Wednesday, August 26, 2009
  The Emperor is dead!



Polistra and Happystar are dancing a jig.

Edward M. Kennedy, Satan's favorite son, the murderous drunken treasonous thug, the source of nearly all bad ideas in this country for the last 30 years, has ceased metabolizing.

Hallelujah!

But our elation won't last long. Undoubtedly the Senate, which runs like a pack of rabid retarded wolves or a prison mafia, will growl and snap and mill around for a while. Finally a new Alpha of the Asylum, a new Don of the Demented, will emerge from the bloody mess.

Until then, Polistra is breathing the delicious air of freedom.

= = = = =

More soberly, Polistra has always wondered why the third Kennedy brother abandoned the pro-American leftism of the first two. Jack and Bobby believed the government should serve and protect ordinary Americans; Teddy believed in serving criminals and protecting our enemies. Did he read the message sent by two assassinations? Was he blackmailed after Chappaquiddick? Or did he just flip because he was naturally evil? In any case, he was a highly effective enemy agent and the world is vastly improved by his death.
 
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
  Language update



So Professor Polistra is back with just one word. So this one word has exploded like an algal bloom, taking over the lake of language.

So every sentence now begins with this word. So it's getting mighty tiring, but no relief in sight. So this seems to have begun with Shotgun Paulson's queer little mini-me Neel Kashkari. So it then spread to all "experts" and givers of answers on TV.

= = = = =

Admittedly the use of so at the start of a sentence is not at all new, but before Kashkari it was mainly used as an interjection, either hearty or nasty, or in an "interrupted" compound sentence.

Hearty interjection: "So! How's the project going?"

Nasty interjection: "So! I knew you were tomcatting around, but I didn't think you'd do it in our own bedroom!"

Interrupted compound sentence: "Despite this, the state public health agencies have been watching carefully and have found no cases of flu at all. So the basic assumption may be incorrect." [In these cases the second sentence is really a clause of the first sentence and by strict rules would be joined with a comma.]

Labels:

 
Sunday, August 23, 2009
  Accidentally perfect analogy

On one of the Sunday morning "news" shows, Chuck Schumer made an analogy that didn't work the way he thought it did. Attempting to sell the Public Option, he said "It would be just like the way colleges work. We have public colleges and private colleges competing, and you can choose whichever you want."

He may have believed he was pointing to a positive vision, a system that works better than our health system, but in fact he was pointing to a negative vision, a system that works just as badly.

Here's how colleges really work: Our media, businesses and culture stir up the idiotic idea that everyone should be "college material", that a GOOD degree is the best qualification for every job. The prestigious private colleges take advantage of this message and charge unlimited tuition. This pulls up the tuition for the state schools because they're competing for the same students and have no reason to look cheap by comparison. The upward spiral is assisted and enabled by subsidies, grants and loans, which remove the direct price tag from the product for most people.

Before 1970 there was a much sharper distinction between Ivy League and state schools. State schools were more humble, more directly devoted to serving the people of the state, less concerned with tenure and publications. They weren't competing for Harvard-quality students, nor for Harvard-quality faculty. Thus the state schools were quite cheap, sometimes (as in Calif) totally free to in-state residents.

This vision would be a better goal for health care. At one time Obama may have been thinking along these lines, but unfortunately he's too weak to pull away from the corporate interests who want to continue stealing the country.

= = = = =

A separate observation on the same general subject: We keep hearing about the Young Invulnerables who "choose not to have health insurance." I understand the demographic: been there, done that. But in practice I don't know how you can simply choose to go without insurance. Employers don't give you that choice. Either the company has health insurance for all workers or it doesn't have health insurance for anyone. And those two types of company won't be competing in the same category for the same employees. Thus if you're working without insurance, it's not your voluntary selection; it's because your skills and preferences place you in the uninsured parts of the job market.
 
Saturday, August 22, 2009
  New self-explanatory sentence

Heard just now on the news:

Jasmine Fiore was identified through the serial numbers on her breast implants.

Sums up a life and death neatly.


Huxley, Brave New World, 1938:

If ever by some unlucky chance such a crevice of time should yawn in the solid substance of their distractions, there is always soma, delicious soma, half a gramme for a half-holiday, a gramme for a week-end, two grammes for a trip to the gorgeous East, three for a dark eternity on the moon; returning whence they find themselves on the other side of the crevice, safe on the solid ground of daily labour and distraction, scampering from feely to feely, from girl to pneumatic girl.......

