Writing on the Double Yellow Line

Militant moderate, unwilling to concede any longer the terms of debate to the strident ideologues on the fringe. If you are a Democrat or a Republican, you're an ideologue. If you're a "moderate" who votes a nearly straight party-ticket, you're still an ideologue, but you at least have the decency to be ashamed of your ideology. ...and you're lying in the meantime.

Name:
Location: Illinois, United States

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Help Wanted

Patsy Wanted for Immediate Blame
© 2016  Ross Williams




As more and more states are decriminalizing and legalizing marijuana possession and even licensing its sale, more and more people are asking when the United States will finally end its moronic War on Drugs.  The answer to that is trivially simple to anyone who even marginally understands the psychology of democratic government: government will end the War on Drugs when they find someone to blame for it.

A democratic government cannot and will not ever permit itself to be seen as the culprit for perpetrating and prolonging a grand stupidity, such as The War on Drugs, or the equally insipid War on Poverty.  A democratic government is installed by The People and The People possess far too little critical introspection to permit them to accept blame for large-scale insanity.  A scapegoat must be fitted — retro-fitted, to be accurate — into the yoke of blame.

As most can probably imagine, it's the job requirements for this patsy that are so difficult to fill.  A successful candidate must have a highly visible position.  The general public, too preoccupied [or dim] to understand the true nature of the problem, must be able to immediately recognize the scapegoat's connection without having it explained to them.  Ergo, no conspiracy theories need apply.

In The War on Drugs the players are the drug users, the street peddlers, and the drug cartels.  It would almost certainly have to be one of these which get the official blame for the War on Drugs.

A successful candidate must, furthermore, be a plausible bad guy, meeting the public's need for simple, straight-line blame-laying and without arousing too much public sympathy in the process.

In The War on Drugs, the drug users are far too sympathetic a group.  They are seen as victims.  They are the ones dying of overdoses, or incarcerated for a bazillion years by an inflexible system. The street peddlers are disproportionately black, ergo another victim class, and thus cannot be saddled with responsibility. And the drug cartels are foreign, usually hispanic from Central or South America when they aren't islamic from central Asia, and it would violate our current anti-jingoist sensibility to blame a non-American for an American problem.  Besides, hispanics and muslims are currently seen as victims of American imperialism [sic].

The government is undoubtedly looking, but hasn't found anyone to blame yet.  As soon as they do, the torches and pitchforks will come out of the closet and we'll have ourselves a good old-fashioned boogeyman hunt.

It's been done before.  Doubt me?  The Civil Rights Era was made possible only because government stupidity demanded it.

The entire fiasco was created by state governments in the post-Reconstruction south institutionalizing discrimination against blacks. It was mandatory under the law — the Jim Crow Law. If a white merchant was caught serving a black customer the white merchant would have his store burned to the ground and looted by government-inspired rowdies and thugs — and in the early days of Jim Crow it happened a lot. In many areas, black customers were just about all the customers there were, and serving black customers meant the difference between making a profit and going bankrupt.  Or, more correctly, it made the difference between having your store [and possibly your home] torched and going bankrupt.

These stupid state laws were rationalized by federal courts about a generation after they were created —  most notably Plessy/Ferguson and "separate but equal". Two generations after that we discovered that not only was this creating an economic problem, but a very very very large societal problem as well. So quick! Find someone to blame to take the heat off government stupidity.

And who did the government find to blame for government-imposed institutionalized racism in commerce? Why, the merchants, naturally. ...the merchants who were following the law to avoid being burned out of existence.  Merchants were an immediately recognized part of the equation, and because they were the ones required by law to discriminate, they were very easily made into the responsible party.

The next generation of laws the government gave us solidified this blame.  The new laws essentially declared: "Look at what you bigoted merchants did!  We leave you alone for one minute and you create a whole system of discriminatory commerce!"  …because Jim Crow laws were really, apparently, Jim Crow Business Model.  To be sure, some white merchants in the Jim Crow south wouldn't have needed a law to force them to refuse service to blacks, but most white merchants, judging by the number of merchants vandalized to obliteration for violating Jim Crow, would gladly have taken blacks' money even if they wouldn't have gladly taken blacks themselves.

We can see the results of this self-serving buck-passing today in the sturm und drang of gay marriage.  Among our nation's thousands of bakeries, photographers and florists are maybe two dozen individual shops operated by bigots who don't want to have anything to do with gay marriage to the point that they'll refuse money in exchange for their service.  Leaving aside the hypocrisy of their reasoning and the vacuity of their business acumen for a moment, and concentrating solely on the moronic reactions of the hyper-sensitive, it appears that the shift of blame away from government worked well in the minds [sic] of these overly sensitive simpletons.

You can't swing a dead cat today without hitting three gaggles of protesters all claiming that a single bakery in Oregon, or a single photographer in Colorado, or a single pizzeria in Indiana willing to voluntarily turn away business from a gay wedding is the exact same condition as a law mandating these businesses [not to mention their thousand of competitors] to deny service to the same gay wedding, and thus the equivalent of Jim Crow.  They will set their hair on fire screeching about the constitutional imposition of non-discrimination and "public accommodation", forgetting that the Constitution applies only to the government and that "public accommodation" is, like "god" and "christianity", not a phrase found in the document.

In any event, the only true "public accommodation" in this free country with citizens possessed of property rights is the government itself — the government is the only institution not permitted to discriminate; any citizen, or the business he operates, is supposed to be free to be whatever type of self-righteous bigot he chooses to be.  You may be a bigot about gay marriage and refuse to sell pizzas for a gay wedding reception, or you may, as I would, be a bigot about gay marriage bigots and refuse to patronize that pizzeria for friday night movie marathons.  Similarly, you may be a bigot about dirty old men under cover of "transgendering" being in the women's restroom, or you may, as Bruce Springsteen is, be a bigot about those anti-dirty-old-men bigots.  Yes … it would seem Bruce Springsteen is among the faux-sensitive fops who can look the other way when it comes to sexual predation and pederasty.  Who knew.

