Wednesday, April 30, 2008
  So near, so far

The populist talker Michael Savage, who often runs along the same path as Polistra, has taken the same path today but veered off at just the wrong point.

In discussing Rev Wright's view of black/white learning methods, Savage understands the difference in rhythm and the difference between concrete-first and abstract-first learning, but he then says "There's only one way to learn astronomy or trigonometry. You just have to sit down with the textbook."

This simply isn't true, and it's NOT a matter of black/white, nor is it a matter of progressive vs conservative.

All good teachers through the millenia have known that there are several ways to learn. Some kids learn best by starting with the concrete, some by starting with the abstract, some by example, some by story-telling. All good teachers have also known that learning requires work, that the only way to solidify your skills is to spend lots and lots of time practicing. All good teachers have also known that some type of objective evaluation is needed at the end of the process.

These basic facts are not controversial, or shouldn't be.

My father, who was pure Teacher from stem to stern, taught me these things early in life, and applied them when possible in his occupation. He didn't think of himself as Progressive; he was old-fashioned.

The controversy and problem arises because American "Progressive Education" insisted on using only the concrete, and ALSO insisted that evaluation is a bad idea because it damages "self-esteem".

In blind reaction to the latter error, American "Conservative Education" insisted on using only the abstract reading method (Just the Basics, Ma'am), conflating method with evaluation.

Because public schools are rigid and bureaucratic institutions, they have to choose only one way of learning. There just isn't the time or resources to handle each kid differently, and discrimination laws further limit the range of operation. A teacher who tries to treat the concrete kids differently will end up dividing mainly, though far from exclusively, along racial lines.

The solution is simple: Vouchers. We've seen that inner-city schools run by gutsy and independent principals have been able to match teaching styles with learning styles, with excellent results because they don't skip the practice and evaluation steps.

As in most areas of life, if you decentralize, if you avoid one-size-must-fit-all requirements, everything works just fine.
  If it's over there, we can describe it.

One of Polistra's main themes is our absolute unwillingness to label things accurately, and our seeming inability to find distinct words for distinct things.

But there's one very large exception to this problem.

When describing American politicians, we can't seem to go beyond Republican and Democrat, despite the complete merging and crossover of those names. And, as is well known, the label is only used when it makes a Republican look bad. Our media will never describe an American politician as a Marxist, a Huey Long Populist, an Agrarian or a Wilsonian; nobody bothers to invent or apply new labels like a 'Lantos Hawk' or a 'Closet Craig', which could be useful if we used labels at all.

Yet we use a full range of accurate and descriptive terms for foreign politicians and parties. Same with political and economic systems, degrees of corruption, and the need for specific solutions to specific problems. All of these remain floaty, gauzy and vague for American situations, all are listed concisely for foreign situations.

In today's Rose Garden press conf, Bush illustrated this contrast perfectly within two answers to one reporter. April Ryan of 'Urban Radio' asked two questions: "When will you finally use the word recession?" and "What can you tell us about the situation in Zimbabwe?" In response to the first, Bush hemmed and hawed, finally mumbling something like "You can call it anything you want." In response to the second, he gave [by his low standards] a remarkably crisp and accurate description of Robert Mugabe and his opponents, with full attention to the brutality and corruption of Mugabe.

It's always like this with our politicians, experts and media. When the subject concerns this benighted and borderless blob of Terra Incognita that sprawls somewhere between Mexico and Canada, we get a vague wave of the hand, or a Delphic utterance that must be interpreted by finding the omissions and variations from the standard code book. When the subject is anywhere else we get precise nomenclature, meaningful information and commonsense assessments.

Well, why is this bad?

The whole point of having newspapers, radio, and TV is to provide useful feedback to the people and to the leaders. And I mean feedback in the strict engineering sense: a signal that tells us the distance between the current situation and the desired or proper situation. When politicians and media hand us nonsensical and empty crap, the people will latch onto paranoid conspiracies which satisfy the hunger for solid mental nutrition.

You won't tell me what's happening? That's fine, I can learn better from Rev Wright. Or Rev Robertson. Or Imam Zawahiri. Not to say that those three are equivalent, but each will serve up a spicy full-course meal of "knowledge", some of which is genuinely and observably more accurate than the establishment swill. That's why it's bad.
Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Bush chided Congress today for doing nothing to open ANWR for oil.

I've said this a dozen times, but it needs to be said again.

Bush can open ANWR by executive order any time he wants.

Proof: Clinton closed national wildlife areas to oil exploration, by executive order.

If a president can close a wildlife area, a president can open a wildlife area.

Bush has not done what he CAN do. This proves he really doesn't give a happy horseshit about energy independence. He only wants to "have the issue" for campaign purposes.

= = = = =

Later: Double Grrrrrrrrrr.

Listening to Saturday morning discussion on Fox (I should know better, but needed some distracting noise) ... The talking pointheads were "discussing" energy independence, and one of them actually mentioned the closing of Utah land in the '90s, then proceeded to blame the Democrats in Congress for failing to open more land for drilling. AGAIN: THE UTAH LAND IN THE '90S WAS CLOSED BY BILL CLINTON'S EXECUTIVE ORDER, NOT BY CONGRESS. IF YOU WERE NOT HOPELESSLY LOCKED INTO TALKING POINTS, THIS FACT WOULD TELL YOU THAT SULTAN BUSH CAN OPEN ANY FEDERAL LAND ANY TIME HE WANTS.
  More two-ended spectra

Wading into murky waters here...

Polistra is puzzled by Obama's sudden and harsh decision to disconnect from Rev Wright. Why just now? The last two major speeches by the Rev are the most positive things we've heard from him. The NAACP speech was a wondrous piece of teaching and preaching, and essentially true. The Press Club speech contained some demonstrable falsehoods, but was still generally positive in tone, unlike the sound-bites we've been hearing for weeks. Oddly, the NAACP speech seems to have been the last straw for Barack. Why?

Start with the spectrum of loyalty. Like morality, it seems to be two-ended. Some people are strongly loyal to a community. American blacks tend toward this end of the spectrum. Some are strongly disloyal to a community. The American elites tend toward this end of the spectrum, and American Communists are at the far tail.
(Note in case of confusion: they didn't learn disloyalty as a result of following Marx. They followed Marx because that was the maximum way of expressing their innate disloyalty to their community of origin.)

Obama comes from a peculiar mix of genes. His father came from Kenya, far from the Western African tribes who were enslaved by Arabs and sold to Englishmen. His mother comes from a long line of American Communists. So his loyalty DNA is half African (but not the strongly communitarian West African) and half Commie. Barack has tried hard to learn the ways of community, but it's still learned, not natural. Most of his life experience and 'peer pressure' has been from the academic elites.

So he's picked up the words of Wright's black preaching style, but not the music. Loyalty to community is not natural for Obama, and when push comes to shove, the maternal Commie side comes through. And what was the shove? Not the "God damns America" stuff, because that stuff is just fine with the Commies. No, the last straw was Wright's lively, scholarly and accurate disquisition on different brains, because American academic and media elites, left and right, agree strongly and violently on exactly one thing: All humans are indistinguishable and identical, and genetic differences between sexes and races do not exist. When Wright opposed this Prime Directive, Obama had to disconnect.
Monday, April 28, 2008
  Same old error

The elites, both left and right, continue to make the same obvious and elementary logical error.

They're showing it off right now in the context of Wright's "God damns America" statement; they did the same thing when Falwell and Robertson made similar claims about the heavenly cause of 9/11. (Though I'm pretty sure Wright's list of American sins is not identical to Falwell's list!) And the elites continue to commit the same stupid error in discussing Intelligent Design.

If you're going to speak in secular, scientific and logical terms, you simply CANNOT say that a Reverend is wrong when he claims America is damned for one reason or another. You CANNOT say that Intelligent Design is impossible.

When you say that ID is impossible, you're stating with certainty that an untestable proposition is false. If the proposition is outside the realm of science, you are not allowed to say "It's false", nor can you say "It's true". You are only allowed to say "It's untestable at the moment."*

When you say that Wright or Falwell is WRONG, you are saying (1) that God exists and (2) that YOU are uniquely blessed with perfect knowledge of God's motives and actions. By making those claims, you are getting into exactly the same room as the Revs.

Worse still, you're claiming to know the mind of God without any resort to Scripture. The Revs can and do point to passages in the Old Testament to justify correlating our sins with God's judgment. Even though this still doesn't belong in pure logic, it is at least a logical and syllogistic progression from basic belief in scripture to a specific conclusion. (The Bible says that these sins will lead to damnation; I believe the Bible is true; these sins are occurring now; therefore I believe these sins have caused our damnation.)

When you say "I don't think God could do that", or when you say "the God that I know wouldn't do that", you're only using your own FEELINGS to justify a statement about the mind and motives of God. This is not only doubly illogical, it's narcissistic.

= = = = =

* I say "at the moment" because over the centuries some questions of cosmology or human perception, once thought to be permanently metaphysical, have turned out to be mundanely physical.
Sunday, April 27, 2008
  Wright is right.

Listening to Rev. Wright's NAACP speech on CNN.

This guy is good.

His basic point: Different is not deficient.

When he talked about his white teacher in the newly integrated school who was shocked by the black kids standing on her desk, he struck a deep note in my memory.