 
Thursday, August 20, 2009
  Regrowth



Working on graphics stuff and feeling rather peakéd this week, so I'll just update the rosebush that I mentioned before. It was flattened and apparently killed by last winter's snowhell, and now it's recovered to its original height!
 
Friday, August 14, 2009
  The real Maverick revisited

An accidental link reminded me of the real Maverick and his classic manifesto for the Agrarian movement. I hadn't read it in a couple years, so I went back and found this:

But we shall be very serious, and the name of the book shall be In Blood and Ink, though it might well be Our Constitution and What Is In It, for, as we shall come to see, there is far more than ink and paper to our Constitution,—there is blood in it. ... Perhaps best of all I should simply have dubbed it The Grocery Man's Constitution, since its price is about that of a good beefsteak, an expensive two dozen eggs, or, say, three gallons of Andy Mellon's or John D's gas.

In truth and fact, groceries are at the bottom of every constitution, and they come from the land. If you don't eat, and in comparative peace and freedom, you have no constitution.

This book is written not for New or Old Dealers, but for everyone who lives under the sun of our country, and wants a living American Constitution. I have my opinions, of course, and will express them. But we Americans are getting too namby-pamby; we are afraid to look at the other fellow's point of view, so we all sit down and blink through the kind of propaganda that warms the cockles of our irritated and partisan hearts.

If one does not approve of the President, one reads a Hate-Roosevelt book, and moons over the Old American Spirit which, alas, is no more. If he is a New Dealer, he reads a New Deal book, and moons over the Progressive Spirit which he hopes is still alive. In other words, people usually get a book with which they agree in advance.


But aside from our views and prejudices, what do we all want in society?

For my part, I want the businessman to make a fair return on his money, the farmer to have good crops and sell them at a profit, and the worker to get good wages.


The part I've italicized sounds mighty familiar, doesn't it?

We need a political party that supports the last sentence. Neither existing party works toward those goals. Both existing parties serve China and Goldman Sachs at the expense of all other businessmen, farmers and workers.
 
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
  Home front

Searching through obscure sections of the OTR web, Polistra has found a true gem, a pure antidote, a Sovereign Remedy, for today's Teams & Screams radio.



Seven episodes of 'Home Front' are available in this location. Note that this isn't a direct link to one sound file; you have to scroll down to the middle of the folder and download the MP3 files. Another single episode is available here. (Not labeled as 'Home Front' in the listing, but it really is an episode.)

'Home Front' featured a mix of beautiful music and practical advice on making it through the tough times of 1943. Most of the advice is equally good today.

Broadcasting was supposed to be a public service, and 'Home Front' is a perfect illustration of the concept. Now broadcasting is only a public nuisance.

= = = = =

Sidenote: The host Fletcher Wiley was an interesting character. More on him here. Sounds like a cross between Louis L'Amour and Arthur Godfrey, if that's possible. He began his broadcasting career by mixing public service with commercialism. He was running a daytime program aimed at housewives; acquired a fan club; turned the fan club into an informal organization for testing consumer products.

Strange how time erases some people entirely. Wiley was apparently at the same level of fame as other announcers of his era, and he was far more versatile and intelligent than e.g. Don Wilson or Harlow Wilcox. Those other names are recognized by moderns who know a thing or two about the '30s and '40s, but Wiley is completely forgotten.
 
Monday, August 10, 2009
  Good news that doesn't fit through the filter

Cheerleading and teamism are America's curse. When something good happens, we don't hear about it, because it doesn't fit inside the rules of the talking-point game.

From Idaho:
Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna says he will urge lawmakers to lift the cap on charter schools to improve the state's odds of competing for more than $4 billion in federal education grants.

Luna says the state law limiting the number of new charter schools to six annually places Idaho at a disadvantage when applying for grants through the $4.35 billion "Race to the Top Fund." ... Education Secretary Arne Duncan has warned that states that don't have charter schools, or place caps on their growth, are jeopardizing their chances to win grants.

Conservatives have been agitating for more flexibility in education, more charter schools and vouchers. You'd think conservatives would cheer now that it finally happened, wouldn't you? Nope, it was done by the other team, so it goes unnoticed. Leftists and teacher unions are undoubtedly angry about this, but it's done by their guy, so they keep quiet.

