more restrictive approach.

Mystery? Stupid? Unfortunate that partisan bickering is getting in the way of good policy? Nope. Just apply the Sixth Law. Ignore his talk, and look at his results. By supporting the D side when R was "in control" and supporting the R side when D is in control, you are guaranteed to achieve nothing. No new laws.

So we know what GWV wants, in this as in all else: He wants nothing. Nothing at all. He has more power than anyone else in the world, and he carefully insures that his power achieves nothing except wasting astronomical piles of taxpayer money.

Why? At this level I genuinely find a mystery.

I suppose the answer might be found if we could determine where most of the wasted money goes. China? Saudi? Ray Nagin? Some anonymous blackmailer? Don't know, probably never find out.

= = = = =

The Sixth Law emphatically applies to leftist policies and causes.

There are no Unintended Consequences.

Lenin knew exactly what he was doing, and his apostles like Frances Fox Piven, Saul Alinsky and the delightfully deceased Comrade Betty Fried[m]an, all knew exactly what they were doing. Is it unfortunate that school integration, "intended" to achieve equal achievement for all races, actually produced more segregation and less assimilation for blacks? Nope. Maximum inequality and maximum chaos were the goal. Is it accidental and unfortunate that the ADA, "intended" to give more opportunity to disabled people, actually led to less employment for disabled people? Nope, that's the goal. More dependency, more resentment between groups, more reliance on an all-powerful state, more income for lawyers.
 
Thursday, April 05, 2007
  Hey Rosie!



Rosie the Vampire Bat and its fellow 'Truthers' are fond of saying that fire won't melt steel, which somehow explains why the World Trade Center couldn't have been brought down by jet planes.

Polistra decided to 'speak' in Rosie's own 'language' for this picture.

Ever hear of a blacksmith? Ever hear of a cutting torch? Or more comprehensible to Rosie, ever use steel wool in a hash pipe?

Granted, you won't melt an I-beam with a burning newspaper, but a flame with superior fuel and plenty of oxygen can melt steel without any trouble at all.
 
Wednesday, April 04, 2007
  Race to the lace

Polistra's Fifth Law of Human Nature:

You can't expect to see the right thing done for the right reason. Be happy to get the right thing, even when it's done for awful reasons.

= = = = =

Today's R-brand talking point is the attempt by some D-brand Congresscritters to avoid using the terms "Global War On Terror" and "Long War". The R-brand talking points vendors are, as usual, squawking about Orwell and Euphemisms.

Stop.

Think about this for a minute.

"Global War On Terror" is already a delicate Victorian lace-and-perfume euphemism, which avoids all honest and bellicose description.

A correct term for this war, if we were actually fighting it, would be "Crusade Against Mohammed" or maybe "New Crusade".

It was the army of Mohammed that started this war, just as they have done every century since 700 AD. So it's historically accurate, and thus helpful, to use an understandable term for the counter-offensive.

"Long War" is not exactly a euphemism, but it's even more dangerous. As I've said a dozen times here, Long = Losing. Not just because of our short attention span, but because a long war leads us to be comfortable with a certain level of damage. More to the point with this particular enemy, a Long War gives the enemy plenty of time to multiply and subvert, and gives us plenty of time to adjust to Sharia. If we get it over with quickly, by vaporizing as many "holy" places as possible and killing as many Arabs as possible, we will then force the enemy to do the adjusting.

This is as it should be.

We are right. They are wrong.

We are civilized. They are primitive.

If we mean to defend civilization, our job is to create as much chaos as possible within the camp of the savages, so that they must either take on the mantle of civilization or die entirely.

All of this has been true for 500 years. We saw it and described it clearly in 1944; we used the word Crusader to describe our men, and we unflinchingly named the savagery of the Krauts and Nips. We won that war, and the Krauts and Nips are peaceful people now because we won it.

So I'd rather see the euphemisms go away, even for the wrong reasons, because eliminating false distinctions is necessary. Without the euphemisms, we stand a better chance of finding the path toward victory. With the euphemisms, we will continue this insane and suicidal fake "debate" between fast surrender (the D side) and slow painful surrender (the R side.)
 
