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.

Location: Illinois, United States

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Poor God

God is Getting It in the Knickers
©2012 Ross Williams

Headline: Atheists Sue PA for ‘Year of the Bible’

Article Synopsis:
Pennsylvania lawmakers passed a resolution in January declaring 2012 the “Year of the Bible” in the state. A group of atheists wet their panties about it.

Graven Imagery: The atheist weenies here, the Freedom From Religion Foundation, protest that the bible contains “violent, racist and sexist” imagery that they personally find repugnant; it becomes the equivalent of a “state-sponsored religion”.

They further believe that by declaring a “Year of the Bible”, Pennsylvania is encouraging individuals to act out those intolerant “models of behavior”. ...because all other commemorative resolutions passed like fart gas by legislatures around the country create similar waves of public arousal. National Irritable Bowel Syndrome Awareness Month is coming up; should we expect an April-long bout of constipation and diarrhea? What can we expect on International World’s Whore Day on June 2nd? and does it involve condoms?

Conclusion: It’s a good thing you don’t watch television, guys. There’s nothing like the secular media when it comes to popularizing racism, sexism and violence. Beats the bible flat.

Headline: 4 More Charged in Amish Bearding

Article Synopsis:
The Amish of eastern Ohio are having a theological spat, and Amish families taking sides. Members of one of those families have chosen to punctuate their doctrinal ire by forcibly shaving and cutting the hair of members of other families. The shorn Amish have refused to press charges; federal prosecutors are seeking permission to treat this as a ‘hate crime’ thus side-stepping the need for an accuser as required by the Constitution.

Hair Care by Mennon-ite: Among the Amish it is considered shameful to have your hair cut and, for married men, their beards shaved. Who knows why. They once read two verses from two separate places in the bible and took it as a sign that hair was holy. It’s their religion, let them have it.

It is also their religion to shun official law enforcement methods for strictly internal issues such as whatever the hell it was that inspired one family with a surname of – and I’m serious here – Mullet to come unglued enough to send [at this time] 15 other family members on rogue styling raids.

Conclusion: Leave them the hell alone. They don’t want your help. They have freedom of religion, and that includes the privilege of avoiding you telling them when they should practice it and when they shouldn’t.

Headline: Catholic Student Group to Leave Vanderbilt Campus

Article Synopsis:
The administration of Vanderbilt University has implemented a policy aimed at its student groups that prohibits exclusion of anyone, for any reason, from any group; the non-exclusion policy extends to the groups’ leadership positions. This year, the administration is requiring signed statements by student group organizers agreeing to abide by the rule. Every religious student group on campus is protesting; the Catholic group refuses to participate and will leave campus. Other groups plan to sign the statement and then immediately issue by-laws which violate that agreement, deliberately setting up further conflict.

The Inflexibility of Tolerance: University chancellors are “deeply disappointed” that they have been found out to be insufferably foolish for failing to comprehend what any potted ficus collecting dust in the corner of a dentist’s office intuitively knows: a dedicated group of antithetical ideologues can overwhelm any group of benign theme and modest intent and commandeer it.

Witness the “democracy” of the Arab Spring: every nation which has held their first “free democratic elections” in Greater Arabia in the past year has elected anti-democracy islamists who are ideologically contrary to the purpose of the democracy which gave them power.

To claim that setting the stage for Protestants to infiltrate the Catholic group and vote themselves into leadership is “not ... incompatible with religious freedom” is not simply absurd, but it is irresponsibly demented. The stupidity transcends religion. The campus [ironic term] “progressives” could take over the student Republican group; male campus rowdies could abscond with the feminist Take Back the Night crowd; homophobes could make off with the GLAAD group.

Conclusion: In a comforting spasm of ecumenicalism, every student group of religious persuasion is opposed to this rule. While it might be satisfying to offer up a futile deliberate defiance to punctuate the disagreement, it will accomplish nothing. The only thing which will succeed will be an object lesson in the manipulation that Vanderbilt chancellors are too hidebound to acknowledge. Presuming that Muslims are the minority religion on campus, a backdoor agreement between them and the Baptists [e.g.,] wherein the Baptists stage an electoral coup and redefine the campus Muslim student group to be an outlet for born-again Christianity needs to be undertaken. Then the Muslims need to complain about it [and let’s face it: only Muslim complaints are likely to be heard today], and the idiot administrators will need to peek out of their ivory towers to see what folly their foolishness hath wrought. There ya go!

Headline: Preacher Arrested for Reading Bible

Article Synopsis:
A California evangelical minister was arrested in February for reading from his bible on a public sidewalk over 50 feet from the Department of Motor Vehicles where a short line had formed waiting for it to open. He was charged originally with preaching to a “captive audience” and “impeding an open business”. Those charges have been dropped, and a charge of trespassing has replaced them.

Grasping at Straws to Break a Camel’s Back: A loyyer who claims to practice constitutional law, Dan Conaway, has offered up all manner of laughable explanations as to why freedom of speech is hollow when the speech is religious. Mr Conaway was apparently on the Obamacare Legal Defense Team, judging by how well he comprehends our Constitution.

First was the “captive audience” malarkey. A cluster of people standing 50 feet away waiting for a business to open apparently cannot leave to avoid hearing something they may not wish to hear. Apropos of nothing, would a socialist extolling the virtues of Obamacare while standing in that DMV line, then, be given the same treatment under the law?

Next is that such religious speech is “intimidating”. Without knowing what passages were being recited, the worst intimidation possible from reading the bible to an unwitting audience is the prospect of learning you’d be sent to hell. Afterlife disposition is an extremely dubious platform for asserting a tangible threat. And going to hell is considerably less a threat than the prospect of losing our national sovereignty to China when they come to collect after fronting us all that Obamacare cash.

And finally, reading from a bible in public impedes the ability of passers-by to go about their “normal business activities”. ...in ways that carrying on a sidewalk cell phone conversation about Obamacare does not, apparently.

Conclusion: It’s pathetic that anti-religious desperation is so pronounced that their best and brightest thinkers are left to make legal arguments by something as effective as pulling random words out of the dictionary. ...and it is legally impossible to "trespass" on public property. The term you are looking for, and which is no more supportable, is "loiter".

Thursday, March 29, 2012

5 Reasons Why Sally Kohn is a Retard

5 Reasons Why Sally Kohn is a Retard
©2012 Ross Williams

...and I do not use that word lightly. The other alternatives are, to my way of thinking, less complementary. It would suggest that her glaring incorrectness in a recent article she wrote entitled “5 Reasons ObamaCare is Already Good for You” was done deliberately out of a partisan hatchetry upon our Constitution ... which some people, including me, take great offense at. If she were retarded rather than seeking the end of our constitutional liberties I could understand it, and so I will operate on the assumption that she is irretrievably retarded as opposed to a totalitarian apologist.

The first of her retarded declarations is that millions of Americans have already benefited by being given medical services for free instead of having to pay deductibles or co-pays to acquire. Included in these figures are insured Americans who – by getting “free” coverage of certain specific services – requires that everyone else in that insurance plan pay for it. Also included are seniors who have had a number of their drugs added to the “free” list ... which requires that we mortgage off another California township to China in order to pay for it.

She also lauds the fact that 2.5 million young adults to the age of 26 can stay on their parent’s health plans, and of which almost none have done so. And finally she cites the 4 million small businesses who can take a tax break for providing health insurance to its employees ... of which only a quarter million have done so.

Unmentioned in the last item is that 250,000 out of 4 million is just over 6%, which is frighteningly similar to the share of small businesses which provide health insurance to its employees. The rest do not; they cannot afford to do so and the presence of a pennies-on-the-dollar tax break does not do enough for the bottom line to make it a practical business decision.

Retard reason #1: Business is in the business of making money; it does not have the luxury that a government has to mortgage off a portion of its sovereignty each time it wants to buy votes. A basic need for non-ideological mathematics exists, and it’s clear Sally doesn’t possess the skill. “Free” doesn’t exist; someone pays for it, and it is mandatory to understand who it is that’s paying for the “free”. In some cases it’s the other customers of a health insurance plan, in others it’s taxpayers or, frighteningly, foreign governments who will one day come to collect.

Her second retarded declaration is that the law won’t fully take effect until 2014. And this is important because ... the history of government programs costing more than anticipated is going to be outlawed before then? I don’t know. She claims the “attacks” made on Obamacare are “based largely on hypothetical future predictions”. Yet she can’t name one significant governmental intrusion into social policy-making legislation that has not exceeded its original estimated costs by at least an order of magnitude while at the same time failing to accomplish its stated goals ... which thereupon requires extra tinkering legislation to accomplish and which costs disproportionately more.

Her second Obamacare benefit is built upon her complete evacuation from reality; she is denying the Law of the Receding Margin. A given level of social effort [paid for by a given amount of money] can accomplish a certain percentage of a defined “social good”. This assumes that the “social good” is a REAL social good and not simply an ideological vote-catcher, and that the effort is competent, and finally that the money is wisely spent in acquiring the effort. In government programs, none of those can be assumed; indeed all are highly suspect.

Among the realities of human nature that ideologues consistently refuse to acknowledge is that a more or less large percentage of people are going to quibble about anything simply because they choose to; they are going to avoid doing what they’re told, simply because they don’ wanna; they are, in short, going to escape the government program. What percentage will do this? It depends on what government program it is and how imperiously it’s being administered. But it always happens.