I had the same experience when I started teaching electronics at DeVry. The class had about ten black students in the front row. I was bothered by their constant repetition of parts of my lecture. One of them came up after class and explained the process of Call and Response: the students were learning by repeating the last word of the sentence. After that, I began to swing with the rhythm (to the severely limited extent that a purely white nerd can swing) ... and found not only the black students were happier, but I was happier and gave better lectures. I became more attuned to intuition and subjectivity, less aligned with enumeration and formalism. (Admittedly, Call and Response sounds a bit odd when the Response is "Microfarads!" rather than "Praise Jesus!", but it's the same principle.)

The brand-R talking point heads will instinctively smash against this theme, and they will be suicidally wrong. By insisting that all brains are identical, they will be following Marx into counterfactual egalitarianism, continuing to build a Procrustean country that serves only a small segment of its population.

Charles Murray was wrong, not because he stated that blacks and whites have different types of intelligence. That's the statement that got him ostracized.

Nope, that part was perfectly accurate. Murray was wrong when he said that linear and numerical intelligence is the only kind that matters, the only kind that can contribute to our economy. I've discussed this before in the context of employment.

In fact the Murray connection between academic minds and national success is wrong in two ways. First, because reliance on a purely hi-tech economy excludes many people from success and a decent life; Second, because we're finding that a hi-tech economy is not even the best way for American whites to compete. Koreans and Japs have better numerical brains than Caucasians, so they will end up beating us in that department no matter how hard we try.


The Big Question is:

Why do we have a country?

Do we have a country to serve an abstract principle? To advance numerical thinking? In that case Murray would be right; we should then exterminate the wrong kind of thinkers.

Or do we have a country to serve and advance its people? In that case Murray is wrong; we should then find ways to use all types of thinking productively. We should find (or rather RE-discover) ways for intuitive and subjective minds to serve the country and to earn a decent living.

= = = = =

Clarification: Wright is undoubtedly wrong about many things, but everything he said in this one speech is on the mark.

A semi-relevant aside: For a cute and concrete illustration of learning by grabbing the word, and for some serious swinging, examine Marie Bryant.


While looking for something else, I noticed this entry from three years ago (5/20/05) which I'd forgotten about. Reprinting it here:

Doctor [Howard] Dean, underneath the public red-meat, is handing out a more subtle message to Democrats. He recently gave an hour-long forum at Wash. State Univ to a hard left audience.

Doc's main theme: Why do lower-income voters ignore their own economic interests to vote Republican? Because their kids are more important than their economic interests, and they feel under attack from a culture that is dangerous to kids. They also feel that Dems are firmly tied to that culture, and Reps are fighting against it. And everybody, not just the poor folks, wants to see integrity in a candidate. Dean said, without precisely saying it, that Kerry lost because he lacked integrity.

Pretty good diagnosis, both on the facts and the feelings. So what's the prescription? Speak softly about abortion, push hard to maintain So'Scurity, strengthen labor unions, emphasize strong national defense, strengthen NEA, push universal health insurance.

It's a plausible mouthful of pills, but I don't see how it even connects to the culture problem.

The audience cheered loudly on most points, and gave him dead silence on 'strong national defense'. Thus the real question is, can today's Dems fill this scrip with a straight face? Can the party of Traitor Durbin, the party of Traitoress Patty bin Murray, and for that matter the party of I-Hate-All-Republicans Dean, turn on a dime and start sounding like Joe Lieberman? Hillary can probably do it, because she began turning her steering wheel in 2000. She will have to stand against the rest of the party on most issues, though.

I'm not sure why I was using the doctor metaphor with Dean; there must have been some forgotten reference in the news. Leaving that aside, it's obvious that Doc had both the diagnosis and the prescription exactly right. If you look at the results of the '06 elections, you can see how it happened.

For a perfect specimen, examine the Montana debates between old silverback brand-R Conrad Burns and young brand-D Jon Tester. Burns lounged around with the attitude of a Roman emperor reclining on his golden throne, waiting for his phalanx of servants to fan him and feed him gold-plated grapes, while Tester looked like a 'squared-away' military man eager to serve the people. On every question, Burns growled "Don't bother me, you lowly slime, I got connections and you ain't." [And I'm really not stretching all that far for the sake of parody!] Tester gave meaningful answers in line with the needs of the people of Montana. Tester won.

And the same thing happened in many House seats. Republicans seemed to joyfully wallow in filth and corruption, offering the people nothing but Zero Zip Nada Taxes, while brand-D candidates seemed to be upright ordinary citizens, offering specific answers to specific questions. The Democrats won. This really shouldn't be surprising, but two years later, I see no indication that brand-R has garnered even the tiniest bit of information from the defeat. Still wallowing, still offering nothing but "tax holidays".

A more recent demonstration of the switch: When Sultan Bush decided to give a contract for Air Force tankers to the Euro company Airbus, it was the Dems from this state who fought to undo the decision and give the contract to Boeing. This is, of course, normal politics, not high-falutin principle.

Nevertheless, it's Osama's girlfriend Patty Murray and Baghdad Jim McDermott who are visibly and genuinely working for the interests of the state AND for strong national defense, while the brand-R representatives from this state have been absent from the fight, absent from normal politics. They have chosen loyalty to Sultan Bush over loyalty to their own state and nation.

I do not comprehend why.

Does Sultan Bush own compromising photographs of all the Rs?

In any case, the wheel has emphatically turned in the opposite direction, and (as I foresaw three years ago) Hillary is pulling hardest.

= = = = =

Later note: I was using the doctor metaphor with Dean because Dean was a doctor before entering politics. For some reason I forgot this. Senior moment.
Saturday, April 26, 2008
  Tressell's diagnosis

A recent issue of New Science-ist had some articles on the end of civilization, which were just as silly and dangerous as the usual contents of that mag.

A letter in the latest issue, responding to the articles, contains a far more interesting idea. "Inverse differential rewards", first described by Robert Tressell (who I now must read in more detail.)

The concept is simple: make a list of the available occupations and roles in a given society. Rank them two ways: (1) Rank by reward in money and especially in status, since status is what really counts among social mammals. (2) Rank by usefulness, measured by how long we could do without this occupation before we'd have to re-invent it.

I've used the latter measure in discussing the federal government, particularly the judiciary; said several times that if we eliminated them entirely we'd never find any reason to re-invent them. But I hadn't thought of applying this instrument more widely.

The writer's point: in current Euro and American culture, those two lists are inverted. Which occupation would we have to redevelop immediately if it disappeared? Probably trash collectors or plumbers. Which occupation could we survive longest without? Celebrities.

A civilization that wants to endure will aim toward a somewhat more positive correlation between respect and usefulness.

Here is the best web page on Tressell, including a complete downloadable copy of the book.

= = = = =

After reading part of the book: It's a cross between Dickens and Steinbeck, but without the literary talent of either. Basically an instructive fable leading toward some form of socialism. In fact the problems described in the book were adequately solved without full-fledged socialism; labor laws and Social Security did the trick. Still, it's a useful reminder of how bad life can get under raw unregulated Ayn Rand capitalism, and a nice slap-in-the-face for middle class conservatives who imagine that their interests are identical with billionaires.
Friday, April 25, 2008
  Time capsule

Another extract from the incomparable quiz show Information Please.

This three-minute segment, from January 1944, contains within itself EVERYTHING we've lost. In these three minutes you can hear certainty about sexual identity, calm confidence in our SPEEDY AND FINAL victory over the enemy, and a light-hearted non-snobbish discussion and explanation of classical music, linguistics, history, politics and military strategy.

No moral equivalence, no sexual ambiguity, no fucking Hundred-Year-Long Fucking Twilight Struggles, neither euphemism nor vulgarity, no dilution of knowledge.


These folks were elite but not elitist. They had a tremendous store of knowledge, and happily shared it in a way that an ordinary audience could enjoy, and in a way that would help America defeat its enemies, firm, fast, and final.

Well, one important difference is not mentioned in the clip. The most important thing we owned in 1944 that we have conclusively lost. One word: Industry. We had steel-makers, car-builders, radio-builders, airplane-builders, coal-miners. Equally important, we had car repairmen and radio repairmen, and we had cars and radios that could be repaired. All of these skills, and the design that made the cars and radios repairable, have been lost. We still have a tiny remnant of these men and these industries, but we've found in Iraq that you can't fight a tough and dirty war with delicate disposable unrepairable plastic Chinese crap.

So finally a quiz for us.

Which candidate appears to grasp the need to rebuild industry? Hillary.

Which candidate appears to understand firm, fast and final victory? Hillary.
  Language Awards

Since Polistra was vacationing in a better time around Christmas, she missed the annual Language Awards, given for the most repetitive or meaningless new words or phrases. There have been a couple of sudden new entrants in the last month or two, so this seems like a good time to run the ceremony.

= = = = =

"Shaking your head yes" ... instead of the much shorter "nodding".
This makes some sense. You can expect that language will evolve toward parallelism; when two usages seem to be closely related they will converge toward similar forms. Normally the Yes gesture is described by nodding while the No gesture is described by shaking your head No. The force of regularity will try to make both phrases sound similar, and natural laziness would typically push toward the shorter form. In this case there isn't a single verb available for the No action - Shaking by itself won't do the job - so the irresistible impulse toward regularity had to fit the longer phrase to both actions.

Seems to have started in medical circles as a substitute for urgent, though I can't see any difference or advantage. Now spreading to other areas of discourse.

