Saturday, June 30, 2007

Listening to some of the "terror analysts" being interviewed, particularly someone named Bill Durodie on Fox. Durodie pulled a classic bit of leftist bad logic, and didn't get called on it. He said we need to avoid over-reacting; we need to be careful about closing down public places or detaining suspects without warrants. Those are two precisely opposite actions. Closing down public places without specific reason is indeed over-reacting, and does indeed fall into the category of "letting them win", though I find that phrase abhorrent. Detaining suspects without jumping through all the legalistic hoops is NOT over-reacting. The distinction is obvious. Closing down or over-tightening public places would interfere with INNOCENT people and would weaken our culture and economy, which is what Osama wants. Interning everyone who ever attended a mosque would amount to taking the GUILTY out of circulation, which will increase our security without interfering with any innocent people.

We are in a war, dammit. After six years, we still haven't figured out who the enemy is, and what we're fighting for. Or rather, we [the people] have figured it out just fine, but our governments haven't.

Another piece of bad logic is the notion that these particular attackers in London and Glasgow are "amateurish". We don't know that at all, and the continued use of that term will cause us to underestimate the enemy. The Mercedes near the nightclub was a fully professsional bomb, which would have caused huge damage if it hadn't been detected and disarmed. That's not a failure or bad engineering; it's a case of excellent and courageous police work. The threat was absolutely professional, but the police were more professional and perhaps a bit lucky. The Glasgow car-into-airport appears to have been less effective in causing death and destruction, but it still succeeded in closing down the airport indefinitely. That's not a failure, and it may have been the fully intended plan.

Reminder: In a war, not every shot or bomb hits a target. In WW2, it's estimated that 10000 bullets were fired for each achieved death, and 100 bombs were dropped for each achieved death. War is inefficient.
  The 5% Solution

It's well known that Saudi Prince Walid bin Talal bought a 5% interest in Fox News a couple of years ago. Until now, the effect of his part ownership wasn't obvious to me. As of this latest London incident, the effect has become blazingly clear. Maybe he has increased his stake recently?

Comparing Fox with MSNBC and CNN, the distinction is now very clear. The other two nets, while normally leftish in their general slant, are nevertheless covering this set of events evenly, referring to Jihadis when appropriate. Fox has been exceedingly delicate and euphemistic in contrast, hitting the "tiny minority" theme as hard as possible. Fox hosts have shushed experts who tried to describe Jihad accurately. Right now (Sat morning), Fox isn't even touching the story of the bomb attempt in Glasgow, while CNN is carrying coverage from Rupert Murdoch's Sky News!

= = = = =

Update: My first thought on the flaming car in Glasgow was that it might be a bio-bomb rather than a bang bomb... that the flames were meant to distract from a sprayout of smallpox or anthrax or something. Now we hear that the hospital where the driver was taken has been evacuated. Hmm.
Thursday, June 28, 2007

Headline coverage of the recent Supreme decision on school integration reveals a sometimes hidden truth. The decision is a good one, making it harder to discriminate, yet all the newscasters say the following, nearly verbatim:

"Cities will have to find new ways to achieve diversity in the classroom."

Thus acknowledging, without even needing a pullquote or a fact-check, that the sole purpose of government is to advance Stalinism. No balance needed here; nobody even says a nice polite compromise phrase like "Cities will have to consider the possibility of stopping their official discrimination." That's so laughably absurd that we don't even have to think it.

We're always told that the latest Supreme decision is "The Law Of The Land", but it's obvious that "The Law Of The Land" only holds valid when it agrees with Stalin. On these once-in-a-lifetime occasions when the Supreme Court happens to agree with the Constitution, the decision is immediately declared invalid by the rest of the government, and the proper duty of all officials is to disobey the Court. Anything else is DoubleplusUnthink.

= = = = =

Despite all that, the decision is correct, and does agree with the actual Constitution. Schools should not favor one race over the other.

My point here: it's correct but unhelpful.

And the discussion of the decision on both sides is incorrect and unhelpful, because both sides are talking about the inputs (what we do to the students while they're in school) rather than the outputs (what we expect the students to do when they're finished with school). Both sides assume that the current structure of public schooling, where we trap kids inside a building with "School" on its signboard for 12 years, is God's Law, Eternally Unalterable.

And of course, both sides are jumping around like crack-smoking crickets to avoid the most important fact, which is that Blacks, Whites, and Orientals are different. People from Africa have stronger muscles and weaker minds; Orientals have stronger minds and weaker muscles; and the average Caucasian is in the middle on both scales.

If we're going to get this right ... if we want genuine equal opportunity in life, not just in the 12 years of captivity ... we have to start with the facts, and we have to decide what output is really needed, decide whether and why we need anything resembling public education. When we see these accurately, we then have to reshape a few other things along with public education to get the needed result.

How do we measure or quantify the desired output from schools? It can't be a certain number of grades completed, because that number means something different for blacks and whites. It can't be a test score, because blacks will perform poorly on a test. All of our attempts to match the races on these measures have failed and will always fail.