The government then discovers, lo and behold, some people are not benefiting from the social program meant to help them, and the government has to pass more laws at greater cost to deal with smaller and smaller fractions of the population who keep escaping enforcement of the prior legislation. This is a Parkinsonian reality: the government ends up spending more money chasing down the 20%, 25%, 30% than they did to address the 70-80% in the first place. Medicare is doing this, Medicaid is doing this, public education is doing this, immigration policy is doing this, ... you can’t name one thing the government does for us, even those things the government is allowed and required to do, that doesn’t operate by the Law of the Receding Margin.

Retard reason #2: Only a true retard would spend any amount of time trying to deny the reality of reality. How long have we been chasing after Universal Literacy? Are we there yet? No, and why not? Because some people refuse to play along and you can’t change that. You also can’t fix it with more money, but that’s what idiot ideologues always, always, always try to do. Pay attention.

The third in her litany of retardedness is to blame it all on Republicans: it was originally a Republican idea. As a libertarian, I am nearly unique in having the ability to say “so what?” without it becoming a partisan issue.

Here’s the deal, retard: both Republicans and Democrats are usually perfectly happy expanding the scope of the government they are in charge of – and for virtually identical reasons, as well. Republicans came up with an idea to expand the power of government into areas they don’t have authority??? Color me shocked!! That is, in fact, the inherent fallacy of both mainstream political parties, and to stand outside them both and watch them bickering for the same things is hilarious.

The only remarkable difference lies in the circumstances of the government accomplishing the power-grab. A currently-prominent Republican, as a state governor, advised a state-version Obamacare be implemented in his state – and it was. Whether that violates the limitations of power contained in the state constitution is left to the people in that state to wrestle with. The criticism that Republicans “didn’t have a plan” – besides being false – is based on some Republicans declaring that it was not appropriate to implement at the federal level. It isn’t reasonably debatable to argue that the US Constitution permits Congress to do the same thing at the national level.

...which is why unreasonable arguments are being made to claim it does.

All such arguments that Congress has the authority to create an Obamacare monstrosity are built upon the notion that the US Constitution allows Congress to do what it wants, when it wants, because it wants. And that is not what the Constitution itself says it allows, nor does anything in the historical record leading up to the writing of the Constitution. The specific argument they are using – interstate commerce regulation – is not only farcical, but stupendously so: insurance is not, by definition, a commodity allowed to be sold across state lines; it is not INTERstate commerce – it is INTRAstate commerce. Their argument that insurance is INTERstate commerce rests on insurance being sold in fifty INTRAstates.

The final facile denunciation Insipid Sally makes here is to trivialize the position of a specific think-tanker into: “I was for it when it was a Republican idea and am against it now that Democrats embrace it.” Nice try, Sal, but your retardation is showing. It’s fine for states to do – if it is allowed by their constitutions; it is NOT permissible for the feds to do, because it violates the US Constitution.

Retard reason #3: The only rational argument to be made is that it will not work at either the state level or the federal level. It will not work because it relies on a complete reversal of reality in order to function. No one has ever been able to legislate reality away. Whose stupid idea it was originally is thoroughly irrelevant.

The fourth of her five retarditudes is quite possibly the most vacuous – and that’s saying something! It goes along the lines of: Sure, Obamacare costs a lot, but it’s going to be the first social policy law that comes in under budget – pinky-swear; besides, for the government to not spend a trillion dollars on Obamacare will cost the government almost a quarter trillion dollars.

Yes: to not spend $1T will cost $210B.

Seriously? That’s the argument?

How do I get a job on the receiving end of something like that, where I get paid whether I do it or not?

Retard reason #4: This shouldn’t need to be said ... which means, for retards like Sally, it’s mandatory: learn math.

And we’re into the home stretch now: her fifth and final brain damage is “Something needed to be done with healthcare”. And what do you know!! She’s right!! But the “anything is better than nothing” argument leading us to Obamacare has given us No Child Left Behind, HIPPA [the mid-90s law that was supposed to end Pre-Existing Conditions for good, yet didn’t], Sarbanes-Oxley, Frank-Dodd, and the Great Society. Not to mention a half million other ham-fistings of our nation’s privates.

I can excuse a retard not knowing how insurance works, for a retard is, y’know, retarded. For anyone else, it’s either an admission that they exist in a world they refuse to pay attention to, or it’s an admission to being a socialist totalitarian demanding that everyone else support him. The two basic realities about insurance:

1] Insurance covers what it covers because state insurance regulators have required it to.

2] The quickest way to turn a $30 oil change into a $150 expense is to require auto insurance to cover oil changes.

Insurance is, by its nature, inflationary. You are paying Person A to pay Person B on your behalf. This is Person A’s job. And Person A needs to earn a living by doing it, and so when Person A pays Person B for you, Person A is going to charge you to do it. This is one thing when you only require Person A to pay Person B when Godzilla eats your house; how often does that happen ... even in Tokyo? Person A isn’t going to charge you anywhere near what it costs to build you an inedible house because the chances that Godzilla eats it – or Mothra burns it down – is virtually nil.

It’s a completely different thing when you require Person A to pay Person B every time your toilet gets plugged up, or you need new windshield wipers, or you go to the doctor with a sore throat. That’s an awful lot of paying on your behalf he’s doing, and chances are good that if there’s quite a number of you folks hiring Person A to be your Person B Payor that he’ll need a whole fleet of Person As to keep up with the paperwork. The more common and mundane the reasons he’s paying, the more he’s going to have to charge you to do it.

In other words [and perhaps I’ve mentioned this]: insurance is inherently inflationary.

It is not possible to require health insurance to cover routine medical procedures – let alone provide them for free – and have the cost of those procedures come down over the long run.

Retards don’t understand this, which is why retards have said throughout the whole discussion about “healthcare” “reform” that the problem is insurance and the way you fix it is with more insurance. Only a retard could come up with that. It’s the classic scam argument: “we lose 10% on each sale, but make up for it in volume.” Yeah, such a deal. There’s nothing shady there at all. Who could pass it up?

Something did [and still does] need to be done about the healthcare system in this country, for insurance is indeed a huge part of the problem. The problem is that insurance has come to dominate the industry; it’s no longer for when Godzilla eats your house or Mothra torches your car. It’s now for when your toilet plugs up and you need windshield wipers – functions that insurance is not designed to effectively handle.

Retard reason #5: Sally is quite correct that the majority of Americans see this as a big problem. They see it as a big problem because it is a big problem. The inflation of medical services is artificially high due to having a virtually endless list of routine services added to health coverage over the last 40 years; it exceeds every other sector of the economy, and it has been doing this since we created Medicaid in the 60s giving away for “free” to poor people that which we didn’t even have for ourselves. We selfishly started demanding to get the same things ... also for “free” ... through the only mechanism we had available to us: our catastrophic care insurance ...the insurance that covered us when Godzilla ate our house while we were in it.

Except nothing is ever free; someone is still paying for it. The only relevant question is who. Who will pay for it is a question common to dictatorial governments, and the answer is usually whoever can be compelled to pay for it. In a free country, a country with rights belonging to the people and limitations on the government’s power to coerce those citizens, the only question is who should pay for it. The answer now becomes: whoever wishes to use it.

A free people has rights; rights are what the government has no authority to interfere with. How much of a right you get depends on how much of it you want to have. It is entirely up to the individual; the government has no duty except to get out of the way. Health care is a right. So if you want it, go out and get it. Get all you want. No one’s stopping you.

A captive people, on the other hand, has entitlements; entitlements are what the government doles out after picking a convenient pocket to pay for it. How much of the entitlement you get depends on what the government feels like giving. And to whom.

Retards believe that laws define the "what", the "who" and the "how" of these entitlements. That's the biggest proof of their retardedness. Neither Medicaid nor Medicare do what they say they do; HIPPA didn't end Pre-Existing Conditions – didn't even put a dent in it; Sarbanes-Oxley didn't fix corporate financials; Frank-Dodd actually created the housing bubble. The National Minimum Drinking Age Act hasn't slowed underage drinking and has, instead, created the largest group of pre-alcoholics since Prohibition. The Family Support Act of 1988 hasn't reduced the number of single mothers living in poverty, but it has created a quasi-criminal class out of the middle-class fathers with pickable pockets who were not the target of it.

Government remains the worst agent for social change ever created; the only tool it has is Law. Law is effective only in the punishment of crimes; in the suasion of The People it is notoriously inept.

Only retards look to the inept for salvation.

Chalk Dust – March 22 2012

Chalk Dust – March 22 2012
©2012 Ross Williams

Headline: NCY Schools to Ditch ‘Pink Slime’ Burgers

Article Synopsis:
The USDA insists ‘pink slime’ is perfectly safe, but consumers insist the substance is not and have begun to demand that the “ammonia-treated” substance be prohibited.

The Ugly Side of Yummy: There are two issues at work here, both involving public ignorance at full volume. First is what ‘pink slime’ consists of in the first place, and second is the purpose behind leftover ammonia.

The ammonium hydroxide is a [more or less natural] disinfectant and it, or other less natural disinfectants, is required by USDA in slaughterhouses and meat packaging plants to keep bacteria under control. Not all ammonia can be eliminated from the processing tables before the next carcass comes down the line. Ammonia is safe, if unappetizing. USDA allows ammonium hydroxide in meat packaging to keep the meat from spoiling. Ammonium hydroxide is even – get this! – added to the meat just before wrapping it in plastic!

