Saturday, March 28, 2020

We Don't Need Control from Above

From Bart Hall on Facebook:

Truckers are saying "fuck the log rules, I'm hauling" and they're getting supplies to the stores. People are stocking the shelves all night and letting old people shop first. Folks are buying meals for truckers, who (obviously) can't go through the drive-ups. Asking 'em what they want, then buying it for them.

Carnival Cruise Line has told Trump “We can match those big Navy Hospital ships with some fully staffed cruise ships”.

GM and Ford have said "hold our cars and watch this -- we can make ventilators where we were just making car parts, starting next week" -- by re-engineering seat ventilators which their engineers hacked together for a new purpose. In under a week.

In a project with which I'm loosely associated, a very-effective agricultural disease-control agent was re-purposed and re-labeled specifically for Corona-virus control by the FDA and EPA in under ten days, from initial request to distribution.

Restaurants and schools have said, "we’ve got kitchens and staff; we can feed the poor kids who used have school lunch.”

NBA basketball players have said, “Hold our basketballs while we write checks to pay the arena staff.”

Construction companies are saying, “Here are some high-end masks for medical staff and doctors”.

Distilleries are making sanitizer out of distilling "heads and tails" which are normally discarded. Nasty shit to drink, but effective sanitizer.

People are tipping grocery check-out clerks and thanking them for taking the risk.

Local, state, and county governments are taking control of everything the feds cannot do. Some are doing it wrong, but for the first time in decades ... they're doing it. Federalism is re-emerging, and the smallest unit of government is the individual and the family. This, too, is re-emerging after decades of dormancy.

As Japanese Admiral Isokuru Yamamoto said, after Pearl Harbor ... “I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.”

I sense this has just happened. We have a wonderful country, the greatest single force for good in all human history. We have closed our borders, with good reason, yet we have top medical people now assisting North Korea in their response to the virus.

Many things have been re-set, and will never be the same.

By microbiological accident, we are living in profoundly transformative historical times.

Amen, Bart. Amen.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Idiots in Power

Well, well. I've certainly been forcefully reminded why I hate our elite power-brokers. Have you?

(Stupid question, I'm sure.)

It's really effing simple: We need immediate temporary cash relief for every American who's taking it in the teeth during this shutdown. We need aid to small businesses that have been forced to shutter or severely limit operations. We need to devote funds to research into this pathogen so we can find a way to combat it quickly and get the economy started again. And we need to spend some more money expanding our hospital capacity so that similar pandemics won't necessitate extreme responses in the future. That's it.

What we don't need is bullshit -- no matter who's shoving it in. We don't need corporate diversity quotas, stealth Green New Deals, or bailouts for the well-connected. But of course, our aforementioned elites simply can't help themselves. Cynical opportunists that they are, they're determined not to let a good crisis go to waste -- even if that means screwing the rest of us.

Why do we keep voting these assholes into office? What the hell's the matter with us?

I've also been firmly convinced that large swaths of our media class are now full-on enemies of the people. I know that seems extreme, but what else am I supposed to conclude when so many of them are using one couple's straight-up stupidity - fish tank cleaner is not the same thing as hydroxychloroquine, you filthy liars - to discredit a possible treatment for C-19?

Obviously the jury's still out on the hydroxychloroquine/z-pak combo, but that's really my point: we should be allowed to explore this without all the shrieking and deeply misleading headlines claiming that hydroxychloroquine is poison. I have news for you, media douchecanoes: when I was first diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, the first things Dr. B put me on were prednisone and hydroxychloroquine. True: I was told at the time that the hydroxychloroquine might damage my eyesight over the long term and that I should start seeing an ophthalmologist on a regular basis. But if we're talking about using hydroxychloroquine to treat a respiratory infection like C-19, we're not talking about long-term use.

Clearly, these reporters know jack shit about medicine. Lots of meds are poison, actually. The prednisone I'm still on is weakening my bones and trashing my teeth. Methotrexate can damage my liver. And if I ever get back on a biologic like Enbrel or Humira, I may develop serious infections or lymphoma. But those of us with chronic medical conditions are willing to take those risks if it means an alleviation of our disabling symptoms. Similarly, whatever dangers may come with short-term therapeutic doses of hydroxychloroquine might be totally worth courting if it means fewer people die of coronavirus-induced ARDS.

In conclusion: shut the eff up, CNN, and let the adults in the room do the necessary research. None of us are interested in your petty attempts to get the Orange Man. What we want are real, nonpartisan solutions to our current predicament.

ETA: Thank you, Matt, for your sane and critical voice!

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Coronavirus Inspires Clowns to Self-Identify

A series of grumpy thoughts.

The other day, I was mostly amused by the newly popular charge of bigotry that was zipping around Twitter. Lefties gonna lefty, right?

Now, however, I'm legitimately angry that this bullshit is still being spread. Are we really doing this? Are we really treating pro-CCP propaganda as legitimate? We're talking about a government that right now is frog-marching its ethnic minorities into concentration camps. We're talking about a government that muzzled its own doctors when they attempted to sound warnings last fall about this emergent disease -- and a government that rejected offers of US aid.

Obviously, this should not blow back on ordinary East Asian people. It's not their fault the Chinese government is evil. But take care in your zeal to appear unprejudiced that you don't cover up the truth: COVID-19 originated in China. The Chinese government then tried to cover it up, which permitted the virus to spread beyond Chinese borders. If you're actually buying into the narrative that calling this disease the Wuhan Virus or the Chinese Virus is racist, you're a dupe at best -- and the rest of us are absolutely within our rights to flip you off and call you names.