Peel the onion down by layers. First we have to ask: Equal opportunity for what? The Declaration gives us the deepest answer: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We have somehow translated this to mean "Equal opportunity to receive a piece of paper called a Diploma from Harvard." All of our legal decisions are based on this bizarre re-interpretation. Every decision along the way must be focused on a Diploma From Harvard. Perhaps such a Diploma is an ingredient of the pursuit of happiness if you're going to be a federal judge; perhaps these sheltered people can only see into their own past. But the pursuit of happiness means something very different for nearly all ordinary Americans, and specifically for males with low academic potential. It means being able to raise a family. Able to provide a home, cherish and protect a wife and kids. That's what it means, and that's the output we need to be watching as we redefine the government contribution toward that end.

Peel one more layer. What's the minimum expectation of any public tax-funded utility? Though the Constitution doesn't go into detail here, I'd say public utilities provide the basic means for a safe and dignified life. They provide the bare underpinnings for civilization, but not much more. We don't expect a water system to include coffee, tea and Chivas; we don't expect to have a personal policeman constantly at our side. A street system should carry most vehicles without ruining them, but if you want to ride a donkey or run a Maserati at 150 MPH, you have to do it off the streets.

By that standard, how much of the public education system is capable of carrying most vehicles without ruining them?

We know the answer. The first four grades. Reading and writing and nothing more.

Beyond that point the average black is incurably lost, and beyond that point the average Korean is incurably bored. In fact, beyond that point almost nobody is gaining knowledge or experience that couldn't be gained far better elsewhere. For most kids, trade schools and apprenticeships should kick in from age 10 to 17, with at least token wages paid from the start and increasing with experience.

If you have a truly special talent or skill, you already know it by that point, and your parents should be able to find a school or situation to develop it. Every biography of a notable politician, pianist or preacher contains the same line with minor variants: "At age 9 I found a way to practice my profession." Sometimes it's through a mentor or apprenticeship, sometimes it's more of a play situation, but the real expert always starts practicing at 9.

By keeping all the kids in school all day after that point, we are only taking away time from such play-practice, for all but the richest. And by keeping those with less specialized skills out of the world of work, we are depriving them of a sense of usefulness and worthiness.

= = = = =

Now, how about the "few other things"?

Look at these pictures.

This is a 1919 Dodge ad. If you can suppress your modern conditioned eye-rolling response to the "stereotypes", you might notice something more interesting. Who's got the dignity in this picture? Who has a sense of usefulness and service? And who's lollygagging around doing nothing?

Got it?

This is a 2007 ad for something or other. I think he's a rapper. Who's got the dignity here? Nobody. Who's doing the service? Maybe the ho. Who's lollygagging around doing nothing?

Got it?

Now this is a graph of black poverty through part of the 20th century. Note the steady decrease, clearly beginning before 1959, and the flatline from about 1970 until the 1996 welfare reform broke the pattern. What caused the steady decline in poverty? Henry Ford and FDR, working in different ways and for different motives, brought blacks off the plantation and into industrial jobs where their particular combination of physical and mental skills was ideally suited and well paid. And what caused the flatline? Two things, again simultaneous but unconnected: the loss of industrial jobs to Japan and China, and LBJ's Marxist/Maoist decision to create a victim class and maximum chaos. We stole both the pay and the respect from the kind of job a black man could do well, and we substituted welfare and Ludacris expectations. He's no longer able to provide for a family, and he's not expected to do anything but commit crimes and look cool.

Got it?

Moral of the story:

We need to take back our industries from China. Obviously we need to do this for a thousand other reasons, such as national defense, an unpoisoned diet and national survival. But maybe, just maybe, we'll do it a little faster if we realize that a vibrant industrial sector is the best way to restore the dignity and fatherhood of black men. We owe it to them, since LBJ, operating under the theories of Comrade Frances Fox Piven and Comrade Richard Cloward, deliberately stole it from them in 1965.

And as we revive our industries, we can shape the trade schools, both private and public, to meet their needs.

= = = = =

Edit: The economic side of this discussion also applies to white kids with lower academic skills. They are equally damaged by an economy that considers college degrees to be the sole meaningful credential and brings in Mexicans to lower the wages of physical jobs. But the cultural and welfare pressures are exclusively racial, so the problem weighs most heavily on young black men.

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  Oh, Sam. Ya coulda been a contender, Sam.

Polistra is sad that Sam Brownback has muddied up his own "brand", and thus his chances for the Presidency.

As oft repeated here and elsewhere, we are in desperate need of a wartime leader. Sam has many, even most of the necessary qualities. He stands on the long-running intellectual tradition of Rome, and decides modern questions based on that tradition.

He's been willing to carry the logic of true value and respect for life into distinctly unpopular places, such as torturing human time-bombs and forbidding abortion after rape.

He speaks clearly and precisely, though perhaps a bit too sparely, in old Kansas style. (More buzz and repetition is needed today; it's not enough to say a thing once. "I have spoken" is good when your listeners can accurately say "I have listened.")

Brownback has not taken the hard line on immigration. This would be fine if he had clearly and precisely stated his position and its justification. If he had shown how the economic interests of Kansas are best served by the McCain-Kennedy approach, no problem. He is still a senator, after all, so his primary job is serving the interests of Kansas, not running for President. Instead, he has evaded and backed away from the question, and on the final vote he played a Kerryish No-Then-Yes trick.