But the headliner on this most recent faux-panic is, of course, the ‘pink slime’. The substance is the gelatinous residue of desiccated muscle and connective tissues which are in every animal that has been dead for longer than a minute. It’s the congealed juice which has oozed out prior to cooking, and which turns into the ring of emulsified goo clinging to the sides of the pan-roasted brisket or oven-broiled steak. The USDA terms it Lean Finely-Textured Beef when it is scraped off the processing tables and tossed back into the packages of ground beef.

Conclusion: Unappetizing? maybe. Sinister? hardly. You wanted the government to make food "safe" to eat; this is how they do it. The purpose of schools is to educate our children. Feeding them luddite alarmism is far more dangerous to their health and well-being than pink slime.

Headline: Porn Star Prom Date Scuttled

Article Synopsis:
The latest in a series of twitter-fed pseudo-celebrity cases has an 18 year old Minnesota student broadcasting an invitation to porn stars to be his date; two have agreed, one if he would pay her plane fare. He then started a fund-raising effort to do so. His high school has forbidden him to bring a porn star; it is “not in the best interests” of the district.

Oooh Baby Baby: Apart from the student in question being a chubby spaz with more ambition than common sense, and the 19 year-old pornlette who wouldn’t have dated him on a bet a year earlier seeking notoriety for her own avaricious needs, there is little about this gimmick that can truly be considered antithetical to the school. I can guarantee that a third of the students are going to be getting a piece of tail on prom night, and this guy with his centerfold date will not be among them.

If you want to get downright technical about it, proms have become, all on their own, a fairly good-sized black eye in our public education system already, mostly because students have come to see it as their unofficial entry into the debauch of adulthood we’ve taught them to expect. And when schools spend all their time dictating what students are allowed to text each other from their facebook accounts outside of class and issuing detentions and suspensions because of it, but then declare a hand washing of After-Prom that would make Pontius Pilate blush, something is drastically amiss.

Conclusion: Grab yourself a sizable laxative, there, school administration; you are your own worst enemy.

Headline: Virginia Teacher Required ‘Opposition Research’ Project

Article Synopsis:
A Virginia Junior High teacher required his honors Civics students to break up into four groups and research the four remaining Republican presidential candidates to find the flaws in their policy positions, write a paper describing those flaws, and submit those papers to the Obama re-election campaign. One parent called it “creepy beyond belief”; the principal suggested that a better assignment would have been to allow students to choose a candidate of any party to research.

He Who Rocks the Cradle: The assignment was not to research Republican presidential candidate for their policy proposals to consider whether they were good OR bad. Such an assignment would actually teach critical thinking skills and the civics which have both been generally lacking from our public policy makers – and analysts.

The assignment was, instead, to assume those policy proposals were bad and to explain why, and how to rejoin them ... and then provide the rejoinders to the National Savior’s re-election campaign. The assignment was to join the footsoldiery of the liberal and [ironic term] “progressive” movement as a conscript, by holding the student’s GPA as hostage. This is another example of being told what the correct answer is, and being left to find your own excuses for arriving at it rather than to question assumptions and the authority which imposes those assumptions.

Similar tactics were used during World War II to keep soldiers in the subsumed armies of Nazi-occupied Europe loyal to their new master: stick the soldier’s parents, wives and children into a prison camp.

Conclusion: If there were a Public Education War Against the Republican Party this is exactly how it would manifest itself. Good thing that’s not happening, eh?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Non Cogito, Ergo Occupado

Non Cogito, Ergo Occupado
©2012 Ross Williams

Headline: Occupy Protest Arrests in St Louis; Some Bloodied

Article Synopsis:
A regional conference of various Occupy branches around the Midwest met in St Louis to trade notes, share information and forge “stronger ties” between groups. Fourteen of the several hundred were arrested in a city park after the park closed for trying to camp overnight and failing to leave when told. One suffered cuts to his head and another remained hospitalized. Occupy termed the arrests “shameful”; a police car suffered a smashed windshield. The movement is protesting economic injustice; they protested against the St Louis Arch one day and planned to protest against Monsanto later.

Changing the Mission: The misguided Occupy movement started as a peevishly ignorant demand for tighter government regulation over the financial industry for the abuses it perpetrated. None of them understand that the abuses it perpetrated were the result of government regulation in the first place. More regulation would just mean more of the same – and worse. But that’s okay: government can fix everything.

...which is what makes it all the more puzzling that among the protests held in St Louis for their regional conference was the St Louis Arch – a national monument patrolled by federal park rangers; as well as Monsanto, an agri-chem business which abides strictly by the same type of federal regulations that the Occupy dunces demand more of for the financial industry.

Conclusion: Far be it from me to take the cops’ side on this, but Occupy needs to pony up and buy a cop car a new windshield.

Headline: Occupy Protesters Organize for NATO Summit

Article Synopsis:
Occupy protesters declared that the G-8 summit was pulled from Chicago to be held at Camp David in May “out of fear.” The fear cited is “working-class resistance” to the world’s largest economy during an election year. Chicago’s Occupists decided against a protest that would shut down CTA during the NATO summit weekend due to the public transportation system being the primary means of transportation for Chicago’s working class ... and because the NATO ministers would have motorcades anyway. Occupy considers NATO “the military arm of G-8”.

Ignorance at Parade Rest: G-8 is seven of the world’s largest economic nations – who can generally get along with each other ... plus Russia, after Boris Yeltsin invited himself in 1997. Of the G-8 nations, two are not in NATO at all, and one of those two [Russia] spends its remaining time quibbling vociferously with NATO. Another [France] is technically a member, but doesn’t participate in anything. Of the NATO nations less than half belong to G-8. To connect NATO with G-8 is a circumstantial stretch, and verging on a conspiracy theory.

While there is much that could embarrass the White House during an election year by having anti-government protests in Obama’s [adoptive] hometown, the claim that the protests represent “working-class resistance” is obscenely laughable. The reason that Occupists have so much spare time to squat naked in the mud of city parks is that they are not, in fact, working-class. They are instead the unemployed-class – often because of the economic travails which they are complaining about the financial industry’s complicity in creating, and brought about by ham-fisted government regulations. They are also the undergrad-class, protesting about the lack of future jobs that they would not be able to qualify for because they skipped too many classes while protesting the lack of them.

But “working-class” they are not.

Conclusion: Don’t worry your little pea-brains folks; you can still embarrass Obama by becoming the same oppressed mass that his policies are geared to save – using my money and your sense of privileged entitlement – that will eventually take down our nation. Keep your chins up, and keep those pointy sticks sharpened! We’ll all need them to stab bugs for dinner. And by “we” I mean you.

Headline: Chicago Denies ‘Occupy’ NATO Protest March

Article Synopsis:
Citing a lack of police to monitor the protest march route – which is identical to the one requested and granted for a protest the day before – Chicago officials rejected the Occupy request for a protest march against NATO. Occupy organizers claim shenanigans since the same route had been approved for the G-8 summit march the day before ... and before Obama upstaged the whole thing by moving it to Camp David.

What if They Held a Protest and There was No One to Gripe At: Whoda thunk it: politicians playing politics and in the process selling out their backers and supporters. Obama pulls G-8 out of Chicago when the Occupy slackers have a protest permit, and then Obama’s ex-chief of staff Emanuel denies a protest permit for the NATO summit the day after the G-8 protest had been side-stepped.

And why are unemployed not to mention unemployable rabble bothering to protest a military alliance when their sole purpose for existing in the first place is to agitate on behalf of “economic justice” that was denied them by the government they ignorantly believe can make it all better by adding regulations that throw economic justice into the toilet?

They protested Genetically Modified Organisms and agri-chemicals during their quick jaunt to St Louis, and they’re planning to protest the military alliance which brought down the socialist Soviet Empire without firing a shot ... and I suddenly see a plausible connection.

The underlying theme of the Occupy ninnies is socialism. China is moving capitalistward, and Cuba, North Korea and Bolivia are a peasant’s paradise of deep privation, while Venezuela is turning a petroleum windfall into a lotto winner’s recklessness. Face it, the Soviet Union was the last, best chance that dyed-in-the-wool socialists had to justify their cockamamie economic notions into a land o’ platitude-a-plenty. And they just had to be tricked into bankrupting themselves by that devil Reagan pushing a Star Wars foolishness which had no hope of working.

The Soviets fell to their own shell game played back at them.

And now what are latter-day Che wannabes supposed to do in order to have Mommy Government give them their due? They latched onto Obama who spoke [and still speaks] a good game, and is nonetheless driving his nation toward socialist ruin, but he sells out his most ardent socialist minions the first, and second, chance he gets.

Conclusion: Of course he sold out Occupy. Obama is first and foremost a politician, and his first job is looking out for himself, which means re-election. He has a country to run, but until it’s run into the ground he cannot refuse to abide by our country’s obligations. At least he pretends to, unlike those who squat petulant among their own junk food wrappers. Take a hint; get a job. At least leave those who have jobs alone while they work those jobs to pay the taxes which will give you your freebies. We know better than to expect gratitude; but silence would be nice.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Not Learning the Hard Way

Not Learning the Hard Way
©2012 Ross Williams

Headline: GOP: Old, White and In Trouble

Article Synopsis:
Unless the Republican Party can figure out how to reach into other demographic groups, it will lose relevance fairly rapidly. The only demographic group it is maintaining popularity among is older white Americans. Democrats, on the other hand, are favored by everyone else.