The planet.
You could always spot a Commie by his constant references to the entire world; it's a natural part of leftist thinking to assume all humans are identical, and to apply the same arbitrary rules to all humans. In the '50s, World was the shibboleth. You could safely assume that an organization with World and League in its name was a Soviet front. Now that the prophet of Communism has shifted from Marx to Maurice Strong, his pet word planet is the shibboleth.

It is what it is.
Often used as a way of avoiding forbidden statements in the realm of racial and gender differences.

I nor my associates. (Instead of 'Neither I nor my associates')
Nor without neither has always been possible, but tended to occur only in poetry, where the omission was needed for the meter. I'm not sure why it's spreading now, but it certainly is!

Part of who I am.
Seems to be used often in commercials, as in "Good health is a part of who I am." Well, yes. If you lose health and die, then there ain't gonna be no I at all, let alone any parts of I, or parts of who I am. The phrase simply has no meaning. If you do something often, or enjoy doing something, then it's probably part of your genes and can be discussed separately. Your ontological essence (who I am), if such a thing can even be defined, doesn't have sections or parts. If it did have parts, you could subdivide it and sell shares in your soul.

Let's try to apply this to the obvious target audience of the commercial. If she asks "What are the parts of who I am?" she would answer: "I'm a grandmother and a college graduate and a harpist and a cat owner and a Good Health."

Obviously this is not a new phrase, but until recently it was mainly a New York thing. Until recently, most conversations outside of Brooklyn began with a wide variety of phrases: Hello, Good morning, Hi, Sapnin Dood, Sup Dog, etc. Now every single conversation begins with a lengthy exchange of unanswered
"Howyadoin." "Howyadoin." "Howyadoin." "Howyadoin."

Squirmish instead of squeamish.
A sudden, and rapidly contagious, new development in March of 08.

Ancestor instead of descendant.
An easy mistake, and I'll confess to making it myself.

Predecessor instead of successor.
Another easy and spreading error.

Viruses with prefixes
In the last few years, viruses have suddenly become prefixed forms. Hanta Virus became Hantavirus, Norwalk Virus became Norovirus. This happened without any explanation that I've heard. I can't find anything via Google to distinguish between the types of virus that go prefixual versus the kind that retain their original first name and surname, if there is a difference. Will the common cold virus become Cocovirus? ---- Oops, it has already become Rhinovirus.

This has popped up in the last two months, meaning the "visual impression" or "visible front" of an event or a politician. Suspect it will be a passing fad; doesn't have a good reason for existence.
Thursday, April 24, 2008
  Sailer gets it right ... but not all of it.

Steve Sailer at Vdare hits the Waco 2 nail on the head in terms of plain facts. Polygamy is unquestionably a bad idea in modern civilization, and it's good for authorities to discourage it. Most of the polygamous cults and families engage in welfare fraud, and polygamy always leads to inbreeding (check out the unibrows on the compound wives for evidence!) and large numbers of leftover useless males.

But those facts don't justify a witch-hunt. The real goal of this particular witch-hunt, as with all pogroms, has nothing to do with discouraging bad forms of mating, and everything to do with megalomaniacal prosecutors.

If Texas really wanted to discourage polygamous practices, welfare fraud, and 'children having children', it could do all of those things much more effectively, cheaply and quietly by looking closely at its welfare and WIC clients. Permanent poverty, especially in black ghettos, always involves a tribal form of polygamy, with the alpha male living off the state checks of his harem.

Prosecutors will never work in that direction because they know that the Civil Rights Establishment will destroy them. When prosecutors tear into a weird semi-Christian cult, they know that the entire political and media culture will cheer. It's an easy choice.

The big problem, aside from the utter corruption of the court system, is that America used to be the last refuge, the place where strangely dressed religious groups were welcomed, and where their contributions were encouraged and used. Kansas became the breadbasket of the world because we welcomed Mennonites, who escaped from witch-hunting prosecution in Russia and Germany. America became the leader in physics and space exploration because we welcomed Jewish scientists, who escaped from pogroms in Russia and Germany.

And now we are the homeland of the pogrom.

Now that we've "come for" the polygamists with no resistance from any meaningful source, it will be vastly easier to "come for" other odd and self-contained groups. Their productivity or intelligence won't matter.
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
  Saddled up

Got one of these little spreadsheet assignments going, so likely to be fairly occupied for a week or so........

= = = = =

10 hours later: Well, that didn't take as long as I thought. The stack looked like a few days of work, but the part I needed to handle was small.

Feel slightly frustrated, which is stupid. Should be glad to get two weeks of pay for 12 hours of work. Mostly should be glad to get back to more interesting types of creative work!
  Smoke & mirrors

Most of the ads on radio in this area are for mortgage companies, breathlessly exhorting new customers to take advantage of the artificially low interest rates set by the Fed. I've been wondering how such companies expect to make any profit in the long run, because despite the fradulent "core inflation" numbers, real inflation is several points above the price-controlled mortgage rate. A fixed 5% mortgage when inflation is 10% is a good deal for the customer but a guaranteed loss for the lender. I've guessed that the companies are really counting on a quick repo or some other fancy trick, some kind of smoke and mirrors involving 'securitization'.

Turns out that the smoke and mirrors may be quite literal. A Seattle mortgage company has been loaning to customers with fake documents, and then making its money from a cut of the marijuana-growing operations that the customers establish in their low-interest houses.

According to court documents, Scitek Garden Supply was connected to grows of more than 14,500 plants, and more than $1.1 million in cash was laundered through the business.

Greenhouse & Garden Supply and its owner are alleged to have provided equipment, advice and trash disposal service to those setting up indoor marijuana grows.

Jet City Mortgage of Kent, as well as the home of the company owners, were also searched in connection with possible mortgage fraud related to the homes where marijuana grows have been discovered. Nineteen homes where grow operations were discovered were purchased through the business.

Full story here.
  Polistra's Earth Day Hint

Use Compact Fluorescent Bulbs in all your light fixtures.

Depending on your life expectancy, Compact Fluorescent Bulbs will save as much as 70 years on your electric bills!!!!

But wait!!!!! There's more!!!!! After you start using Compact Fluorescent Bulbs, you won't have to pay any bills at all!!!! None at all!!!!!

Under the EXpenseless EXistence Plan, you will never have to write another tiresome check for anything, never have to negotiate with those tiresome creditors!

Join the EXpenseless EXistence plan today, and EXperience the EXultation of being an EX-person!!!!!!!

= = = = =

Kidding aside, folks, this is the real purpose of CF. Polistra's Sixth Law: All consequences of leftist plans are intended.
  Mot juste

Polistra had a bad day yesterday, but it was partly redeemed by Hillary's strong victory in Penna.

Chris Mathews described the Pennsylvania Edition of Hillary exactly: She's sounding more like Marci Kaptur than Barbara Boxer. Wish I'd come up with that comparison!

Polistra observed last year that Kaptur was the nearest thing to Rohrabacher, and Rohrabacher is the best of all politicians in DC. Kaptur, often in dual harness with Rohr, has been pushing hard against all aspects of internationalism, all attempts to sell our factories and technology to Mexico and China. And Hillary is picking up the same line, with remarkable fidelity.

The most interesting part of Hillary's victory last night has nothing to do with gender and race: the interesting part is that she won by supporting national sovereignty, a position hitherto shoved aside as "sick perverted nativist wacko" by the national parties. If she ends up as the D candidate, and if she carries at least some Kaptur flavor into the national election, we may have a genuine choice for the first time in 30 years. McCain will promise to continue the Bush policy: rip out America's heart, guts and soul and generously donate them to our enemies with no return favors expected. Hillary will promise to serve America occasionally.

= = = = =

Later fussy correction: Kaptur was working with Duncan Hunter, not with Rohrabacher. Doesn't make any difference to the main point, but wanted to get it right.
Monday, April 21, 2008
  This is astonishing. Maybe too late? 2

Hillary continues to astonish me. Tonight in an MSNBC interview with Idiot Olbermann, who was trying to ask her all the usual idiotic questions about words and campaigning, Hillary managed to get out a serious and well-constructed position statement on Persia. What's more, the statement runs along the same lines that Polistra was suggesting, but Hillary's version is more practical.

The important concept: Arming the good guys works better than trying to disarm everyone, whether you're talking about college campuses or the Middle East.

Nobody is 100% irrational. Even suicidal maniacs avoid a futile suicide; nobody has ever shot up the West Point campus, nobody has ever shot up a police academy. Suicidal maniacs want to view their evil handiwork before dying.

Mutual Assured Destruction worked well for 50 years. So let's rebuild it, instead of trying to eliminate all weapons, which is impossible anyway.

Polistra suggested allowing Persia's neighbors to go nuclear, in order to set up a balance that would keep Persia in line.

Hillary's idea is more practical: We should make it absolutely clear and explicit (none of this weasely crap about All Options On The Table) that we will destroy Persia if it makes the slightest real move against Israel, and we should set up a NATO-like agreement with Persia's neighbors, so that we will promise to destroy Persia if it threatens any of them.

Again: Damn, Hillary, why didn't you talk this way from the start?
Sunday, April 20, 2008
  Last survivor

Pleasant story about the last surviving Canadian veteran of WW1. He's been living here in Spokane for quite a while. In response to the inevitable question, he attributes his longevity to his second wife, married 30 years ago. He is 107 years old but looks 70, so maybe he's right; maybe his wife is so magically wonderful that she stopped his clock at 70.