When your main selling point is a principle-based mind, a highly rational decision process, and clear communication even when unpopular, you can't afford to knock out one of those pegs.

There's still time for "redemption", but it's getting narrow.
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
  Something going on here? Bosnians?

AG Gonzalez was here in Spokane today, supposedly to trade info on gang activities with police. Several city council members tried to get into the meeting but were refused. This seemed strange, since the council has been trying to shape a new anti-gang ordinance to fit in with federal standards and to obey the ACLU even more slavishly than before, which is rather difficult.

KREM-TV was at the meeting for a while, and asked Gonzalez why the city council was turned away. He said that he knew nothing about the ordinance, and was sharing "top secret information" with the police.

Here's why the top-secret-ness seems especially interesting:

Back in February, Northtown Mall was evacuated, and several people hospitalized but not seriously hurt, when an unknown gas was released into the air-conditioning system. It could have been plain old teenage assholery, but if it was more serious, my suspicion went toward Bosnians, who have a considerable colony in that part of town and who have formed a sort of mini-Mafia. When there's trouble in that area of town, the Bosnians are often at the center of it. The next day, a Bosnian Soldier of Allah shot several people in a mall in Salt Lake, which tended to assist my suspicion.

Yesterday, local TV reported that the feds are now taking the February incident more seriously than before, but gave no further details. Today we have the AG visiting police and sharing top-secret information.

Stay tuned.

Lately there's plenty of yakety-yak about the horrors of reintroducing the Fairness Doctrine, and about the wonders of our modern Hundred Flowers as opposed to the old uniformity.

Being thoroughly soaked in 1940's radio, I've been pondering this for a while. I've also been bemoaning the modern disconnect from classical forms of culture ... not in terms of availability but in terms of commonality. You can certainly enjoy Bach or Whitman today, but you can't expect anyone else to understand a reference to Bach or Whitman. I've said that before, but tonight I've realized something new.

Let's compare a forced cross-section of 1941 and 2001.

What was on the average American's radio when Pearl Harbor sliced into their lives?

And what was on the average American's TV when 9/11 smashed into our lives?

= = = = =

On Sunday afternoon, when the first solid news from Honolulu interrupted regular programming:

NBC's Blue network had "University of Chicago Roundtable", an academic discussion of Canada's enthusiastic participation in the European war, including Canada's total mobilization of industry and placement of saboteurs and dissidents in concentration camps. [The Mayor of Montreal attempted to make Montreal into a sanctuary city. He was slapped in prison for the duration!] Strange as it may seem today, FDR was consciously emulating Canada's hard-ass example in mobilizing for war, and these academics didn't like it much.

CBS had a musical program of folk favorites by tenor John Charles Thomas, followed by the New York Philharmonic.

NBC's Red Network (which later became ABC) had two separate feeds: a program of Bach harpsichord music by Sylvia Marlowe, and "National Vespers" with a wonderful sermon by Harry Emerson Fosdick.

= = = = =

9/11 happened in the modern cable era, when you can get "anything you want" on TV. Nevertheless, the main networks are still around in some form, and NBC has grown several branches again.

So let's examine the wild cornucopia of diversity available on TV at the moment when Arabia attacked us:

ABC had a program of celebrity trivia falsely described as news.

CBS had a program of celebrity trivia falsely described as news.

CNN had a program of celebrity trivia falsely described as news.

Fox had a program of celebrity trivia falsely described as news.

NBC had a program of celebrity trivia falsely described as news.

MSNBC had a program of celebrity trivia falsely described as news.

CNBC had a program of stock-market hype designed to get suckers to
buy the right stocks so insiders could sell them at higher prices.

Yessir, diversity. Six flavors of shit and one flavor of fraud.

The networks justify this on the basis that the public wants it.

Basic problem with that logic: if you're never going to try anything other than shit and fraud, you don't have the slightest goddamn idea whether the public might want or appreciate anything other than shit and fraud.

The old law, set up by Herbert Hoover when he was Secy of Commerce in the '20s, and formalized in the Communications Act of 1934, required broadcasters to spend a certain amount of time on religion, education, and the arts. Their managers may not have liked it, but they carried out the mission with gusto and tremendous quality.

Why the gusto and quality? Because everyone had to offer some culture and religion; thus there was no competitive advantage in bottom-feeding. You had to compete with good stuff at least part of the time, so your advantage arose from finding the best and most interesting cultural and educational material.

And that's the new realization. We capitalists like to say that government regulation always pushes things downward, and letting "the market" function leads to highest quality. Nope. It doesn't always work one way or the other. FCC regulation of radio and TV pushed quality upward, and kept quality available to anyone who wanted it. This worked for several decades.

= = = = =

Under the newer setup, you can find preachers on Christian channels, and you can find Bach on your local NPR radio station. So what's the problem?

The problem is not availability but segregation, and segregation cuts three ways.

(1) The simplest effect is that ordinary people never get exposed to Bach or Whitman, because most people stay within their comfort zone.