Marketing is Everything: Yes, this remains the case even when Democrat policies fail conspicuously – as they always do. Yes, this remains the case even when Democrat policies are indistinguishable from Republican policies, as they frequently are. Yes, this remains the case even when Democrat policies don’t simply mirror Republican policies, but abscond with them, usually after years of claiming that the Republican policies are corrupt, harmful or totalitarian.

You don’t see Democrats fleeing their party for the hypocrites they are because Obama became President by running on three basic political memes:
1] ending our wars;
2] closing Gitmo; and
3] reversing War On Terror statism.

The wars didn’t end, and instead became three in number, with options on a fourth. And yes, we still have combat troops in Iraq; the “end of the war” foofaraw was just another case of “mission accomplished” – this time without landing a jet on a carrier.

Gitmo hasn’t closed, and its corollary meme of “open” “civilian” trials for war combatants was dropped as soon as the incoming idealists discovered that – darn it – war really is different and civilian trials are not allowed by the rules of war.

TSA and other forms of federal preventive paranoia have only grown in number and in scope. Among the largest benefactors of the Obama economic stimulus was the only shovel-ready job they could find which didn’t involve alternative energy technology which largely doesn’t work: airline passenger pestering through new technology which also doesn’t work.

But still, these political analysts have a point: fantasy beats reality nearly every time, and especially in politics. Democrats are a cobbled-together stew of disparate causes which have only one thing in common: they believe they are being scapegoated by The Establishment; singled out for blame. Hispanics, for illegal immigration; blacks, for poverty; women, for reproductive equality. This establishment consists entirely of old white men, regardless of which age, gender, or race they may be.

It’s not comfortable having to know and understand a subject and possibly learn that, gosh, maybe some of the rhetoric is true; it’s far more pleasant to be told, “Yes, you are being scapegoated! Come to the bosom of Mommy Government and stay away from those mean old white people!”

Conclusion: Some of the rhetoric is true. But let’s scapegoat old, white people instead.

Headline: TSA to Limit ‘Granny Pat-Downs’

Article Synopsis:
Because of massive public outrage over the indecent treatment of old people at the hands of undereducated government gropers, TSA will begin a “test” of a less invasive security protocol at 4 major US airports: Chicago O’Hare, Orlando, Denver and Portland. Anyone deemed to be 75 or over will no longer have to remove shoes, or be subjected to the scanner or pat-downs. Alarms will be resolved by removing all items from pockets and re-entering the magnetometer. This will allow TSA to concentrate on “higher risk passengers”.

Throwing Liberty a Bone: So, in the last year, TSA has had to reverse their “everyone is a potential terrorist” lunacy to “well, almost everyone – at least those who won’t garner sympathy on YouTube” by dropping children under 12, and now retirees over 75.

Of course, the TSA spokesman who outlined the new policy “test” admitted that the official position held by TSA and DHS is that everyone is considered a terrorism risk. ...in a nation where you are innocent until proven guilty. ...in a nation where you are also to be free from imperious treatment unless the government has a reason – written down on a legal document – for being imperious.

The best way of getting the public to stop complaining about their loss of dignity and civil rights at the hands of their own government is to cease the most onerous forms of that abuse upon the most sympathetic of the victims. Next will be nuns, then minorities, then foreign nationals ...

Conclusion: Young [but not too young] and middle-aged [but not actually old] white people are going to remain the primary target of the statist paranoia we acquired after 19 foreign nationals turned passenger aircraft into makeshift guided missiles for Allah.

Headline: Obamacare to Cost Twice Original Estimate

Article Synopsis:
The Congressional Budget Office now estimates that the cost of Obamacare, through the year 2021 will cost over twice the original estimate of $900Billion it gave prior to passage in 2010. The ten-year estimate it gave in late ’09 included several years in which the law would not actually be in force and thus have no expenditures. Critics and supporters both claim that the new CBO numbers are still incorrect. Critics whine that the cost will rise further spending cut exercise won’t even cut as much as Obamacare will cost; supporters claim that Obamacare will inspire competition among insurers to lower costs.

Cipherin’ at a Fourth Grade Level: The original estimate included four years of zero expenditures, and it would cost $900Billion. That means it would cost $900B for six years of Obamacare.

The current ten-year cost projection still includes two years in which the law will not have any costs, and it is now estimated at $1.8Trillion ... over eight years ... of which the first six years cost $900B. This means the last two years of the current estimate will themselves cost $900B.

Is anyone watching how this plays on the graph?

I’ve gone on record as declaring that the actual cost of almost every social program enacted by government is calculated by taking the estimated cost before implementation, doubling it, and adding a zero immediately to the left of the decimal place. If the ten-year estimate is $1Trillion, double it [$2T], add a zero [$20T]. This will end up being significantly closer to reality than all the experts were.

Obamacare still hasn’t been implemented, and the estimated cost is now $1.8T over ten years. That turns into a $36Trillion price tag. TRILLION, ladies and gentlemen. Thirty-six TRILLION.

This is even taking into consideration the cost-savings through competition of the multiple insurance carriers in the pool. Because it won’t happen. If Obamacare supporters wish to honestly reflect on their reasoning behind demanding Obamacare in the first place, they will recall that insurance does not [and cannot] control costs for the insured activity. Remember? “Insurance is the problem!!”?

Guaranteed payment incentivizes doctors, instead, to raise their rates, and insurance companies may quibble for a short time, but eventually one of them will learn they’ll get more business by actually paying it than the cut-rate insurers will get by not. “Hey! Your insurance pays the full cost of rhinoplasty? I’m switching!”

Insurance is, by its nature, inflationary. It is not intended to be a universal cover. It is intended to handle catastrophic events. Not nose jobs, not well-baby care, not routine exams and lab tests, not birth control pills. Auto accidents, yes; heart attacks, yes; brain tumors, yes.

Conclusion: When the only tool the government has is a $25,000 hammer, it will – by law – redefine every problem to be a special type of nail that can only be pounded by a $25,000 hammer. The cost of the hammer then inevitably rises – double it, add a zero.

Following the Money

Following the Money
©2012 Ross Williams

Headline: Frank Talk About Cancer

Article Synopsis:
A billboard near Chicago declares “Hot dogs cause butt cancer”, a claim that the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council vigorously objects to. The billboard advertisement was commissioned by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, which says that the nitrates in processed meat has been linked to cancer in laboratory rats.

Following the Money, I: PCRM is a PETA clone. They are ostensibly a medical advocacy organization, but the majority of their membership consists of non-medical vegetarians. They advocate an unhealthy uber-vegetarian diet because, they claim, the fat-heavy diet associated with processed foods is unhealthy itself.

They advocate non-animal medical research, declare that our nation’s over-reliance on medication amounts to human experimentation, and have waged a withering ad-war against fast food.

PETA donates hundreds of thousands of dollars each year to PCRM, and PCRM’s founder was on PETA’s board of directors for decades.

Conclusion: Responsible Medicine is not acquired by ideological ludditism, regardless of the good points they may have regarding stress in lab rats and our society-wide poor diet. Consider rebranding to a name more fitting; I suggest Shamans for Gaia.

Headline: Feds to Cut TX Health Funding over Abortion

Article Synopsis:
HHS Secretary Sebelius announced that her department would not give Texas its share of federal funding because Texas has stopped its own funding of clinics which provide abortions; in Texas this means that Planned Parenthood will not be eligible to receive federal monies. As many as 130,000 poverty class women in Texas receive birth control and medical examinations through this portion of Medicaid.

Following the Money, II: Federal law requires that federal Medicaid funding be administered by the state, and disbursed according to state laws; Texas prohibits public funding of clinics which provide abortions – as Planned Parenthood does.

Planned Parenthood will claim left and right, and up and down that no public funding goes to providing abortions. And they are correct. But the reality is that for every dollar of public funding that can be devoted to the rest of their services, private funding can be used disproportionately for abortions ... which is how Planned Parenthood has juggled their books for decades.

Not that there’s anything wrong with juggling books that way; everyone does it, and why should Planned Parenthood be any different. But Texas has decided that no public funding shall be used to underwrite the operations of outfits which provide abortions, and they are perfectly entitled to implement that policy, even when the issue becomes the disbursement of federal funds – which by law cannot be used for abortion in any event.

For the Department of Health and Human Services to withhold a large chunk of its required state Medicaid funding over the red herring of who doesn’t get that money which cannot be used for abortions in any event is to declare that Texas must allow the public funding of abortion clinics in contravention of Texas law in order to receive federal funds that the feds are required to provide regardless.

Conclusion: Abortion is a right; Texas cannot – and doesn’t – interfere with a woman wanting to get one. They just won’t help her do it. They are not required to, and the authority of the government to attain rights on behalf of its citizens is supposed to be non-existent in our nation. Cough up, Kathleen; you’re holding 130,000 women hostage to your ideology.

Headline: Rebekah Brooks Arrested Again

Article Synopsis:
The News of the World phone hacking saga continues anew as Scotland Yard swooped in early this A.M. with a half dozen arrests of key figures connected to the tabloid’s chicanery, including the managing editor Rebekah Brooks. The stock photo of Rebekah continues to be a smashingly attractive redheaded cougar with Shirley Temple curls.

Following the Money, III: Rupert Murdoch, the Australian billionaire who wants to pay more taxes in the US – but only if every other person who makes a decent two-wage-earner income does as well – has seen his media empire taking it in the shorts recently. He may cease being a billionaire if his News Corp continues to fare poorly. That would leave him at the decent two-wage-earner income level where he’d see what his goofy income tax sentimentality would mean for everyone except billionaires.

