Friday, June 27, 2008
  Every now and then, Justice.



Polistra is enjoying the exquisitely deserved downfall of a master criminal and thief.

Richard "Dickie" Scruggs, who became one of the wealthiest civil lawsuit attorneys in the country by taking on tobacco, asbestos and insurance companies, was sentenced Friday to five years in prison for conspiring to bribe a judge.

Scruggs was indicted in November along with his son and a law partner after an associate wore a wire for the FBI and secretly recorded conversations about the bribe plan. Prosecutors said he wanted a favorable ruling in a dispute over $26.5 million in legal fees from a mass settlement of Hurricane Katrina insurance cases.

Prosecutors are looking into another alleged bribery conspiracy in which Scruggs is accused of trying to influence a different judge in a dispute over legal fees from asbestos cases. Scruggs' former defense attorney has pleaded guilty in that case and is cooperating with investigators.

Scruggs gained fame in the 1990s by using a corporate insider against tobacco companies in lawsuits that resulted in a $206 billion settlement.

Scruggs' former defense attorney, Joey Langston of Booneville, has pleaded guilty to trying to influence Hinds County Judge Bobby DeLaughter in the asbestos fee case by promising that Scruggs could help DeLaughter get appointed to the federal bench with the help of U.S. Sen. Trent Lott, Scruggs' brother-in-law.


The mastermind of the biggest single theft in history is finally behind bars!

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Afterthought: I haven't heard any brand-D politicians crowing about the Trent Lott connection, which by all rights should be prime material for their "culture of corruption" line. Wonder why? Oh, yes, I see... anti-tobacco lawyers can never be described as corrupt because they are Heroes of the Left, Celebrated in Song and Story and On The Silver Screen. In fact, several of the Silver Screen people involved with the movie "The Insider", a Stalinist propaganda pic that lionizes Scruggs, testified in his favor at this trial. Bravo to the judge in this case for ignoring their fame and fortune.

= = = = =

And another piece of justice, though less complete: after 7 years of false accusation which never quite reached the point of charges and trial, Stephen Hatfill finally got a monetary recompense. Unfortunately, Sultan Bush's regime didn't admit any wrongdoing, and didn't state explicitly that Hatfill is off the hook. Kafka is still alive and well.

For me, this anthrax business was the first hint that the Bush regime was not truly fighting a war. There was definite evidence that Atta and his cadre had been experimenting with anthrax; the accompanying letters were unquestionably written by a foreign hand; there was no evidence at all connecting Hatfill to the letters. Despite all that, the Bush regime landed on Hatfill and stayed on him for several years, based apparently on a highly dubious accusation from a female former colleague. I had to conclude that the Bush regime was more interested in protecting Atta [or perhaps protecting a double agent connected to Atta, or covering up a blown sting] than in making war against the ideology and nations who sent Atta.
 
Thursday, June 26, 2008
  Bravo Rice!

Credit where credit is due. Today's announcement of "nuclear transparency" from North Korea is a decisive landmark in the only positive piece of the Bush legacy.

I'm not particularly excited by the dismantling of the nuclear reactor; could well be a Potemkin display. Nevertheless, it marks another public step toward returning North Korea to the civilized world, and a public step away from belligerency. It will be much harder for Dear Leader Kim to backslide now.

It's frustrating to see our commentators responding in lockstep form to this event based solely on team loyalty and blind ideology. This success proves nothing about Bush's childlike faith in the power of democracy to cure all ills; it certainly doesn't prove that Iraq will eventually go the same way.

It does prove that people who are capable of mastering civilization will do so when given the chance, and it proves that Rice's campaign of carrots and sticks, applied in concert with Japan, South Korea and China, is working.

Plain fact: Koreans and Arabs are different.

We have fifty years of dramatic empirical proof that Koreans love capitalism and democracy. South Korea does a better job of both than we do.

We also have 1000 years of proof that Arabs are totally immune to the charms of both capitalism and democracy. The Bush method, applied to Arabs, will achieve nothing but American bankruptcy.

Unfortunately, because we have been corrupted by fifty years of Leninism, we are not allowed to discuss this obvious empirical difference openly, and we are not allowed to draw the obvious conclusion, because the only way to reach this conclusion requires the use of ethnic and racial categories.
 