At first I thought Comrade McCain's campaign would do well to publicize this guy, as evidence that 72-year-old vets can have a considerable number of miles left on the odometer. On second thought, maybe it's not so wise; viewers might semi-consciously think the other way around. As in "This guy is 107; McCain looks about the same age."
Saturday, April 19, 2008
  They don't make 'em .... 2

Sort of parallel to this entry with its picture of 1947 college girls, but mainly inspired by the clock.

If you've been watching TV at all in recent months, you remember Miss South Carolina's strongly stupid performance on a quiz question about education. "We the USA Americans have to help the Eye-Raq and the South Africa" and so on.

This clip (about 4 minutes) is from a 1947 radio special in which a quiz-show host asks questions about American history and geography, and a subset of the 1947 Miss America contestants try to answer. The host was obnoxious and boorish just like modern quiz hosts, but the girls were non-modern. Not necessarily smarter, but more civilized, more adept at using their feminine talents. Note how they hold their own against the obnoxious host without ever insulting him or descending into virago territory. (The only modern public example of this old-fashioned style is Peggy Noonan.)

I'm mainly enchanted by the voices. It's not just the pitch ... some modern women have equally low fundamental frequencies ... but there's a real difference in the shaping of mouth and throat. I've noticed this for a while, both in actresses and in ordinary women as heard in quiz or man-in-the-street shows. The 1930-1940 voice is centered at the back of the tongue, with an open pharynx and relatively pursed lips, perhaps more like a Turkish or Slavic mouth-set. Modern women tend more toward a tense and high tongue with flat lips, centering the voice just behind the teeth as in German or Chinese.

The old style is easy on the ears. The new style is grating and whiny.

The old voices remind me of this gently humming Westclox, or a low-revving '47 Dodge with Fluid Drive. The new ones remind me of a modem, or the cat-in-heat transmission noise of a Honda.
  Quick notes

Quick notes from the brief campaign speeches aired on CNN.

1. Eliminate tax benefits for outsourcing.
2. Eliminate tax benefits for hedge-fund managers etc
3. Renegotiate NAFTA.
4. Reward work. "People must feel that their work is leading somewhere"
6. Manhattan project for 'clean energy'

1. Let's talk about substance instead of words.
2. Change
3. Hope
4. Let's talk about substance instead of words.
5. Change
6. Hope

1. Zero zip nada taxes.
2. Zero zip nada taxes.
3. Zero zip nada taxes.
4. Zero zip nada taxes.
5. Zero zip nada taxes.
6. Zero zip nada taxes.

The most dramatic difference:

Hillary is the only one who defines specific problems and offers specific solutions.

And I agree with the importance of the problems and the general direction of the solutions. (I disagree strongly with her on education, but that's secondary at this point in history.)

Obama isn't saying anything that you could agree or disagree with. In other words, while he's advocating a new form of politics, he's practicing the oldest kind of empty-rhetoric politics.

McCain is speaking directly to Warren Buffett and Britney Spears. Fine for them, I suppose, but lethal for the rest of us.
  Self-Explanatory Sentence XII

Via NRO: the Nobel prize winner Elie Wiesel was interviewed about Benedict's visit. He was asked "What can B16 say and do to repair the growing rifts between the Vatican, the clergy, and the laity in America?"
Answer: "He could tell the Vatican to abandon efforts to confer sainthood on Pope Pius XII."

In the first place, the answer has nothing at all to do with the question; Pius XII is not a front-burner question for American Catholics, and slowing or speeding his canonization has precisely zero connection with "growing rifts". It's obviously an obsession for Wiesel, though.

Second, we have another of these Self-Explanatory Sentences. When you read Nobel prize winner, you know instantly and completely that we're talking about an orthodox Stalinist who will spout nothing more than orthodox Stalinism. Wiesel doesn't disappoint.

If he were truly speaking on behalf of Jews, he would advocate a faster canonization for Pius XII.

Polistra has discussed this question before.

Quite simply, Hitler "came for" the Catholics before he "came for" the Jews, and Pius XII was highly active in protecting both. His activity was not secret; it was well-known in America at the time. After the war, Stalin changed history specifically to create "growing rifts between the Vatican, the clergy and the laity in America". So it's completely predictable that Stalinist Wiesel continues to push the Stalinist line.
  They don't make 'em.....

Bought this Westclox electric alarm clock through Ebay a year ago, mainly for the sake of nostalgia. I'd been remembering a clock in Grandpa's house, a clock that had a 'starter' knob on the back. It was made around 1935, and was the first clock with an electric motor. (The self-starting motor came later.)

When the Ebay purchase arrived, I tried to make it run. Flipping the starter knob was fun, but it wouldn't run more than a few seconds. That was OK ... didn't really need another running timepiece, just wanted a nicely-built clock to look at.

Yesterday a little plastic clock decided to fail - after running for about 10 years, which is pretty good for Chinese crap - so I did really need another running timepiece. First thought was to get another Chinese crap-clock from Walmart, then I looked at the 1935 clock and thought, well, why not give it a chance?

This time I opened up the case, gave it a spritz of light oil, then twisted the starter knob. It started, at first a bit rough, then settled down into silent and smooth running.

Quieter than the battery-powered Chinese clock, and quieter than any of the 1960-era electric clocks I'd ever used.

Seventy years old and still perfect.


Friday, April 18, 2008
  Kristallnacht update

Fox is reporting on Rosita Swinton, who apparently made the false call that started the whole mess. Swinton HAS A PREVIOUS RECORD OF ARRESTS FOR MAKING FALSE ACCUSATIONS.

Meanwhile back at the Inquisition, the witch-hunt grinds on, even as the absolute falseness of the original complaint is publicly known. (Safe bet: the absolute falseness was known internally before Kristallnacht was committed.)

According to CNN, the judge is hearing descriptions of the crimes committed by the polygamists:

"They believe that it's blessed to have babies."

"They believe that disobeying your parents leads to eternal damnation."

The first belief is standard among most Christians; the second is no longer standard but was common until rather recently.

We got trouble in this here country, folks. Trouble with a capital T and that rhymes with P and that stands for Pogrom.
Thursday, April 17, 2008
  Could get interesting

Wash state will be using a partyless Top-Two primary for state legislative seats this year. This means that the #1 and #2 vote-getters in the primary will face each other in the general election, regardless of party.

In many districts this will simply reduce to D on one side and R on the other, but in areas that are solidly owned by one party, it will get much more interesting. Where 90% of the people are D, you know in advance that the top two vote-getters will both be D, so the R party won't even bother. The two finalists will then have to find other ways to compete against each other in the general election.

In this discussion between D and R political consultants, they suggest that the new form will lead to competition based on interest-groups rather than parties. In a heavily D district, one candidate might be backed by the NEA and the other by the Service Employees Union. In a solid R district, one candidate might be backed by wheat farmers, the other by bankers. Because those interests are meaningful to the voter's pocketbook, each candidate will have to "reach across" a fact-based "aisle" to gain enough votes to win. There won't be any safe districts where an incumbent can coast along forever on team loyalty.
  One-way, two-way

Professor Polistra has been puzzling over an inconsistency ... or maybe not.

Start from basics: Every human taste, tendency and talent is mainly innate, mainly genetic. Each tendency can be rated on a spectrum. With specific talents it's easy; there are aptitude tests for math or music or mapping. If your parents had high musical ability, you'll most likely have high musical ability, no matter who raised you.

Broader measures of intelligence are less definite, but still appear to be a one-way spectrum, with weak ability at one end and strong ability at the other.

The puzzle begins with morality, which seems to be a two-way spectrum. Some people are natural saints: regardless of life experience or training, they know the right and good action, and will try to do the right and good thing in any circumstance. The opposite end is not simply weak goodness. The opposite end, as typified recently by Joseph Duncan, is strong badness. Duncan is a natural devil, needing to do harm in the same automatic and constant way that most of us need to breathe. Regardless of experience or training, he knows the evil choice in every circumstance, and will perform the evil action unless forcibly prevented.

The weak part of the spectrum is the large middle area; most people have a mixed desire to do both good and bad, and can be trained to do more of the good or more of the bad, depending on upbringing and circumstances.

Morality thus appears to be unique in its two-sided-ness. Or is it? Are other scales, like learning and intelligence, also two-ended? Prof P thinks the current behavior of our ruling class may support this conclusion. Consider the Texas prosecutors who are grinding relentlessly ahead with their official Kristallnacht against the polygamist cult. Obviously these folks are quick-witted; you don't get through law school without an ability to absorb facts. Yet they appear to have drawn a precisely reversed conclusion from everything in the law books and everything in recent experience. The rules of evidence, presumably part of their law courses, have led them to use a blatantly false anonymous phone call from a person who was unquestionably nowhere near the cult. Recent experiences, from McMartin to Wenatchee to Edenton to Duke, should tell a prosecutor that it's really not a good idea to carry through a case based on insane or nonsensical accusations.

Or consider the Bush foreign policy. We have steaming piles of evidence for failure and success in war and diplomacy. Wilson fails, Roosevelt succeeds. A weakly smart intelligence would try to do Roosevelt and miss some of the steps, or wouldn't know how to adapt the steps to new circumstances. It takes a strongly stupid intelligence to pick the Wilson method every time.

