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Fri, Mar. 3rd, 2017, 11:54 am

One of my co-workers remarked today that he had some gear "left over from a past life."

Can you just imagine reincarnation with old junk added? The baby comes home from the hospital with an entire moving van full of obsolete computers, discarded boots, old tax returns, Victrola record players, trepanning tools, rope-and-string used to level blocks when building pyramids...

Wed, Nov. 23rd, 2016, 11:24 am
Explaining the Trolls

Every four years, just in time for the elections, US news media develops a sudden fascination with an otherwise obscure individual named David Duke, who is apparently some sort of white supremacist. Duke is an expert at gathering publicity every presidential election by "endorsing" the Republican candidate. This is duly reported by our leftist media and becomes part of the narrative about the candidate.

In 2016 we've seen it go even further: the media dredged up a local chapter of the KKK, which gathered nationwide headlines by endorsing Trump.

By way of contrast, the American Communist Party endorsed Clinton, but we've heard nothing about it.

But here's the question: how did this obscure, insignificant local chapter of the KKK successfully troll the media?

This extends further, to the so-called "alt-right" and its supposed influence on the electorate. Where did this theory come from?

I recommend this editorial in the Wall Street Journal for a brief explanation. There's also this article by a prominent conservative who, as he explains, never even heard of these leaders until they were pushed forward as an explanation for Clinton's dismal polling and then disavowal by the electorate.

Fri, Nov. 18th, 2016, 01:37 pm
2016: A Year for Connoisseurs

I'm pretty sure I have a magazine article due sometime soon... but first this message.

The tail end of 2016 has turned into a truly wonderful year for a certain kind of connoisseur.

2008, after Obama's election, wasn't a bad one either -- the days after the election were filled with hysteria about assassins, right-wing militias, and similar drivel. A friend asked if "Obama was my President," clearly worried that after eight long years of leftist propaganda on the topic, other sectors of the population would pick up the habit.

Then again, after George W. Bush's election, the hysteria was of course even more pronounced. Women would be barefoot, pregnant, and in the kitchen; dissent would be suppressed; the usual litany of disaster. This continued for years. No one every quite figured out that Mr. Bush couldn't care less about their dissent, and I had to laugh every time some solemn news reader would opine about "speaking truth to power."

The absolute hatred for Bush was quite astonishing. At least on person of my acquaintance developed a verbal tick and could not say the President's name, and used "Bushitler" or "Shrub" instead. As you might imagine, this was not a persuasive political argument.

Aside from the "not my President" meme which started in 2000, and Gore showboating around the country introducing himself as "the elected President of the United States," there was the spectacle of assassination porn in the move "Death of a President" -- which won multiple awards not because of its sterling plot or production values, but because Mr. Bush died. If you haven't seen "Death of a President" it ends with a screamingly funny, entirely unselfconscious parody of left-wing conspiracy theories.

As usual, when the regime changed, Obama's use of the post-Sept. 11 surveillance state, drone strikes, and whatnot suddenly became less of a problem...

But this year surpasses them all, I think, in unsupported hysteria about Trump. Concerns? Sure. Hysteria? I'm trying to figure out why, e.g., gay individuals think they'll be "unsafe" starting next year -- did Trump call for a roundup and I missed it? Or that women will be targeted, or Jews, or blacks, or what-have-you? Is this just people actually falling for the same tired Democratic Party propaganda that has lost them support from top to bottom in this country, or what?

Frankly, from where I sit, I see rioting in the streets, attacks (both before and after the election) on Trump supporters, harassment of members of the Electoral College, and continued efforts to censor and punish anyone who dares to support Trump. This anti-democratic activity continues with a wink and a node from President Obama on down (except for renegade Bernie Sanders), and demonstrates why the current Democratic Party richly deserved the drubbing it received at the local, state, and national level.

Mon, Nov. 14th, 2016, 10:03 am
Rational (but not reasonable) fears on campus

TL;DR version: College students live in an milieu in which any deviant political behavior is rigorously attacked, and the change of government worries them.


My summary:

The hysteria after the election continues on campus; while I understand that people believe the negative election propaganda, I was surprised by the emotional reaction.

Well, if you follow the news, you're aware that for the past decade any speaker who disagrees with progressive values can't speak on campus. They're vilified, dis-invited, or physically attacked. (Perhaps the treatment of Ali is the worst example of this behavior.) A "Trump 2016" poster is treated as hate speech and requires reassurance from the administration. Academic freedom is really a thing of the past on many campuses.

Some of these actions are supported by Federal agencies under various legal theories.

As such, it's rational for college students to be worried that they'll face a new orthodoxy. Not reasonable, just rational.

Sun, Nov. 13th, 2016, 09:12 pm
Electoral College and Popular Vote

TL;DR version: The campaign strategies of Trump and Clinton were designed to win the electoral college, not the popular vote, so a discrepancy between the two is not remarkable or significant.

The article.

My summary:

* Clinton didn't campaign in Texas because she knew she'd lose that state
* Trump didn't campaign in California because he knew he'd lose that state
* Neither campaigned in Michigan until the state began to waver towards Trump

This means that both Trump and Clinton didn't try to win the popular vote, and both of them walked away from popular votes in California and Texas. It's unreasonable to re-interpret the vote -- after the fact -- as being unfair.