Apart from intrigue details concerning racehorses and cell phone hacking for the purpose of generating tabloid fodder, the salient piece of this story continues to not be Rebekah Brooks and her MILFitude. It is, instead, the unsavory connection between the power brokers of media and the power brokers of government. To say they are joined at the hip is to imply that they have undergone several surgeries to separate them.

We are thoroughly used to hearing of such connections when the government in question is a totalitarian dictatorship. Chavez has control of the Venezuelan press, and routinely shuts down “opposition” radio stations; Ahmadinejad does the same in Iran; Putin still has his post-Pravda “truth” to feed the Russian masses. But this is an elected government in Britain; a democracy. The media is supposed to be independent of the power structure in order to keep a watchful eye on it, and not become just another of the many, many influence peddlers.

As News of the World indicates: they have failed miserably at their job.

Conclusion: Boy, it’s a damgood thing the US doesn’t have to worry about the prospect of the media cozying up to our government like that. Why, we might get a slanted story on Obamacare defying reality and reducing the cost of health care just like its predecessors Medicaid and Medicare did not even come close to; and we might be told the housing bubble was perpetrated by a half dozen bank CEOs and was not the carefully choreographed requirement of an ideological Frank-Dodd demanding that banks make stupid loans for stupid reasons.

That was a close call!

Chalk Dust – March 9 2012

Chalk Dust – March 9 2012
©2012 Ross Williams

Headline: Blind Student Taped to Chair

Article Synopsis:
A DC-area teacher is on administrative leave following a complaint made by the mother of a “visually-impaired” student that her son had been taped into his seat. The mother confronted the teacher the day after it happened, and the teacher admitted the incident took place, and that her son was in on it, “it was a game”. The mother disputes that, and claims to be “tired of her son being hurt”; she had just transferred her son into this school after her son had been “taunted” at a previous school.

The Breakfast Club: Every community, regardless of where it is, or who participates in it, has admission rules and hazing rituals – informal, if nothing else. To be accepted in that community requires following the rules for admission and surviving the hazing.

This reality has existed since Day One of human civilization, and no one is exempt for any reason of race, color, creed or disability. If you’re a newbie, you’re going to get razzed by the old-timers.

The formal power structure of some communities – such as public schools – typically fail to acknowledge that there are informal rituals and pretend that simply by being given a desk in a classroom a student is perceived to be a peer by everyone else in the classroom. This is false, and it is potentially damaging to a new student in the classroom. The potential damage is only compounded by parents who mistakenly believe that their children are in any way special to anyone other than the parents; in general, no, they are not.

Conclusion: Mom, the reason you’re so tired of your child being hurt is because you’ve been using too much energy hurting your child. It is a game, and the sooner you get that through your head the sooner you child will be accepted and not taunted. Get over yourself.

Headline: School Reinstates Honor Student for Religious Service

Article Synopsis:
A Virginia school district reversed its prior decision to remove its student from the National Honor Society due to the student’s choice to accomplish the requisite community service requirement by participating in a local church’s soup kitchen. Church service violated district policy, and the student was put on “probation” for the honor society. The student hired a lawyer, sued the school for religious discrimination, and the school reversed its decision within hours. The lawsuit is continuing, for the student missed scholarship filing deadlines due to being on probation.

Freedom From Religion: District officials maintain that the student’s dismissal from the National Honor Society was “not sinister”; it was just an honest misapplication of their policy ... which requires that a “secular purpose” is served.

School officials in Virginia have apparently spent too much of their time divorcing themselves from reality that they are unaware that a church’s involvement with food and drink is more than Communion. A soup kitchen is not simply applying the sacraments to the riff-raff.

Conclusion: For officials so desperate to remove themselves from anything to do with religion – even if it’s someone else doing it – they sure are messianic. I’m sure that would be seen as ironic if it weren’t so desperately ignorant.

Headline: Oregon May Ban Native American Mascots

Article Synopsis:
The Oregon Board of Education is entertaining, for the second time, a proposal to prohibit the use of Native American mascots for school sports teams. Critics claim that such a policy would declare that Amerinds are shameful, and that compulsion is heavy-handed. Supporters claim such mascots are a form of oppression that continues to fuel isolation. The proposal was pushed by someone who was “traumatized” by a bare-chested basketball halftime show put on by the other team.

Cry Me A Polluted River: Oregon has an unsavory history on this subject: in 2001 the legislature outlawed the term squaw as “derogatory” toward Amerind women – which makes as much sense as declaring that the term señorita is insulting to Hispanic women. It is entirely possible that Oregon will continue its insulting ways by acquiescing on this tear-stained nothingness.

Every criticism of mascot symbology ever constructed is built out of an offensive sense of self-superiority, presumptuousness and false victimhood. All responses with the exception of telling these weenies to get bent are themselves crafted out of one degree or another of cowardice.

There is not a single sports team mascot that is chosen for any reason other than to draw inspiration or create identity or – most likely – both. I can’t answer for such mascots as “Mighty Ducks”, but if any school were to derive their sports icon from a kilted Scot, I’d certainly be flattered. Greeks are hardly offended by the legions of Spartans and Trojans running around in miniskirts, and that makes me believe that Indians who are offended by Warriors and Braves running around bare-chested have some sort of innate psychological issues going on that are not appropriate to address through legislation, particularly legislation which seeks to blame innocent bystanders for acknowledging cultural referents that are part of the culture they live in. Shame on them for looking around and not being self-centered.

And that is the basis of the primary criticism mounted against Indian mascots and icons: “They are taking control of our image”, in the words of a Klamath tribesman quoted in the article.

Actually ... no ... they are using the image which comes from the culture shared by us all. No one owns the American culture unless we all own it. If no one owns it, or we all own it, we are all allowed to use the images that are a part of that culture – copyright laws notwithstanding. Which is why Scotsmen have been used forever as iconic representation for hardware and lumbers stores, and restaurants, and Scots trappings are used as the actual name for clear adhesive tape – so universally now as to be virtually beyond legal trademark protection.

What the critics are demanding the right to do is to control the American culture themselves, to declare a backhanded copyright on the usage of terms they donated to our common culture. Fortunately, they are demanding trademark ownership of their contributions in the quintessentially appropriate way in our culture: by whining, pouting, and agitating.

Conclusion: Seek professional help, guys. Or else demand that Klamath Falls be renamed. I suggest Scottish Falls, because I’m feeling kinda left out.

The Hockey Puck Michael Mann

The Hockey Puck Michael Mann
©2012 Ross Williams

I was privileged – if that word can accurately describe the feelings left over from intellectual assault – to involuntarily endure an NPR radio Science Friday segment last week; my office-mate turned it on. The topic in this particular segment was global warming as delivered by the unctuous sanctimonarian Michael Mann, inventor of the oft-debunked “hockey stick” graph which shows, as one of the scientific foundations cited as corroborating its findings says, “Sloppy method + Correct conclusion = Bad science”.

Mister Mann possesses a PhD in physics; he apparently obtained it as a prize from the whack-a-mole sideshow at the carnival because he didn’t seem to display any knowledge of actual science during his interminable preachings on Science Friday.

He began his screed by responding to the recent brouhaha over the matter of the Heartland Institute, where one of Mann’s colleagues was caught stealing Heartland’s documents and/or forging documents meant to embarrass the notorious global warming skeptic outfit. Neither Mann nor the NPR host for this show, Ira Flatow, seemed terribly troubled by a scientist having been caught in larceny or forgery for the sake of his ideology; in fact they never mentioned it. But they were incensed about the Heartland Institute being described in the stolen [or forged] documents as preparing educational material for our nation’s schools to address the academic holes in the hypothesis of global warming.

And there are many such holes.

His response to the Heartland Institute problem consisted of balefully ruing the tendency of their enemy – termed The Deniers – to use invalid criticisms, which he termed “attacks”, against their science. These attacks are disingenuous, veritably dishonest, he claims, because they do not follow the scientific process and instead rely on fallacy and immutable groupthink.

During the course of his sermon he dismissed, out of hand, two scientific challenges to the science of global warming, and reduced the East Anglia Affair to a conspiracy theory perpetrated by Deniers. His common method of response to critics is a slightly more academic rendition of “I know you are, but what am I?” He trivialized the several recent and famous defections of prominent scientists over global warming’s own immutable groupthink by saying that disagreements over science is necessary and valid; yet he used the incidents later to dismiss those very disagreements as invalid by his inimitable gainsaying He ultimately marginalized all scientific discussion, both for and against, as little more than the rearrangement of deck chairs on a sinking Titanic, and declared that the real issue is ethics: “How are we going to leave the planet for future generations?”

Back up the global warming bandwagon, there, sparky.

Fallacy, you say? Okay. Do you know what fallacy it is when you reduce your academic opponent to an undifferentiated mass? Yes, that’s right: False Generality – throwing people into the same group whether they belong there or not and refusing to concede differences among them. Psychology calls this the creation of The Other; a means of separating the good guys from the bad guys and recreating the issue as a moral problem. The argument in favor of global warming, and the words of Michael Mann, PhD, do that – you’re either with us or against us. This was unfair and anti-intellectual when George Bush did it with a war in Iraq, but if you’re a global warmer and the subject is your academic ego, then it’s perfectly fine to label enemies a Denier. Yet most Deniers do NOT in fact deny the effect of mankind on his environment ... up to and including the climate. What they deny is that Mann and his ilk are doing good science.