These single examples may not prove anything general, but they are still large examples, involving large numbers of people. Each of these authorities has assistants and advisers who must be equally counter-intelligent; otherwise they would be giving positive-intelligent advice and quitting in protest when the advice isn't received.

= = = = =

Edit after re-reading: The last paragraph about assistants and advisers is sardonic. I do realize that pure crass careerism causes the sycophancy of advisers. I'm sure most of the subordinates are less strongly stupid than the top man in these cases, but they put ambition above intelligence.
The rest of the text is serious if speculative.
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
  Smerconish vs the Team

Fine example of the cheerleader effect just now. Michael Smerconish, subbing for Beck, congratulated Obama for getting the true status of Pakistan right. He then took a half-dozen two dozen calls, and none of them even understood what he was saying; they all responded with talking points.

In fact Obama made the statement nearly a year ago, and Newt agreed with it. Later, Huck made the same basic statement in his 'Foreign Affairs' article, which I actually read. Scheuer (who may have been the ghost writer for Huck) has said the same thing over and over.

In four words: Pakistan is our enemy.

Reprinting my comment from August of '07:

Newt appeared briefly on Fox News a few minutes ago. Said that the only one of the [declared] candidates who is thinking boldly enough is Obama.

Bravo! All the brand-R politicians and talkers have been zapping Obama for proposing an attack on Pakistan; all say it's "irresponsible" because "Pakistan is our good ally and friend."

Any rational observer of facts can see perfectly well that Pakistan is our enemy. Though I suspect Obama's motives are not quite simple and factual, he has still spoken the truth on this one point. And Newt, whose motives are rational and factual, has the guts to acknowledge it publicly.


Facts exist.

Facts can be observed by anyone.

If Bush happens to say something that agrees with the observed facts, well, that's sort of interesting because of its rarity, but it doesn't increase or decrease the truth of the observed facts.

  Well, it's logical.

News story:

MOSCOW, Idaho — Two guns used in a deadly shooting spree in Moscow last year will not be included in an upcoming firearms sale by the city’s police department.

Instead, authorities say the semiautomatic weapons used by Jason Hamilton will one day be destroyed.

Last May, Hamilton fired nearly 300 shots during a rampage that killed three people and wounded three others. He later took his own life.

Moscow Assistant Police Chief David Duke says the weapons, now being held by the Idaho State Police, will be destroyed because of what happened to the community.

Perfectly logical. Since we have redistributed the qualities of good and evil from the human actor to the tools he uses, we should redistribute the death penalty to the tools instead of the criminal.
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
  Odd connection

Caution: This is a half-formed thought, rather vague ...

Reading Steve Sailer's excellent and scholarly series on Obama's Communist heritage, and thinking about Buckley's recent death, converged to a memory that I'd halfway forgotten.

In the late '70s I worked briefly as evening-shift clerk in the Sooner Inn, a low-budget motel in OKC. (Briefly because I was also trying to attend OU in Norman, and the commuting to OKC had to stop when my car broke down. I quickly found a much better night job within the university, so the breakdown turned out to be a good thing.) The overnight clerk was a somewhat older man named Tom, who had an extremely interesting biography. Tom's mother had been part of the Beat Generation at its peak, closely associated with leftist luminaries like Kerouac, Ginsberg, and dos Passos. [This was verified by a mention of his mother in a biography of dos Passos.] Tom remembered those men as "uncle figures", though they were actually his mother's lovers. As an adult, Tom had worked in NY investment banks; he had some kind of breakdown or burnout, and ended up in OKC for reasons that were never quite specified. He had also spent some time in Eastern Europe, and had interesting stories from that period.

Much later, I read WFB's spy novels, and was amazed to find Tom's life story, exactly as he had told it to me, serving as the 'cover story' for one of Buckley's CIA spy characters.

Since then I've wondered: did WFB know Tom? Was Tom's story real or a CIA standard cover story? Was Tom just an interesting leftist or a spy? Or a double agent? If double agent, did that account for his sudden 'burnout' and removal to a low-level motel job? Hall of mirrors for sure.

Obama's mother would have been about the same age as Tom. Her story, as Sailer tells it, reminds me of Tom's mother, and of Tom himself. Not verbatim, but has the same flavor and many of the same elements. So I find myself asking the same questions about her.

= = = = =

Later: If I wanted to dial my Paranoia Boost up to 1000%, I could have fun with this theme. At that time I was an active though unimportant anti-nuke campaigner. Assume Tom was an undercover CIA agent, and the motel's owner was also in on the game. They would have been happy to hire me so Tom could casually interrogate me each night to gather info on the anti-nuke efforts against Kerr-McGee. Now assume the motel continued to serve as a 'watchtower' through the years.... Jayna Davis's book about McVeigh's OKC contacts with Arabs centers on a motel, identity concealed, which sounds an awful lot like the Sooner Inn. This unnamed motel had a large population of Allah's Army types, and both McVeigh and Moussaoui spent some training time there according to Davis. This connection would help to account for the idiotic Federal insistence that McVeigh and Nichols had no associates or training. First rule of the Feds, ever and always, is never reveal a blown sting, never reveal sources and methods, even if you have to leave most of the bad guys untouched.
  The Amity Horror

Rush has been using a false premise for quite a while, especially when discussing the diff between Hillary and Obama.

More dangerously, the same false premise is being spread through the intellectual Right via new books by Jonah Goldberg and Amity Shlaes. I've been especially disturbed by the Shlaes book, and I've been trying to kick dents in it here and there ... it really deserves a comprehensive and conclusive refutation, but I don't have the talents or resources to do it.

The false premise is that FDR's variety of socialism is identical, or even continuous, with the modern post-1968 variety. In fact they are opposite. FDR's variety follows Marx: redistribute income. The post-1968 variety follows Gramsci: redistribute good and evil.

A second and more important missed difference, which has less connection to theories:

FDR wasn't a socialist, though he had plenty of them (and serious Reds as well) in his cabinet and associates. He was a pragmatist and nationalist who used socialist ideas to keep Americans working. Some of the jobs wouldn't have been done by private companies, but the results were real and lasting. Most cities in the Midwest have beautiful parks and public buildings, erected by FDR's programs, still standing and serving the people. Right here and now, 70 years later, my computer is using non-polluting electricity from WPA-built dams to write this text. The people who worked under WPA didn't turn into a permanently useless and criminal class; in fact WPA brought many people out of that condition. When private jobs were available again, these people took them.

Shlaes includes a series of pictures in her book, showing many of these WPA accomplishments. Each picture has a caption like "Completed October 1937". For Shlaes, these Completed buildings and dams prove the point that FDR was misusing and abusing the power of gov't. Perhaps fortunately, she doesn't realize that her repetition of "Completed" actually proves the opposite point. Let's look at the accomplishments of Bush The Younger. What has he Completed? Well, Rumsfeld has Completed a vastly smaller and weaker military. The Bush economic policy has Completed many new factories in China and Mexico, providing the dignity of work to Chinese and Mexicans, while abandoning American factories. Bush is Completing a fine modern infrastructure for Iraq, while selling the American infrastructure to Arabs and Chinese. Bush economic policy has Completed the process of ginning up inflation, while using fraudulent measurement to insure that inflation benefits only Arabia.

So we have the obvious comparison. Every American still derives daily use and benefit from Roosevelt's Completions. Every American - except those who are rich enough to occupy any country they please - is harmed by Bush's Completions, because all of Bush's Completions SERVE OTHER GODDAMN COUNTRIES.

= = = = =

Just now Rush said:
"They have destroyed everything they tried to fix."

This is perfectly true of LBJ and Nixon's application of socialism, which has no utopia in mind and only seeks to destroy civilization. The modern left doesn't even bother to discuss improvement any more. Its sole directive is EXTERMINATE GOOD, NOURISH EVIL.

This is perfectly untrue of FDR's application of socialism, which freed southern blacks and whites from the plantation, kept families together, kept men within the dignified world of work, until capitalism could recover from its illness. After FDR was done, America had a modern infrastructure and American values and capitalism were stronger than before.

If you doubt it, ask yourself: When were American values and capitalism firmest and most powerful? From 1945 to 1970. From the end of FDR's work to the point when LBJ's evil took effect.

There. I kicked a sizable hole in the Shlaes thesis. Feels good!

= = = = =

Later note: My long illustrated story of Polistra's Dream is an attempt to provide a more definitive answer, in fable style, to Shlaes's false idea.
Monday, April 14, 2008
  This is astonishing. Maybe too late?

Listening to Hillary speaking in Pittsburgh right now. (Monday morning)

Hillary is saying everything Polistra has said about China, defense contracts, outsourcing, and WTO/NAFTA trade.

Putting it another way, this speech could have been written by Duncan Hunter, except it's actually better and sharper than Hunter's presentation.

Hillary has it exactly right, and is making specific concrete proposals to bring back American production.

Hillary has my vote.

Even if Obama ends up being the brand-D nominee, Hillary has my vote.

Damn, Hillary, why didn't you talk this way from the start?
  Are we more free now than in 1943?

Polistra has been listening to the absolutely wonderful quiz show Information Please. In one 1943 episode, a question comes up about modern Cassandras, people who warned us long in advance of the Jap and Kraut menace. The panel offers five or six answers to each specific question, and the discussion is entirely matter-of-fact; no attempt by anyone to shout over the others, no accusations of insanity. Bear in mind that wartime censorship was fully in charge, so the topic was clearly approved by the authorities as well.