On a personal note: in Chicago, the Democratic machine is so deeply entrenched that the Republicans didn't even bother to run in almost all races. And the Democrats won all the races. As such, its not unreasonable -- under Electoral College rules -- for Republican voters to not bother to show up.

I happen to be a fan of the Electoral College system of voting, as it means that the candidates have to appearl to wide swaths of the populace instead of just city slickers -- but that's an argument for a different day.

Fri, Nov. 11th, 2016, 12:34 pm
Friday Morning Injury Report

This morning, a sore neck: one too many too-enthusiastic shots to the head with a cane...

Tue, Nov. 8th, 2016, 05:34 am

Polls open in half an hour, and I still don't know who I'm voting for.

One bit of advice to fellow voters: voting is an investment, not a horse race.

Voting is an investment. Your vote is how to you signal to politicians what policies you prefer; for most of my early voting life I voted for candidates that I knew would not win, but my vote signaled to them, and to others, what my preferences were. My vote was an investment in my future political environment.

Voting is not a horse race. The goal is not to determine who the likely winner is and vote for said candidate, less your vote be "wasted."

I can't decide, at the moment, who I prefer to win, among less optimal to dreadful to unthinkable choices; or if this year is radically different, and I have to decide who I must vote to keep out of office at all costs.

Mon, Nov. 7th, 2016, 09:16 pm
Politics and Speech

I'm a First Amendment absolutist.

But first politics... everyone likes to denigrate politics, but I think politics is a wonderful invention. Politics is the method we use to resolve differences without violence.

These two ideas combine when it comes to political speech. For reasons beyond my comprehension, the US Supreme Court has allowed the US government to regulate, restrict, license, and bind with paperwork the most important speech of all: political speech.

From my viewpoint, this has resulted in gamesmanship, dueling lawsuits, encumbrances on the exercise of speech, and a mountain of paperwork for any group trying to exercise their First Amendment rights during an election. And it favors unions, as usual, who can turn out workers to support their candidates under union discipline.

What's worse is that the US Senate voted on an amendment to the Constitution to permit the government to impose "reasonable" restrictions on political speech. The Democrats voted for, the Republicans voted against, and the amendment failed -- but this is a terrifying prospect. The amendment is in response to the Citizens United decision, which had noting to do with "corporation as a person" (read the decision, not the news reports) but with the idea that alliances can form to support speech even during an election. I note in passing that the weasel-word "reasonable" does not otherwise appear in the US Constitution, and it's amazing to me anyone would include it.

What's left if political speech is suppressed? Politics is how we solve problems without the use of violence: the movement to suppress it bothers me a great deal.

As such I can't possibly vote for a Presidential candidate who not only continues to fret over having lost the Citizens United decision, but also intends to amend the Constitution to regulate away certain speakers entirely.

Mon, Nov. 7th, 2016, 02:43 pm
My Character Flaws, Compliments, and the Election

I'm going to confess to a character flaw.

When a politician tells a blatant lie, I find myself personally insulted. This has been a problem during the Obama era ("if you like your doctor...") and has become worse during this campaign.

When Clinton says that -- after 30 years or more of handling classified information -- that she can't recognize classified markings and speculates to her FBI interrogators that the "C" marking is a paragraph number (and not the standard marking for "Confidential"), I'm left with three choices:
  • She's a dumb as a brick.

  • Her falls and head trauma have left her with severe memory loss.

  • She's lying through her teeth to stay out of jail.

I'm willing to give her the benefit of the doubt; she's lying through her teeth to stay out of jail. That's fine: Clinton is, and I mean this in a complimentary way, a textbook example of how to commit crimes and stay out of jail by refusing to incriminate yourself.

However, I am insulted when she then goes on to pretend that nothing happened, nothing to see here, her actions were not in blatant violation of the law... that's something else entirely. The standard here is not whether or not she can be convicted; it's whether or not she's telling the truth. Her statements are, to put it mildly, not credible. I'm insulted when she asks me to go along with this pretense.

As such I won't vote for her. There are other reasons (regressive policies, attacks on the Bill of Rights, a long history of corruption) but these bald-faced lies are too insulting.

Disclosure: I suppose I should mention that as someone who used to have a security clearance -- really? Seriously? This is how you treat classified information that was way, way, way over my pay grade?

Tue, Sep. 13th, 2016, 08:08 pm
Red Cross Alternative

Until recently I donated money to the Red Cross on a monthly basis: some for local use, some for use at their discretion.

I've discovered, however, that while I can sign up to donate on their web site, once the donation is put into place, I cannot alter it. So, for example, when I had to change my credit card information, I could not even figure out from looking at the website if an old donation system would be activated. Certainly I could not delete it.

I asked them to provide tech support; they answered weeks later; I asked them to delete all donations; I never heard from them again.

I don't like this approach to fundraising, where you can add online but only delete if and when they get around to it. I find it unfriendly and, frankly, unethical.

This puts me into a quandary, however: is there an equivalent organization that I can donate to? Suggestions welcome. (Not Doctors Without Borders; I don't trust that organization.)

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