  Death of theories?

From Wired Mag, pointed via Duckwall...

"All models are wrong, but some are useful."

So proclaimed statistician George Box 30 years ago, and he was right. But what choice did we have? Only models, from cosmological equations to theories of human behavior, seemed to be able to consistently, if imperfectly, explain the world around us. Until now. Today companies like Google, which have grown up in an era of massively abundant data, don't have to settle for wrong models. Indeed, they don't have to settle for models at all.

...

At the petabyte scale, information is not a matter of simple three- and four-dimensional taxonomy and order but of dimensionally agnostic statistics. It calls for an entirely different approach, one that requires us to lose the tether of data as something that can be visualized in its totality. It forces us to view data mathematically first and establish a context for it later. For instance, Google conquered the advertising world with nothing more than applied mathematics. It didn't pretend to know anything about the culture and conventions of advertising — it just assumed that better data, with better analytical tools, would win the day. And Google was right.

Google's founding philosophy is that we don't know why this page is better than that one: If the statistics of incoming links say it is, that's good enough. No semantic or causal analysis is required.


= = = = =

Point of the article: we don't need hypotheses any more. We don't need to operate on the basis of judgment and ever-improving conclusions. We can just boil down the data to a conclusion if we have enough data and a good stove.

Google's method certainly works for advertising, where your goal is simply to reach the maximum number of eyeballs. This is basically the way ants operate. Send out millions of feelers, follow the path where more of the returning feelers bear food in their jaws. Google sends out ads to a variety of sites, counts the ads that return with clicks in their jaws, follows the smell toward sites with similar wording. Because placing each ad is nearly costless, the ant-like process is harmless. Nobody dies when an ad goes unread.

= = = = =

I'm torn between two responses.

On one side, the prevailing sin of this era is our tendency to follow fantastically stupid and genocidal theories like Global Warming to their inevitable conclusions without even looking at the damned data. And the effects of such stupidity are far from costless. Millions of actual human beings are dying from the effects of Green theories: prohibition of DDT, breaching dams, fear of genetically-modified crops, switching crops from food to ethanol, keeping malarial wetlands in place, doubling the cost of energy, etc.

If blind mechanical analysis of the actual data could kill bad theories and eliminate reliance on purely imaginary models and simulations, it would be a godsend.

On the other side, total reliance on numerical analysis kills the most important basis of Western civilization: each human being is tremendously valuable and deserving of dignity, unless and until a human proves by his actions that he is unstoppably destructive.

Modern totalitarians from Hitler to Mao have used numbers and science quite competently to destroy the basis of civilization, to break the undefinable bonds of family and neighborhood.

Numbers don't care how they're used. If the goal is to maximize a politician's power, blind numerical democracy will get you there. Place enough news stories and polls in the media to drive the voters toward the correct choice, then wait for the ballots to return with power in their jaws. Karl Rove and Dick Morris have perfected the method.

However! Good empirical thinking requires more than theories, more than raw data. It requires judgment and discrimination, and it requires freedom to use and discuss your judgment and discrimination. You have to ask yourself and ask others whether a proposed action will advance the cause of civilization, and you must be able to state the goals and qualities of civilization clearly and openly. Our Communist masters have made this method suspicious in some areas of life and absolutely illegal in other areas.

So we are pinned between the ant-like juggernaut of lethal a-priori theories that cannot be questioned or invalidated by mere numbers, and the ant-like Google tricks of the electoral engineers. The middle course, the human course of examined judgment is gone, probably irretrievable.
 
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
  Extremely important point

From the Euro writer Fjordman:

Is capitalism always a force for freedom? It is easy for “conservatives” to think so, but is it always true?

...

I am particularly concerned over the recent attempts by various Western corporations to appease Islamic demands for sharia censorship. Both regarding the Danish cartoons and the Wilders movie in Holland, business interests have been among the most prominent in denouncing these attempts to defend Western freedoms because they care only about their market shares and not about the wider issues.

When we also know that many companies support mass immigration because they want easy access to cheap labor, including Muslim immigration, this means that they contribute to Islamization, at home and abroad. Can we then say that capitalism is always a force for freedom? I think not. As Thomas Jefferson said, “Merchants have no country. The mere spot they stand on does not constitute so strong an attachment as that from which they draw their gains.”