Also, I'm a little confused: What exactly was Trump supposed to do weeks ago? Because I guaran-damn-tee that if he had been aggressive any earlier - if, for example, he had restricted foreign travel before the panic set in - his detractors would've complained about his xenophobia.

Yes, the feds were slow to respond. But how much of that was Trump, how much of that was the bureaucracy and its standing regulations, and how much of that was a lack of reliable data? We must carefully tease out all sources of error; tarring Trump alone with the blame is the simpleton's response.

There are many things the administration is doing right now that are sound reactions to the situation. Pushing back the tax deadline? Yes, good idea. Allowing people to consult with their doctors remotely? Also a good idea. Bringing in private-sector partners to distribute more test kits to the public? Excellent! Devolving some of the responsibility to state and local governments? Eminently constitutional -- despite what a certain idiot at the Bulwark thinks.

The roll-out of all of this was not without its hiccups, but try to have some perspective. There are very few countries who are dealing with this pandemic 100% successfully. Actually, most of Europe is doing much, much worse.

ETA: I'm kicking myself for forgetting this, but all y'all Twitter socialists posting galaxy-brained hot takes about our temporarily empty grocery aisles can kindly STFU. Yes: a capitalist nation in a crisis looks like a socialist nation on any random Tuesday. By Jove, you've got us!

Lastly, if you're reading this, you probably know this already, but: you can't trust anything the mainstream media report. They lie routinely about everything Trump and his surrogates say; indeed, in just the past few days, the media have spread rumors about a national quarantine (false) and have claimed that Trump told states looking for respirators that they were on their own (also false). So for heaven's sake, double and triple check anything alarming you hear on the news before you go off half-cocked -- because the probability approaches one that if it sounds scary, it's been purposefully distorted.

Stay calm, stay alert, and God bless you all.

Monday, March 16, 2020

Saturday, March 14, 2020

The End of the World (Except Not Really)

So how have you been enjoying the apocalypse? Speaking for myself, I'm still trying to find toilet paper. (Just found some!) Oh: and I'm wondering whether I'm going to lose all my clientele and, subsequently, my job if our corporate headquarters fails to get their rumored online platform up and running.

As I believe I've mentioned before, I work at an after school tutoring center in the Northern Virginia area, which is rapidly becoming a hot spot for COVID-19 as we speak. As far as I can tell, all of the cases recorded here are related to international travel - in particular, a certain Nile River cruise - but my kids' parents are peppering our business manager with leave requests anyway. Based on her texts and emails to me, the poor woman is consequently going insane.

I'm not going to say we shouldn't be concerned; I know I'm concerned because I have an aging mother at home who's on oxygen, and this may be worse than the flu for people in that particular bracket. (I honestly don't know because I don't know who to trust at this point.) To be sure, we definitely need to keep an eye on the news - like we should if, say, there were a tornado watch - and follow the advice of medical professionals regarding hygiene and social distancing (advice that, by the way, we should heed even in the absence of a global pandemic). But we still need to be rational. We don't need to buy whole pallets of toilet paper to get through this -- and I don't think you need to worry (at least right now) about sending your kids to a program at which, at any one time, there are only 13 or 14 people in the building. (Our branch is a very tiny operation. But if you're an expert and you think I'm wrong, please let me know in the comments.)

As other people have said, full-scale panic is only going to make it more difficult to help the populations who are actually vulnerable.

In fairness, though, I think I know why we've descended into chaos over this: we no longer trust our institutions -- and for legitimate reasons. The media in particular are not covering themselves in glory, as they seem to be more interested in shilling for the Chinese government than in sober, accurate analysis. Speaking of which: Wuhan virus, Wuhan virus, Wuhan virus! I will call it what I damn well want to regardless of the marching orders the Blue Checks apparently got from Beijing. If it's not racist to call a certain tick-born illness Lyme Disease because it was first observed in Lyme, well -- shut the hell up and focus on what really matters.

Anyway, enough with the serious commentary. Let's get to the memes -- because if I can't laugh at our predicament, I want off this planet. Below the cut are some of my favorites:

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Prizes for Good Little Girls Syndrome

Thesis: Elizabeth Warren lost because of sexism.

Wait, wait, don't leave yet! This is not the blog post you think it is. I'm not about to start blathering about supposed "glass ceilings" or whatever. What I want to talk about is the soft sexism of low expectations.

If a woman has spent her life marinating in the left-wing feminist subculture, a few things are highly likely to be true:
  • She's been told she's great - fabulous! - just the way she is.
  • She's been taught to dismiss all push-back as misogynistic.
  • She's been assured that she's entitled to success -- and that any failures to achieve said success are the fault of men.
  • She's been trained to demand that these dastardly men - who are totes holding her back - kindly step aside and let her take the trophy -- whether she's actually earned it or not.
You might think I'm being unfair here, but frankly? I don't agree. Given all the stuff I've read in the news for the past decade plus, I believe I'm right on the money. 

Everywhere I look, I see illustrations of all four of the above bullet points. I hate to keep harping on the fat acceptance movement, but really: isn't that a textbook example of point number one? Go ahead, ladies: eff those unrealistic beauty standards and rock on with your 300 pound selves. Yas, queen, slay! (And don't worry that you can't make it up a single flight of stairs without getting winded. The negative impacts of extreme obesity are way over-stated, amirite?)

Then there are all the times leftists of the distaff persuasion have thrown down the poor-me-I'm-being-harassed-by-meanie-sexist-men card each time they start losing an online argument. To be sure, in the absolute dumpster fire that is internet discourse, such women probably do get burned with the occasional "die, bitch!" PM or email. But as I noted on my fan blog, men get that crap too -- and oddly, I don't see them whining about it nearly as often. (Probably because crying doesn't work for men. Only women get picked up by the waaaaaambulance.)