So, … government shifting the blame for its own stupidity onto others works well.  But do you need another example?  Fine.

How many people believe that health insurers are the ones responsible for the hyper-inflation of healthcare costs in this nation since the late 1960s?  The answer to that question is: most of them.

Why do they believe this?  The answer is: because government told them so.

And why is the government telling them so [stop me if you've heard this one]?

Health insurers aren't the ones who decided to start insuring non-insurable events.  It was the government which required them to.  At this point, the only people quibbling are going to be those who don't understand how insurance works, or those who are elected by them.

An insurable event is one that is very very expensive to fix while simultaneously being exceptionally rare.  Such events would include a tornado blowing your house into another county, wrapping your car around a telephone pole, or falling down the stairs and breaking 27 bones.  This is why you can insure a $250,000 house for $1,000 a year, or a $40,000 car for $750 a year, and why you used to be able to insure your catastrophic health issues [a generation ago] for $200 a year.

A non-insurable event would be everything else, and primarily consists of circumstances that are inexpensive to fix and common as dirt.  For example, why does homeowners insurance not cover plugged toilets or dirty furnace filters?  Because fixing a plugged toilet or changing a furnace filter is a very common event and they are very cheap to accomplish.  True, some people don't know how to [or physically cannot] do these things, and must hire a plumber or furnace repairman.  And yes, some people don't have the money to pay plumbers.  But that doesn't mean it isn't cheap.  Insuring these events would cost more than paying out-of-pocket.

Why does auto insurance not cover oil changes and windshield wiper replacement?  Same reason: they're cheap and common.  Insuring these events would cost more than paying out-of-pocket.  And over time, like, say, the course of one generation, the cost of an insured oil change would triple, while the cost of insuring the oil change would quadruple or more.

Now, why does health insurance cover doctor visits for the sniffles and childhood immunizations?  It didn't use to.  These are [or were, at any rate] very very cheap, and extremely common.  The reason they are covered is because the government required health insurance to cover these events.  The cost of insurance skyrocketed in order to have the money to pay for them, and doctors, having more insurance paperwork to fill out and send in, had to hire more staff and the cost of healthcare rose. …which caused the insurance companies to pay more to the doctor, which caused insurance companies to have to increase insurance premiums.

Then, because covering sniffles and vaccines worked so well, the government required health insurance to cover prescriptions and lab tests.  Health insurance costs rose to be able to pay for it all, doctors had to hire more staff to fill out more paperwork and the cost of going to the doctor increased.  And in order to cover the increased cost of going to the doctor the insurance companies had to increase premiums once again.

Repeat this every few years with new government requirements until health insurance is ungodly expensive, a $20 doctor visit costs $400, and the paperwork takes an hour to complete.  Then, — and who could have predicted this — when enough Americans are bankrupted by the expense of government intrusion into their healthcare, the government comes back and blames the insurance companies for creating the mess. 

Sound familiar?  At this point, the government, such noble good-guys that they are, promised to fix the problem of too many government requirements thrust upon health insurers by adding more requirements onto health insurers, and we got Obamacare.

Sadly, most Americans — even those who distrust government remediation — accept the government fantasy that health insurers did this all on their own.  And even more sadly, many  — including millions who lived through the generation-plus of government imposition into insurance coverage in the first place — fail to comprehend what even more imposition will lead to.  These imbeciles are truly confounded by the bankruptcy of nearly a third of the insurance companies after only five years of Obamacare, and are left with inventing conspiracy theories to explain it all. 

Yet another example of the government imposing stupidity on us and then blaming others for doing what they were told: the '08 financial meltdown.  Among the edicts given to the financial industry during the Clinton administration was the "everybody needs to be a homeowner" notion.  Credit be damned, and mortgage lenders who checked the credit ratings of potential borrowers too closely could be cited for discrimination by the alphabet soup of regulators and prohibited from lending money ... essentially forced out of business.

In other words, the government forced banks to stop determining if a new homeowner could actually repay a 30-year mortgage before they gave out the 30-year mortgage.  A decades-old practice of bundling up mortgages and selling them to other banks — all approved by the government, by the way — allowed the mortgage lender to dump unverified credit mortgages onto other financial institutions.  The bundles got bigger and bigger until only the biggest banks could buy them, and then when the credit-less homeowners started defaulting on their loans in large numbers, the whole house of cards collapsed.

Everyone who was conscious between early 2008 and yesterday afternoon knows the result: millions of homeowners got thrown out onto the street when their houses were repossessed by banks, and the government blamed the banks for it.  The government even invented a new crime called "predatory lending practices" to describe what the banks did while following the government's rules for making home loans.  The government then prosecuted many banks for "predatory lending practices", finding all guilty, and forcing several into liquidation.

Phwew!!  Dodged that bullet, dincha, Uncle Sam?

The US government taxes and regulates US manufacturing into moving to Mexico, and then blames the company when the jobs leave and go to Mexico.  And most Americans swallow it whole: yes, it's those evil corporations doing this all on their own.  The government gives tax breaks to other businesses to stay in the US [with their jobs] and then blames corporations for being greedy bastards who don't pay taxes.  And most Americans demonstrate once again that they have no gag reflex: yep, those vile CEOs in the one-percent.

The US government would dearly love to end the War on Drugs, but — darn the luck — there isn't anyone that idiot Americans would accept as a suitable scapegoat.  When they do … watch out.  Have a torch and pitchfork ready.  It's sure to be a hoot.



Friday, October 02, 2015

Fifty-One Foot Ladders


Fifty-One Foot Ladders
©2015  Ross Williams
 
 
 
Janet "Big Sis" Napolitano was the Governess of Arizona when the illegal immigrant hydra-crisis came to one of its several heads.  The simple, indeed simplistic, solution offered by the simple, indeed simplistic, illegal alien crisis mongers in Big Government was to build a fifty-foot wall on our southern border.  Big Sis scoffed at the idea [primarily as it was a republican notion and she was a democrat], claiming that immigrants would only build a fifty-one foot ladder.  She, of course, was right, although not literally and only by coincidence.

