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Thoughts on life — News, culture, politics, beer, art, science, education, religion and ethics

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I’m so virtuous. Just look at my shoes!

by Greg Krehbiel on 30 July 2015

Remember “virtue signalling”? The shoe company TOMS is apparently very good at it. See this. Vox Explains Liberals.

If we were to peer into the psyche of the virtue-signallers, we might see something like this: “I don’t really need to help poor people, or even think deeply about what poor people need. All I have to do is buy these shoes and other people will see me as a kind and caring person.”

There’s no doubt that some people buy TOMS shoes because they genuinely want to share their abundance with people who can benefit. And good for them. We need more of that in the world.

At the same time, there’s no doubt some companies (maybe TOMS, maybe not) are using gimmicks to trick people into believing they are doing good by doing something simple.

-- 5 comments  ::  What do you think?  ::  2015-07-30  ::  Greg Krehbiel





How twisted have we become?

by Greg Krehbiel on 29 July 2015

1. Murdering little children very carefully so you can preserve the parts you want to sell. Yawn. No story here. Move along.

2. Shooting the wrong lion. Crucify him!

-- 5 comments  ::  What do you think?  ::  2015-07-29  ::  Greg Krehbiel





“I regard them as adolescents.”

by Greg Krehbiel on 29 July 2015

Salon has been interviewing Camile Paglia, and is posting it in three segments. The first was uninteresting to me, but today’s is better.

She’s usually worth reading. Not because she’s right, but because she’s funny and outrageous and occasionally insightful.

-- 23 comments  ::  What do you think?  ::  2015-07-29  ::  Greg Krehbiel





The era of audacity

by Greg Krehbiel on 28 July 2015

Earlier I posted that the Obama administration lied about “side deals” with Iran. We all know that Hillary lied about her emails, and that the director of national intelligence lied about bulk data collection.

Lying by government officials has become such an acceptable part of modern political life that nobody does anything about it. Even if you lie under oath.

At the same time, we all know — because we see it on a daily basis — that we get completely contradictory information on a host of topics. We get misrepresented facts and figures from the government, from the news, and from partisans on all sides. Everybody has a way to spin the numbers to mean what they don’t mean. Nobody’s interested in truth. Only spin.

Illegal immigrants outnumber the unemployed. No they don’t. Yes they do. etc. Facts depend on who you get them from.

It would be nice to believe that in the midst of this crisis of truth and trust, the nation would be pining for somebody honest. Somebody who doesn’t rely on bombast and flamboyance. Somebody who is competent, quiet, and reliably middle of the road. Not a partisan.

But who’s going to pit such a man against the kind of flame-throwing lunatics we have now?

The most popular candidates on both sides are monsters. Hillary, the confirmed liar with deep psychological issues, and Trump, who is grandiose and ridiculous.

Of course I realize it’s early in the process, and as I’ve said before, I don’t think either Hillary or Trump will get their party’s nomination. But I find the current state of things rather disturbing. It’s as if the response to “we live in a world of lies” is not “let’s have the truth for a change,” but “let’s nominate the better liar, or the guy who shouts the loudest.”

What Clinton and Trump have in common is audacity. Sanders too. And it’s audacity that is winning. The more the better.

Obama, the Chicago politician, the most partisan president in my lifetime, flagrantly broke the rules and got away with it. Now we want more of the same, but with twice the brass and fanfare.

We have Hillary, who is even more of a brazen liar than Obama. We have Sanders, who regularly lies about statistics and proudly calls himself a socialist. (Talk about “fundamentally transforming America!”) And on the Republican side, forget it with these weenies who cow-tow and apologize to the liberals. Let’s give them somebody who attacks and hits back twice as hard.

As I’ve said before, I am by nature a controversialist and extremist. I feel the pull of the dark side. I don’t want Trump in the White House, but I love it when he stands up to the politically correct and beats them at their own game.

It seems that every president is more partisan than the last, and we’re descending into an era of “grab what you can” politics. Getting caught at it doesn’t even matter. All that matters is whether you can get away with it.

-- 3 comments  ::  What do you think?  ::  2015-07-28  ::  Greg Krehbiel





Move SCOTUS to Alaska

by Greg Krehbiel on 28 July 2015

One of the reasons Supreme Court justices get appointed for life is to take them out of the political process. They don’t have to be popular. They don’t have to run for re-election. They are secure in their ivory tower — robed wizards of pure intellect, interpreting the law.

That was the theory, anyway. It’s clearly not working. They are quite affected by politics and culture.

Part of that is the confirmation process, which has become a political circus. The system seems rigged now for justices who can either push the right affirmative action buttons, or who kept their head down, their views to themselves, and didn’t leave too much of a paper trail — so they can let it all loose once they get on the bench.

People have proposed different solutions to this. Ted Cruz wants to subject them to retention elections. Others have recommended other forms of term limits, or a more active use of impeachment.

Those things may help, and they may be worth trying, but I would like to propose another solution.

Get them out of Washington.

Washington is a poisonous city. It reeks of bureaucratic incompetence, political correctness and elite media snobbery.

I submit that the culture in the Washington area is part of the problem.

If you want ivory tower justices who thrive on pure argument and intellect, who are separated from political squabbles and cultural fads, move them to Alaska. Or Idaho. Or to some secret facility under a mountain.

And while you’re at it, disperse all the agencies too. Move EPA to Wyoming. Move the FCC to New Mexico. Break up the Washington monopoly.

-- 7 comments  ::  What do you think?  ::  2015-07-28  ::  Greg Krehbiel





No surprises in Obama’s Iran deal

by Greg Krehbiel on 27 July 2015

See Obama’s secret Iran deals exposed.