Listen to 1943 freedom. (app. 2 minutes)

Could this happen today? Nope. The discussion might start, but no moderator or host would allow it to continue. The official BushClinton line is verbatim: "Nobody could possibly have expected 9/11 to happen." Anyone who tries to state or prove otherwise is immediately branded a Paranoid Tinfoil-Hat Wearer, and is banned from all future appearances. The topic is allowed to percolate in a small segment of the blogworld, but the Tinfoil Curtain stops it before it reaches the public.

= = = = =

Broader point: In 1943 everyone understood the elementary notion of learning from mistakes. Everyone understood that discussing the 'Cassandras' would help us to heed future warnings, because everyone understood that history has patterns. Since 1990 the whole notion of patterns and cycles has disappeared. Temperature is going up? It must continue to go up. Stock market going up? It must continue to go up. Nobody is bombing us at this moment? We can safely assume nobody will ever bomb us. This is nothing less than INFANTILE, except that actual infants don't shout down people who can think rationally. An infant doesn't place his mother in the insane asylum when the mother tries to stop him from crawling into the street.

Oops... on second thought, actual infants do shout down adults who try to save them from stupidity. It's called a tantrum. So I guess there's no difference at all between actual infants and modern adults.
Saturday, April 12, 2008
  Buckley vs Skousen

Listening to the tribute to WFB on C-Span, struck by something odd. Buckley was intensely involved in culture, a tremendous contributor to culture via his novels and his performance and "advocacy" for Bach. Yet he basically missed the entire switch of Communism from economic to cultural, which began around 1950 and finished its satanic work in 1973. In other words, WFB missed the transition from Marx-Lenin to Gramsci-Lenin. Most of his writing on Communism focused on the governmental and economic aspects, and National Review has carried the focus even farther.

Cleon Skousen, another Renaissance man of vastly less fame, didn't miss the transition. Skousen was on top of it from 1950 until his death in 2006. Of course he didn't found a magazine or a TV show, so his influence was limited.

Buckley's successors (NR, Rush, etc) have thus been punching hard at an enemy who is no longer in the same ring. When they inveigh against high taxes or big government, they are wasting their effort. Size of government really isn't the question, and reducing the government won't really solve anything, because the cultural virus is causing most damage outside of government.

Well, it's not quite that simple on second thought... the cultural virus has been most strongly imposed by the black-robed saboteurs who illegitimately occupy the Federal courts. Lowering taxes won't make any difference to them. The only thing that will make a difference is completely abolishing the federal court system, leaving it down for a few years, and then if we feel the need for something to replace it (which we won't) we could rebuild it with new non-treasonous judges. The Buckley followers sometimes complain about judges but never go beyond recommending "judicial restraint", which is another name for surrender. So they haven't entirely missed the problem, but they gravely underestimate its importance.
Friday, April 11, 2008
  Down to basics

Today's all-words-all-the-time political discussion centers on Comrade Obama's "controversial comment" made in a closed meeting... about how the blue-collar workers in Pennsylvania see their jobs disappearing for decades, become justifiably bitter, and take out their bitterness against The Other. Leaving aside the academic Leninist terminology, the "controversial comment" is mainly true.

Unfortunately, the Republican brand has the wrong answer. Rush, Beck, Ingraham, Doyle, etc, are all continuing the Pouty Pangloss routine: "Everything is absolutely perfect in this most perfect of all possible countries, except that I DON'T WANNA PAY TAXES! WAAAAAA! DON'T MAKE ME PAY TAXES, MOMMY! WAAAAAAA! But aside from that, everything is peachy keen in this most peachy of all possible countries. Don't ask the government to solve your problems, solve them yourself! WAAAAA!! I WANT MY MONEY, MOMMY!!!!!"

This doesn't make a lick of goddamn sense, but even if it did make sense it wouldn't begin to answer the question.

Fact is, those ex-auto workers in Detroit, ex-steelmen in Aliquippa and Wheeling, ex-loggers in Bend and Yakima, ex-programmers in San Jose, all know the truth. They know that their problems were CAUSED by government action or by deliberate and wrong-headed government inaction. The government has failed to protect American workers against foreign companies. The government has chosen to protect the interests of the United Nations and the WTO and Mexico and Arabia and India and China and the spotted fucking owl and Al Gore's bulging wallet, instead of protecting the interests of human beings in this country.


Older workers remember a time when our government did impose tariffs on foreign companies, remember a time when our government conserved the wilderness without tearing down human work, remember a time when our government supported technology through defense contracts.

Since we know from FDR and Eisenhower that the gov't can in fact do these things right, and since we know from the Bush and Clinton dynasties how to do them wrong, plain old logic and justice tells us that the problem created by gov't must be solved by gov't.

When the brand-R talking pointheads insist that the problem doesn't exist, the workers stop listening.

= = = = =

Addendum: Hillary's response to Obama is just right. She acknowledges the existence of the problem, gives the workers a dose of respect to counter the Leninist crap about The Other, and appears to understand that government must fix the problem it caused. I might even believe her.

= = = = =

Addendum 2, Sat morning: Fox News is interviewing some actual small-town Pennsylvanians in a diner. Though they aren't Obama voters, they all say that Obama's Controversial Comment is basically true. They've seen the wreckage caused by "free trade", and they're bitter.

Told ya so.

= = = = =

Addendum 3: One of the Fox hosts gave away the game in an interesting way. While introducing a pointless "debate" between R and D talking-point-heads, she said "Obama implies that instead of voting on economic issues, voters are more worried about God, guns and gays." Voting on economic issues? Voting on economic issues??? BOTH PARTIES ARE FERVENTLY LOYAL TO "FREE TRADE", IN OTHER WORDS FERVENTLY LOYAL TO CHINA. Both parties are totally in favor of Open Borders, in other words fervently loyal to Mexico. Neither party has ever done anything meaningful for energy independence: nothing to expand offshore drilling, nothing to encourage nuclear power. In other words, both parties are fervently loyal to Arabia. So voting on economic issues is simply FORBIDDEN. We have never been given a choice in this matter, which means that destroying America is a vitally important goal of both "parties". (See Polistra's discussions of Manweller's Rule for more on this principle.)
  Could it happen?

Local PBS station showed the 1966 movie "The Russians are Coming! The Russians are Coming!" last week. I had watched the movie when it was new, and had been sort of wanting to see it again.

The first time was with several of my nerd buddies, in the K-State Student Union. I'm pretty sure we got bored with the movie and went down to the Union basement to bowl a few lines, because most of the movie was totally unfamiliar this time.

Super-condensed plot: A Russian submarine spying on the East Coast runs aground on a small island near Martha's Vineyard. A few crewmen form a commando cadre, taking hostages, cutting phone lines, stealing cars, aiming to borrow a large enough boat to pull the sub from the beach before the US Govt catches on. The locals, all well-armed, cause even more chaos by generating and responding to wild rumors. A bunch of other stuff happens, and finally the sub itself confronts the armed citizens, threatening to blow the town to smithereens if the town doesn't return one of the commandos. (In fact the lost commando has fallen in love with one of the local girls, and they are mooning and spooning.) Amid the tense confrontation, a local boy climbs into the church steeple to watch, then falls out of the steeple and gets caught on a protruding beam 50 feet from the ground. Predictably the sub crew, showing their basic humanity, swarm ashore and help the locals build a sort of human pyramid to rescue the boy. By that time the Air Force is finally on the way, but the locals don't want to see their newfound friends destroyed by a bomber ... so they form a convoy of small boats to escort the sub out to international waters, and the fighter planes can't bring themselves to bomb the locals.

What would happen today? The Russians could still land accidentally, because they're still as incompetent as ever. But the rest is impossible. If any locals brandished guns against the Russkis, the police would instantly kill the locals, bring in tanks to destroy their homes (alias "Sick perverted nativist compounds"), and hire the Russkis as Cultural Diversity Consultants to help investigate all the relatives, associates and ancestors of the evil gun-brandishers, and to bring false charges against all such Sick Perverted Nativist Wackos, yea unto the seventieth generation.

However! The officials would soon be sorely disappointed. They'd find the ordinary Russians had never heard of Diversity, which was strictly a poison for foreign consumption. Russians are ferociously patriotic, racist, anti-Jewish, and anti-homosexual, with an intensity that was never common in America. In fact the Russians would understand the gun-brandishing citizens quite easily, and the Russians would also understand the Stalinist officials only too well.
Thursday, April 10, 2008
  "Human rights" -----> Sharia

Nice verification of the point Mark Steyn has been pushing lately.

One of my graphics-world acquaintances pointed out a company that produces some really nice (though overpriced) CG models of buildings and people.

I might have been inclined to use the human models for educational purposes, but not after seeing their "terms of usage". The license starts out with the usual and reasonable stuff about not re-selling, not violating copyright, and so on. Then we have this:

You are not allowed to use the Lowpolygon 3D human models or images in any context which could be violating the model's human rights, be violating the models sanctity of private life, be unlawful purpose, be pornographic or be sex, tobacco, alcohol, drugs, mental or physical illness related. In unclear cases you should contact the Company to verify the validity of the license.

It's truly hard to imagine any sort of artistic production, even in the nice world of Norman Rockwell, that doesn't involve some form of "tobacco, alcohol, drugs, mental or physical illness."