In America the immigration problem, though equally symptomatic of feral capitalism, doesn't involve Arabs or Mohammedans to any great extent.

Our problem is more direct: We have made Arabia so rich that Arabia is quickly buying us out. Worst of all, Arabia is buying influence in universities and buying partial control of media. Our "conservative" media and commentators follow Sultan Bush down the line. They never criticize Arabia, never connect the perfectly obvious dots between the governments on the Arabian peninsula and the "tiny minority of extremist folks" who started this war. We are stuck with a completely misdirected war, a never-ending expenditure of money and lives toward a completely pointless and completely futile goal.

It's hard to draw a WW2 equivalent, because stupidity and corruption, though obviously part of the permanent human condition, were not in total control of our government back then. I'll try anyway: Imagine millions of American soldiers dying in Ethiopia to remove it from Italian control and turn it toward democracy, while Japan bombs and marches through California, Oregon and Washington unopposed.
 
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
  Unfathomable stupidity

At the same time when the brand-R parrots are squawking loudly about brand-D threats to nationalize the oil industry, a major brand-R leader, probable VP choice for McCain, has just nationalized the sugar industry.

Governor Crist [of Florida] announced a $1.75 billion deal to buy the U.S. Sugar Corporation, including 187,000 acres of farmland that once sat in the northern Everglades. If the deal goes through, it will extinguish a powerful 77-year-old company with 1,700 employees and deep roots in South Florida's coal-black organic soil. ...

Environmentalists hope that eventually, the area will become storage reservoirs, treatment marshes and perhaps even a flowway reconnecting the lake to the Glades. This could help recreate the original north-to-south movement of the "River of Grass", and eliminate damaging pulses of excess water into coastal estuaries. That would be good news for panthers and gators, dolphins and herons, ghost orchids and royal palms.


Yessir, just what we need at this point. Save the ghost orchid, kill the people. Lose one more industry to foreigners, especially a crop that could be used for biofuel. Take a tremendous amount of land into government hands where it will be mishandled. Guaranteed result: More wildfires, worse flooding, less tax revenue for Florida, more emergency expenses for Florida, shortages in other sugar-producing crops, higher prices for everything.

Unfathomable. Unspeakable. Purely Communist by the strictest definition.

Of course, Manchurian Candidate McCain will love it. Fits his platform perfectly. Sell the country to China and Cuba. Eliminate production, eliminate business, eliminate resources. Turn us into a third-world dependency. That's MC McCain for you.
 
Monday, June 23, 2008
  McCain's battery prize

The brand-R talking pointheads are knocking Manchurian Candidate McCain's idea of a prize for the best development of a long-running battery for electric cars. They are saying - correctly - that incoming money isn't really the missing element. Also correctly, that such a battery would be unquestionably profitable without a prize. But MC McCain and his critics are all missing the main obstacle to invention: litigation.

A truly meaningful and helpful offer would be the following: We will set up a special panel, outside the patent system, to check out inventions. You submit your invention, with proper proof that it works, and we will take the best three submissions through the patent process without cost, with full confidentiality, and with permanent immunity from lawsuits by Patent Trolls. This setup would genuinely level the playing field.
 
  Madame Polisztra saw it coming.......

I wrote on June 3:

Team-based thinking leads to a certain understandable blindness, but it rarely goes this far. Dennis Miller was discussing style vs substance this morning, and one caller said:

"Hey, why don't the Republicans get better talking points? Why don't they say, for instance, You want higher gas prices, vote Democrat. You want lower gas prices, vote Republican."

Um, perhaps they don't say that because everyone in the country knows that the wild rise in gas prices has occurred under Republicans. Even brand-R politicians aren't quite stupid enough to try a slogan that runs so obviously against experience ... No, I take it back. They are stupid enough. I fully expect to see this slogan in tomorrow's talking-point memo now that it's been suggested.


Well, it took 20 days instead of 2 days, but it happened. This morning Rush is parroting over and over again "You want high gas prices? Vote for Obama."

This will work on the brand-R team members, but the team members don't need a slogan anyway.
 
Friday, June 20, 2008
  An interesting 'debate'



Here is a highly revealing discussion on the subject of electing judges. The moderator managed to avoid talking points and bring out an important opposition between two types of politics.

