We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
The International Center of Photography is running a retrospective on Weegee, also known as Arthur Fellig, who was known for his stark black and white photos. His story is very inspirational, but most interesting was how he remade himself in the midst of the Depression.
Some economic historians observe that while crises might make it riskier to strike out on one’s own, by depressing pay they also lower the opportunity costs of leaving a job.
Weegee had an eye for the presentation of America's social life. It was generally optimistic, tinged with dark humor. This developed only after he redirected his career as a studio photographer into one following a police radio, and is the portion of his career the retrospective focuses on in "Murder is My Business." As this career path began to fade, Weegee recreated himself again by documenting society and individuals in an America that was enjoying itself. The mythology surrounding him was primarily of his own creation, which today adds an extra dimension to what makes him so fascinating.
One of his pieces of work become the model for Mad's Alfred E. Neuman.
The story of Arthur Fellig is the story of individual American exceptionalism.
Who is crazier: the ignorant, lunatic, hyper-reactive Muslems, or our pathetic Western governments? Gee whiz, I am so deeply sorry I hurt your sensitive feelings while sacrificing our lives while trying to rescue your freedom and lives.
"This is a world in which nobody asked the Islamic conference, the grouping of the 56 Islamic countries, to issue an apology when Christians are attacked and churches are burned in Egypt or in Pakistan. And have we heard a word from any Islamic leader anywhere about the radical Muslims in Nigeria who are not only burning the churches but are burning women and children who are Christian in the churches. When I hear that, I’ll expect my president to start issuing apologies.”
According to The Washington Post columnist, this response makes the United States look weak and despite looking weak, those on the other side rarely reciprocate.
“Nothing but burning the White House can relieve the wound of us, the Muslims, caused by the Burning of Quran in the US,” he underscored.
“Their apology can be accepted only by hanging their commanders; hanging their commanders means an apology,” he reiterated.
Obama has sent a letter to his Afghan counterpart Karzai, apologizing for the burning of copies of the Holy Quran.
These people make Islam look both stupid and bad. If they don't want to understand me, why should I bother trying to understand them? "Hearts and minds"? Are you kidding?
Screw 'em. We gave them a chance, and that's all we can do. On this topic, I agree with Obama and the Russians and the Brits before: Afghanistan is a tar baby. If they aren't one kind of trouble, they're another: heroin, terrorism, tribal warfare, Taliban. Kipling knew this.
No doubt a smart guy and a good manager, but a lousy politician: he says what he thinks. Obama is a far better pol - no integrity and no conscience, and lies and distorts without hesitation. That's the job - plus to have some crowd appeal. Mitt lacks crowd appeal. Personally, I detest crowd appeal.
Remember how Russell Crowe in Beautiful Mind gradually slid into a paranoid psychosis, letting the audience experience some of the reality-confusion along the way? Ron Howard depicted this process well in that movie; the creepy feeling that things are getting a little strange.
It may not be a general-interest topic, but it is an issue which Psychiatrists are frequently presented. You consult with a late teen or young adult, usually on the urging of a parent, who has shown some decline in functioning and has some new anxieties and some peculiar symptoms.
A seasoned shrink thinks "Hmmm. This smells sort-of pre-psychotic but of course I might be wrong." (Much of medical care is as much art and experience as it is science. Never, ever go to a young doctor.)
Apparently our instincts in this area are right at least 50% of the time, which isn't very good.
Congressman Bob Filner, together with PETA, wants to replace with simulators military Corpsmen’s “live tissue trauma training” on pigs. Filner’s proposal is a “pig in a poke”, experience and science not supporting his drastic change in military training. But, Filner is running for mayor of San Diego and this is the type of issue that appeals to his liberal base, regardless of the peril to Marines wounded on the battlefield. It may be that after much further research that some pigs may be saved, but until then Filner’s politics are “a pig too far.”
Several years ago, while building a structure with a diverse group of men, a pallet fell on to the leg of an elderly man. I ran over, lifted off the pallet, raised the man in my arms and kept him talking so he wouldn’t go into shock. His leg was bleeding profusely. Standing around us, the group included several medical doctors, doing nothing. I told one to cut away his trouser leg, put on a tourniquet and apply a compress, which he then did. Fortunately, once the bleeding was slowed by the tourniquet and compress, it did not turn out to be a severed artery. Fifteen or twenty minutes later an ambulance arrived, the medic commenting that it was good the correct immediate treatment was applied, and they took the conscious elderly man away to the hospital.