Now why would I say “no surprises” and then link to an article about secret deals?

Because it’s no surprise that the Obama administration (1) negotiated a crappy deal, (2) lied to Congress and possibly broke the law, and (3) subjected U.S. security interests to some internationalist organization — i.e., not to the U.S. government.

-- 2 comments  ::  What do you think?  ::  2015-07-27  ::  Greg Krehbiel





Why print books are better than ebooks

by Greg Krehbiel on 27 July 2015

A few thoughts on their relative merits, and how to make ebook readers better.

Why print books are better than digital, and my recommendations for eBook readers

Which do you prefer, and why?

-- 7 comments  ::  What do you think?  ::  2015-07-27  ::  Greg Krehbiel





Abortion and bear baiting

by Greg Krehbiel on 25 July 2015

For “entertainment,” people used to watch something called “bear baiting,” which involved getting dogs to attack a bear. It was, as you can imagine, a gruesome thing.

There’s an old saying that the Puritans were against bear baiting “not because it gave pain to the bear, but because it gave pleasure to the spectators.”

There’s a right and a wrong way to interpret that. Some people will read it according to the old saw that a Puritan is a person who is deperately afraid that somebody, somewhere, is having a good time.

That is to miss the point rather badly. The problem with bear baiting is that human beings are taking pleasure in the cruel death of a poor creature. It hardens the hearts of the spectators.

I thought of that when I read this about how the cold and casual discussion of methods to kill a baby without destroying the sellable parts is “precisely the kind of psychic numbing that occurs when dealing daily with industrial-scale destruction of the growing, thriving, recognizably human fetus.”

If you work in a factory that butchers chickens, you’re going to get numb to the suffering of the chicken. You’re going to engage in gallows humor. In short, you’ll justify what you do.

Abortionists do the same, which is why they hide behind euphemisms like “abortion” and “terminating a pregnancy.” They won’t say what they’re really doing, which is brutally torturing an infant human to death.

-- 4 comments  ::  What do you think?  ::  2015-07-25  ::  Greg Krehbiel





An extremist in favor of moderation

by Greg Krehbiel on 24 July 2015

I am prone to taking strong, radical positions. I have calmed down somewhat over the years, but I still tend to prefer the bold and the brash.

But not in politics. Not any more. Obama has cured me of that. See, for example, Partisan in chief: Obama’s besetting sin.

If there was somebody running for president who shared all my views, and promised to try his best to implement them, I would not vote for him. Because I know that my views are out of the mainstream, and it’s tyranny to impose a radical agenda on the country.

If somebody waved a magic wand and made me king tomorrow, I would gently, slowly, cautiously push things in my direction — a little bit at a time. I would not impose something that the country didn’t agree with.

What the world needs now is moderation, but the internet, the 24-7 news cycle and the relentless quest for eyeballs and clicks is rewarding extremism and craziness.

Pigweed just sent me a very interesting quote from an article about “the lukewarmers.” Here’s an excerpt.

In the climate debate, we hear a lot from those who think disaster is inexorable if not inevitable, and a lot from those who think it is all a hoax. We hardly ever allow the moderate “lukewarmers” a voice: those who suspect that the net positive feedbacks from water vapor in the atmosphere are low, so that we face only 1 to 2 degrees Celsius of warming this century; that the Greenland ice sheet may melt but no faster than its current rate of less than 1 percent per century; that net increases in rainfall (and carbon dioxide concentration) may improve agricultural productivity; that ecosystems have survived sudden temperature lurches before; and that adaptation to gradual change may be both cheaper and less ecologically damaging than a rapid and brutal decision to give up fossil fuels cold turkey.

As I said to Pigweed, lukewarm positions don’t make headlines.

“World to end next decade, scientists say” gets attention.
“Scientists are lying to you about global warming” rouses the blood.
“The world is warming, but it’s not such a big deal” doesn’t get clicks or eyeballs.

IOW, we have created a culture and a society that favors the extreme. It’s going to be our undoing.

--  ::  What do you think?  ::  2015-07-24  ::  Greg Krehbiel





The way to get the truth about climate change is to read articles that aren’t directly about climate change

by Greg Krehbiel on 24 July 2015

When people are dealing with controversies, they try to score points to support their side, and they avoid like the plague anything that might give ammo to their opponents. But when people are just trying to do research, and don’t think of it as controversial, you can see what’s really going on.

So, for example, in this article — Hot spells doomed the mammoths — you can hear people speaking honestly about climate change. I found this particularly interesting.

From the two records, they built a timeline of so-called interstadials — periods when climate suddenly warmed by as much as 16°C, sometimes over decades, and then cooled down again just as quickly.

I studied geology in college, and while there wasn’t nearly as much data back then as there is now, and not nearly as much interest in climate issues, that quote above is the sort of thing I heard all the time. Climate changes. Usually slowly, but sometimes very quickly.

Keep that in mind when people refer to recent climate changes as “unprecedented.”

--  ::  What do you think?  ::  2015-07-24  ::  Greg Krehbiel

2015-07-24 :: Greg Krehbiel // General
The party of death
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2015-07-23 :: Greg Krehbiel // General
The more we get to see her …
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2015-07-22 :: Greg Krehbiel // General
My day at the office in 2025
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2015-07-21 :: Greg Krehbiel // General
When high-status men “hoard women”
2015-07-21 :: Greg Krehbiel // General
The “hair and makeup tax”
2015-07-19 :: Greg Krehbiel // General
Will the pace of change kill us?