And just to hit on bullets three and four: everywhere I look, I see leftists justifying moves to ease standards to give vag a hand up. Just last month, for example, it was reported that Oxford is considering removing Homer and Virgil from a foundational classics course due to "attainment gaps between male and female candidates." Don't buckle down and study your Latin and Greek, dears. We'll remove that pesky obstacle for you. And oh my great and fluffy Lord, I can't even count the number of times I've heard feminists complain about the academic weeding that goes on in engineering or computer science -- because apparently, advanced math is oppressive and patriarchal. As a woman who numbers pretty good - indeed, I even teach that stuff for a living! - I headdesk so hard whenever I hear this BS that I'm surprised my skull is still intact.

Where does all this anal-smoke-blowing lead? When you're told constantly that you should get prizes simply for being a good little girl - as leftist women are - the result is predictable: you stop developing. If you're already Ms. Polly Perfect, well -- that obviates the need for critical self-examination and the consequent moves towards self-improvement. If your naysayers are all dismissible as "women-hating men bitter over the loss of their privilege" (or as women suffering from "internalized misogyny"), then your arguments are almost certainly untested and malformed. And if people have always been clearing the road for you and shielding you from any real challenges, you're no doubt much stupider than your competition -- and much weaker.

In short, if you're a leftist woman, you have not been equipped to survive in the hurly-burly world of American politics.

If you've come up in the anti-feminist milieu, on the other hand, you've learned to fight -- and you've learned to take ownership of your agency. That's because anti-feminists, in my view, have far more faith in women and their abilities. Anti-feminists, in the end, are the true anti-sexists.

So to circle back to the beginning: Like Clinton, Warren didn't fail in her bid for the presidency because of the so-called misogyny of the voting public; she failed because she's been surrounded by yes men who've never bothered to tell her how unlikable she really is. (And oh yes: the naked pandering to the left's various mascots and the lying about her heritage probably didn't help either.)

Warren was the victim of sexism -- just not in the way her cheerleaders think.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Compassion vs. Foolishness

From a post originally written in 2016:

Hold on to your hats, folks: I'm about to discuss some more psychology. In particular, I'm going discuss the phenomenon of pathological altruism.

Pathological altruism manifests in many ways. You have, for example, the enabler: the family member or friend who financially supports a substance abuser because he wishes to rescue the addict from a life on the street. Drug treatment professionals are in near 100% agreement that enabling prevents recovery; it shields their patients from the worst consequences of their actions and therefore removes a powerful motivation for getting clean. Enabling, however, is so strong a temptation for an addict's loved ones that entire programs have been created for the sole purpose of dealing with its destructive force.

Another example: the animal hoarder. Hoarders genuinely feel for all the poor, abandoned creatures they take into their homes. Along the way, however, they lose sight of reality. They don't notice that their animals are constantly sickly -- or that their houses are coated in fecal matter and collapsing all around them -- or that they're struggling to pay the rent or keep the lights on because they're blowing their budgets on pet food. Pulling a hoarder out of this situation is traumatic and usually involves intensive psychotherapy.

A final - and even more common - example: the indulgent parent. Parents spoil their children not because they intend to raise brats but because they can't stand to hear their babies cry. But of course, if you give a child everything he wants and consistently puff up his self-esteem, you don't end up with a happy, healthy adult. Instead, you end up with a brittle perpetual adolescent who cannot regulate his emotions, delay gratification, display humility, or show empathy for others. You end up, in other words, with a campus activist who shoves undeserving students into walls and screams obscenities in their faces because his demands are not being immediately satisfied.

Pathological altruism is a clinical name for the disordered definition of love I've discussed in earlier posts. It is to compassion what psychopathy or sociopathy is to simple selfishness, and in many situations - obviously - it can be just as damaging. The problem, you see, is that this kind of altruism is divorced from rationality and truth. It encourages recklessness and cocoons people in their lies.

The left has chided us right-leaning folks for ages for our "failure to be kind." But it is not fundamentally kind to bankroll a man's bad habits with the federal purse; not only is that stealing money from people who might've used it more wisely, but it is also insulting the recipient's basic human dignity by implicitly denying his agency. It is, to put it frankly, a form of enabling. Likewise, it is not fundamentally kind to release violent criminals into the general population in the name of "mercy" and "rehabilitation." Again, I believe in the possibility of redemption as much as the next Christian, but prudence, friends! Prudence matters. Without it, you will needlessly injure - or even kill - innocent people...

Please keep the above in mind each time you hear certain politicians promise endless free crap. TANSTAAFL. But more importantly, it's the opposite of moral to reach into other people's pockets while pretending to be generous.

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Links on Cuba (Plus a Book Rec)

No, Fidel Castro Didn't Improve Health Care or Education in Cuba

"According to UNESCO, Cuba had about the same literacy rate as Costa Rica and Chile in 1950 (close to 80 percent). And it has almost the same literacy rate as they do today (close to 100 percent)...

"Meanwhile, Latin American countries that were largely illiterate in 1950—such as Peru, Brazil, El Salvador, and the Dominican Republic—are largely literate today, closing much of the gap with Cuba...

"Cuba led virtually all countries in Latin America in life expectancy in 1959, before Castro’s communists seized power. But by 2012, right after Castro stepped down as Communist Party leader, Chileans and Costa Ricans lived slightly longer than Cubans. Back in 1960, Chileans had a life span seven years shorter than Cubans, and Costa Ricans lived more than two years less than Cubans on average."

The upshot of all of the data cited in the article above is that Castro's regime lived off earlier successes -- and eventually slowed established trends. Why? Because socialist systems are parasitic by nature. Such systems are neither innovative nor wealth generating; the only reason they survive at all is due to previously amassed resources (which socialists eventually squander) and/or the largess of the capitalist world.