We all surely agree that lying is immoral and, most of the time, a terrible thing to do. We all surely agree that lying by omission is equally evil, most of the time. As we say here, a lie is the theft of somebody else's reality.
In life, we tend to identify liars and to distrust them, figuring reasonably that if they lie about one thing, they just tend to be liars. It's not always true, of course, but it's a safe rule of thumb.
Claiming military honors offends a lot of people in a way that claiming honors for other subjects doesn’t. Personally, I think that outlawing things merely because they offend people is a bad idea (and unnecessary–you’ll note that the offender in this case got his comeuppance even before the law was applied), but that’s another argument.
Making lying illegal seems crazy to me. For starters, every politician would be convicted.
How many generations does it take before the younger people look around and say, “Of course somebody else is going to pay for me. Of course there’s a bailout. If I screw up or don’t save any money, it doesn’t matter.” I say we’re living on borrowed time. We’ve drawn down the balance of our bedrock values. Once the stigma of being dependent is eliminated, more and more people want to be that way.
"The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the U.S. Government can’t pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our Government’s reckless fiscal policies.
Over the past 5 years, our federal debt has increased by $3.5 trillion to $8.6 trillion.That is “trillion” with a “T.” That is money that we have borrowed from the Social Security trust fund, borrowed from China and Japan, borrowed from American taxpayers. And over the next 5 years, between now and 2011, the President’s budget will increase the debt by almost another $3.5 trillion.
Numbers that large are sometimes hard to understand. Some people may wonder why they matter.
Here is why: This year, the Federal Government will spend $220 billion on interest. That is more money to pay interest on our national debt than we’ll spend on Medicaid and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. That is more money to pay interest on our debt this year than we will spend on education, homeland security, transportation, and veterans benefits combined. It is more money in one year than we are likely to spend to rebuild the devastated gulf coast in a way that honors the best of America.
And the cost of our debt is one of the fastest growing expenses in the Federal budget. This rising debt is a hidden domestic enemy, robbing our cities and States of critical investments in infrastructure like bridges, ports, and levees; robbing our families and our children of critical investments in education and health care reform; robbing our seniors of the retirement and health security they have counted on.
Every dollar we pay in interest is a dollar that is not going to investment in America’s priorities."
Senator Barack Obama Senate Floor Speech on Public Debt March 16, 2006
“In the view of the Left, the state is everything. Why? Because in the progressive belief system, only the state guarantees rights. All of our freedoms and liberties spring from the state. All moral and philosophical and scientific authority is vested in the state. Only the state can enforce the progressive ideology. And so the state must survive and it must grow. The bigger the state, the bigger the rights. Want a right to healthcare? You need an enormous state. Want a right to taxpayer-funded contraceptives? You need a huge state… Our founders agreed, they saw the constitution as a charter of negative liberties — it protects people’s natural rights against the government… The Constitution only gives the state the power to protect rights.”
What kind of club is that, where half the members pay no dues? (chart via Foundry)
To mix metaphors, we believe that every citizen should have some skin in the game. It's only "fair."
Of course, from a political standpoint the Left wants all the free-loaders and dependents they can get. We all get that. (Look at what has been happening to Disability. After some time on Disability, no matter how functional, few will ever work again. It has become the new Welfare. Everybody has some disability, don't they? Nobody's perfect.) Here's a question from Bernie: Can Obama Win Re-Election by Promising Free Stuff?
Mr. Obama says he is not waging class warfare against the wealthy in America. He is, of course. His campaign slogan might as well be: ” Vote for Me … I’ll Give You Free Stuff.” This is enticing. Imagine if you pay no federal income taxes and one of the candidates says, “I’ll take money from rich people and give it to you to pay your mortgage – even if you were irresponsible and bought a house you couldn’t afford. Vote for me, I’ll make sure you get unemployment benefits for almost two full years. And, oh yeah, vote for me and I’ll make sure you get birth control pills — free of charge.