The US-Mexican border lying in the urban sprawl between San Diego and Tijuana has walls, rows upon rows of chain link fence, and concrete barricades.  There are no fifty-one foot ladders there.  Instead, there are professionally constructed tunnels through which the Guatemalan, Salvadoran and Honduran illegals pay the Mexican gate-keepers a premium price to pass.  It's safer and significantly more convenient than trekking for a week through the bakery of the Sonoran Desert.

The Tijuana tunnels are lined with concrete for durability, plumbed, electrically lighted, and wide enough to bi-directionally zip golf carts and small warehouse forklifts through, as well.  The golf carts can carry illegals, but the forklifts each haul a few tons of illicitly-manufactured methamphetamine, courtesy of the Mexican drug cartels, for the ultimate destination of the illegal US drug market.

Satisfied with the improvement, are we?  The Big Government solution to illegal immigration failed to solve the problem and instead ushered in a slew of unintended consequences.  Go figure.

My lingering nag over our efforts to curb "The Meth Problem", is one such consequence.  I can't recall how many times I've scolded that the simple, indeed simplistic, method offered by the simple, indeed simplistic, drug crisis mongers in Big Government to reduce methamphetamine was doomed to failure.  Their solution: monitor all purchases of over-the-counter allergy medicine with police state apparatus and arrest anyone purchasing too much pseudoephedrine, because that's one of the few dozen ingredients used in home-cooked methamphetamine.

It's not even one of the ingredients you need a license to purchase, by the way … or it hadn't been.  In several states, pseudoephedrine now needs a prescription; in the rest, you are required to produce an ID card, to facilitate police state monitoring, prior to purchase.  The net effect on "The Meth Problem"?  Bupkus.

The home-cooked portion of "The Meth Problem" was miniscule at best, self-defeating at worst.  Slack-jawed peckerwoods in their rural trailers cannot pop enough of those infernal blister-paks of allergy pills into the pot on their Coleman campstove to make more meth than can be taken for personal use.  And the peckerwoods tend to blow themselves up anyway — "problem" solved.  "The Meth Problem" is and always has been the abuse of prescription methamphetamine [clinical uses: narcolepsy, obesity, and ADHD, one of which is epidemic in the US, and another of which is a faddish diagnosis], supplemented by trafficking of the prescription-grade product of the Mexican cartels.  Home-cooked meth, low-grade "crystal" meth, barely even constituted statistical noise in the matter.

Yet our Big Government solution was to target crystal meth and ignore the primary issue, now compounded by our "build a wall" Big Government solution to illegal immigration.  When asked, our Big Government problem-solvers will report that the allergy pill interdiction effort has reduced "The Meth Problem" by some massive figure, say, 50%.  Yes, crystal meth on our streets has been reduced, but it was only a single-digit  percentage of the problem in the first place.  What they won't tell you, and what you'll have to learn elsewhere, is that prescription abuse and Mexican product is up by around 20% each year for the past decade.

As a result, "The Meth Problem" is even bigger than it was.  In the meantime, Indiana grandmothers are serving 10 years in prison for buying too many sniffle pill packages in a 24-hour period when their entire family came down with a cold at once.  And isn't that a relief!

Are we happy yet?  Are we done having Big Government "solve" the "problem" of a few individuals doing stupid, sometimes legitimately illegal, things and inconveniencing the rest of us?  Are we done paving the way for large, institutional stupidities and illegalities?  Not even close.

The Big Government solution to a few corporate farms slapping "organic" on their non-organic apples was to create an organic certification process so cumbersome and costly that organic farmers — small by nature and with gross revenues to match — cannot afford to legally call themselves "Certified Organic".  Any food you find in stores with the organic label is primarily the Ag-giant entities pawning off the same non-organic food [at a significant mark-up] as they always did.

Big Government abhors small business.  Big Government doesn't even understand how to deal with small business — primarily by leaving it alone — because Big Government isn't capable of leaving anything alone.  Big Government is big for the simple fact that it involves itself in all things.  Those things must then expand to accommodate the government intrusion.  A doctor could run a small, successful medical practice with a single nurse/receptionist/clerk forty years ago; twenty years ago, in order to comply with state insurance regulations, that same small, successful practice would have to hire two clerical staff — "medical billing specialists" — just to process insurance paperwork.

Ten years ago, in order to comply with HIPPA, it was required to hire three more clerks to process the rest of the paperwork ensuring that your medical information be given only to yourself … and the government, and anyone who could hack your doctor's computer to obtain all the information required by law to be permanently stored.  Obamacare requires photo identity verification of all people seeking medical care — the same identity verification that is called "racist" when it occurs at the voting booth — and even more paperwork and mandatory, permanent storage of data, as if it needs to be said.

Those medical billing specialists expanding the small medical practice into a major undertaking cannot get hired without the same "racist" photo identity verification due to another Big Government solution to illegal immigration.  eVerify is the RealID Act program created by the Department of Homeland Security which, a la Nazi Germany, Stalinist Russia, and every tinpot totalitarianism of the industrial age, requires a citizen to justify his own existence to his own government before doing something as pesky and meddlesome as getting a job.  Instead of prohibiting illegal aliens from taking jobs away from Hard-Working Americans®, it creates a large false- and fraudulent-ID industry.  This, then, not only fails to bar illegal aliens from getting jobs, but also gives the enterprising American criminals-by-other-means a way of hiding in plain sight.

As if false and fraudulent IDs weren't enough of a problem now, thanks to the ministrations of Big Government inspiring Big Crime, Big Government is now attempting to address identity theft and with predictable results.  Big Retailers have stored credit card information in their computer systems unnecessarily for decades; it allows them to recognize repeat customers, track the types of purchases they make and otherwise serve a vacuous "personalized" advertising scheme.  Stored information can be stolen by hackers, and several Big Retailers have had their computers hacked resulting in ID thievery and credit card compromises.