Of course, even if it were true that Castro established a successful literacy program after rising to power, personal stories such as this one from the Miami Herald...

I went to school in Cuba under Castro. Here's what it's like, Bernie Sanders.

...reveal the emptiness of such an achievement in the face of Castro's sins. Honestly, I can't even wrap my head around how morally confused you have to be to apologize for a government that killed, imprisoned or otherwise oppressed thousands for not being sufficiently enthusiastic about The Revolution. That's like apologizing for Mussolini because he made the trains run on time (which actually turns out not to be true either).

Quite frankly, if Bernie Sanders is doubling down on his pro-Castro BS, he has neither the judgment nor the probity to be allowed within fifty miles of the Oval Office.

Trump is no genius, but at least he doesn't cheer for our enemies.

And just in case the lived experiences of Cuban Americans are insufficient to persuade you that socialism is not, in fact, a beautiful ideal, try this:

Pretending to Sleep, Monalisa Foster

This author escaped from Communist Romania when she was a child, and she wrote this short story to work through her experiences under Ceaucescu. It's not a happy read -- but these days, I think it might be a necessary one.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

No Post Tonight

I just got robbed at gunpoint, so I'm busy talking with the police.

Don't worry: I'm currently safe, and he didn't physically hurt me.

Wish I'd had my gun.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Future Plans and the True Meaning of Happiness

What does the near future hold for this blog?

Well, I will occasionally comment on breaking stories if they catch my fancy -- but most of the time, I'm going mimic Dennis Prager and stick to general philosophical issues. Why? Because it has become increasingly apparent to me that we as a society are deeply, deeply confused about the true meanings of love, happiness, justice -- just about every good you can name.

I stand by what I said two posts ago regarding the fat acceptance movement, for example -- even if, as one commenter here recently claimed, diets make people "unhappy." (We'll get to the error in thinking in that claim in just a moment.) No one knows better than I how difficult it is to maintain a svelte figure, but that doesn't completely invalidate the standard that "privileges" the thin. It indicates that we should be compassionate to all those who fail to hit the standard, sure; I think everyone agrees that straight-up shaming is profoundly unhelpful. But you will do an enormous amount of harm if you continue to tell young people in particular that being obese is a wholly unproblematic lifestyle choice worthy of being celebrated in your ad campaigns and cover shoots. Why? Because it's an outright falsehood. Obesity leads to many documented health and mobility problems that shouldn't be ignored for the sake of phony "self-esteem."

Regarding the comment mentioned above: Let's stipulate that diets make people "unhappy." I hate to say it, but that doesn't mean all dieting is bad and useless. Genuine happiness often involves being temporarily uncomfortable and "unhappy" in the service of accomplishing higher goals. It's no fun, for instance, to have to take your garbage to the curb once or twice a week (depending on your jurisdiction); indeed, doing all that heavy lifting probably makes you extremely "unhappy" in the moment. But if you don't do it - if you elect to prioritize your short-term pleasure over your long-term good - you will end up living in a shit pit. Similarly, as a teacher, I am intimately familiar with the "unhappiness" that accompanies one of my homework assignments. But if my students choose to avoid that "unhappiness" and play video games instead, the result is generally bad grades, angry parents, and disciplinary restrictions. Better to accept the bit of "unhappiness" early on than the more extensive grief later.

Real happiness is not a transitory emotion. It's the fulfillment and well-being that comes from properly ordering your life according to the traditional virtues. Up until his sudden death almost two months ago, my father and my mom had a happy marriage -- but they didn't always feel content. As a matter of fact, they faced a great deal of adversity thanks to Dad's military deployments, both of their chronic illnesses, repeated hospitalizations, etc. If my parents had accepted the logic behind the fat acceptance movement - that discomfort is a thing to be avoided at all costs - they would not have stuck together for 41 years -- and ultimately, they would've been worse off.

So yeah: that up there is the sort of thing you can expect from me most of the time. I'll also be responding to books I read and posting enlightening YouTube content as I find it. Overall, I want to zoom out because, as the ascendancy of Bernie Sanders reveals, we are standing at a crossroads -- and I want to point my readers in the right direction.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Choices MUST Have Consequences

Imagine two students:

One student puts in hours each day studying math, poring over textbooks and practicing his skills on math-related online games so he can get ahead.

The second student effs off after school. He's happy doing the bare minimum to pass.

Question: Who's more likely to get an 800 on the math section of the SAT? Who's more likely to take Calculus - or even Differential Equations - in high school?

Question: If the first student gets into MIT and the second student doesn't, is that just?

Currently, I tutor three students who attend our local magnet school. None of them are spectacular intellects. They're just extremely motivated and work very, very hard. Indeed, they all came to me for math enrichment years before their admission to said magnet; consequently, they are all years ahead of their local peers.

(And incidentally, all three are black and/or Muslim.)

Different behaviors lead to different levels of achievement. Up and down the evolutionary scale, there are some strategies that lead to reproductive success and some strategies that don't. A squirrel that doesn't busy itself gathering nuts in good weather is a dead squirrel. This isn't oppression. This is life.

The radical left, however, seems hell-bent on denying this reality. Indeed, a common theme that links many of the enthusiasms of the social justice warrior is a desire to protect people from the consequences of their own bad choices.