= = = = =

Along the same lines: My old friend Larry called my attention to this item. Obama's newly appointed head of National Institutes of Health, Francis Collins, is a genuine scientist and a genuine thinker. His scientific thinking led him inexorably to a strong Christian belief, and he makes a powerful argument for Intelligent Design.

If you followed the logic of the talking point heads on both sides, you'd assume that Bush would have appointed a "raving right-wing fundamentalist Christian" to an important post like this, and Obama would appoint a Mohammedan or a reliable pro-abort. Nope, Sultan Bush appointed Elias Zerhouni in 2002. Zerhouni is a Mohammedan who grew up in Algeria. Since the election he has joined one of Comrade Bill Gates's foundations, which gives you a pretty good sense of his true political affiliation.

And now Obama has appointed a serious Christian. Here is a transcript of a PBS interview with Collins. You won't find a clearer or more rigorous mind anywhere near the halls of power, and I fervently hope he can stay in office. The usual crowd of Scientists, i.e. wild-eyed anti-human genocidal murderous blood-sucking altarboys of Mother Planet Gaia, are lined up against him.


 
Sunday, August 09, 2009
  Saluting Canada

In keeping with the previous message, Polistra offers a salute to Canada.

She's also showing off the Author's latest graphical product, a model of Toronto's "Gothic Cottage" house style. This explains why Polistra hasn't been around much lately... the Author's graphical neurons have been otherwise occupied.


 
  How many necessary wars?

Radio talker Thom Hartmann often asks the kind of basic question that Polistra appreciates.

A few days ago he asked: Was the 1776 Revolution really needed? I've never heard anyone else ask that question ... but when you look at the results, the answer is No.

Think of it as a sort of clinical trial. At the starting point in 1775, British Canada and the 13 Colonies were very similar. Canada took the placebo, stayed with the Crown. The 13 Colonies took the Rebellion pill. Now, after 225 years of separate political development, can you tell the difference between the two patients? Not enough to be worth the lives of the soldiers who died as "side-effects" of the rebellion. Both countries still have the same basic freedoms, some stronger in one place, some stronger in the other. Canada has a better health-care system and more provincial sovereignty. Both countries are a long way from the original setup, but Canada is probably closer to our Constitutional intentions than we are.

So the 1776 Revolution was worse than unnecessary.

Since then we've fought many small and large wars. How many of them did we really need to fight?

The 1812 war was necessary, given that we had already taken the path of independence. England tried to take us back, and we had to fight.

Lincoln's war was absolutely unnecessary and wildly destructive. If the Great Exterminator had really wanted an America without slavery, he could have simply let the South secede. After that, the remaining part of America would have been free of slavery. So that's obviously not what he wanted. Only a neurologist could figure out what his diseased brain was after. From the evidence, we could guess he wanted to see lots of blood and guts and dead bodies and burned buildings.

Between 1850 and 1916 we had several skirmishes with Mexico; we won them, and some of them were probably necessary, but not really countable as wars.

The Spanish-American war in the 1890's was unnecessary. We were the aggressor, trying to grab some of Spain's colonies. We won but it didn't do us much good. Except for Puerto Rico, those colonies didn't stick with us ... and Puerto Rico has given us more cost than benefit. (By contrast, we've benefitted tremendously from the territories we purchased, such as Louisiana and Alaska.)

WW1 was basically two separate wars: Germany tried to take France and Britain tried to take pieces of the Ottoman Empire. It didn't affect us at all, and we didn't need to join it. We only got in because Wilson, a brain-damaged megalomaniac like Lincoln, needed to impose his personal tastes on Europe. We know the results of this: WW2.

WW2 was absolutely necessary for us. We won.

Korea and Vietnam: Unnecessary. We lost both.

The 1990 Kuwait war: Unnecessary. Kuwait is not American territory. We sort of won the immediate goal, but left Saddam in a superior macho position. He stood down the Great Satan and survived.

9/11/2001: A necessary war, but we didn't fight it. The correct and proper response to Sheikh Osama would be to vaporize Mecca and Medina, depopulate the Arabian Peninsula and claim it as an American oilfield. Instead, we've been fighting unrelated, unneeded, undefined, unendable and unwinnable wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. I'm still not sure whether Sultan Bush was absolutely owned by Sheikh Osama or just fantastically stupid. The former conclusion has more facts on its side. One more fact: In 2003, Sultan Bush quietly got rid of all our neutron bombs, to prevent his successors from fighting the correct and proper war in Arabia.