The "mental illness" phrase is the gate for full-blown Stalinism. Since the psychiatrists have defined conservative political views to be a mental illness, this license gives full freedom to show Betty Fried[m]an in a burqa, but would forbid nearly all of Polistra's pictures. Alcohol? Yep. Tobacco? Always. Mental illness? Yep, if defined as the psychiatrists define it. Physical illness? Yep, she's been ill a few times for good reason.
  Chris Crocker in 1938

Think paparazzi are new?

Think Chris Crocker's plea to "Leave Britney Alone" is new?


Here's a radio gossip columnist in 1938.


Plus ça change, etc.
  The chain of comings

You've heard many versions of "First they came for X and I was silent; then they came for Y and I was silent...."

Apparently the usual form is a postwar condensation, with a distinctly leftist flavor, of Martin Niemoller's thoughts. According to this scholarly account, Niemoller wrote dozens of variations on the thought, none in bumper-sticker form. He was not talking about ordinary citizens, but speaking directly to Christian pastors, who should have known better. The following may be the most succinct and evocative version from Niemoller himself:

Here is the basis of our Christian recognition of guilt in consideration of what happened. We did not recognize the Lord Christ when he came into our lives in the form of a suffering brother.

I didn't recognize him when he was put in the camp as a Communist, nor did I recognize him, when he was murdered as an incurably ill person, nor did I recognize him, when he was gassed and burned as the poor victims of his own people [probably an allusion to the fact that Christ was Jewish]. Here I became guilty in my very personal responsibility and I cannot excuse myself, neither before God, nor before humanity.

In Niemoller's longer texts he also puts Jehovah's Witnesses in the chain.

Polistra thinks the modern version of the chain should read like this, because we have gone way beyond silence:

First they came for Randy Weaver and I was silent. Then they came for the Branch Davidians and I smiled. Then they came for the "incurably ill" Terry Schiavo and I cheered. Then they came for the Darwinian skeptics and I did The Wave. Then they came for the Global Warming skeptics and I screamed in orgiastic ecstasy. Then they came for the home schoolers and I jumped over the moon for joy. Then they came for the Polygamists and I brayed like a jackass on speed.

What we have, folks, is a true gold-standard Inquisition, and just as in Niemoller's time all the authorities and churches have joined on the same side. The genocidal side. The side that joyously slaughters oddballs and eyeglass-wearers.

  Paying attention

Filed my income tax by mail yesterday. Got this Nigerian scam email this morning:

Please view the message from the attachment file.
We have sent you the form as an attachment file to prevent fraudulent activity
and further information theft.

Note: We recommend to open the attachment file with browser "Mozilla Firefox"
for a securely transaction.

Best Regards,
Phillip McCrevis
Taxpayer Advocate

Here's my first thought: If I were an English teacher, I'd milk the hell out of these scams. I'd assign my students to gather scams for a month or so, and then we'd spend another month looking carefully at the sentence structure. The best way to learn what's right is by examining what's wrong, and these scams from various countries exhibit every possible grammatical error, some of them fairly subtle.

The point would be: Paying attention to grammar is not just for tea parties. When you've formed the habit of examining language carefully, you can preserve your money from fraudsters.

My second thought: Nope, couldn't happen in a public school today. One word: "Nigerian". Even though many of these "Nigerian" scams are actually written by Australians, a teacher who dared to imply that anything improper was indirectly associated with anything that has an African name would be gone in an instant.
Wednesday, April 09, 2008
  Mad Scientist, 3

A young Apprentice Inquisitor is getting fine publicity and assistance from the Senior Inquisitors in his attempt to burn a Heretical Textbook.

From this morning's AP story.

LaClair said he was particularly upset about the book's treatment of global warming. The book says that "science doesn't know whether we are experiencing a dangerous level of global warming or how bad the greenhouse effect is, if it exists at all."

A newer edition published late last year was changed to say, "Science doesn't know how bad the greenhouse effect is," but the authors kept a phrase stating that global warming is "enmeshed in scientific uncertainty."

James Hansen, the director of NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, recently heard about La Clair's concerns and has lent him some support.

Hansen has sent Houghton Mifflin a letter stating that the book's discussion on global warming contained "a large number of clearly erroneous statements" that give students "the mistaken impression that the scientific evidence of global warming is doubtful and uncertain."

There's that "mistaken impression" language, this time from Grand Inquisitor Hansen. Starting to sound awfully familiar.

= = = = =

Afterthought: Grand Inquisitor Hansen also loves to complain that the Bush Administration is "silencing" him. How can anyone even listen to that nonsense when he spends all his time very loudly burning heretics for the greater glory of Gaia? Yeah, I know this is Gambit #5 in the standard Leninist playbook, but it's just ... cheap, for lack of a better word. Savonarola and Torquemada didn't complain that the Pope was trying to silence them. Come on, Grand Inquisitor Hansen, at least show some pride in your chosen profession.
Tuesday, April 08, 2008
  Mad scientist, 2

Extremely interesting discussion last night on Charlie Rose's PBS show. He had a panel of Big Scientists, running a campaign to get science back into the American mainstream.

All their statements about education accord perfectly with what Polistra has been saying over and over: real-life experimentation works, while rote memorization doesn't. One of the discussants described his grandson's 7th grade science textbook: "It tries to cover all possible subjects in a year by mentioning each subject for a day. You won't learn anything at all from this." Correct and depressing, because the textbooks I read in 7th grade had exactly the same problem. No improvement in 40 years.

On the goal of gaining more respect and funding, Charlie's discussers missed the point in a big way. Basic human nature: If you want people to respect you and pay you, it's your responsibility to show them some respect, and give them some value for their money. Big Science wants to receive pay and respect, but in return they want to remain free to hate Christians, hate Western civilization, and engage in wild destructive fantasies that yield no productive result.

One of Rose's panel said "Judging by polls, Americans have the false impression that science is just like religion, in that both of them involve faith in arbitrary dogmas." Well, if we were comparing true science with true religion, the impression would be false. But when we deal with the public practice and representation of science BY THE SCIENTISTS, the impression is unfortunately accurate.

As Polistra mentioned a couple days ago, the dogmatic tendency began in the 1890's when math and science were disconnected from reality; when logic seemed to demonstrate that you could arbitrarily and randomly pick any foundation you want. Chesterton had it slightly wrong. When you don't believe in God (or in this case, don't believe in reality) you're not really free to believe anything; in fact you'll end up believing the personal authority of a cult leader.

So modern Big Science, as represented in the universities, is genuinely dogmatic and rigid, requiring certain credos and beliefs to be recited by everyone. Any school system that dares to allow debate on Darwin is sued down to bedrock. Any scientist who applies valid logic to Intelligent Design, or dares to question Global Warming, is gone in an instant. Meanwhile, the very same scientific authorities continue to smash the Roman Church for carrying out the Inquisition 400 years ago ... which punished exactly two scientists.

Another member of the Rose panel described the contract between Vannevar Bush (one of the inventors of computing) and President Truman, which developed into the National Science Foundation. Like any proper contract, the VB contract had two sides. Science and technology, through such inventions as radar, computing, jet engines and the A-bomb, had contributed hugely to our victory in WW2. In return for that contribution, and to encourage future contributions, Truman agreed to set up permanent funding for research.

The current science establishment wants government to give more funding, but it has totally spoiled the other side of the contract. By emphasizing pure abstraction with no moral content, science has abandoned its duty to contribute to the victory of the West. Worst of all, many scientists openly and loudly support the enemies of the West, without even noticing that Mohammed eliminates science wherever he rules. There is a deep connection here, which Benedict XVI has noted: Mohammed treats the will of Allah as strictly random and arbitrary, while Christian tradition treats the will of Jehovah as rational. I confess that I don't feel these connections because I'm spiritually retarded, but they are well-established and visible by their fruits. Rome may have punished Galileo and Bruno for insubordination, but at the same time Rome was rapidly expanding the study of nature and science. So the Mohammedan approach, perhaps subconsciously, has a dangerously seductive appeal to scientists who have disconnected their work from the ground of rationality, morality and faith, considering their basis to be arbitrary and random.

Finally a half-baked thought: focusing on the weapons in situations of violence or war is parallel to focusing only on internal consistency in math and science. If you won't let yourself listen to conscience, won't let yourself judge others on their basic goodness, you have to take away everyone's weapons. If you won't let yourself treat reality as the basis of scientific thought, you have to focus on methods and citations.

Half-baked thought #2: When you try to run an economy without production of physical things at its base, you have the same problems. You blindly follow the Delphic dicta of Prophet Alan Greenspan when he says inflation is zero and cutting the price of money will keep things running. You focus solely on the tools: the mortgages, the Wall Street Casino, the options on futures of derivatives of futures options. But without a base, without production, there's really nothing to keep the wingless bird flying.
Monday, April 07, 2008
  Ellen Craswell RIP

This is a bit uncharitable ... not supposed to speak ill of the dead and all that ... but it's a point that needs to be covered, and the obit provides a chance to cover it.

Ellen Craswell, who was the Brand-R candidate for Wash Gov in 1996, died yesterday. I presume Craswell was a nice grandmother and a nice neighbor, but she was utterly unqualified to run for Governor. I can't imagine why she was even considered.

Describing Craswell is easy.