On the left is William Baker, a retired state judge who is pushing some kind of weird Ethics Commission. In the middle is Erin Shannon, an attractive and highly articulate spokesman for a trade group representing builders. On the right is the moderator John Postman, a columnist at the Seattle Times, I think.

Baker advanced the delusional civics-class notion that judges are non-political and perfectly impartial technicians who shouldn't be elected, or if we must have the "necessary sin" of election, their election should somehow happen without campaigning. He couldn't explain how to run an election without campaigning, but he knew that was the only ethical way to proceed.

Erin Shannon knocked down every one of his arguments with clear and comprehensible facts. She showed repeatedly how her trade group had campaigned for judges who support the state constitution and opposed judges who oppose the state constitution, and told the story of other states that had eliminated election only to find that appointed judges were vastly more corrupt.

Her most important point: Aside from corruption, appointed judges lose track of the real-world consequences of their decisions. They are free to follow various pointillist theories and abstractions, free to float away from the plain purpose of constitutions and laws. Elected judges must face the people who are affected or killed by bad theories. The people don't understand the theories, but they do understand the difference between good and evil, the difference between normal people and criminals.

Baker finally realized that he was defeated and began referring to Shannon in a passive impersonal way, looking only at the moderator, treating Shannon as a document in a filing cabinet which must be carefully censored for public consumption. She continued to speak to him person-to-person, and he became more and more uncomfortable.

It's the first time I've seen a pro-constitution debater defeat a Communist so decisively and plainly. National pro-constitution groups would do well to hire Shannon for TV appearances.

Labels:

 
Thursday, June 19, 2008
  American?

Back in 1970 or so, I read a probably apocryphal story about British stoicism. A London reporter pursuing a crime story happened to drive through a small town and found it flooded to a depth of two or three feet. He noticed the people were going about their business in an adapted "normal" way, living on the second floor of their houses, wearing boots, and even pushing baby strollers along the top of retaining walls to keep them dry. Since his newspaper hadn't published or even heard anything about this flood, he asked the locals when and how it had happened. Turns out a dam had burst a month before, but nobody had reported it to newspapers or to authorities. Why not? The locals simply assumed the government had its reasons for allowing the flood, and would fix the problem when it was appropriate.

When I first read this story, I marveled at the fatalism. No American would simply assume that Nature was going to have her way, no American would simply assume that the government would get around to fixing something in its own sweet time.

That was before the environmental religion, before the complete takeover by Communists, and before the ascension of George W. Gore. Now, of course, Nature rules supreme. We are not allowed to build dams, not allowed to seed clouds, not allowed to use our own goddamn resources. We are supposed to take inflation and shortages and permanent loss of industry as IRREVERSIBLE Acts of God. We must tolerate and pay for the "religious" claptrap of the Mohammedan savages who are attacking us, and we must allow our government to run Inquisitions and military raids against Christians.

Now the British fatalism doesn't seem strange at all.
 
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
  About damn time.

Polistra has been hammering for a year on the plain fact that Sultan Bush could do something about oil drilling on his own, by executive order, instead of playing endless idiotic word games with Congress.

Glenn Beck is finally pushing the point, very effectively.

About damn time.
 
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
  A perfect read

Christopher Roach at the Taki's Magazine blog has put together a concise statement of every point Polistra has been trying to make here over the last two years. Roach starts from the same premise: As a nation, America's job is to defend Western Civilization and America's own people. Reasoning purely from this goal, without contamination by any ideology, Roach concludes that we should skip morality, skip the Golden Rule, avoid Wilsonian notions, fight hard and fast when necessary, fight covertly and nastily when necessary.

The comments responding to Roach are equally interesting in a dismal way.... a few show evidence of understanding the point, but most are predictable "recorded messages" from various ideologies.
 
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
  Basic error

As we discuss oil prices, speculators, and regulation of trading, we're missing one basic and broad point.

Conservatives and especially Libertarians suffer from a conflation of "the President" and "the Executive branch". I heard this in its purest form in the recent Libertarian Party convention, where one nominee said he would do as little as possible when elected.

This conflation leads directly to tyranny.

The problem starts with human nature. Why do people seek jobs as bureaucrats? Because they enjoy wielding power. They are addicted to the joy of watching others march to their orders, and addicted to the even greater joy of exempting Favored Ones from the same orders.