Tuesday, April 03, 2007
  One good thing.

Amid all the unmitigated shit in our media and culture, one very good thing happened today: Persian resistance fighter Ghazal Omid talked Glenn Beck into featuring a daily segment on what's happening inside Iran. She will supply the material if he will run it.

Encouraging resistance movements is an important part of running a war. Since the large organization which describes itself for some mysterious reason as "The U.S. Government" is not performing any of the normal and necessary tasks involved in running a war, it's good to see private efforts in this direction.

= = = = =

In WW2 we devoted tremendous effort to supporting and praising the resistance forces in France, Italy, and smaller countries. Prime-time dramas were centered on the Free French, and the news on D-Day talked about Charles de Gaulle as much as Churchill. We never discussed the resistance within Germany, probably because there wasn't any. Germans loved Hitler.

This leads me to a heterodox conclusion.

Unlike Beck, I don't think Iran is the Germany of this war. Iran under the Ayatollahs is more like France under Petain. Iran has been occupied by a basically foreign and Arab style of Mohammedanism since 1979. As in France, some of the elites and many of the peasants have gone along with the occupation. The peasants like it because they are mainly Arabs; the elites (such as Ahmedi-Nezhad) like it because it brings them to a level of power they wouldn't have reached under the Shah's regime.

And as in France, the best people hate the occupation. Many of them escaped to Europe and America before the revolution solidified its control, but most are stuck in Iran, either fatalistic or unwilling to risk the death of remaining family members by leaving now.

Where's the Berlin of this war? That's a bit more complicated, because Arabia doesn't have a distinct national center. Riyadh doesn't correspond to Berlin. Nevertheless, the Arabian Peninsula (including Saudi, Yemen, Oman, etc) is where Osama came from, and it's where the 9/11 attackers came from.

So why haven't we attacked Arabia? That's always been the hard question.

Yes, I know there's a strategic reason to keep the main oil supplier happy. But the Axis-occupied territories were also suppliers of of many important materials including rubber and oil, and we managed to work through those limitations long enough to defeat the Axis FAST. (If FDR had decided to run a Rumsfeldian Long Twilight Struggle, we would have been obliged to compromise then just as we are now.)

I keep returning to the same basic question. Is that large organization in DC totally incompetent, totally unaware of every single lesson of history and common sense, totally naive about every single aspect of human nature, war and politics, or is the defect more serious?
 
  Confrontation?

So we have "what is being privately described as a major constitutional confrontation" between the D's and the R's.

No we don't.

We don't have a confrontation.

We don't even have two sides.

The D "side" wants to pull troops out of Iraq in the summer of 2008.

The R "side" wants to keep troops in Iraq until the summer of 2008.

Those are not two sides.

Those are merely two very slightly different phrasings of the same sentence with the same meaning. Any English teacher or editor would consider them to be equivalent phrasings, one a little more active in flavor, the other a little more passive.

If I said "I want you home from work at 5:30", and you said "No, I want to stay at work until 5:30", would we have an actual disagreement? Even the most dysfunctional family couldn't run this up into a satisfying fight.
 
  Newt and Malthus

Newt is doing something truly interesting. While the other candidates are busy ginning up millions so they can bash each other over the head for two years, Newt is simply organizing a new party.

He's doing it within the Republican structure, thus avoiding the McCain-Feingold obstacles to a named third party, but it's still a party. His main goal is to run lots of like-minded folks for state, local and federal offices, and then use their power to influence the government.

This is exactly what a party does. 1. Gain a majority. 2. Use it.

Since the Republican club isn't a party by this definition - it gained a majority and the Presidency, and then allowed the Kennedys and Clintons to continue running the country as usual - it's a good 'vacant shell' to build a new organization on. As the informal leader of this new party, Newt will have more genuine power than any Republican president. And if the process of building the organization leads to a groundswell of support, he could become the candidate as well. However: I suspect he understands that no Republican will be allowed to win against Hillary, so it's more important at this time to construct a genuine opposition party.