The cutesy-pie term Deniers is, additionally, a second fallacy called Ad Hominem – arguing against the man. It can take two forms: circumstantial and abusive. Being labeled with an academically and intellectually unwarranted term can be considered abusive, but it is used most commonly circumstantially. “You criticize the science: you are a Denier. We talk down to Deniers and ignore what they say.”

There are some people who deny that mankind affects the environment, and certainly doesn’t affect the climate. These people are few and far between, though. By far the most numerous critics of the current hypothesis of global warming as it is being pitchforked about in public consists of those who understand that mankind does indeed affect the environment and can, and almost certainly does, affect the climate as well. But these critics are unsatisfied with the arguments made by global warmers due to the global warmers reliance on fallacy in making those arguments ... which now number two: False Generality and Ad Hominem.

Additionally, in responding to all critics as if they deny the phenomena altogether, global warmers create a series of Straw Man positions: the only reason for being a Denier is that you don’t understand that CO2 is a thermal insulator capable of trapping heat. And so, to every instance of scientific criticism, the global warmers thrash the Straw Man, which only serves to demonstrate to legitimate critics that global warmers are unwilling to engage in honest discussion. Critics are dismissed and not addressed; criticisms are ignored; nothing is gained; science is not furthered. And the conclusion that Mann and his ilk are practicing bad science is all the more supported. There are now three fallacies supporting the science of global warming.

Most critics are aware of the scientific process. Science cannot make a claim and go on faith that the claim is valid and true. Such assumption, instead, is the basis of religion, and science is not supposed to be rendered into a religion. Science has to prove that what it says is valid and true, and part of that proof lies in ruling out all other known explanations for the same observed phenomenon.

Science tells us that CO2 is a thermal insulator capable of trapping heat. Science shows us that CO2 in our atmosphere has increased since the advent of the Industrial Revolution. Science shows us that burning fossil fuels – which began in earnest at the advent of the Industrial Revolution – releases CO2. And none of these things are seriously under debate. Critics of the hypothesis of global warming understand all this. What the critics of the hypothesis of global warming are critical of is the straight-line conclusion that populist science has used: mankind is the only cause of the increase in CO2; this increase in CO2 is the only cause of the observed phenomena.

This is a fourth fallacy called Post Hoc [ergo propter hoc]. Just because something occurs after something else does not require that the something else caused it. Or to put it in a standard academic scold: correlation does not imply causation. Or to use the inimitable phrasings of Ambrose Bierce: a person who had never seen a dog except in pursuit of a rabbit would conclude the rabbit caused the dog.

Yes, CO2 is a thermal insulator. So what? Yes, CO2 has been increasing in the atmosphere. So what? You have to do more than to take a few temperature readings and declare Mystery Solved. Scientific process, remember? Part of the scientific process includes ruling out all other known causes of the same phenomenon. Failure to properly rule out other explanation is a marker of religion: We know that banging on iron with a hammer causes loud, explosive sounds; thunder is a loud explosive sound; therefore, thunder is caused by someone HUGE banging on iron with a HUGE hammer … and let’s call this guy Thor.

The list of all physical processes which causes the atmosphere to warm up is virtually endless. How many of those other causes have been ruled out by the global warmers? Almost none; global warmers aren’t even looking at other factors, in fact, something they have admitted countless times. They have arrived at their preferred answer and deny that anything else, let alone everything else, is still in the mix. They are the homicide detective who concludes the butler did it before taking off his jacket and lighting his pipe.

The preferred answer – CO2 made by burning fossil fuels – completely discounts every other possible explanation. Fluctuations in solar output despite solar astronomy being nearly as young a science as climatography. Thermal radiation following the deforestation of the low latitudes – I have yet to see this even addressed even though it is the same phenomenon on a large scale as the long-recognized Urban Heat Island which has been found to be a primary source of misleading global warming data. Geological processes; the earth itself: one moderate volcanic belch emits as much CO2 as all human industry in a year – and man-made CO2 still accounts for only 3% of the CO2 made each year. The planet makes 2000% more.

While we’re ruling out other known causes for the same phenomena, what caused the Medieval Warm Period?

Scientists, even those belonging to the Church of Global Warming, are unsure. It could have been any of several things [and they’ll rattle off some of those things if you ask them nicely], from solar fluctuation, to geological forces, to an as-yet unexplained “cyclic” phenomenon. It could have been any of these factors, singly or in combination.

So ... how do we know that one of these things isn’t causing the current observations? Because, they will say, CO2 in the atmosphere is a thermal insulator, and it’s been increasing since the advent of the Industrial Revolution. ...and back we go to Post Hoc. Okay, how about CO2 in combination with any of those speculative causes of the Medieval Warm Period? Nope, they respond, CO2 in the atmosphere has been increasing because mankind burns fossil fuels and that’s the only cause.

Global warmers don’t know what caused other similar circumstances in the past and can’t even name them all, but they do know that none of those are causing what is happening today.

...because of the CO2. And mankind’s CO2 at that.

This is the fallacy of False Cause, fifth in the lineup. Otherwise known as begging the question, or leading with your conclusion. You assume as proven that which your argument is designed to prove. Mankind’s CO2 is to blame for the observed phenomena, and this is proven by the increase in CO2 in the atmosphere since mankind started making CO2 industrially, and since CO2 is a thermal insulator ... what more proof does anyone need? It’s a QED moment, apparently.

Except science properly using the scientific method can never allow QEDs.

This QEDing is the basis for at least one prominent Nobel Laureate’s dramatic exit from his scientific conference, recently. He scolded his colleagues that they could argue about the existence of multiverses, whether gravity is a constant, whether light is a particle or a wave, and whether or not the mass of a proton changes over time, but they cannot propose that global warming may not be occurring or have a cause – in whole or in part – for any other reason than mankind burning fossil fuels.

These five logical fallacies are strung together by the cold, empirical scientists who, without seeming irony, whine about skeptics “illogically” pointing out the flaws in their scientific argument. Skeptics who, by and large, are fully on board with the whole “mankind changes his environment” thing.

But even this isn’t the last of the illogic dispensed by the rigorous logicians. For, as Mann declared, the real issue is ethics. It is pointless to discuss whether Climate Science has its Ts crossed and Is dotted, because the “real” problem is how to fix it – for it is absolutely and with guaranteed certainty a major problem that requires fixing – which brings us to the 6th fallacy in the series: Appeal to Fear.

Never mind that the conclusion of a problem needing to be fixed in the first place is, once again, an unproven False Cause. Even if they are correct about global warming occurring as they claim, and it being solely mankind’s doing – neither of which can be determined with any degree of accuracy for generations at best – it being a Bad Thing® has not been discussed, let alone proven. It has only been asserted as authoritative [7th: Appeal to Authority] and is accepted as an article of faith.

Yet the last time the planet warmed up a significant amount, it brought with it greater food production and hence prosperity for every culture for which there are any records, written or archeological. The Medieval Warm Period saw the end of the Dark Ages in Europe, their rediscovery of science and engineering, exploration and expansion. The Vikings, now free of sea ice keeping their longboats in port, roamed and raided and settled; the Mongols and Turks and other Asian peoples roamed and raided and settled. All of these are more or less directly attributable to an abundance of food. An abundance of food that was created by a warmer, and more stable climate.

At the same time, several Copper Age cultures of Mesoamerica flourished and reached their “classical” periods, as well as the Anasazi of the US desert southwest, and the Mississippian Mound Builders of the Ohio and Mississippi river valleys. The Khmer culture of Indochina also flourished at this time.

A warmer climate is instead, from all the evidence, a good thing. The end of the Medieval Warm Period, on the other hand, saw the collapse of the classical Mayan culture, the Khmer civilization, the complete disappearance of the Mississippian culture and the Anasazi, and a drastic drop in agricultural output which thus made Europeans more susceptible to passing plagues. Alpine glaciers started growing once again, wiping out villages in slow motion, and it was all ascribed to a vengeful God punishing the wicked for their sins.

The dire apocalypse of warming and the beneficial stability of cooling touted by the greybeard wizards of science defies the known evidence of the past...yet they nonetheless demand immediate policy changes over the “ethical” problem it unprovenly poses to our grandchildren’s grandchildren. Global warmers do not know, exactly, what global warming will do in the future, but they can guess and none of their guesses are pleasant.

Among the unpleasant events they prophesy are melting glaciers and polar ice ... which will match the conditions toward the end of the Medieval Warm Period where Alpine villages flourished without permanent ice hanging over their heads, and the Vikings discovered North Baffin Island in wooden ships. All this melting ice will cause sea levels to rise possibly a half inch a decade, and that will endanger those who live on seacoasts. Those who live on seacoasts are apparently rooted to the beach and can’t outrun a half-inch per decade rise in the sea level; they would seem to be trees or rocks.

But we must change political policy now, and forestall any and all pointless quibbling about whether it’s happening, to what degree it’s happening, what is the cause of it happening if indeed it is, and what it will result in and whether it’s good or bad or a little of both. We must act now ... “just in case”.

This – and it’s a whopper – is the 8th logical fallacy of the hypothesis of global warming: Pascal’s Wager.