When the President "does as little as possible", when he pays little attention to the bureaucrats, this doesn't leave more room for the States and People to exercise their natural rights, as the Conservative stupidly believes. It only leaves more room for the Executive Branch to run amok. The bureaucrat's natural addiction to power is then free to operate without limitation or punishment. Agencies will come down hard on people or companies who displease them for whatever reason, and will grant special privileges to the highest bidder.

We saw this dramatically under Bush Senior, when BATF went completely rogue, starting the Randy Weaver massacre and the Waco massacre. We're seeing it again under Bush Junior. Katrina was the perfect example. FEMA was completely rogue, taking none of the actions it was supposed to take, and preventing effective organizations from taking the proper actions to help New Orleans.

Small government is not necessarily a good thing, and a small president on top of a big government is a terrible thing.

Hillary should have hammered on this point loudly and frequently, but for some unknown reason she didn't. Under Bill, most bureaucrats were held in check, held accountable, encouraged to do their proper job in order to make the government look good. The rogue BATF officials were fired, and FEMA worked reasonably well.
 
  More warmth!



Today, June 10, the day with the earliest sunrise of the year, Spokane is getting heavy snow. Temp is 37 degrees.

This may turn out to be a "year without a summer" in this part of the country.

Yessir, just like Manchurian Candidate McCain tells us, global warming is fully underway, and we need to bring our already suffering economy to a screeching halt to prevent further burning. Or rather, we need to bring our economy to a halt so George Soros and his fellow Satanic speculators can make even more money money money money money money money money money money money money money money by shorting the dollar.

= = = = =

Local weathercasters are calling this month "Juneuary", a nice coinage. They're also saying today's temp is a record low for the date, beating out the previous low in 1973.

= = = = =

Hmm. 1973. Reminds me of an entry from last year:

= = = = =

A passage from the WPA Guide to Kansas, written in 1938 as the Dust Bowl was still going strong.

Recent years of almost unprecedented drought have led to the often expressed belief that the climate of Kansas is changing. Geologists and meteorologists, however, point out that weather runs in cycles, the most pronounced being about a third of a century in length. Conditions during a cycle are easily mistaken by laymen for permanent changes. Despite year by year fluctuations in temperature and precipitation, recorded evidence shows that general climatic conditions remain unchanged.

The scientists of 1938 had knowledge, logic and common sense. They understood the principle of the wheel or the wave: what goes around comes around. Today's "scientists" have lost that basic understanding. Like a newborn babe, they see something going up and they assume it's going up forever.

And the third of a century has continued with fair precision. 1938 was a year of floods and droughts, including a terrible flood in Los Angeles and a hurricane that flattened Providence, RI with a HUNDRED-FOOT-TALL surge. Add 35 and you get 1973, another year of floods, supercells and tornados. Add 34 to that, and you get 2007.

Well, what do you know. Those old benighted scientists just might be right. Things do run in cycles. Amazing.

Satire aside, I'm desperately frightened to see our "keepers of knowledge" dragging us down into a Dark Age. It took several centuries for the learning of Greece and Rome to fade into raw superstition; our Communist masters have accomplished the same level of destruction in a few decades.
 
Saturday, June 07, 2008
  Couple of good reads

Linking, mainly for my own future reference, a couple of wonderful articles that make the same point.

Roger Scruton writes about the connection between modernist 'Bauhaus' architecture and Communism, and the failure of both... contrasted with plain old vernacular villages, which have always succeeded despite elite hatred. Provides a partial answer to a question that Polistra found puzzling.

Krier has pursued a career in architecture, but he is also a philosopher and social thinker who believes that architectural modernism is not just ugly but also based in profound mistakes about the nature of human society. As he put it in a recent interview: “Humanity lives by trial and error, sometimes committing errors of a monumental scale. Architectural and urbanist modernism belong—like communism—to a class of errors from which there is little or nothing to learn or gain. . . . Modernism’s fundamental error, however, is to propose itself as a universal (i.e., unavoidable and necessary) phenomenon, legitimately replacing and excluding traditional solutions.”


= = = = =

And David Warren writes about the abstract 'Bauhaus' mind of the leftist, which blindly follows authorities and theories untethered to common sense. Echoes and expands on several of Polistra's previous thoughts.