= = = = =

Newt's platform is correct on the basics. Focus on rebuilding civilization, bring bureaucracy forward into at least the 20th century if not the 21st, put a leash on lawyers. I don't think he goes far enough on the latter; he's ready to dissolve the 9th Circuit but not the entire Federal court system.

I've got a contrarian thought on the middle point. Maybe we'd do better to bring bureaucracy backward and away from technocracy. It would do a better job of serving the poor and elderly with a more human approach, and just might be more efficient in the ways that really matter.

An example, derived from listening to old radio shows.... In the '40s the Post Office delivered twice a day and took care of finding addresses without any Zip Codes at all. You could send a letter to "March of Dimes, c/o Postmaster", and the local post office would know where to put it. Now we have to put 9-digit Zip Codes on letters; if I were to send a letter to my next-door neighbor, it would have to go to Seattle for sorting and return to Spokane. This is high-tech but it is NOT EFFICIENT. My home-town paper sometimes takes 18 days to reach me from Oklahoma, which is literally horse-and-buggy speed.

The overall point is this: Much of the technocracy was planned on the basis of ever-increasing population. Malthusian theories, implanted by the Left, led government to get ready for exponential increases. We haven't had exponential increases. America now has twice as many people as in 1940, not six times as many.

When our population starts to decrease, as many Euro countries are already seeing, we'll be stuck with a lot of systems planned for a non-existent future. Technology can help, but perhaps government can find a different niche, a more personalized way of doing things.

Another helpful backward move that requires considerable government action, though not strictly a gov't matter: Rejuvenate the railroads. We have allowed them to decline dangerously. Trains are hugely superior to trucks in energy usage, especially because trains can be switched to electric power. Even in America many railroads are already electrified, and the standard diesel locomotive would be easy to convert. There's no way to electrify long-distance trucks.

Rails are somewhat more secure than highways; though nothing is purely terrorist-proof, tracks have limited access by definition, and you can't steer a bomb-carrying train into a destination that isn't on the tracks. Also, building more trains - and building more nuclear reactors to power them - would be an excellent use for the dozens of automobile plants and thousands of workers now abandoned by Ford and GM. A competent wartime government would have started this process on 9/12/2001.
 
Sunday, April 01, 2007
  Chinese poison in dog food?



Speaking on behalf of Kansas, Polistra wonders what the hell is going on. Reports say that the poisoned wheat gluten in pet food came FROM CHINA.

Kansas, Washington, and many other states produce all the wheat we can use in America and plenty more besides. So why in the hell is the pet food company importing wheat gluten FROM CHINA???????

This isn't just a matter of globalization and tariffs.

We know that China is our enemy. We know that China sends thousands of spies into academic and industrial situations. We know that China is responsible for most of our computer viruses. China has been buying our raw materials and selling us screwed-up shitty appliances and computers in return. China has been running a campaign, just short of war, to destabilize America for twenty years now. Why shouldn't they toss in a little poison for our pets as well?

If our trade policy allows China to underprice Kansas, Washington and Iowa on WHEAT, for Christ's sake, something is grotesquely wrong with our trade policy. Not surprising, of course. George W. Vichy serves the interests of China and Mexico perfectly. Where do we get a government that serves the interests of the United States?
 

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Polistra was named after the original townsite of Manhattan (the one in Kansas). When I was growing up in Manhattan, I spent a lot of time exploring by foot, bike, and car. I discovered the ruins of an old mill along Wildcat Creek, and decided (inaccurately) that it was the remains of the original site of Polistra. Accurate or not, I've always liked the name, with its echoes of Poland (an under-appreciated friend of freedom) and stars. ==== The title icon is explained here. ==== Switchover: This 2007 entry marks a sharp change in worldview from neocon to pure populist. ===== The long illustrated story of Polistra's Dream is a time-travel fable, attempting to answer the dangerous revision of New Deal history propagated by Amity Shlaes. The Dream has 8 episodes, linked in a chain from the first. This entry explains the Shlaes connection.

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