During the early Renaissance when scientific rationalism was a threat to the Church, scientists were accused of heresy or worse unless they could justify their continued religious devotion in ways that didn’t arouse the local Cardinal’s suspicions. Mathematician Blaise Pascal famously rationalized why a belief in God made logical sense. He formed his argument for belief in the Almighty into a risk/reward table of superficial dichotomies:
Either God exists, or he doesn’t;
Either I believe in God, or I don’t.

If God does not exist and I believe in him, I’ve wasted all that time in church;
If God does not exist but I don’t believe in him, I haven’t wasted time in church;
If God does exist and I do believe in him, I will have eternal salvation;
If God does exist but I don’t believe in him, I will have eternal damnation.

Ergo: belief in God is a logical thing to do. From a risk/reward standpoint, time in church being wasted or not is small potatoes to the prospect of eternal damnation versus salvation. Hey! It’s science!

...except that Pascal’s Wager is a recognized fallacious argument construction and it is anti-science. Show me someone arguing a “just in case” policy built on idiotic dichotomies, I’ll show you someone – such as TSA, or Monsieur Pascal – playing politics. Playing politics is fine, if still illogical, for politicians for they are idiots and illogic is about all we can rationally expect from them; global warmers have been playing politics for decades:
Either global warming exists, or it doesn’t;
Either we act on it, or we don’t.

If global warming does not exist and we act on it, we’ve wasted all that time fretting;
If global warming does not exist but we don’t act on it, we haven’t wasted time fretting;
If global warming does exist and we do act on it, we have saved the future of mankind;
If global warming does exist but we don’t act on it, we will have doomed the future of mankind.
Ergo: to act is better than to not act.

Michael Mann has no problem with any of this. From the implicit name-calling to the reduction of his science into a table for ‘tards, let alone all the religious nonsense in between, he is perfectly fine waving his hand and dismissively pronouncing, “These are not the droids you’re looking for.”

Stephen Schneider went out of his way to declare that he could not and would not be honest discussing the subject; Peter Gleick resorted to criminal activity to protect his church.

We expect more from our scientists. We demand more, actually. Stop calling us ill-fitting names, patting us on the heads and condescendingly rehashing the same old fallacious explanation that isn’t even under discussion in the first place. Stop reducing science to a religion that we must believe or else suffer the damnation you have presumptuously defined for us based on a rather pronounced lack of historical evidence.

We already understand that we influence the environment, and we undoubtedly influence the climate portion of the environment as well. But we are not so single-mindedly blinded to other factors playing a part, and we know better than to accept the notion that Gaia is punishing us for our sins.

Grow up please, or turn in your PhDs.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

A Good Idea Gone Bad

A Good Idea Gone Bad
©2012 Ross Williams

Starting yesterday, March 1 2012, your most popular packaged meats in the grocery store must have nutrition labels on them. This is another USDA nutrition rule created in response to legions of American dieters whose diet programs already have such information that they give out for free in pamphlets, in handbooks and online, but which the dieters want on the food itself. ...because ...it’s ... more handy to throw away when they get it home?

I don’t know.

Anyway, the USDA, a government bureaucracy which knows how to tell people what to do but little else, has responded to this groundswell of informational activism by doing what it does best: telling people what to do. And the people they told what to do are meat packagers, and what they told them to do was put boilerplate nutritional information on popular packaged meats; your ground beefs and ground turkeys, your pork tenderloin roasts, your chicken wings, pork chops, and the like.

Swell, right?

Sure, for some people. I imagine the people that will be served by this without inconvenience will be the wealthy suburbanites trying to drop five pounds for the summer bikini season. They will need to know, on the spot, whether it’s better to serve the other white meat, or the original white meat on the crust-free finger sandwiches for Sunday brunch. Everyone else, though, will suffer more than they benefit.

First, this information is currently readily available. Every responsible diet program in existence – and I will exclude the grapefruit and celery and boiled lettuce diets – has the nutritional information it gives to its dieters; those on self-regulated diets have books and blackberries and Wikipedia. I just googled and came up with several hundred thousand hits on “Nutritional Information for Meat” most of which have nothing to do with this new USDA rule.

Everyone who’s ever been on a diet knows that a serving of meat is four ounces; hell, I know this and I’ve never been on a weight-loss diet in my life. I learned it by paying attention to what goes on around me.

The only thing that slapping this information onto meat package labels will accomplish for everyone else is that meat packagers will have to spend another nickel to meet the government requirements for packaging meat. And for every nickel the producer spends on packaging up the product, the buyer of that product sees another 7 or 8 cents leave his pocket.

At some point, someone won’t be able to eat by paying for the government’s food packaging rules. That’s not a real good weight-loss plan to be on.

Every rule a government bureaucracy throws at others to blindly follow, even if it’s a merely “informational” rule such as this one, requires an enforcement mechanism to make sure everyone complies with the raging swellness of the rule. What is the point of having a rule if those who break it can’t be punished? Might as well not make rules. And if they don’t make rules, why exist at all?

No government bureaucracy will ever fail to seize an opportunity to make itself more intrusive nor, once intruding, compulsory. They’ll need to hire more inspectors to inspect meat packaging to ensure that the proper nutritional labels are affixed in the proper way, are easily readable, and not obscured by meat juice or smudged ink. ...and keep in mind that the regulation which defines the proper way to print and affix nutritional labels is easily 40 pages long and decipherable only by a loyyer, who will also have to be hired by every grocery store at $250 an hour to translate the gibberish into English that a union meat cutter can understand.

The new USDA inspectors will be paid traditional Government Service scale which the government itself acknowledges is significantly greater than similar private wage scale, and each will have a traditional federal employee pension and healthcare plan that he pays not a dime toward either one and that we will pay for him. Their job will be to scour the countryside searching for meat packagers who fail to put nutrition labels on meat containing information that is easily found – literally – EVERYwhere for anyone who actually wants it, thus making it redundant if not outright irrelevant to place on meat packages where it will be ignored and thrown away by everyone else. ...by which I mean by everyone.

But I suppose there may be a few Americans who don’t live near a bookstore, and don’t have the internet, and don’t get the free nutrition information from a diet plan already, and they may want the information contained on these labels.

So perhaps the USDA could print up posters of this information to stick in the grocery stores near the deli, and individual pamphlets to mail to households which request it. Of course, this alternative doesn’t come with a built-in USDA cop force, and it costs less, and it won’t let them boss anybody around and compel others to do the USDA’s work for it. Other than that, it makes perfect sense.

Euthanizing Euphemism

Euthanizing Euphemism
©2012 Ross Williams

Late last year, Obama signed into law a monstrous amalgam of dog vomit passing itself off as legislative deliberation. And it wasn’t a precious little lap dog’s vomit, either, as that would consist entirely of semi-chewed dry dog food and possibly a cat toy. This bill contained, instead, the vomit of a free-roaming, semi-feral outdoorsy dog, the one who will eat, during any random block of 24 hours, plastic and Styrofoam food wrappings straight from the neighbor’s trash can, a lump of horseshit, the week-old carcass of a dead skunk that even the crows have given up on – bones and all, grass, a wad of rancid carpeting, and balls of gelatinous goo unidentifiable even by today’s television forensics.

This new law was a mess of unrelated gibberish cobbled together for the purpose of politically expedient butt-covering and little else.

Obama signed it because its signature hunk of horseshit was the deliberate underfunding of our Social Security system, otherwise called a payroll tax break. It is also otherwise called shortsighted pandering, fiddling while the dollar burns and re-election campaigning, but what’s in a name? A lump of horseshit by any other name is just as shitty.

And speaking of horses, another hunk of dog vomit in this bill, and possibly the only one with any semblance of justification behind it, was the provision that would revoke the suspension of USDA inspections of food-intended horse slaughter. Horse slaughter for the purpose of shipping Secretariat steak to France is once again allowable in the United States ... the erstwhile land of liberty where the imperious hand of government restriction is intended to allow fairly free rein to We The People.

This, naturally, has a whole bunch of puritanical nitwits both up in arms and melting into puddles of their own tears or other bodily fluids.

Slaughtering horses, to these moistened mopes, is inhumane. Yet it is done by the same method used for other large food animals, like cows, for which it IS humane. That method is either a gunshot to the head, or hoisting the animal up by its hind legs and slitting its throat. In slaughterhouses, the gunshot uses a bolt rather than a bullet.

Kosher and halal meats require the animal be bled to death; halal is the muslim version of kosher where the process is overseen by an imam rather than a rabbi. Kosher slaughter is considered very humane.

These people believe there is no excuse for slaughtering a horse, ever. There is only ever a need – and it’s rare – to euthanize horses. ...and how are horses euthanized? By a gunshot to the head, primarily. With a bullet. A horse, as opposed to a dog or a cat – or a person – is too large an animal to give an injection of a fatal drug; it takes too long, and is therefore considered inhumane.

There is no substantive difference between slaughtering an animal and euthanizing it: it still ends up being killed. There is no substantive difference between humane killing and inhumane killing when discussing food production and animal end of life care, they’re both done the same way. The only difference is in the animal being killed: a horse instead of something else.

These people further compound their dishonesty by attaching presumptive motivations to everyone else’s actions. Anyone who would send a horse to slaughter is cruel and only interested in money, whereas anyone who would pay a veterinarian a few hundred bucks to make a barn call to come kill an old, sick, injured or unwanted horse, and subsequently hire a backhoe or renderer for several hundred more to dispose of the carcass, is caring and considerate.