To put this plainly: as the evidence for continuous “man-made” global warming disappears, belief subsides among Republicans. But among Democrats it increases, radically. Democrats respond better to words, and the repetition of them. For the one thing that has increased hugely, in the last decade, is the propaganda for “global warming.”

I have myself observed this distinction between the Right and Left sides of mainstream electorates in most other Western countries: the Right tends to believe in facts, the Left to believe in “theories”; and as we advance through post-modern irrationalism, those theories become battier and battier.

...

This has become a signal threat to democracy. For where we once had broad agreement on facts, and relatively mild disagreements on what should be done about them, we now have one-half of the electorate drifting off into Cloud Cuckooland.

 
  McCorruption on parade

The Wash state Republican convention was here in Spokane last week. Manchurian Candidate McCain's forces ruled with an iron hand, using all sorts of parliamentary tricks to ruthlessly hammer down any conservative or nationalist ideas that dared to pop up.

For full online coverage go to TVW, where you'll see a box containing the various segments. If you're reading this later after the box goes away, here are the five segments.

It was clear that a majority of the county delegates were strongly unhappy with Manchurian Candidate McCain. There was a constant near-mutinous tone of protest, and even a walkout at one point, which didn't seem to bother the General Secretary of the state Party; he simply forged ahead.

This is, of course, the same state party that stopped counting caucus votes when it looked like the votes might favor Huckabee. Not that counting them would have mattered in the long run, since we now know that Huckabee wasn't really a candidate but only a sort of gadget or contraption designed by Manchurian Candidate McCain to eliminate Romney from the race.

Lenin owns us all.
 
Friday, June 06, 2008
  No more termites.

The Orkin man came this morning. With remarkable efficiency and speed, he cleared out a foot of open space next to the house and soaked it with poison, then soaked the ground under the house. Expensive, but the results are guaranteed.

One less thing to worry about. The existing damage is done, but there won't be any more damage from now on.
 
Thursday, June 05, 2008
  Haq Attaq mistrial

Naveed Haq, the enemy soldier who shot him up some Jews in Seattle a couple of years ago, was tried under ordinary criminal rules. The jury deadlocked on the question of insanity, and the trial ended up inconclusive.

This doesn't mean that Enemy Soldier Haq will go free; the defense already pled or stipulated that he did in fact shoot him up some Jews.

Still, as I said before, and as I shouldn't have even needed to say in a sane country, Haq IS AN ENEMY SOLDIER AND SHOULD HAVE BEEN TREATED AS SUCH. Enemy soldiers don't get to tie up juries for weeks in pointless psychiatric testimony. Judged by peacetime standards, the mindset of any enthusiastic soldier would count as insane: following orders, and in the absence of orders, following his beliefs and training, with the goal of killing as many people as possible. That's exactly what Haq was doing. The absence of an immediate commander didn't prevent us from executing Kraut and Jap spies in WW2, and the absence of a commander shouldn't prevent us from executing Mohammedan agents like Haq.

Story here.

= = = = =

Afterthought: Has anyone considered the "Golden Rule" aspects of this? If we are treating enemy soldiers as insane, couldn't some hostile country like Germany decide to treat American soldiers as insane, and lock them up in a concentration camp "for their own protection?" Not that I buy the Golden Rule approach to war and foreign policy, but Comrade McCain and Comrade Obama do.

Another: I wonder if the underlying problem here is the intentional misunderstanding of Mohammed, as propagated by enemy agencies like CAIR and Sultan Bush.

Within the tenets of Christ, a believer who says that God tells him to kill Jews, or that the Bible tells him to kill Jews, is actually insane because the New Testament says the opposite. Jesus and his apostles consistently advise believers to convert Jews and other infidels: convert by persuasion, gentleness, example, and love. You can't possibly use any part of the New Testament as advice to kill infidels. If you do, you're certainly not a Christian and can be validly considered insane.

Within the tenets of Mohammed, a believer who says that Allah tells him to kill infidels and Jews is not insane because that's exactly what the Koran advises.

Because Sultan Bush has cleverly rigged this war to avoid religious questions, and because Sultan Bush has intentionally told us lies about the beliefs and desires of serious Mohammedans, this jury had no real choice. Under these false pretenses, the question of insanity was worth considering.
 