Summing up: Leaving aside the border skirmishes, serious wars were unquestionably necessary 3 times. 1812, 1941, 2001. Twice we fought and won. The third time we surrendered, gave the attacker exactly what he wanted.
 
Friday, August 07, 2009
  Beck nonsense

Approximate quote from a Glenn Beck promo this morning:

"When government is small, when it doesn't have its tentacles in everything, you can't get a Stalin. You can't get an Ahmadinejad. When you have a large overwhelming government, that's when you get dictators."

Absolute nonsense. Dictators arise when the people need a dictator. The people need a dictator when government has become too weak to perform its basic functions; or when the government protects a rich elite and impoverishes everyone else. The Russian Revolution of 1917 happened because the Czars were inbred and ineffectual. Hitler was welcomed by Germans because the Weimar democracy was too fragile to maintain control. Khomeini's revolution was welcomed by lower-class Persians because the Shah was serving only the upper-class Westernized minority.

You can have a functioning democracy when the governed unit is small and homogeneous; in other words, when the nation is like an extended family. You can't have a functional democracy in a huge conglomeration of different cultures and races, unless the conglomeration is loose enough that its component parts are small and nearly sovereign states. The Roman Empire lasted because it was loosely jointed. America was loosely jointed until Lincoln, the Great Exterminator, decided to smash all opposition to his demented power-hunger. Since old Bipolar Abe eliminated the structure of federalism, we've been an untenable empire, held together only by the glue of prosperity. When we stop huffing prosperity, the structure falls apart.
 
Wednesday, August 05, 2009
  Unasked Question # 543858435789

The news coverage of the two Algore agents "rescued" by Bill treats them as innocent bystanders. This is nonsense. They walked into a dictatorship, knowing full well that they were invading on behalf of a hostile country. They fully deserve to be treated as spies. Back when America was sane, we captured hostile spies. I suppose we treated them more humanely than Dear Leader Kim treats his captives, but that's not the point. They are in fact spies, not random innocent victims.

The unasked question: What did Old Cunthound Bill give Old Cunthound Kim in exchange for these two correctly imprisoned ladies? My first thought was something personal like a lifetime collection of Penthouse, but that would be wildly inadequate. Dear Leader Kim, after all, has a regular army of whores raised from birth to service him. Bill can't offer anything remotely approaching what Kim already has.

So the quid pro quo must be something more political, a deal between nations. Well, what is it? We may never find out, but NOBODY IS EVEN ASKING.

= = = = =

Of course there's another way to look at this, starting from a different set of assumptions.

Fact: North Korea and America are not really enemies. Both are colonies of China. Both depend on China for their continued existence. North Korea is a troublesome colony. DL Kim often creates unnecessary problems for the Middle Kingdom. USA is not so troublesome. We rarely do anything to displease the Middle Kingdom. We never arrest any of the Middle Kingdom's ten thousand spies inside our industries and military research facilities. (We tried once, with Wen Ho Lee, and the Middle Kingdom cracked the whip. We instantly backed away and kowtowed.)

So Bill probably didn't need to give Kim anything at all; he was simply acting as a plausible troubleshooting tool, a human can of WD40.

= = = = =

Update Thurs: VD Hanson got around to asking the proper question. Good.
 
Monday, August 03, 2009
  America the land of entrepreneurs? Nope.

Economist Dean Baker has located a report that compares the "dynamism" of America and other rich countries. It's a real waker-upper. Turns out we are at the bottom of the entrepreneur stack no matter how you try to measure it.

This chart tells the story:


The rest of the report tries to separate manufacturing from agriculture, because the top countries have many small farmers; it looks at firms in manufacturing, computer-related businesses, research and development, and others. In every category, no matter how you parse the data, America is at the bottom. We are the Land of Monopolies.

Why? No single-payer health care.

I really can't imagine why our brand-D politicos aren't using these facts to help sell a single-payer system ... Oh, now I remember. Our brand-D doesn't want health reform, or American survival, any more than brand-R does. Both parties just want to maximize the profits of insurance companies and lawyers, but in slightly different ways.