(2) If you live in a big city with an NPR station, you can pick up Bach or Stephen Foster, but you'll need to have a fast finger on the Mute button if you don't want to hear Marxist propaganda immediately afterward. Might call it the Crackerjack Principle. If you want serious culture, you have to dig through the box of Communist Crunchies to reach it. Lenin is tightly coupled with culture, and pro-American thinking is tightly coupled to - God save us all - Charlie Daniels and The Oak Ridge Boys.

(3) Performers and creators of serious cultural products don't get exposed to wide audiences, which means there's no commercial motivation for good formal art or music. The performers thus stick to their academic ghettos, pleasing only their avant-garde colleagues. In religion, preachers talk only to the converted.

In sum, the modern segregated arrangement insulates ordinary people from the pleasures and benefits of high culture or religion, and insulates the purveyors of culture and religion from the pressures and rewards that would lead to understandable and universal works.

Is there an exception? A saving grace? Oddly enough, ABC's Nightline comes mighty close. Since the departure of Comrade Ted Koppel into the comfort of the NPR ghetto, and the hajj of Imam Dave Marash to al-Jazeera, Nightline has been reshaped into a mix of serious culture, religion, and ordinary but interesting lives, served up with a constant level of respect that Bob Trout would have understood perfectly.
Friday, June 22, 2007
  NIMBY? Surprisingly not.

Listening to Tom Sullivan subbing for Rush ... Tom is saying that the main reason for lack of new oil refineries is regulatory problems and NIMBY.

This was certainly true until a year ago, and I've certainly joined the chorus begging for some relief by government, to get more capacity under way.

But it turns out the oil companies have a plain old market-based reason for their laziness.


The numbers speak for themselves.

Gasoline production from US oil refineries is 136 million gallons per day.

Ethanol production right now is 13 million gallons per day.

Total demand is expected to rise to 161 mgpd by 2017 (ten years from now)

Based on plans to build more plants, etc, ethanol production is expected
to triple over the next ten years, which will take up all of that increased

So even if the feds broke through the legal obstacles, oil companies wouldn't have a normal economic reason to increase their capacity.

I must say, this fact makes me more sympathetic to the Brand-D attempts to impose some kind of windfall profit tax. If there is never going to be a reason to build more capacity, the whole justification for huge profits disappears.
Thursday, June 21, 2007
  Wacky World of Mirrors

The Brand-D politicians are fond of saying that Bush "puts ideology over science" in such matters as abortion, stem cells and the fraud of global warming.

Despite his peculiar and inscrutable intentions, and despite his extremely luke-warm position on Kyoto, Bush stands - accidentally or not - on the side of science, as any genuine scientist understands. "Life begins at conception" is a purely logical and scientific statement. There is absolutely no other choice. Drawing the line anywhere else must be a moralistic or religious statement. On the climate the data shows, and has shown for half a million years, that CO2 is not the cause of heat, but a by-product of increased evaporation when the earth gets warmer.

But oddly enough, Bush has put ideology over the science of economics on the subject of immigration. Just now his main economic advisor, Charles Lazear (sp?) on C-Span, stated baldly that illegal immigration RAISES the wages of non-immigrants competing for the same jobs. No, I didn't mistype, and he didn't misspeak. He is actually claiming that immigration RAISES the wages of other Americans competing for the same jobs.

I'm sure there's a way to rig the computer models to get this result. I've done some simulation modeling myself, and I know how to tweak parameters. Perhaps these economists are using the same idea as Core Inflation: Measure inflation by excluding all the prices that go up, so that you can have a number that doesn't go up.

Whatever they're doing, it simply does not comply with any of the known facts. This is the same kind of quackery that the Algore side performs in the realm of climate: ignore all facts, make predictions on carefully chosen theories and models.
  New Nukes! (sort of)

I note that Bush was celebrating the opening of a "new" nuclear plant in Alabama. This has been somewhat misreported; it's not really a newly built plant, but a re-opening of a plant built in the '60s and closed in the '80s after a fairly serious accident.

Still and all, it's more nuclear power than we've had, and I'm glad to see the Pres endorsing it.

He should do far more: he should clear out all litigation obstacles by executive order, for instance.

Congress did free up a few regulatory obstacles last year, and we have some real progress on the nuke front. Two genuinely new plants are now in the planning stage, with permits from NRC to proceed.

Polistra is happy, at least for today.
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
  The spirit of a sissy

Pope Benedict, after an ever-so-brief flirtation with courage at Regensburg, has fallen back into standard modern multiculturalism, touting the "Spirit of Assisi". In direct terms, he is surrendering to Mecca on behalf of Rome.

As part of his pilgrimage to Assisi, Benedict paid tribute to Francis, who essentially converted to Mohammedanism and tried to mix the two religions.

Benedict issued "an urgent and heartfelt appeal for all the armed conflicts bloodying the earth to cease, for arms to fall silent and everywhere for hatred to give way to love, offense to forgiveness and discord to union. ... Our thoughts go out particularly to the Holy Land, so beloved by St. Francis, to Iraq, to Lebanon, to the entire Middle East." He urged international efforts to stop "the horrors of combat, of terrorism, of blind violence" there and in other trouble spots.

Kumbaya to you too, Bro Bennie. Wanna toke?