Four words: Dana Carvey's Church Lady.

No, it was worse than that. If you didn't know better you'd assume Craswell was an amateur comedian trying to run a clumsy over-the-top re-parody of Carvey's parody.

Craswell's primary opponent that year was Nona Brazier, a successful businesswoman who held all the right conservative positions, and could explain and sell all of them with depth and coherence. She had no scandal in her background. She was easy on the eyes and easy on the ears. Best of all, Brazier was an electrifying speaker. The best living orator. If Brazier had said Global Warming was real, I would have followed Algore to the ends of the earth. (Yes, I'll admit to having a crush on her.)

Let's try a metaphor. Say you have a choice of two lottery prizes.

One is a 1971 Chevy Vega, dented on every panel, spitting oil and pistons with every painful mile, capable of going 10 MPH downhill with a tailwind if you feed it a gallon of oil and STP beforehand.

The other is a new Mercedes with custom-fitted leather upholstery and every possible accessory, capable of winning the Grand Prix, capable of gliding down a rocky slope without spilling a glass of wine.

Which would you pick? Which would you rather be seen driving? Which would impress your friends and rivals?

Yeah, me too.

Not the Wash state Republican party.

They only saw one thing.

The Vega was white and the Mercedes was black. So they picked the Vega.

That was the first time I'd ever seen an unquestionable, unarguable, unquibble-able example of pure strict outright racism.

So, RIP the Church Lady. I don't know why she allowed herself to get into such a ridiculous position... party loyalty, I guess.

She did accidentally provide a perfect litmus test for a corrupt and stupid party.
Sunday, April 06, 2008
  Waco 2

From Fox News online:

Officers entered the temple on the grounds late Saturday, but by Sunday they still had not located the 16-year-old whose initial report of abuse led to the raid.

Marleigh Meisner, a spokeswoman for Child Protective Services, said investigators were still trying to determine whether the girl who called authorities last week was among the people, including 159 children, removed from the compound.

Meisner said the adults were cooperating with investigators, and that she did not believe any had been forced to leave the compound.

Investigators also were looking for the man the girl allegedly married, Dale Barlow. Palmer said other law enforcement agencies "know where (Barlow) is and have talked to him, but our investigators have not."

Barlow's probation officer told The Salt Lake Tribune that he was in Arizona.
"He said the authorities had called him (in Colorado City, Arizona) and some girl had accused him of assaulting her and he didn't even know who she was," said Bill Loader, a probation officer in Arizona.

Sounds like the authorities are not at all confident. The local reporters asked some tough questions in that news conference, which didn't come through in the online writeups by CNN and Fox. One asked "You say you haven't forced the adults to leave, but you also say you've made their options clear. Sounds like force to me."
Another asked "Isn't this supposed to be a country with religious freedom?"

Nurse Ratched had no answer, but the fact that reporters are willing to ask those questions is another encouraging sign. The "scientific consensus" behind the pogrom has broken down.

One question that wasn't asked but should have been: Nurse Ratched said at one point that the accuser was probably remaining anonymous and silent now because of fear. Really? Let's think about this for a minute. If you were afraid of being beaten, you'd be silent while you were in the same house with the beater, and you'd sing like a bird when you were in protective custody. This accuser sang like a bird when she was supposedly in the compound, and now she's silent or absent. This is precisely what you'd expect from a false accuser; even more simply, it's what you'd expect from an accuser who was never anywhere near the place.
  What happened to the 'mad scientist'?

Interview in latest New Science-ist mag with Britain's cabinet minister in charge of science and technology. John Denham is clearly an engaging fellow, but his answers show a peculiar innocence about what people actually need and want. (Of course he's a self-admitted Communist, but that sort of goes without saying if he's allowed to be a major player in the British or US govt.)

A couple of the Q and As:

Q: How important is science and technology?

A: It's critically important. Without the insights of science we won't be able to tackle major problems like climate change.

Since the criminal fraud of climate change was forced on us by "the insights of science", this is raw chutzpah. It's like a wife-beater saying "You need to stay with me, because you need my health insurance to pay for repairing your bones after I break them."

Q: Many scientists are concerned that the UK is moving away from basic research toward applied research.

A: As the person in charge of science within govt, I'm a vigorous defender of the value of fundamental research. I think though that we need to ... create the right environment and culture around our universities, so that knowledge with a practical application isn't left unexploited as purely a matter of intellectual interest.

That's a good answer and a good goal. The problem is that peer review and tenure have pushed theorists into ever more specialized and abstruse areas; they have steered away from reality at every turn, so that they are completely separated from any view of the real world. "Knowledge with a practical application" is still generated in industrial research facilities and engineering schools; this knowledge, even if abstract, goes sooner or later to develop products and methods. It would be good to advertise this, but there's no point in advertising the wild abstractions of the pure theorists, because they are in fact "purely a matter of intellectual interest".... and not even interesting to most scientists in the same discipline, let alone to smart laymen. The "best" theories are understandable and interesting only to a dozen colleagues.

Q: You used C. P. Snow's "Two Cultures" as a theme for a speech ... Nowhere is the scientific ignorance that Snow described more apparent than among your fellow MPs and civil servants.

A: [I'm trying to improve this,] but one of the obstacles is that sometimes people think science will give you one choice, that it will say "this is the answer to your problem." Of course, science almost never does that. It can inform your decision but it will rarely try to tell you there's only one opinion. If we could just get that understanding, people would be more relaxed about going for scientific opinion.

So many bad assumptions, so little time. (1) Global warming again. Modern science does in fact tell us there's only one answer, and the answer is plainly false. (2) People would really enjoy getting one answer, if the answer is demonstrably true and demonstrably helpful. They're not afraid of single answers as such. (3) In the areas where science does give more than one answer, the answers are so confused and rapidly changing that people have quite properly stopped listening. This week cholesterol causes heart attacks, next week cholesterol cures heart attacks.

= = = = =

The second question led me to think of one especially egregious and expensive bit of pure research: High-energy particle physics. Atom-splitting, in plain language. The CERN facility in Switzerland is setting up an experiment that stands a real chance of destroying the entire universe, according to its own theorists.

Sounds a lot like the Mad Scientist of earlier literature and comic books, doesn't it? Stroking his waxed mustache and rubbing his hands gleefully: "Har har har! I have you in my clutches now! If you do not continue to support my research, I shall pull this switch and destroy the universe!" Except that these mad scientists are so deeply immersed in banal evil that they don't even give us the choice. They are content to leave the choice to the random coin-flip of a quantum spin.

This is not pure science; it's pure psychosis. Hitler's scientists cheerfully killed Jews in the course of experimentation, but they were experimenting to help Aryans live a better life. They were sacrificing some humans to aid others... vicious but not crazy. Today's particle physicists are happy to sacrifice the entire universe to aid nothing at all.

We need to bring back the literary figure of the Mad Scientist.
Saturday, April 05, 2008
  Rogue prosecutors gone wild

Did you think the Duke fiasco might have taught anyone anything? Ha. Not a bit.

Here's a truly egregious case of a criminal conspiracy by police and social workers to destroy a man who did absolutely nothing.

NewsChannel 8 was the first TV station to interview Coach Don King. In a 30 minute talk at King's Lake Oswego home, the coach told reporter Jack Penning that he feels lucky to have won his case, but he's still upset by the way detectives in both Linn and Clackamas County handled the investigation.

King says the case has done irreparable damage to his reputation, and made it difficult for him to work as a coach in the Northwest.

King described the day, last June, when detectives came to his home, and hauled him off to jail.

"If you know anything about people, that's scary," King said.

He said Detectives told him they had videotape of him abusing girls he was coaching at a swim meet in Albany. They told him those girls had already talked.

"They tell me a bunch of lies. They tell me, your girls have already admitted you abused them, so you might as well admit it. They told the girls that I had admitted abusing them so they might as well admit it. The girls said, I want to talk to my mother. They said, not until you admit it. It was really scary."

At no point did any of those girls accuse King. In fact, they testified for him. A jury found the videotape showed nothing but a coach hugging his kids.

"You see a huggy bear," King said. "A guy who hugs his boys just like he hugs his girls. Kisses his boys just like he kisses his girls."

The jury didn't take long to come back with its verdict. King described the moment. "Not guilty. And I'm starting to get tears in my eyes. And count two same... count three same... count four same. The jury's crying. We're crying."

But the acquittal didn't fix everything. King is now fighting to get back to coaching. Some are scared away by the arrest. "Everyday starts the same way. You wake up and you think about it, what the hell's going on? How could you do this? Well, I didn't do it. There were a total of seven dectectives working on this case. Quite an expense, for six not guiltys and case dismissed. The roughest part is over."

King says he'll fight to coach again, just like he fought to prove his innocence. And he says he's considering a suit against the agencies that falsely accused him.

= = = = =

Granted, in today's witch-hunting climate it's mighty dumb for a coach to be a "huggybear".

It's good that the jury saw through the criminal conspiracy, it's especially good that the students had the guts to push back against the criminal conspiracy, and also good that KGW-TV has managed to tell the story truly.

Unlike, for instance, the wild-eyed cable coverage of today's Waco-style official pogrom against a Warren Jeffs compound ... which will undoubtedly turn out the same way.

I wonder how many more thousands or millions of ruined lives we'll have to endure before some fucking body finally tells a prosecutor to obey the goddamn law?

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