But instead of ending the unnecessary practice of storing personal information and losing all that free, "personalized" advertising, Big Retailers threw up their hands and said they didn't know what to do about it.  So Big Government stepped in.  Instead of Big Government prohibiting the unnecessary storage of customer credit information, it devised a manner of simultaneously allowing all Big Retailers to continue to unnecessarily store credit card information, reduce the credit card fraud perpetrated by small-time hoods with low-tech abilities, AND guarantee that virtually all future ID thievery will be conducted by the criminal gangs in the Ukraine and warehouses full of hackers in Russia, China and North Korea who have access to their own Big Government hi-tech.

Such foreign hacking is a growth industry and results in the illegal theft of American citizens' money into the pockets of those foreign governments before anything can be done about it, none of which includes prosecution of the crimes committed.  This money can then be used to purchase American government debt to await the day in the foreseeable future when US sovereign debt exceeds our ability to repay it by merely cinching our belt for a few generations.  The US government will be penniless like Greece is today and the Soviet Union was three decades ago.  But unlike Greece, there is no Germany wealthy enough to fund us through our bankruptcy, and unlike the Soviet Union which had NATO warning off foreign claim-jumpers, no one will have the ability to stop US territory from being divvied up — by force or otherwise — among our creditors.  As I've advised before: better learn Mandarin or Spanish.

The fifty-one foot ladder our Big Government is inspiring among our enemies is the computer chip required to be embedded on our credit cards.  These chips make low-tech credit and ID thievery all but impossible, but doesn't even constitute a speed bump to hi-tech thieves, which are overseas criminal organizations and enemy governments.

Our Big Government not only loves Big Business and inhibits small business, it loves other Big Government, particularly those actively trying to destroy it.  I'd say it would serve our Big Government right not to mention the millions who want Big Government to get even bigger.  Unfortunately, it would also have a severe impact on … well … me.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Corrupt to the Common Core


Corrupt to the Common Core
©2015  Ross Williams

 
 

American children are dumb and getting dumber.  I say this while fully aware that I am issuing the same gripe as every generation of oldster since Socrates lamented children gobbling their food and sassing their elders.  And on most such criteria I'll have to acknowledge complaining is pointless: children of one age are not, in general, any more ill-behaved than children of any other age.  I'm not talking about behavior in any event.  I'm talking education.

I usually complain about the quality of history education … seeing as there is neither quality nor education involved in it.  History is typically taught by bozos who believe a random series of disjointed details is "history", and I have to suspect this teaching method is about 9,000 years old.  This, naturally, plays into the Santayana Trap: "Those who fail to learn history are doomed to repeat it" … and not simply in summer school.  The basic reality is this: history cannot be learned when History is never taught.

The proper method of teaching History places less emphasis on the details — the names, the places, the dates, the battles — and more on the pertinence.  Details are important, but not critical; pertinence — why the details mean a damn — is what's critical.

To teach History so that it matters, so that the Santayana Trap can finally be avoided, requires teaching three things, only one of which is even approached although not deliberately, and none of which are an active part of the curriculum.  Those three things:
1] sequence
2] consequence
3] pattern matching.

Sequence: events happened in this order.  Consequence: this was the result of those events happening in the order they occurred.  Pattern matching: we are observing those same events occurring in roughly the same order today … and we can expect a similar result.

Anyone who's read my essays on matters of historical imperative and dislikes it when I say that I hate being right all the time … now you know why I say it.  History is not simply a regurgitation, arbitrary, of factual details, usually random.  It is a series of repetitive cycles made all the more repetitive because no one, seemingly apart from me and George Santayana, is aware that the same damned things are repeating themselves all over everyone … and not uncommonly spilling barrels of blood in the process.

How else can we explain the undeniable march toward dictatorship this "free country" of ours is taking?  Do we not learn from History?  [The answer is no].

"Democracy will survive only until the majority learns they can vote themselves a share of the treasury."   I can't count the number of times I've had to say this.  Greek democracy [hellenic] became a military dictatorship when they ran out of rich people to tax and the coffers ran dry [and, proving that Greeks are particularly immune from learning from the past, in this case their own, today's Greek social-democracy is in the last stages of ditto]; Roman republicanism, oligarchically democratic, became a military dictatorship after buying off the rabble with bread and circuses for a few centuries and the rich people outside of politics who funded it all stopped being rich enough to fund it all [the rich inside politics always seem to be exempt from tax laws for some reason…].  These are the sequence and the consequence.

Here is the pattern matching: Our own wealthy are currently fleeing to foreign tax havens leaving foreign governments to fund our own bread and circuses, and were it not for Posse Comitatus, a military dictatorship would be our ultimate destination, as well.  Instead, we can look forward to becoming a bureaucratic-authoritarian police state of the type we rebelled against in the first place.

…ooops, too late.  See?  Right again.  All that's left for us now is to wait for the revolt to start.  Watch for the police enforcers of the authoritarian bureaucracy to be ambushed individually, and then collectively.  Good thing we don't see that happening today … right?

This historical illiteracy, though, is a universal ignorance.  I am particularly concerned about ignorance specific to American children imposed upon them by the bureaucratic authoritarians purporting to educate them.  American children have been losing educational ground in the subjects of math and science to their foreign competitors for going on fifty years now.  This was the consequence of the Soviets launching Sputnik.   Both the Soviets and the Americans plundered the nazi regime of its rocket scientists who made living in London during the war so invigorating.  The American and Soviet object was to become the first to beat V2 rockets into space-bound plowshares. …and then arm them with swords, if the pattern holds, which it does.

But the Soviets beat us to it and sent a satellite into orbit before us.  Eeek!  Obviously our math and science education was lacking.  Quick, eggheads!!  Pull a new educational philosophy out of your ass and impose it on every child in the nation!!