= = = = =

For comparison:

Here's Pius XII in October 1939, in his very first encyclical. At that point Hitler had just started all-out war. Catholic Poland had already been swallowed, Catholic France was getting ready to fight, and Episcopal Britain was wavering.

Who among "the Soldiers of Christ" -- ecclesiastic or layman -- does not feel himself incited and spurred on to a greater vigilance, to a more determined resistance, by the sight of the ever-increasing host of Christ's enemies; as he perceives the spokesmen of these tendencies deny or in practice neglect the vivifying truths and the values inherent in belief in God and in Christ; as he perceives them wantonly break the Tables of God's Commandments to substitute other tables and other standards stripped of the ethical content of the Revelation on Sinai, standards in which the spirit of the Sermon on the Mount and of the Cross has no place?

Who could observe without profound grief the tragic harvest of such desertions among those who in days of calm and security were numbered among the followers of Christ, but who -- Christians unfortunately more in name than in fact -- in the hour that called for endurance, for effort, for suffering, for a stout heart in face of hidden or open persecution, fell victims of cowardice, weakness, uncertainty; who, terror-stricken before the sacrifices entailed by a profession of their Christian Faith, could not steel themselves to drink the bitter chalice awaiting those faithful to Christ?

Soldiers of Christ ... incited and spurred on to vigilance ... we have now rediscovered the fact, well-known at the time but distorted by Stalinist propaganda, that Pius was deadly serious about "determined resistance", and Hitler knew it.

Seems to me that Pius is speaking across the decades to his successor, when he talks about desertions.
Monday, June 18, 2007
  Tired of Paris? Tired of missing blondes?

If you want to truly learn something, you can listen or watch a rousing speech by the incomparable Brigitte Gabriel, a speech by Bibi Netanyahu, and several less exciting but more informative speeches by Israeli scientists and officials.

Listen here.

Gabriel reveals several things that I hadn't known:

Saudi has taken advantage of 'Title VI', an academic program set up after WW2 to insure that Americans learned more about other countries so that we would be more effective diplomats and intelligence agents. Saudi has basically hijacked Title VI by funding "endowed professorships" and the like, insuring that most universities are serving Arab purposes.

The 25000 Americans who were "stuck in Lebanon" last summer when war broke out, and who were "rescued" by American military ships and planes, were largely Hezbollah associates, and they were in Lebanon to receive training.

= = = = =

Think about that ... Did our "government" know who those people were? If they didn't know, they are criminally incompetent. If they did know, they were explicitly helping the enemy.
Sunday, June 17, 2007
  Close but no paddlefish

Derbyshire at NRO is discussing the essential difference between believers and non-believers.

... He wants certitude; and anything that is not a hundred percent certain seems wrong to him. Scientific truths, which are always relative and provisional, leave a bad taste in this guy’s mouth.

In a lot of other people’s, too. There are people who yearn for certitude, and who believe they have found it in sacred books. To people with this cast of mind, the relativism of science is abhorrent. Contrariwise, there are others to whom the questing, testing, curious, provisional approach of scientific inquiry, is very fascinating and exciting. To this company, the certitude of believers is disturbing and presumptuous.

I think Derb is carving this turkey from the wrong angle. Nobody really likes looseness. The real difference is not between certitude and provisionality, but between two locations or styles of certitude. Some people are "formulaic", and need certainty in the form of verbatim agreement or orthodoxy. Others are experiential, and need certainty in the form of a predictable relationship or connection between actions.

I first noticed this when I was teaching electronics. I'm strongly experiential; I learn by making a mess or by observing how things happen, and not by hearing stories or lectures. I can't remember a story or joke to save my life. So my teaching was strongly experiential: try this circuit, see how this works, now can we turn this into math? Some of my students were "formulaic". They wanted the math first, so they could remember the formula and plug it into their calculators. I eventually gave in to their needs, but I didn't like it much.

Neither side is relativistic or tentative; neither side is comfortable with leaving things unsolved or undecided. But each side sees the other as sloppy or imprecise. The experiencer asks: How can you just memorize the formula without feeling the underlying mechanism? The formulizer asks: How can you try to remember a series of things that just sort of happen?

Most people who reach the heights of science are experiential, so it's understandable that they see the more orthodox religionists as shallow and rigid. What Derb and Hitch miss is that religion includes both styles of thinking. There are plenty of Christians who focus solely on memorizing scripture and plugging the exact formulas into the liturgical "calculator", and there are plenty of Christians who focus on learning - as directly and experimentally as possible - how God works. Rome has specific slots for both types: priests are expected to be accurate liturgical keypunchers, but highest honor goes to saints who experience or work in the spirit.
Saturday, June 16, 2007
  In Adam's fall sinned we all ... even paddlefish.

Recent trends among evolutionary biologists are intriguing, to say the least. They are beginning to focus more on loss than on invention.

The basic idea, in a strictly limited context, is very old. It's been known pretty much forever that some types of animals are degenerate or simplified versions of earlier forms. The easiest example: Fish that live in caves gradually lose their eyes. More generally, when you find yourself a cushy niche that requires very little effort, you'll lose parts of your nervous system, musculature or limbs over many generations.

Now some geneticists are taking the idea of original perfection and original complexity far more deeply and broadly.