Consider, for example, the fat acceptance movement. Obviously, no one should be mocked or otherwise mistreated for being overweight. But to expect to be celebrated as if you are just as beautiful as someone who is fit and thin? This is a patently unreasonable demand -- and I say this as a chunky gal. While there are some medical reasons why people may have more trouble than usual controlling their weight, in most cases, a fat person is fat because of his lifestyle. And don't worry: I include myself in that category. I take meds that impact weight gain -- but I could still stand to exercise more and do a better job monitoring my diet. The fact that I'm not currently making millions as a bikini model is a natural result of my laziness, and I accept it. SJW's, however, think I'm being persecuted somehow -- because they want to protect me from the consequences of my own choices.

Consider too the left's extreme embrace of legal abortion on demand at any time for any reason. When challenged on this, of course, leftists always retreat to the motte of "rape/incest/medical necessity," but everyone knows that the vast majority of abortions are performed for the sake of convenience. Sorry, ladies, but if you're not ready to have a kid, there's something very simple you can do instead of murdering a human being who didn't ask to exist: shut your damn legs. It's called delaying gratification. People do it all the time without exploding -- and they end up happier in the long run. This is common sense -- except to radical leftists who, again, want to protect women from the consequences of their own choices.

I don't deny that certain observed disparities are partially the result of systemic issues. This is certainly true in education, one of my personal areas of interest. It's incontrovertible that, due to the incompetence of certain local school districts, some students aren't getting equal access to rigorous, knowledge-based instruction -- and yes, that injustice should be corrected. But leftist ideology overemphasizes the importance of the system at the expense of - well - true justice. It seems to argue that the imposition of any standards at all is tantamount to perpetuating "white supremacist, cisheteronormative patriarchy" -- as if the targets of its mothering instincts are somehow incapable of the self-discipline that has allowed others to excel. (Who, exactly, are the bigots here?)

No: In an ideal society, people of all backgrounds who practice the traditional cardinal virtues - people of all backgrounds who work hard and refrain from indulging their every passing whim - should enjoy the reward of living reasonably comfortably. And those who don't? Well, we shouldn't let them die in the streets -- but we also shouldn't coddle them or pretend their decisions have been equally adaptive. Why? Because ultimately, that's not fair. Outputs should be proportional to your effort; otherwise, why put in any effort at all?

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

If You Disagree, Leftists Will Rejoice at Your Pain

This is not true of liberals. Left-leaning liberals like my sister-in-law (or the people I follow on YouTube) are well-meaning, even if they’re misguided on certain matters of policy. But leftists? More and more, I have seen leftists sanction displays of casual cruelty that are truly appalling.

The latest target: Jordan Peterson.

I’m what you might call a casual fan of Mr. Peterson. I don’t think he has all the answers. Who does? But he strikes me as genuine in his desire to help and in his seeking after truth -- and many of the things he’s said in his public appearances (and in his best-selling book) are, to me, simple common sense. Yes: univariate explanations for observed cross-group disparities do perpetuate bad social science. Yes: there are differences between men and women that can’t be explained by culture. Yes: it is best to think globally but act locally. Yes: an ethic of self-examination and self-improvement is absolutely essential for a good life and should precede attempts to “smash the system.” And yes: no one should be forced to utter something he or she does not personally believe because that way leads to tyranny.

Do Mr. Peterson’s ideas always cohere? No -- but see above regarding my estimate of his sincerity. He certainly doesn’t deserve the frankly pathological hatred that has been lobbed his way ever since he was thrust into the limelight in the run-up to Canada’s passage of Bill C-16. For Christ’s sake, this is a guy who cries whenever he thinks about people suffering. This is a guy who gets visibly overwhelmed every time someone thanks him for his folksy advice. This is a guy who fiercely denied it when Dennis Prager called him a good person in one 2019 interview -- because he's acutely aware of the potential depravity of all mankind.

Overall, whatever one might think about the particulars of his ideas, I think all rational people can agree that Mr. Peterson has generally been a positive force in the world -- especially (but not exclusively) for young men. Yet this gentle, emotional man has become a lightning rod for mockery and unreasoning bile on the left -- to the point that people on Twitter are now celebrating his recent medical crisis.

Honestly, I want to throw up a little just thinking about this. How the eff does anyone think this is okay? How twisted and diabolical do you have to be to allow your ideological commitments to overshadow the universal call to basic human decency?

What’s happening to Jordan Peterson only further solidifies my conviction that people on the radical left don’t just want to defeat me and mine in the political arena. They actually want us dead -- or at least so broken, starved, and bloody that we’re no longer a significant threat to their aims.

They’re monsters, these leftists. Every. Single. One of them.

Saturday, February 8, 2020

A Winning Week

If the late originator of this blog were still alive, this week's political happenings would've tickled him pink. And I have to say, as someone who admittedly wussed out and didn't vote for Trump in 2016, I'm still pretty delighted myself.

First, we had the disaster of the 2020 Iowa Caucus, which revealed either the incompetence or the corruption of the Democratic Party for all to see. These are the people who want carte blanche to govern our country? Since the 1970's, the Iowa Caucuses have been conducted in the traditional manner without incident -- but the Democrats, in their infinite lack of wisdom, decided to pursue change for the sake of change, and they hired some shady credentialed bourgie clowns to pull it off. Which, as Bill Whittle points out in a recent Right Angle, is basically the Democratic approach to anything: trust the S-M-R-T! (Nope. Not on your life.)

By the way, I reserve the right to continue attacking bourgie clowns. I know the type: I are one. After my 2016 mistake, I recognize that now. I let my fear of my high-end-grocery-shopping, college-degree-holding, pricey-car-driving Northern Virginia neighbors intimidate me into voting based on appearances. No more! I've seen the light. Trump might be a flawed avatar for my center-right beliefs (which I will always point out when he does something potentially unwise), but he is accomplishing things that matter and are good despite hurricane-force headwinds. So who cares about the guy's boorish cracks on Twitter? The fat, orange mother-effer has proven he deserves my 2020 vote.