"New Math" was the result.  At the same time, and obviously a grand and ironic coincidence of cosmic proportions, American children started falling behind the children of other countries in math and science, slowly at first and then more rapidly, as if a snowball were rolling down a hill.  New Math taught that every child was a raw Euclid, Pythagoras, Newton or Einstein, and all he needed was to learn the philosophy of mathematics and voila! he would dazzle the world with his brilliance.  Actual mathematics was considered secondary.

This, if you think about it for more than a second, is grade-A horseshit.  And the "thinking about it" thing, having failed to be accomplished, is the reason the United States imposed New Math.  Mathematics, for 98% of everyone, is for making correct change and filing tax returns; "philosophy" is unnecessary to these tasks, and only gets in the way.  The rocket scientists will emerge on their own without any assistance — indeed, despite the assistance — of the knee-jerk simpletons trying to mold rocket scientists from grade-schoolers who count on their fingers.

After two generations of bureaucratic-authoritarian New Math curricula turning American students' minds into mathematical mush that could not make change without a calculator and a ten mile head start [the tax-filing thing is its own problem], the US fell into the middle of the national mathematics education pack.  The bureaucratic authoritarians decided to pull a newer New Math egghead educational philosophy out of their ass, … because History never, ever repeats itself, and their first stab at it was so successful.

They determined that the major problem in math education was the rote memorization of addition and multiplication tables, and having to reverse field for subtraction and division, that bothered some of the denser students to whom math is only for making change.  These students, a minority, resort to tricks and gimmicks to get the hang of it and ultimately limp their way through high school mastering the ability to make change armed only with a calculator.  The majority of students can handle the memorization enough to expand into algebra, where true mathematical philosophy actually enters the picture.  Many of them thereafter succeed to the point where they are capable of handling the next philosophical step into trigonometry, and the further philosophies of calculus, and beyond.

But a few individuals whose minds don't naturally grasp mathematics must resort to tricks and gimmicks to grasp even the change-making basics, and they will often find these gimmicks on their own.  But unless they are formally taught those tricks, the newer New Math morons fret, how ever are they to become rocket scientists?  The answer is, naturally, they won't, ever.  For them, math is confined to making change for a dollar.

The way mathematics has been taught for millennia, and from which all forms of higher mathematics has been derived, is by teaching arithmetic by rote and working up from there.  Two plus two is four.  Nine times seven is sixty-three.  These must be memorized.  In the end, there are fewer basic arithmetic memorizations than there are Game of Thrones characters, or Marvel superheroes, and these don't seem to be beyond the grasp of most children.  Yet, there are those who cannot grasp arithmetic and they add and subtract on their fingers.  Newer New Math seeks to correct this disparity of some children counting on their fingers  … by making everyone count on their fingers.

One example I've recently run across was explained — boorishly and inappropriately arrogantly — by an acolyte of the newer New Math lunacy, is that nine times seven is not sixty-three; instead, TEN times seven is seventy and you subtract ONE times seven from that result to get sixty-three.  But "nine times seven is sixty-three" is incorrect.  And because some children need to learn math this way in order to get it into their heads, ALL children will be taught this way.  And only this way.

Never mind that when math is taught by rote arithmetic that these tricks will naturally evolve on their own among those who need the tricks, thus allowing the majority capable of learning arithmetic by rote to advance to higher math, and those who cannot to become ultimately able to do enough math to make change, which is all math is for to the vast majority of us.  Never mind that the insistence that this new method doesn't fall back on basic memorization of arithmetic tables is a fabulous lie in itself.  Nine times seven is difficult and no student can be expected to remember that; however TEN times seven minus ONE times seven is not difficult, and the fact that it relies on three times the memorization to solve one problem doesn't appear to darken the brows of the morons excusing the newer New Math philosophies.

Never mind that the problem with "old math" was the [false] premise that only one method of teaching basic math [rote memorization] was ever used; teachers were only too glad to suggest the tricks and gimmicks to their slower students who needed them.  Never mind that the newer New Math does not simply teach one and only one method of arriving at a correct mathematical solution, and one which only satisfies the educational needs of the minority who cannot do math otherwise, but that any correct answer not obtained in the tricked out gimmicky way is actually wrong; the correct answer is false unless you obtain it by traveling a convoluted route in which you must "show your work".  Making change for a dollar now involves four sheets of college-ruled notebook paper to map out that route.  And a calculator.

And never mind that History will inevitably repeat itself making American students dumber and dumber until they cannot do more math than can be accomplished on ten fingers.  Enterprising students will observe that they also have ten toes, thus doubling their ability.  And, of course, boys will still be better at math than girls, because they can always count to twenty-one.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Fair Play


Turnabout
©2015  Ross Williams

 

 

A number of years ago there was a nationally sensationalized video bomb purporting to expose the unglamorous aspects of obtaining pate de foie gras for the commercial market.  Pate de foie gras is Froggish for "paste of fat liver".  Pate, as it's called, is a culinary delicacy obtained from force-fed geese and ducks, whose livers go into overdrive, thus becoming fat, while attempting to metabolize all the food they are being force-fed.  It's rather unappetizing to think about, but it's just another of the myriad unappetizers which are necessary in the human food industry.  And as far as outright animal brutality goes, the process of fattening up poultry liver for pate is comparatively unremarkable.  There's a dozen things I can think of right now that I do on my small farm that are more disgusting than sticking a food delivery tube down a duck's throat. 

The notorious video showed fat ducks waddling around, fat ducks having their heads tilted back and being tube-fed a slurry of — essentially — creamed grain, what we humans eat for breakfast if we are pretending to have a healthy start to our day, and it showed an ill duck in a cage being unable to get away from a rat attack.  America's liberal sympathy junkies all had a hissy fit of neatly choreographed spontaneity.  Populist boob legislatures in various jurisdictions overpopulated with liberal sympathy junkies went on pandering legislative attack and outlawed the practice of force-feeding poultry in the first place, or simply outlawed the sale, purchase, or use of pate de foie gras.