Quote from a New Scientist article:

The entire tree of life has been built on the assumption that evolution entails increasing complexity. So, for example, if two groups of animals were considered close because both had a particular prominent feature, then someone discovered a third line that lacked that feature but shared many other aspects of the two groups, traditional phylogenists would conclude that the feature had arisen independently in the two outlying groups, by a process known as convergent evolution. They often did not even consider the alternative explanation: that the feature in question had evolved just once in an ancestor of all three groups, and had subsequently been lost in the intermediate one. Now a handful of molecular biologists are considering that possibility.

Another example:

Last month, Marcus Davis of the University of Chicago and colleagues reported that a species of paddlefish shows patterns of gene expression during development that were previously thought to be exclusive to land-living vertebrates - in other words, those with limbs. This paddlefish is the living species that most closely resembles the bony fish of the Palaeozoic era, which lived more than 250 million years ago. Davis concludes that primitive bony fish may have had something like limbs, which were lost in their descendants.

In other words, the classic image of fish growing legs as they marched onto land doesn't make sense ... the legs were there already, even before the fish left the water.

Let's repeat that last point, as Roger Hedgecock likes to do:

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

If this turns out to be the dominant pattern, we may soon find that large and disconnected groups such as insects and vertebrates are both simplified versions of one grand blueprint.

Instead of starting with the basics and randomly adding new parts, some of which happened to work pretty well ... it's beginning to look like we all started from one big complicated genetic plan, and each type of critter skipped building the parts it didn't need. But when it came time to build a new wing (yeah, lame pun) the plan was ready and waiting.

I'm surprised that the Intelligent Design folks haven't leaped into this with both feet (or all 12 or 24 feet, or whatever the original plan specified!)

The main ID website, Discovery Institute in Seattle, doesn't have any articles on the subject.

Letting Professor Polistra have the final (Greek) word on the matter:

= = = = =

Uncanny sidenote: An artist who picked up the same essential idea through a much more direct channel. Look at "Epoch" by Michael Meissner in the middle of this website.


Friday, June 15, 2007
  Rohrabacher finally on Youtube!

Last week I referred to a masterful speech by Rep. Rohrabacher, expertly dissecting the complete problem of immigration, not just the illegal side and not just the stupid spiderweb of details in the latest Senate bill. I was hoping this speech would reach wider distribution, and sure enough somebody has placed it on Youtube!

Up till now, the only Rohra-clips on Youtube were placed by America-hating Communists, using him as a prime example of ... well, you can fill in the four-letter words as well as they can.
Thursday, June 14, 2007
  Smelling the roses

Haven't been doing much political-type thinking this week. The weather is just too perfect. Spokane has been blessed with a long run of gold-standard weather ... which is actually typical for May and June. Last year was so awful, so scary and dangerous from May of '06 through Feb of '07, that the typical June now seems especially relaxing by contrast.

So I've been spending more time outside than usual, grooming the lawn and trimming the bushes, walking to the store, actually killing dandelions for the first time in my 40 years of domesticity. Feels good to look out the front door and see a lawn that's solid green.

In the evening I listen to old radio soap operas. Some of them, like "Pepper Young's Family", are quite good ... well-acted, well-written, moral without sanctimony, while others are just as awful as anything in modern entertainment.

I like to imagine Jim and Bertha, the original occupants of this house in 1944, sitting in this same room, listening to the same Bob Trout newscasts and the same soap operas, smelling the very same rosebushes. Important difference: Jim and Bertha knew that America was winning the war. By the summer of '44 we had essentially finished off the Krauts and could see our way clear to knocking out the Japs. In 2007, I have no such confidence. I see all parts of our government and culture totally paralyzed by the virus of Leninism, busily and cheerfully surrendering to Lenin's satanic new friends in Allah's Army.

And now we're unfortunately back to politics.
Thursday, June 07, 2007
  The unthinkable glacis

Polistra's Seventh Law: When the elites say X is unthinkable, it's time to think X.

= = = = =

When the elites nod sagely and murmur reassuringly:

Of course we can't bomb Mecca and Medina; it would be disrespectful.

Of course Iraq must remain in one piece; dividing it would offend Turkey.

Of course we must stay in Iraq; otherwise the turrists will follow us home.

Of course we can't just deport all the illegals.

Of course we must all condemn the "atrocities" of Abu Ghraib.

Of course we can never torture a ticking Mohammedan time bomb.

Of course we can't build a 50-foot wall; the illegals will bring a 51-foot ladder.

Of course we must have a large inflow of immigrants, legal or otherwise.

= = = = =

In EVERY case, ordinary logic plus a bit of historical knowledge tells us that the "unthinkable" action is not only thinkable but helpful; in SOME cases the "unthinkable" is NECESSARY FOR SURVIVAL.

Lately the "unthinkables" are starting to break down. In the last few months, more and more people are disobeying the elites and applying plain logic and knowledge to reality.

Focusing here on the last two listed items, because I've talked plenty about the others.

Defending against ladders is not exactly new technology. Google 'glacis' and you'll see a wide variety of effective methods, most invented 2000 years ago, for slippy-sliding a ladder. I'll bet a team of young medieval-minded gamers and engineers could develop a modern glacis.