Half of our culture no longer puts death and taxes next to each other, no longer understands that Uncle Sam taking your money is a bad thing, no longer understands what angered Robin Hood and what prompted the Boston Tea Party. This half of our culture has actually reached a point that they view taxes as a noble form of patriotism and charity.
We need to start showing them how it’s affecting their lives on a daily basis. We must get people to hate taxes again and look at it as the absolutely minimal necessary evil that it’s intended to be. We don’t get there by scolding them. We get there by teaching them.
How is it that these environmental “crises” and their multi-trillion-dollar solutions gain so much political traction? Money and politics, of course, are important factors. Government funding for “global warming” research and subsidies for “alternative energy” are attractive inducements to promulgate climate change alarmism. Al Gore has seen his net worth increase from $2 million to $100 million over the last decade as a result of his global-warming advocacy and investments in government-subsidized “green energy” businesses.
A more insidious factor, however, is that emotional myths routinely trump rational science in modern environmentalism. Much of the rhetoric that characterizes environmental arguments indulges two powerful myths in particular, the Noble Savage and the Golden Age. Since the dawn of civilization, these ancient stories have spoken to humanity’s anxieties about living in the complex human world of language, law, culture, cities, trade, and technology.
Long before I knew it was called the "Bennett Hypothesis" I knew that colleges and universities increase tuition to capture increases in federal and state financial aid. I attended numerous meetings of university administrators where the topic of setting next year's tuition was discussed.
The regnant phrase was "Don't leave money sitting on the table."
"The left says we need to “pay our fair share” and we respond indignantly that “we already are! It’s you that aren’t!” The truth of our reply aside, our ability to get people to agree with us is not helped with this tactic. For one thing, we are accepting a premise from the outset: taxes are about “fairness.”"
Let me be perfectly clear: I think it is obvious that Peter Gleick fabricated this document–the only one he posted that makes the Heartland Institute look bad–because the real ones he stole from Heartland didn’t serve his partisan purpose. Or, if he didn’t make it up himself, he got it from an ally who fabricated it. No knowledgeable person could mistake Gleick’s hoax for a legitimate top-secret Heartland memo.
So, Peter Gleick: if I am wrong, sue me. If I am right, apologize for fabricating a document and attempting to perpetrate a hoax, and retire from public life.
Of contemporary mass movements, the green movement has been consistently the most alarmist, the least constructive, the most emotional, the least rational, the most intolerant and the most self righteous.
As someone who has done complex modeling and computer coding myself, I deny that, even if we had such an understanding, the people who have been doing the modeling have either the competence or the computer power, in terms of both memory and processing speed, necessary to accurately model it with any confidence at all, let alone sufficient confidence to make radical and costly policy changes that will devastate the wealth of our unborn descendants. Similarly, I deny that the people doing such shoddy modeling have even studied, let along understand, economics and the future course of technology sufficiently to justify their demands that we implement such changes (which conveniently just happen to coincide with things that the Left has been wanting to do for…ever). To paraphrase Carl Sagan, extraordinary policy prescriptions require extraordinary evidence.
Here's Gleik's own personal justification for perpetrating a fraud. (His excuse is that the alarmists are losing the debate, so he got upset. What debate?)
I find the ongoing saga of fraud after fraud, deception after deception, to be depressing. As we have said here many times, some good old global warming would be great for the earth and great for people. It certainly has been, in the past. However, I predict that we will not be so lucky.
I'm sure Isaac Asimov was not a fan of capitalism, let alone the Republican Party (or even Libertarians). The movie I, Robotwas based on his series, primarily his work on the Three Laws of Robotics and some outcomes that may occur with their implementation. In some ways, the movie was a criticism of corporate culture and government becoming too interlaced. US Robotics becomes an overly powerful organization with deep ties to government, ultimately making the robot takeover very difficult to slow or stop. On the other hand, it's a criticism of Progressive overreach. Perhaps unknowingly.
There is one scene which reminded me of our current government's goals. The idea that we have politicians or bureaucrats who 'know better', and can guide us to a better place. All we have to do is agree to let them, and while many will be harmed, it will be for a 'better good'.
Just a thought about the election: The O cannot run on his record or on his real beliefs about what America should be, so he is going to run mainly as a celeb candidate with a good smile and a good voice. A Hollywood candidate for personal popularity, an American Idol sort of thing?