Wednesday, June 04, 2008
  Well, poop

Finally called the Orkin man, and he took a close look at the ant situation. Turns out the ants are termites.

I wish I had figured this out earlier. There are plenty of information pages about ants and termites online, and one look at the pages could have told me instantly that these critters are termites.

When I first moved here, people told me that termites were nearly nonexistent in this part of the country. This false notion led me to ignore the possibility. They looked like ants, so I assumed they were ants.
 
Tuesday, June 03, 2008
  Madame Polisztra is happy



Madame Polisztra sees an interesting possibility when Obama is elected. It's clear that the Republican organization is no longer a functional party. By embracing unbelievable incompetence, unimaginable stupidity, and unfathomable filth and corruption, the R club has simply surrendered its right to exist. Rational voters have no reason to select the R brand.

This gives us a Federal situation akin to the traditional Southern state, where two or three factions contend within the Democrat party. And we do have, for the first time since 1972, a formal opposition between recognizable factions. The new Western Dems like Jon Tester represent the FDR line: pro-American, pro-production, pro-union, hawkish. Obama represents the McGovern line: anti-American, anti-production, pro-China, dovish. Hillary began this election in an ambiguous position, but started to win (alas, too late) when she aligned with the FDR faction.

Here's the important part: The FDR faction crosses party lines. Tester and Hillary 2.0 sound nearly identical to Dana Rohrabacher and Duncan Hunter. The FDR faction of Republicans has been powerless during Sultan Bush's regime, for reasons that even the omniclairvoyant Madame Polisztra can't understand. Why should a sane man be loyal to insanity? It is a mystery.

With Sultan Bush out of the picture (thank God) and with President Obama belonging to the opposite party and the opposite faction, Madame P sees a strong alliance building between the Tester types and the Rohrabacher types. This was already seen on occasion, such as the wonderful teaming of Marcy Kaptur and Duncan Hunter. With a President who belongs to the opposite party and the opposite side, this pro-American and pro-working-class alliance will have a chance to grow more powerful, and may end up becoming a second party to replace the decomposing corpse of the Republican club.

= = = = =

More seriously, I'd love to see Hillary run on her own. With the two major parties each offering their worst possible candidate, both promising bankruptcy and enslavement to China and Arabia, there's a real opening, a real market, for a third candidate who promises to protect THIS country and to rebuild THIS country's industrial base.
 
  Sometimes you wonder

Team-based thinking leads to a certain understandable blindness, but it rarely goes this far. Dennis Miller was discussing style vs substance this morning, and one caller said:

"Hey, why don't the Republicans get better talking points? Why don't they say, for instance, You want higher gas prices, vote Democrat. You want lower gas prices, vote Republican."

Um, perhaps they don't say that because everyone in the country knows that the wild rise in gas prices has occurred under Republicans. Even brand-R politicians aren't quite stupid enough to try a slogan that runs so obviously against experience ... No, I take it back. They are stupid enough. I fully expect to see this slogan in tomorrow's talking-point memo now that it's been suggested.
 
Monday, June 02, 2008
  Zillow epiphany

Couple days ago the annual county property-tax assessment came in the mail. According to this assessment my house is worth $65K. I found this to be surprisingly high, and considered lodging a protest with the assessor, as in "Look at this! Do you really think this hovel is worth more than $30K?" But then I used Zillow.com to compare some roughly equivalent houses, and found several priced in the $60K range. So maybe it's a valid range. This raised the possibility of selling, and moving back to Kansas or Oklahoma, where that amount of money would buy a better house.

More importantly, I noticed that one of my house's "sisters" was among the current listings. This "sister" is the best of a half-dozen cottages around the neighborhood that were clearly built from the same plan during WW2. Probably a prefab, built quickly to take advantage of wartime industrial workers. Each house has been remodeled differently over the years, but the original part remains recognizable.

I've been noticing this pretty sister for a long time, and wondering what it looked like on the inside. The online listing includes a set of photos which answer the question nicely.

Seeing the same rooms with the same basic moldings, but an entirely remodeled kitchen and bathroom, was eerie and dreamy. Gave me an epiphany of sorts: this is what my house could look like.
 

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Location: Spokane

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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