On the most basic question of needing immigrants, an interesting alliance is developing. I raved about Rohrabacher's speech in the previous entry; this morning our only honestly described Socialist, Bernie Sanders, was making the same point with the same facts, and the Black Caucus (eg Sheila Jackson Lee) have been saying similar things.

The essential distinction: Immigrants increase the wealth and mow the lawns of rich people. Immigrants take jobs from poor people and lower the wages of middle-class families and even some brainy jobs like programming. (Yes, I have a vested interest here!)

Rich people don't need nations or boundaries; they can move their hedge-fund holdings, private jets and private security forces to Dubai or Somalia when it gets too disorderly here. Middle-class and poor people need nations and governments, because they can't move, and shouldn't have to spend all their time defending against marauders. This is the whole point and meaning of civilization.

This new way of carving our political turkey leaves the disloyal representatives exposed. Those who serve China, Mexico and the rich can now be seen and identified, while those who serve lower and middle-class Americans can be seen and identified.
Wednesday, June 06, 2007
  "Out of the shadows"

Listening to senators like Cornyn and Kyl, who really should know better, trying to "save the bill" by adding and subtracting endless details. They continually babble about the need to "bring the illegals out of the shadows."

Out of the shadows.

I certainly understand that these phrases are meaning-free zones ... they have meaning in the same way that Paris Hilton has talent, or cable news has facts ... but just for a moment let's pretend that the words might have some meaning.

If you are truly "in the shadows", you are making no contact with law enforcement; you are not hurting anyone; you are not causing Americans to lose income by bidding down the price of labor.

Thus, if you are truly "in the shadows", we have no problem with you because you're not causing us any problems.

The problems happen any time the immigrants come "out of the shadows". Whenever they steal, kill, or rape, they have come "out of the shadows". When they work at jobs that would have gone to real Americans in a properly sealed system, they are "out of the shadows". When they use classrooms or social services that would otherwise not be needed, they are causing real American taxpayers to spend money that would otherwise not be spent.

So the proper approach is simply to detect these illegal immigrants every time they come "out of the shadows", and immediately send them home.

We don't need to provide more incentives to come out of the shadows, and we don't need to worry about provisions of the law that may keep them in the shadows. If they want to survive, they have to come out of the shadows. That's all the incentive they need. We can spot them at that moment and ship them home.

See? Not complicated at all.

The real problem is that we have reversed the light and shade. We have put actual Americans in the shadow of low wages; we put police in the shadow of sanctuary laws and ACLU litigation whenever they attempt to shine the light on illegals; we put border guards into the shadow of prison bars when they try to do their job properly.

= = = = =

Rohrabacher, speaking on the House floor right now, is piling up dozens of powerful points against the "nutty" Senate bill. He just made a subtle but important point that hasn't been touched before: Adding immigrants, legal or otherwise, depresses the wages of all Americans, which also depresses the inputs to Social Security. So even if some of the illegals actually contribute to SS, their mere presence counteracts the contribution.

Later: THIS SPEECH IS THE MOST IMPORTANT POLITICAL SPEECH SINCE THE GETTYSBURG ADDRESS. I'm emailing Rohr's office and begging them to put it on Youtube so it can be seen at will.

An earlier version of basically the same speech in print.


I've hit D-Day several times recently, so I'll just gather them up here for the day itself:

Bob Trout's wonderful CBS newscast, and analysis by Quentin Reynolds.

Emphasis on the French resistance, and French courage.

Best of all, Kate Smith's prayer.
Tuesday, June 05, 2007
  CNN's "debate"

I started out trying to make notes on this one but quickly got bored and disgusted. It was just a rerun of the MSNBC "debate".

Wolf asked a few real questions for the sake of form, and cut off the answers ruthlessly.

Wolf was only interested in asking one question, and he repeated it endlessly with slight variations: "All right, you miserable pack of bigoted homophobic Nazi homophobic Neanderthal homophobic cross-burning homophobic racist homophobic sexist homophobic Fascist homophobes, just tell me when you're going to stop dragging Matthew Shepard in chains behind your pickup truck, you unspeakable homophobic Bible-fucking homophobic CHRISTIANS!!!! And if you can't hear me over the sound of the chains, I'll say it even louder!!!!!!!!!!!"

Most of the brand-R candidates just stood back and let Wolf spit and screech; quite properly didn't want to get within slavering range of this rabid canine.

The only thing I find worthy of comment was a subtle error ... and I do think it was a plain error, not a clever twist ... by the leftist commentator Jeffrey Toobin after the spitting and spewing was over.

Toobin commented on Mitt's method of selling the idea of a Mormon President versus JFK's way of selling a Catholic President in 1960. According to Toobin, JFK emphasized the absolute separation of church and state, and reassured voters that he would observe that separation rigorously. Mitt is taking an opposite approach, emphasizing the idea that every President is shaped by his faith, and reassuring voters that the LDS approach to America is no different from the Protestant or Catholic approach.

The Kennedy part sounded historically wrong, because I know that "separation" was a more recent idea. It wasn't really part of the national vocabulary until the Supremes prohibited school prayer in 1962.