Which brings me to the SOTU, a masterful piece of political theater. It's so entertaining to watch leftists twist themselves into the pretzels trying to counter it. "Lies! All lies!" screams Queen Salty Bitch Pelosi as she rationalizes her infamous little temper tantrum. Uh, okay. Care to show me the numbers, your highness? Care to explain to that black gentleman taking advantage of an opportunity zone that his windfall is fake? Care to explain the lies behind Tuskegee airmen, gold star families, or little black girls waiting for scholarships? I'll wait, popcorn in hand.

The greatest thing about the SOTU was its underlying philosophy: we're looking out for forgotten Americans, but we're not coddling them. I'm sure fiscal conservatives in the audience were wincing a little at all the current and proposed government spending. But if we're going to avoid fighting that green eye-shade war for the time being - if we're going to be profligate - then yes, let us pour money into things that enhance equality of opportunity, not equality of results. I'm an enthusiastic supporter of educational scholarships in particular. (And, uh, rural internet -- since we're moving to the VA countryside soon. Yeah, I'm self-interested. Sue me.)

(Oh, and Mars shots. Yes, plant our flag on Mars. I wouldn't be a proper sci-fi fan if I weren't in favor of that.)

Yep: I'm glad that Trump is Still Our President despite the Democrats' failed attempt to remove him from office. The vote on Wednesday was a fait accompli, but hey: if the left wants to continue wasting time on this BS, maybe that will keep their grubby hands off anything truly important.

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Boring Rhetorical Tics the Left Needs to Retire, Part 3

First, let me pull these over from my fan blog:

The Left Needs to Retire These Rhetorical Tics

This one covers "believe all women," "stay in your lane," "alt-right hate group," and "racist/sexist/homophobic."

More Boring Rhetorical Tics the Left Needs to Retire

This one covers "incel," "educate yourself," and "white privilege/systemic white supremacy."

And today, let us add two more:

8. Our opponents are dumb.

I talked about this on Tuesday in re: Don Lemon's amazing display of snobbish bigotry. No: there is no credible evidence whatsoever that people on the right are unusually imbecilic. Unfortunately, that doesn't stop leftists on either side of the Atlantic from arguing that Trump supporters, Leave voters, and other similarly populist political tribes have been uniquely misled by blatantly false propaganda and are, in general, stupid country bumpkins fit to be extras in the upcoming Hollywood reboot of Deliverance.

Of course, whenever they make this argument, leftists always conveniently ignore the loads of bullshit propaganda that people on their side have bought wholesale -- like, for example, that "true socialism has never been tried." Or that the current generation is going to die in a climate-change-fueled fireball if we don't scuttle our economies right this second. To be perfectly honest, I think this kind of idiocy is far more dangerous right now because it actually enjoys mainstream sanction. Last time I checked, it wasn't a young-Earth creationist who was selected as Time's "person of the year"; it was instead a teenaged climate alarmist who believes the aforementioned fireball hooey and yet still gets taken seriously by a bunch of adults who really should know better. (And I say this as someone who is generally supportive of rational environmentalism and prudent conservation efforts.)

Bottom line, no one group has a monopoly on stupidity.

9. [Insert thing here] needs to be more diverse.

Hmm. Well, that depends on what you mean by "diverse," doesn't it?

A government task force assembled to address the new coronavirus should probably have people from several different relevant fields, including infectious disease specialists, epidemiologists, emergency management professionals... wait, what?

Oh, I see. You mean that this task force can't be all white.

Dear God, skin color has fuck-all to do with whether this task force will be able to competently respond to a potential pandemic. You should be looking for people who are maximally qualified -- not checking demographic boxes.

I hate, hate, hate the left's sustained attack on the concept of merit. I hate it when it crops up in the geeky crap I enjoy, and I hate it even more when it crops up in fields that are actually vital to the continued health and safety of our society. If the latter continues, people might actually die.

If you want to see more diverse faces on science panels, there's a very simple thing you should do: You should go to elementary schools across the country and tell kids from all backgrounds that to be scientists, they must put in years of effort learning the prerequisite material. And then, when necessary, you should support them in that endeavor -- which might mean dipping into university endowments to set up prep academies in under-served areas so that every child has access to a rigorous, knowledge-based STEM curriculum. Indeed, as a high school math tutor, I'm firmly convinced that one of the best "educational equity" programs you could possibly devise is an after-school "math facts camp" for third graders (and a similar "fractions camp" for fifth graders). But the one thing you must never, ever do is drop the standards to prematurely force the end results to be more cosmetically appealing.

Sorry, CNN, but when it comes to genuine justice, there are no shortcuts.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

My Biggest Pet Peeve

So about that CNN clip that's lighting up Twitter...

I'm not surprised that Lemon and his guests thought it was appropriate to mock Trump supporters in the way that they did. I've been encountering that sort of arrogance from the left for years -- an arrogance that's thoroughly unjustified.

Leftists often point to the port-side tilt of folks with advanced degrees as proof - proof, I say! - that leftism in general is S-M-R-T. But of course, we all know that our post-secondary education system is profoundly biased -- that, in fact, there are whole departments at many schools that boast not a single conservative faculty member. Do you really think that much ideological uniformity ultimately leads to fair outcomes for right-leaning students who are thinking of pursuing graduate studies? Do you really think right-leaning students aren't, in fact, self-selecting out of academia precisely because of how hostile universities are for anyone who doesn't hew to a certain sort of leftist groupthink?