As a result of this moronic moralizing legislation, America's chefs de cuisine staged their own neatly choreographed spontaneous hissy fit.  One of Chicago's more famous master chefs, operating one of Chicago's more famous [and expensive] restaurants, went so far as to publically announce that he would openly defy the ban on pate imposed by Chicago's Aldermen, who are virtually all liberal boobs.

Chicago's city council rescinded their ban on pate a few years later.

Over the years there have been easily a dozen similar insider videos showing the inner workings of slaughterhouses and the manner by which humans obtain their hamburger.  And, true to their script, America's liberal sympathy junkies, after each new video, arranged a spontaneous, choreographed hissy fit and wet their panties in public by the thousand.  Sadly, though, for the idiot liberal sympathy junkies, America is too in love with beef to do about it like was done with pate.  No matter how you slice it, pate is a food for the culinary one-percent; hamburger is cupidium populi.

But the table has been set on video sneak attacks.  If liberal ideologues can use this tactic to conjure up support for their faux-pious liberal cause celebre, then so can bluenosed conservatives use it to drum up sympathy for their own faux-pious issues.  Sure enough, James O'Keefe, apparently believing that political corruption only exists on the left, stuck a hidden camera in his navel a number of years ago, wandered into an ACORN office with a female accomplice, and asked the ACORN operative how he might be able to set up a human smuggling ring, a prostitution den, and vote fifteen times for Barry Hussein in the '08 general election.  The ACORN operative was only too glad to assist in those illegal endeavors.  The resulting legislative attack defunded ACORN which had, to that point, gotten its hundreds of millions of dollars in annual operating expenses from the federal treasury.  ACORN was thereupon forced to decentralize its operation and rebrand itself into a hundred or more local offices, all with different names, and all obtaining their hundreds of millions in combined operating expense dollars in individual federal grants.  Corruptio populi.

But still, what's good for the idiot liberal goose is good for the bluenosed conservative gander, and idiot liberal geese have no claim to squawk and honk in moral outrage when they are hoisted on their own fattened pate — as it were.

… which brings us to today's video sensationalism.  There are a handful of hidden camera videos floating around showing the seamy underbelly of the heretofore unassailable iconic bastion of gender politics: Planned Parenthood.  It seems that apart from obtaining their half billion dollars of annual operating expenses from the federal treasury, Planned Parenthood supplements its income by selling fetuses, in whole or in part, to researchers and/or ghouls.  Irony compels me to inject an Eric Cartman/Shakey's Pizza reference at this point … so consider it injected.

Planned Parenthood is universally lauded, by those who laud it, as a "women's health" operation dispensing birth control, gynecological exams, and otherwise serving "the women of America".  Yet there are no Planned Parenthood storefronts outside major metropolitan areas.  Planned Parenthood thus only serves urban — and therefore disproportionately poor and disproportionately liberal and disproportionately black — American women.  And while they do indeed give gynecological exams and write prescriptions for birth control pills, the lion's share of the service that Planned Parenthood provides is abortion, a fact that bluenosed conservatives continually harp upon and that idiot liberals continually dissemble after.  Planned Parenthood is therefore a front-line operative in ensuring a reduced future crop of poor blacks and liberals, exactly as its founder, eugenicist Margaret Sanger, envisioned all those years ago when she derided blacks as being wholly inferior to whites and needing to have their population controlled.  Irony compels me to inject another reference here, but I'll resist the urge and leave it as an exercise for the reader.

Federal law prohibits federal dollars to be used to fund abortion, and Planned Parenthood uses a common financial parlor trick to juggle their books on the matter.  In the same way states which justified lottery and, later, casino gambling in the name of public school funding never saw a dollar-for-gambling-tax-dollar increase in public school funding as they promised, Planned Parenthood never sees a dollar-for-federally-funded-dollar increase in their own funding for non-abortion services.  This juggling is childish, yes, it's verging on unethical, and it's undeniably dishonest and disingenuous.  But it's not illegal.

Also not illegal — yet — is selling fetal parts, although it is disgusting, repulsive, nauseating and, to many, emotionally wrenching.  And while I have sympathy for those who consider Planned Parenthood to be ghoulish beasts preying on poor, urban, black women, partly because I share some of their sentiments, the fact of the matter is: I am a libertarian who understands, when no one else seems to [or seems to even care], what it means to have genuine political freedom.

In a nation, such as ours, which is defined to have political freedom belonging to its people, it does not matter one gilded god damn whether a 50.001% or 99.999% majority of the population want the government to stop other people from doing the disgusting thing they're doing; all that matters is whether the defined powers of the government permit the government to get involved.  If the defined powers of the government do not include doing what the majority wants it to do, then the majority needs to go pound sand.  The government, furthermore, needs to stop pandering long enough to tell the majority that what the majority wants is outside the scope of defined governmental power.

Whether bluenosed conservatives like it or not, there is no defined power of the government to get involved in abortion.  Or fetal part sales, for that matter.  This means the government has no legitimate authority to stop abortions regardless of how many think it abominable, nor to stop what is being done with the resulting "tissue" irrespective of how many think that is abominable … which includes me.

It also means — idiot liberals — that the government has no legitimate authority to promote abortions, either.  "Not involved" means just that.  The government is required to stay out of it.  It may not prohibit; it may not promote.  If this means that our major metropolitan areas will be overrun within a generation by a superabundance of poor and mostly black youths all demanding their share of the federal, Chinese-funded pie that the idiot liberals sliced up in prior generations for the sole purpose of creating liberal voters, then so be it.  Our nation will simply run out of money faster, is all.  When China,  in mid-century, seizes those parts of California that Mexico could not annex as a collateral forfeiture for the sovereign debt the US cannot repay, thank the liberals who made it happen.  I plan to thank liberals from my retirement residence in Baja.  Liberals shit everyone's bed on this; they need to own the future consequences of their policies.  And change the sheets.