So I looked it up. Here's a passage from JFK's speech to the Southern Baptist Convention, which seems to be the basic statement of his selling points:

While the so-called religious issue is necessarily and properly the chief topic here tonight, I want to emphasize from the outset that I believe that we have far more critical issues in the 1960 election: the spread of Communist influence, until it now festers only ninety miles off the coast of Florida -- the humiliating treatment of our President and Vice President by those who no longer respect our power -- the hungry children I saw in West Virginia, the old people who cannot pay their doctor's bills, the families forced to give up their farms -- an America with too many slums, with too few schools, and too late to the moon and outer space.

These are the real issues which should decide this campaign. And they are not religious issues -- for war and hunger and ignorance and despair know no religious barrier.

Note: it's modern Leftists who are trying to make hunger, doctor's bills and slums into religious questions. Every one of today's Brand-D candidates has said something about those problems being "moral issues" or the "basis of my faith family".

But because I am a Catholic and no Catholic has ever been elected President, the real issues in this campaign have been obscured -- perhaps deliberately, in some quarters less responsible than this. So it is apparently necessary for me to state once again -- not what kind of church I believe in for that should be important only to me, but what kind of America I believe in.

Sounds quite a bit like Romney's approach so far.

I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute -- where no Catholic prelate would tell the President (should he be a Catholic) how to act and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote -- where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference -- and where no man is denied public office merely because his religion differs from the President who might appoint him or the people who might elect him.

Here's the core. From the phrasing, JFK is not saying that he goes along with an existing common idea. He's proposing a new idea. And despite the carefully balanced wording, what he's really saying to the Baptists is that he will keep the government separate from Catholicism. At that time, "church schools" were exclusively Catholic schools, and Protestant ministers were not yet in the habit of jumping into politics. Protestant schools and Baptist participation in politics came later, as a reaction to the total separation that began in '62.

Now I find myself asking if the Supremes were essentially carrying out JFK's campaign promise when they prohibited school prayer in '62. Probably not; I think most of those judges were appointed by Roosevelt or Eisenhower.

= = = = =

Later: Rush made an excellent point in discussing the "inquisition", something I should have thought of. Wolf's ruthless cutoff of all real answers was not a Law of Nature or even a legislated law; it was just Leninist bullying with no real authority. The candidates were perfectly free to override Wolf instead of meekly giving in; and Rudy did override the cutoffs when he decided an answer was important. In fact, a complete insurrection would have been more fun and more informative than letting Wolf get away with his bullying.
  Modest Proposal

Professor Polistra has a modest proposal. Since the media and the courts are strictly Party-controlled, and function along Party lines, why not erase those lines?

It's simple. All Brand-R politicians should register as Brand-D, and become active in Brand-D caucuses, contribute to Brand-D campaigns, etc. Abandon the entire Brand-R structure; let it lapse. This will make it considerably harder for courts and media to do their normal job. They will still know who they hate, but they won't be able to identify the difference openly.

It won't make any difference in voting, since the Brand-R politicians [on the national level anyway] are already giving Teddy Kennedy everything he wants.
Saturday, June 02, 2007

Discussing the fact that one of the plotters at JFK airport was an employee of the airport, terrorism expert Neil Livingston said "It's really hard to background these guys."

No it's not.

If you see an employee down on the GROUND with his BACK in the air, facing east, and he seems to do this several times each day, you have all the background you need.

Lame puns aside, if his name is Abdul and he insists on taking time out to pray 5 times a day and he forces the airport to build a special foot-washing room and he insists that the airport cafeteria must serve halal food, and....

Well, you get the idea. It's not hard to background these guys at all, if you recognize who the enemy is.
  Guyana is not in Africa, Comrade.

In allegedly reporting on the alleged plot to blow up alleged JFK alleged airport, Comrade Herridge is allegedly repeating that one of the men comes from Guyana, and she is expanding on this "African connection" and the significance of the "fact" that the plot spans several continents.

Guyana is on the north coast of South America; it's basically a Caribbean nation with a black population and historically leftist tendencies, and is tightly connected with Trinidad, where the other plotters are apparently from.

I really don't understand why Fox keeps Comrade Herridge on board. She's ignorant, seems to be anti-American, acts like she doesn't want to be working there, and isn't even pretty. (TV is TV, after all; appearance forgives all else.)

= = = = =

Update: after two hours of coverage, she finally got it right, but without acknowledging that she'd been saying it wrong.
  No, Hillary is not a populist.

Heard just now on Fox: "Hillary is not a leftist; she's just a populist who says whatever the audience wants her to say."

Unfortunately, the term populist is now used only to describe a speaking style. When Algore roars like a bear, he's a populist. When Hillary does her "Lawsy, lawsy, marse Jawge, I'se gots a hawd, hawd time" routine, she's a populist.

I know there's no point in trying to recapture words; change in meaning and grammar is natural and unstoppable. Still, this change is especially irritating because it amounts to a sort of thought-control. There are already a number of words for a politician who meets his audience's style: Folksy, demagogue, rabble-rouser. A new word wasn't needed for that concept. But there is no other American term for the original meaning of Populist, the Jennings Bryan school of thought.

"Economic nationalist" is the nearest remaining term, but it's a flavorless phrase.

And, as Orwell noted, when you remove the word you effectively remove the concept.

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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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