This means that the entire subject is being driven by irrational ninnies making distinctions that don’t exist except in the febrile depths of their own minds. And that is no basis for holding an intelligent debate. Intelligent, rational debate is, in fact, impossible for it relies on undefined factors known and knowable only to some. The only debate possible is, by definition, UNintelligent and IRrational.

There’s a sound purpose for having two different terms for killing an animal – slaughter and euthanize. They denote the two different reasons for killing it. And there is also a valid purpose for understanding some methods of killing animals to be humane while others are inhumane; we shouldn’t go out of our way to be unnecessarily brutish about it.

But once established, it is dishonest to mix and match these terms for personal reasons, to use inappropriately harsh terms to describe something disliked, and inappropriately gentle terms to describe something preferable. It is emotional manipulation to require someone else to hold your personal views in order to even discuss a subject. We do this constantly already when discussing abortion, gun control, gay marriage, drunk driving, war and other topics prone to false piety. Horses deserve better than standard politics.

Anyone who does this is declaring that he has an emotional attachment to a horse that he’s never met, and which belongs to someone else besides, and that this attachment supersedes the owner’s right to do with his own horse what he wishes, ...which is phenomenally self-righteous.

It’s also advertising that he can’t tell the difference between brains and emotions, which means he doesn’t know how to use his brains. There’s a term for that condition, and someone who’s honest might use it.

Invasion of the Algae-Snatchers

Swimming with the Enemy
– or –
Invasion of the Algae-Snatchers
©2012 Ross Williams

In 1986 a cargo ship docked on the south shore of Ontario, on Lake Erie, flushed its ballast tanks and gave the North American continent a European freshwater bivalve mollusk called the zebra mussel. Its presence in mostly US freshwater lakes, rivers and streams has been met with universally unfavorable reviews.

A few years later, the zebra’s cousin – named the quagga mussel – made its own appearance. Critics don’t like this one any better.

It’s not that there aren’t drawbacks to these creatures being in our waters; they aren’t native and that’s always dicey. They grow quickly and attach themselves to every available hard surface in the water, including intake pipes, filtering screens, outflow pipes, ship hulls, plants, and each other. They are prodigious parents as their rapid expansion from southern Ontario into all of the Great Lakes, Mississippi River, Missouri River, Ohio River, Hudson River, Tennessee River, Arkansas River – their tributaries and more – would attest, having all become infested in just 25 years.

These things are definitely problematic. They have clogged public water supply pipes, industrial facilities, and power plants in the US and there is no indication that they have the same effect in their native Russian/Ukrainian range in the Dneiper River [quagga] or the Ural River [zebra].

If it weren’t for the bad press these two clams have gotten, they’d have no press at all. This might indicate that only bad press exists, but that isn’t so. Good press abounds, although no one seems to have taken notice of it. It’s mostly in how one chooses to look at it, I’ve noted, and most people don’t like good news.

This is especially the case, it would seem, among modern scientists. The natural world is always changing, but Science seems to have taken the view that the natural world as it existed in 1955 was the epitome of naturalness, and they have decided that any divergence from that baseline is bad, wrong, unnatural and – in a spate of hairshirt self-loathing – a man-made disaster that mankind must fix for a feeble and doddering Mother Nature.

Shorelines change constantly, and sometimes quite rapidly, but Science has decided that beach erosion is a side-effect of global warming and must be reversed. Climate itself changes constantly, and sometimes quite rapidly – and the biology, geology and archaeology of the Ice Ages, little or otherwise, depends on it – yet any current change in climate is ... well, we’ve been through that.

In short, though, modern science has cast nature in stone and resists any and all change to it, regardless if the change is natural, or even probable, with or without human involvement.

One of these natural and probable changes is the migration and eradication of plants and animals. Among the best explanations for the decline of the dinosaurs is the migration of native gut bacteria into populations having different gut bacteria, and infecting those new populations through fecal matter. It isn’t only humans who have to worry about drinking the water in Mexico. It’s every animal, for over a billion years.

Who’s to say whether the zebra and the quagga would have relocated from Western Russia to North America all by itself? The fact is, it’s here, and it’s not going away. We need to determine what it’s good for, and how to handle its annoyances.

First: somebody who’s good at mechanics needs to start a company that will ream out intake and outflow pipes, scrape off filter screens, collect the scrapings and repurpose it. [Nota bene: “repurpose” is modern eco-speak for “sell”. I’m well aware that we have a growing distaste for capitalism and profit nowadays, particularly among the hard-core ecologically-minded, and we suffer from the collectivist delusion that anyone who does something swell should be doing it for a loss, and never, ever taking money for it. Be a rebel: go into business and make money. Your heirs will thank you.]

If anyone has a hard time thinking what use old, dead mussel shells would serve, grind them up and give them to me. I need to buy crushed oyster shell for my hens; it’s the same stuff and I’d rather get it for free. That would be swell.

The good news about these Russian clams is there’s no real indication that they are displacing native mollusks in any great number; they’re cohabiting quite well. Nor are they displacing fish. Additionally, there are native species willing to eat the invaders – just not enough predators to make a significant dent. This suggests that Mother Nature’s reaction would be to increase in the population of ducks, geese, crayfish and, when exposed by low tide, gulls. ...which means that our scientists might not allow this to occur.

If not scientists, politicians at the very least will put a stop to it. Chicago is zebra mussel-Central, since this was where they jumped from the Great Lakes into the Mississippi River system, through the canals and rivers connecting Lake Michigan to the Illinois River. Chicago and its suburbs have laws which dissuade geese from collecting in city parks – geese make a mess by pooping all over everything. Sorta like pigeons, but different, apparently. Zebra mussels are an under-water annoyance and invisible to all but the geese; goose shit is a shoe-bottom annoyance. Guess which one gets political priority?

Both zebra and quagga mussels are highly proficient water filterers. A modest-sized quagga can filter a liter of water in a day, removing algae, phytoplankton, bacteria and suspended silt. Not to mention PCBs and other such pollutants. Zebras are, if anything, better at it than quaggas. Heavily infested lakes have shown significant improvements in water clarity, which allows light infiltration to reach greater depths, and which allows for greater biological viability of our lakes.

Here’s another business venture idea, free of charge, for that’s just the swell kinda guy I am: zebra mussels as first stage water purification for municipal water supplies.

Critics determined to have bad news will claim that clearer water which allows more sunlight at greater depth also keeps our lakes warmer, which is a global warming kinda thing. And, well, with the good there’s always some gooder, so I can see why this might be an issue to some.

Another criticism is that less phytoplankton – the one-celled aquatic organisms that aren’t called “algae” or “bacteria” – are eaten by the zooplankton, which are those aquatic critters that look like sci-fi monsters under the microscope. Less zooplankton means less food for those things that eat zooplankton, which are ... um ... a few types of native mollusks and fish, the ones which are not being adversely affected by a decrease in zooplankton due to the invasion by Ukrainian clams.

Oh, and bacteria! Like everything else, when zooplankton die from old age because they aren’t being eaten by the less-plentiful native mollusks, their carcasses settle to the bottom of the lake where they decompose and feed the multiplying bacteria. These bacteria either work aerobically and make carbon dioxide out of it, or they work anaerobically and make methane. In either case, it’s another global warming kinda thing, but one which will undoubtedly have quite a number of rationalists to rationalize for us. Let me get the ball rolling, here: global warming which is caused non-anthropomorphically is a good thing; however, reducing global warming by anthropomorphically introducing non-native species which act to reduce otherwise natural greenhouse gas emissions is a bad thing.

Plus, zebra mussels increase greenhouse gas emissions anyway, by pooping and pseudo-pooping. One of the things filtered out of fresh water is silt – fine-grained minerals suspended in water that cannot be eaten. Zebras and quaggas collect silt, wrap it up in mucus and expel it; it is now heavy enough to settle to the bottom as “pseudofeces”. Both the feces and false-feces decompose and feed a type of water-borne bacteria that is harmless to humans, but which the zebras and quaggas eat – along with all the other bacteria in the water, many of which are harmful to us.

So, as should be obvious by now, apart from clogging up pipes and filters, the effect of these clams is pretty much one big yawn. The risk to the ecosystem posed by these non-native species don’t appear to be occurring. Their main effect seems to be interfering with human activities.

The answer to this problem, at least as far as the government’s literature is concerned, appears to be confined to a wide range of baby/bathwater slash and burn ideas, the most insipid of which is the genetic manipulation of a type of soil bacteria which is harmless to humans, and turning it into a germ that will infect and kill these European bivalve mollusks. They want to anthropomorphically introduce a Genetically Modified Organism as a second non-native species to combat the first non-native species. And if this bacteria manages to find its way into the Baltic region where these two species came from ... that’s Europe’s problem.

I can see why everyone would love the government’s solution, since it meets all the currently mandatory criteria:
1] a facile belief that what mankind does to nature, while engaged in making money, is selfish and intrinsically evil;
2] an equally facile, not to mention insupportable belief that nature is incompetent to look after itself; and
3] a third facile, not to mention insupportable, and further not to mention hypocritical belief that whatever mankind does to nature, so long as it is done to counteract economic gain, and at public expense, is selfless and intrinsically moral.

Of course, as if it needs to be said, nothing whatsoever could go wrong with this plan. The notion of simply scraping the problem out of the pipes and selling crushed shells to anyone who needs raw calcium, though, is obviously a corrupt response of a corrupt system. Someone might actually turn an evil profit from it, and we can’t have that. Can we?