In the meantime, the next step in the video bomb script is for Congress to defund Planned Parenthood — and the call has already gone out.  The videos are so disturbingly callous that even many of those who support abortion rights, like me, are sickened and appalled by what Planned Parenthood has been doing.  There are more hidden camera videos waiting to come out as well, but the conservatives who took those videos appear to be barred from using the First Amendment; a federal judge in California is abusing his authority by prohibiting the release of any more videos.

No matter; the damage is done, and Planned Parenthood will soon cease getting federal money with which they can juggle their books and thereupon backhandedly perform abortions on poor, urban, black women.  …and that's as it should be; Congress has no legitimate authority to fund Planned Parenthood in the first place.  The Constitution gives no power to Congress over the matter, so Congress can neither prohibit abortion, nor promote it.  Not even if abortion is disingenuously redefined as "women's health".

Friday, August 14, 2015

Justifiable Paranoia


Justifiable Paranoia
©2015  Ross WIlliams

 


I've recently gotten into discussions — albeit short — with a few local media types over the spate of police shootings and the turmoil that follows.  The discussions are short because I am [probably] perceived as an ideologue who has all the time in the world to badger the media-type upon this issue while they have better things to do than indulge me.  It's the "never wrassle with a pig" thing, where I am naturally the pig: the pig likes it and you'll just get dirty.

My position in these dialogues is contrary to both of the standard police-state positions, by which I mean the typical conservative law-n-order mentality which posits that the police are always objective actors who do no wrong, and when they do it's only one in a million and "waddaya expect? ya gonna have a few bad apples!" and also the standard liberal big government position with its schizophrenic belief that the government agencies which actually enforce the big government on everyone is inherently racist.  They're both wrong.  And as usual, I'm the only one I see yammering about the matter who  is correct.

By Memorial Day of 2015, police killed 380-some-odd Americans with firearms.  This is a yearly rate of around 900.  The yearly average for the prior ten years was something like 320 per year.  That figure does not include the Eric Garners who died from a choke hold, nor the dozens who died from "non-lethal" tasers, nor the schlub in Baltimore who died, handcuffed, in the backseat of a police car from injuries sustained from bouncing around as the police car was being driven by a Bobby Unser fan.  Nor does it include the probable jail cell suicide death of Sandra Bland who should never have been in jail in the first place but who was put there by an autocratic asshole cop on a power trip who was too busy abusing his authority to do his job of policing a small portion of a free country in the manner in which police, in a free country, are required to behave.

It does, though, include the death of an unarmed Texas college football player who was ransacking a car dealership, the murder of a feeble Chicago octogenarian waggling a knife around in a medication-induced stupor, and the assassination of a Cincinnati resident who was no longer willing to participate in a needless traffic stop imposed upon him by another autocratic asshole cop on a power trip.

Simply put: police are targeting Americans.

Now, an overly simplified conservative position suggests that those who are killed by police deserve what they get, while an overly simplified liberal position would maintain that virtually all of those killed are black.  Notwithstanding that some and possibly many of those killed do in fact "deserve it" and that a good number of those killed are actually black, the reality is … I've said it before … police are targeting Americans.

ALL Americans.  Not just blacks.

The reason for this is … and I've said this before as well … police are, generally speaking, autocratic assholes on power trips abusing their authority, and with nearly universal impunity improperly granted them by the courts no longer willing to do their own duty in compelling the other branches of government to abide by the severe restrictions on their power that our nation was founded upon.

If statistics are to be relied upon, and they usually can be, the ratio of blacks being killed in 2015 will be roughly one-third that of whites being killed.  Race-baiting liberals will say that this proves blacks are being targeted more, because whites outnumber blacks by five-to-one.  It's simple math, they'll claim: five-to-one multiplied by one third means blacks are targeted 1.67:1 more often than whites … so there.

Sandra Bland and Eric Garner aside, police in our country rarely use weapons unless crimes are actually being committed — they confine their power abuses in most citizen encounters to being bossy, imperious jackasses.   The rate of criminal activity, where cops using weaponized force will nearly always be seen, is almost four times higher for blacks than it is for whites, which thus erases [and then some] any asserted racial bias in the use of police force.  Blacks are fractionally less likely to die at the pointy end of a cop's bullet when you factor "presumed criminal activity" into the equation.  This is not to say that criminals deserve to be killed on the street, but … sometimes they do, in fact, bring it on themselves.

Of course, this "presumed criminal activity" is very difficult to quantify, since this factor is not included in the statistics compiled by the Justice Department even though it is undoubtedly a valid consideration.  Michael Brown, for example, was killed after attempting to boost a cop's gun as he was being stopped for previously boosting a local convenience store, but this fact escapes the official tallyman.  It also escapes the mob which is tired of listening to official excuses for cops killing citizens by the score, and they are refusing to listen.  But let's just say that the figures are a statistical wash that do not support the hypothesis of a rampantly racist nationwide police force.  Individual cops' mileage may vary.

Instead, what the figures show thus far in 2015 is that police are killing Americans three-to-one more than they have since records were kept, and that the majority being killed are white, both in raw numbers and pro rata.  This supports, therefore, the hypothesis that cops are autocratic assholes on power trips abusing their authority.  They don't care who you are; they are going to push you around every chance they get and — since they have nearly universal impunity — no court is likely to say they were wrong to do so if you complain about it.  After all, do you think this is a free country or something? where citizens have rights and the government has strict limitations on its power to push people around?

The natural and predictable result of this is that citizens will fight back — it is the universal outcome of every history book ever written.  Nearly all citizens, though, will fight back like I am: by timidly using words of varying rudeness to unflatteringly describe the totalitarianism of the police-state we see emerging around us.  This, then, will ensure that more of us will be badgered, harassed and goaded by cops if we are ever officially encountered, thus supporting the "autocratic assholes on power trips abusing their authority" hypothesis.