I have also had leftists swear to me that the better average test scores of blue states like Massachusetts are an indication that leftism is more intelligent. But of course, this only betrays their inability to understand how statistics and comparable populations work. Yes, the southern states have lower average scores -- but if you take into account the greater economic and ethnic diversity of those southern states, the picture completely flips. Years ago, I took a look at how Virginia was doing group-by-group on the NAEP compared to Wisconsin (because, at the time, the leftists I knew were all fired up and ready to defend the antics of Wisconsin's teachers union), and I discovered that Virginia outperformed Wisconsin when it came to educating black students, Hispanic students, students who spoke English as a second language, etc. -- but because we had more of those students, our overall average was lower. The upshot? Whole-state comparisons are utterly useless. But guys, guys: leftists are so smart!

But let's say we grant that, as a group, leftists have a higher mean IQ. That turns out not to mean much either if you look at the relevant research. In reality, our political opinions are generally influenced more by our personality profiles and our lizard brains than by our conscious minds. Jonathan Haidt, for instance, has accurately described human beings as little riders (our rational selves) who refuse to recognize that they're sitting on massive elephants (our irrational instincts) -- elephants that, in actuality, drive most of the decision-making. So if some humans have higher IQ's, that only means that they are better able to articulate persuasive rationalizations for their elephants' snap judgments -- not that their decisions are inherently better.

Additionally, a greater facility for book larnin' does not translate into greater wisdom -- the thing you really need in a country's leaders. In order to rule, you have to understand your fellow man at a fundamental level. What makes him healthy? What makes him happy? How do we maximize his flourishing? As clever as Lemon and his ilk think they are, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that they do not know the correct answers to any of these questions. They know lots of trivia, perhaps, but they simply don't grok how people really work. (If they did, would they have felt free to be dickheads on national television? Would they have failed to recognize that giggling at the supposedly ignorant commoners would give excellent ad fodder to the Trump campaign?)

Leftists' tendency to view their opponents as dummies is my biggest pet peeve. I went to two top-tier universities, I have a genius IQ, and I have mentored students who have gone on to top-tier universities themselves thanks in part to my instruction. I, however, do no believe my book smarts and credentials make me well-suited to control others. No: I think The Simpsons had it right many years ago in that episode in which all the brainy Springfield residents turn out to suck ass at being in charge.

So simmer the hell down, Mr. Lemon, and learn some freakin' humility. Otherwise, you'll make Trump's reelection just that much easier to achieve.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Let's Hear It for This Hero Dad

It's not that I don't feel sorry for the kids who were scammed into going to college despite their manifest lack of academic preparation or clear career goals -- but college loan forgiveness is a terrible idea. As the dad in the clip above points out, such a plan would punish those who made sound financial choices for the sake of those who didn't. And yes, as the Fox commentators point out, it's also deeply regressive in general; essentially, loan forgiveness takes money from working class folks who didn't go to college and funnels it to bourgie schools with (in many cases) multi-million dollar endowments. No: Ms. Warren and her ideological compatriots are completely wrong on this issue, and I'm glad someone had the balls to make that plain.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

The Most Peaceful Riot Ever

BLUF - Second Amendment defenders didn't deserve to be smeared ahead of Virginia's Lobby Day. Governor Blackface owes us an apology.

Prior to yesterday's pro-gun rights demonstration in Richmond, the usual suspects in the media were spreading feverish, delusional rumors that our state capital was about to be overrun by white supremacist militias. Clearly, these so-called "journalists" were laying the groundwork for a Charlottesville 2.0 narrative -- paranoia the governor quickly legitimized by announcing a "state of emergency" designed to disarm any protester who made an appearance.

Oops. Turns out the "riot" was a giant nothingburger. Roughly 22,000 people showed up, and based on the reporting of those on the ground, there were no Nazis and no violent altercations -- despite the fact that, yes, many demonstrators were armed. Indeed, these supposedly dangerous protesters came with - brace for it - assault trash bags to pick up after themselves at the end of the rally. The horror! 

As it turns out, we lawful gun owners are generally peaceful and compassionate citizens who simply value our ability to protect others when the police cannot. All memes aside, we don't actually want a boogaloo. We hope that the oft-stated theoretical reason for the Second Amendment - to protect our natural rights when we are denied recourse via the soap box and the ballot box - will never become relevant. And it won't so long as our state legislators listen to the concerns expressed by the dozens of county governments that have passed gun sanctuary resolutions in the past few months.

(Oh, and by the way: Folks of all sorts turned out to defend the 2A. Gun rights as a white supremacist dog whistle? Oh, please! Tell that to the guys wearing the "Black Guns Matter" shirts -- or the people waving the rainbow flags. Many who aren't "straight, white cis-men" understand that a gun is an excellent equalizing tool; I have a Facebook connection with a trans woman who offers gun education to members of the LGBT+ community for precisely this reason. No matter who you are, if you have a gun, you're less likely to be a victim.)

The party lean of our statehouse might've flipped, but that doesn't mean Virginia Democrats have a mandate to radicalize. No: we are still a southern state. I live in urbanized Northern Virginia currently, but I can get in my car right now, drive to my south or southwest, and within an hour, I'll find open countryside. And wherever there's open countryside, there's an established gun culture. If your goal is to govern the whole state, you can't discount those who live outside the urban clusters -- or, at the very least, you can't do so without generating a groundswell of potentially damaging resentment. New York and California should not be the examples Virginia follows. 

BLATE - Don't believe the media lies about the gun rights movement. The governor had no justification for calling a "state of emergency" -- and if he wishes to regain even a little respect, he should call for moderation within his own party and can the threats.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

What Happened to WWIII?

BLUF - The panic over Iran appears to have been overblown.