= = = = =

Later thought: There are two other factors besides health costs that suppress small business in America. Litigation and copyright/patent problems. Litigation is a uniquely American evil, while copyright/patent problems are only somewhat worse here than in other rich countries. These two factors are narrower than health costs, each affecting only certain types of business, but the net effect of all three is the same.

The sum of these factors gives total advantage to the largest corporations, which can self-insure for medical care, hire armies of lawyers to scare away the predatory lawyers, generate carefully crafted defensive patents to eliminate innovation, and buy custom-made laws from CongressMart.
 
  Sing, sang, sunk

If the abominable Peter Singer and Margaret Sanger had their way, this delightful woman would never have been born, and would not have created such a delightful home.
 
Sunday, August 02, 2009
  Pointless picture



A nice cute illustration left over from a story idea that didn't work out. (Belongs with this topic.) I'm putting it up now for superstition and tradition, because I can't stand to leave Polistra in a serious predicament.
 
  Dumb PSAs

The advertising agencies who produce public service announcements are good at the technicalities of voicing and scripting, but they lack basic ordinary knowledge, which means many PSAs are useless.

Example 1: "You're familiar with the smell of rotten eggs. Well, something else smells like rotten eggs. Natural gas. When you smell rotten eggs around your house, it probably means you have a gas leak. Get out immediately, don't turn any switches, etc....."

This is backwards. Rotten eggs are not the familiar side of the comparison! I've been eating eggs for 56 years, cooking them for 40 years, and I've never encountered a rotten egg. Not once. But everyone who cooks with natural gas -- i.e. everyone who needs this warning -- is thoroughly familiar with the smell of natural gas. You get a slight sniff every time you turn on a burner, before the pilot flame gets sucked through the little tube to ignite the burner. In short, the whole analogy is backwards. When I try to imagine what rotten eggs might smell like, I use the smell of natural gas (or more precisely the mercaptan "perfume") as the template.

Example 2: "Tom lives in Kansas. He knows a tornado is coming, so he's boarding up the windows. Mary lives in Virginia. She's never seen a tornado, but her Red Cross contribution will help Tom pick up the pieces."

Not backwards, but still ridiculous. People in Florida board up windows before hurricanes. Nobody, and I do mean EXACTLY NOBODY, boards up windows before a tornado. (a) You don't have time. At best you have just enough time to reach the basement and pray. (b) If the twister actually hits your house, everything above ground will be GONE, including the boards over the windows. It's nothing like the typical hurricane that gives you three days warning, then breaks windows and takes down some trees but leaves most structures standing.

The only message I derive from this ad is that the Red Cross knows nothing about tornados. Not true, but that's the impression.
 
Saturday, August 01, 2009
  Dust bowl's revenge

Interesting article today about the parts of the US that haven't been struck by this recession.
Carl Rupp and his neighbors follow the old rancher's creed: "Keep your money in your pocket."

Rupp has farmed his whole life. He lives in Goshen County, a rural spot along the Nebraska line where cattle outnumber humans 16 to 1 and you can still see the ruts cut by wagons that hauled pioneers along the Oregon Trail. "We're very conservative," said Rupp, 62. "We don't go out too far on a limb."

That prudent financial bent, matched with the high prices paid for crops and energy in the past few years, has largely protected Goshen County and a core group of several hundred other counties in 10 states from the recession's chokehold. The Associated Press Economic Stress Index shows they make up a "safe zone" that covers a long swath of middle America, from the Great Plains south to Texas.

The contiguous counties in the safe zone start in Montana and North Dakota, and cascade into Wyoming, South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas and Oklahoma, and end in northern Texas and eastern New Mexico. Those in the safe zone had an AP Economic Stress score under 5 in June, making them the economically healthiest in the United States.




Here's a comparison of the 1930's drought with today's "safe zone". Not quite exact, because the economic effects of the '30s had other causes besides the drought. For instance, Oklahoma was not in the deepest drought but it was in deep trouble. Still, it's a nice bit of symmetry.

Both decades had the same overall sequence of events. Both times, the financial sector forgot that every economy must depend on real production, and the government failed to protect and maintain the real side of the economy. When a major part of the real economy failed (after declining for several years) the financial sector kept running on fantasy, destroying other parts of the real economy when it crashed. The only difference is that the failed part in 1929 was agricultural and the failed part in 2008 was industrial.
 

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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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