Just as naturally and predictably, a small portion of the citizens who are badgered, harassed and goaded will elevate their pique to something more sinister, and still others will do the same as a sort of pre-emptive measure … and sure enough, the cops shot by Americans has "spiked", according to the FBI, up 89% in 2014 over 2013, and the preliminary figures for 2015 show another near-doubling.  Why, we're almost up to the number of dead cops we saw during the Prohibition Era!

And the comparison is telling.  The natural and predictable consequence of a citizenry which believes itself to be a free people in a free country and thus defined not to have to endure its government badgering them endlessly … is to fight back when they find that they are being badgered endlessly, over matters they were designed to be free from being badgered upon.

A free people does not have Prohibition thrust upon them.  When it is, resistance follows.  And during Prohibition, we saw resistance and cops died.  Thousands of them over the decade and a half that Prohibition lasted.

A free people does not have to prove they aren't terrorists at airports, nor to buckle their seat belts, nor to buy health insurance if they want to risk it, nor to stop selling loose cigarettes on the street, nor to stop smoking AFTER the traffic stop is concluded, nor to do any of the other countless things we are told — "for our own good" or otherwise — we must do or else have some uniformed and armed assholes abuse their authority at us about it.  When it happens, resistance follows.  We are seeing resistance today, and cops are dying as a result.  Hundreds of them.

This is a "duh" moment.

The only reason free citizens in a free country set ambushes for cops is because those citizens do not believe they are free.  They believe the government is out to get them, so they want to get the government first.  And when nearly 900 citizens are going to be killed by cops this year, up from 300 or so last year, those paranoid citizens would seem to have a good point.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

When Will We Get It?


When Will We Get It?
©2015  Ross Williams

  

Cops killed someone else last week, this time a woman in Texas.

Her offense?  She mouthed off during a traffic stop.

Why was she stopped?  She changed lanes to get out of the way of the cop car — which was undoubtedly defying posted speed limits, as they virtually all do — and she was pulled over for her failure to signal that lane change.

The cop gave her a warning, and commented that she seemed "irritated".  Well, duh, she was pulled over for trying to get out of the way of the arrogant cop — who had appeared to be speeding his way to some important business elsewhere … apparently not, since he had time to pull her over and write out a warning.

Ooh!  Sass!  Cops don't like sass, and they will go out of their way to manufacture an arrestable confrontation when a free citizen in our free country uses the First Amendment in the way it was designed to be used: to backtalk the government and its agents.  And this cop followed the police-state script to a T to manufacture an arrestable confrontation.

First he ordered her to put out her cigarette.  He had no cause to do so.  He had no cause to do anything other than get his arrogant ass back in his car and arrogantly drive away to arrogantly harass the next motorist he encountered.

When the woman refused to put out her cigarette he ordered her to step from the vehicle — again, having no cause to do so.  He informed her that she was being placed under arrest … despite having committed no crime.  Mouthing off is not a crime; smoking a cigarette in one's own vehicle is not a crime.  The cop had no cause to prolong his interaction with the woman.

When she refused to budge, he threatened to drag her out, which constitutes assault.  He finally pulled his stun gun and threatened to "light her up" unless she complied.  This move is otherwise known as "assault with a deadly weapon".  The cop, without cause and under color of authority, threatened a citizen with a weapon that has been known to cause permanent injury and fatality. 

The dashboard camera shows her finally emerging from her vehicle, where he orders her to the side of the road.  Verbal confrontation continues off-camera, as does — apparently — excessive force during the illegal arrest, if we are to believe what the woman says about having her head slammed into the ground.

The woman was ultimately taken to jail where she died three days later, a plastic garbage bag wrapped around her neck.  The official report calls it suicide, and it may very well have been.

However, the point that no one is willing to mention is that this woman should never have been jailed in the first place.  She committed no crime.  To the degree that failure to signal a lane change is a crime, the incident was finalized on the roadway with the issuance of a warning; her traffic "crime" was completed.  What followed after was a total fabrication by the police force: as with Eric Garner, the cops push, harass and goad a citizen until the citizen mouths off … as citizens are fully entitled to do.  Once mouthing off occurs, the cops escalate.  With Eric Garner, it escalated to his death on a New York City sidewalk during a chokehold; with this woman, Sandra Bland, it escalated with her probable suicide death in jail.  Both deaths caused by the police for a citizen's rightful act of mouthing off.

What cops refuse to comprehend, and what government officials in general refuse to acknowledge, is that citizens have the right to mouth off … with impunity … under all circumstances.  The primary purpose of the First Amendment is to protect the right of a citizen to say what he wants — to and about his government or its agents —to the government's face or behind its back — without the government being able to do one damned thing about it.  Yes it's rude.  That's the cost of a free society.

Furthermore, what "law and order" types routinely fail to recognize is that there would likely be significantly more in the way of both "law" and "order" if our government in general and our police forces in particular were to cease attempting to recreate the gestapo in order to attain law and order.  Government bully tactics lead inexorably to smart-mouthing and worse.  In the absence of government bullying, there wouldn't be as much rudeness because the government wouldn't be inspiring it.

The biggest scold, though, belongs to those minorities who see the government as the securer of all things good: the minorities.  Sandra Bland was a black woman; her arresting officer was hispanic — it was Texas, after all.  Both blacks and hispanics disproportionately view the government's role as an in-yer-face institution, ensuring that other people conform to a set of "proper" behaviors.   The ultimate power of the government to accomplish this beneficence lies in the multiple layers of uniformed and armed police forces to impose the necessary compliance.

The only thing is: most of the improper behaviors our minorities would want our government to eliminate from others are called "freedom".  Indianapolis pizzerias must have the same freedom to not cater gay weddings as black motorists or street peddlers must have to mouth off at the cops harassing them. The moment we use the bully power of the state to impose on pizzerias is the moment we justify cops manufacturing confrontations with citizens.  And when government agents with guns get involved, people start dying.

So … IS the government the Great Protector some wish to believe it is?  Or is it just an opportunistic bully?