When the Trump administration ordered the strike on Quasem Solemaini a million years ago in internet time, Twitter lit up with terrified leftists screaming that Bad Orange Man was starting WWIII and they were all about to be forcibly drafted.

So quick question: What happened to WWIII? What I've seen so far is some impotent, incompetent saber rattling on the part of our Persian opponent and not much else.

Perhaps it's too soon to declare Trump's measured, proportional response to Iran's sponsorship of terrorism a complete success, but the signs are certainly encouraging. Protesters are turning out on Iran's streets to voice their longstanding displeasure with the current theocracy, and Iranians are taking to Twitter to inform ignorant Americans that Solemaini was a bad dude who wasn't much liked in his own country either. Could there be regime change without our getting involved in another costly quagmire? What a foreign policy coup that would be!

Trump may in fact be right once again. Time will tell. Of course, his opposition is utterly unprepared to accept that possibility -- to the point that they've been making excuses for the Iranian government. "Of course they shot down that civilian airplane! Bad Orange Man provoked them!" Because naturally, history started the day Trump took office, making Trump, therefore, the prime mover for everything that happens in the world. It's not possible that Iran is the actual guilty party in this tit-for-tat.

And hilariously, International ANSWER has returned. When Obama was ordering drone strikes in South Asia, that outfit mysteriously disappeared -- but now, magically, they're back! How strange! It's almost like those folks have no principles whatsoever. But given that they're documented unapologetic Stalinists who love North Korea, maybe I shouldn't be surprised. Anything to support America's enemies, right?

BLATE - Trump's policy on Iran has yet to result in disaster. Maybe we should calm the hell down and resist the urge to side with bad actors just to prove our anti-Trump bona fides.

Friday, January 10, 2020

This Blog's Author Has Passed Away

Just after Christmas, the original writer of this blog passed away peacefully in his sleep due to complications of neurosarcoidosis. Below is the text of the eulogy that was delivered by his son at his viewing:

We’re gathered here to celebrate the life of love and service of my father, Robert (or "Spike"). His career was as a Navy Submariner, but his vocation was at home with his wife of 41 years, Charlotte, and his two children, Stooch and Mooch. His family was always his north star, even as a child.

You see, Spike had the benefit of two loving parents, two sisters, a brother, and countless cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents – a close-knit band of mainly working-class Irish Catholics. Multiple generations of [his family] grew up in the row houses of Ambler, PA, and played by the asbestos slag piles across the railroad tracks. He told us stories of licking the sugar-lined waste pipe behind a candy factory, doing 65 mph around a blind downhill curve on his bike with his cousins, orienteering and camping as an Eagle Scout, and blurting out, “You see, Penny…” in the middle of reading time in school.

He was a fierce protector of the innocent and the vulnerable. Penny remembers him defending her from bullies during their summers at Mermaid Lake. BJ tells stories about Spike sitting with his brother Brad for hours when he was ill. And I will always remember him going to war with doctors who weren’t taking Mom’s care seriously and going to bat for us in the PTA.

So strong was his love of family that, when Spike enrolled at the Navy Academy – class of ’77 – he was on a mission. He was looking for a wife, not merely a good time or a job. And find her, he did. God gifted him with a chance to find his soulmate when the Naval Academy welcomed its first class of women in 1976 and Charlotte joined the Masqueraders to get out of afternoon PT.

My Dad always used to say, “The key to a happy marriage is to marry a saint.” But I think his life proves that isn’t enough. He embodied the true meaning of Catholic romantic love. As Paul said to the Ephesians, he loved his wife just as Christ loved the Church. He imparted his view of marriage on both me and my sister whenever he got the chance. He had a dozen colorful sayings he repeated again and again. He often said, “whatever Mom wants,” when we were making a family decision. When I got in a fight with my wife Juliet, he’d say, “Matt, when you argue with your wife and it turns out you’re right, apologize at once.” He echoed Robert Heinlein’s sentiment when he advised us to have a budget, but budget for luxuries first. Mom has the jewelry and Lladro collection to prove he meant it – and I have the memories of a dozen family vacations to hold onto now that he’s gone.

He was devoted to family, but he was also devoted to country and to God. He served for over twenty years in the nuclear Navy and, though it took him away from home for months at a time, he was proud to keep America safe. He was a patriot to the end and spent his later years battling the decline of American values in the culture. His extensive network of friends from sci-fi [fandom] and Liberty Con can attest to that.

Spike loved real life, but he also loved the worlds he found on the pages of the endless piles of books he read. He cut his teeth on Perry Mason and the Hardy Boys and came to love Sue Grafton, but his first love was golden-age science fiction and fantasy. He was formed in his philosophy by Heinlein, Niven, Pournelle, Asimov, Clarke, Tolkien, and Card -- among others. He passed his love of the genre to both of his kids and it has filled our hearts with a hope for our future and a love of man’s potential.

When my Dad was ten years old, he helped his father build a family home in Blue Bell, PA. That house still stands, strong as ever. Spike dreamed of building his own family home someday. His final gift to Charlotte and her children now stands nearly complete in Amissville, VA, at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains. When I look ahead to move-in day, his absence is almost unbearable.

Dad, you were taken from us too soon. You used to joke that you raised a couple of good kids but had no idea how. I can tell you how – the Holy Spirit came with you, brought you back to the Church, filled you with an undying love for your family, and, we pray, is now taking you home to be with your brother, mother, and father. We’ll miss you.

Now allow me to introduce myself: I'm Stephanie, this gentleman's daughter. I intend to take up Dad's baton and continue this blog's conservative political commentary. Currently, I maintain a blog here that is primarily devoted to fannish, geeky stuff -- but if you check out the posts here and here, you'll get a good sense of my worldview. I hope I can continue to entertain the readers of this blog!