The Crowhill Weblog - Content

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

Sites endorsed by Crowhill:
Crowhill Publishing
The Krehbiel Report on Publishing

“I can’t understand why Trump is doing so well”

by Crowhill on 30 September 2016

Me: Really? I’m surprised that you don’t. You’re a fairly perceptive fellow.

Him: How can people support a man like this? He’s a serial adulterer, a flagrant liar, he’s bombastic and nasty, he can’t speak in complete sentences, he doesn’t know basic facts about the government …. He is the most unqualified man to ever run for the office.

Me: I think you’re not considering the mood of the people and how fed up they are. A large percentage of the population thinks the system is rigged and corrupt from top to bottom and needs to be completely disrupted.

Him: They’re delusional, but even so that doesn’t excuse asking this horrible man to do it. He’s going to make a mockery of the United States in front of the whole world.

Me: I see. So you expect somebody who’s going to buck the political establishment of both parties, defy the 24-7 scorn of the media and the Internet cry bullies — basically to be at war with almost every social institution in this country — and also be a nice guy?

Him: I don’t want anything of the kind. I don’t think the system is entirely rigged and corrupt, and I don’t think Trump could fix it if it were.

Me: And that’s why you don’t understand why Trump is doing so well.

11 comments  ::  Add your comment  ::  2016-09-30  ::  Crowhill

Are we too timid to solve the mess in Syria?

by Crowhill on 29 September 2016

I’ve been on and off listening to a podcast on WWI. It’s amazingly awful stuff. The carnage was unbelievable. You have to wonder what kind of monsters could have sent men into those battles. Not only the generals, but the people back home, recruiting more soldiers to send off to the meat grinder to fight an incredibly stupid war.

Our modern generals are cut from different cloth, I think. We seem to be far more reluctant to both inflict and suffer casualties these days. Military and civilian.

That should be a good thing, I suppose, but I remember being very frustrated at the cautious, timid way the Iraq war was prosecuted.

It’s a tough balance. On the one hand, WWI went way too far in allowing men to be butchered for no good reason. But you can’t be too afraid to shed blood. There are times when wars need to be fought and the gloves need to come off.

I get the feeling Putin doesn’t share our reluctance to pay the butcher’s bill, and that’s part of the strain in the U.S.-Russia agreement in Syria. (Not that I’m an expert or anything. This is just my reaction to what I’m seeing and hearing.)

I have children of fighting age, one of whom is active duty, and I have friends in the military, and friends with children in the military. Obviously I want them to be safe.

But it’s a harsh world out there, and weakness invites aggression. I hope we never again see the sort of senseless carnage in WWI, but I also hope we don’t become so soft that we aren’t willing to let loose the dogs of war from time to time.

5 comments  ::  Add your comment  ::  2016-09-29  ::  Crowhill

Not since the Civil War?

by Crowhill on 29 September 2016

I’m no expert on American history, but I was trying to imagine a time when it would have been acceptable for an American presidential candidate to call a very large percentage of the population deplorable and unredeemable.

The bigger issue is why we have allowed a culture to develop that allows that sort of talk.

9 comments  ::  Add your comment  ::  2016-09-29  ::  Crowhill

Why should we care about a constitution written by white slave owners who rode horses and never touched a computer?

by Crowhill on 28 September 2016

I’m fairly convinced that when conservatives say we should respect the constitution, many modern people just roll their eyes. “What relevance does that dusty old piece of paper have to me,” they think.

It’s a reasonable objection. The cultural divide between us and the folk who wrote and ratified the constitution is pretty big, in lots and lots of ways. It can seem silly to feel bound to their political opinions — just as it would if we were bound to their opinions on science, or how to fight a battle at sea.

That disconnect needs to be confronted, which is why I think it’s a mistake to speak in worshipful tones about the founding fathers and the constitution without first addressing that underlying tension. And that hasn’t been done very effectively.

When someone objects, “why should I care what a bunch of white slave owners had to say,” a conservative might reply along these lines. “How do you think owning slaves affected their views on the separation of powers, or checks and balances?”

IOW, admit that there’s a significant cultural divide, but question the premise that it’s relevant to every issue. For example, having a right to a jury trial doesn’t seem connected to whether you have access to good dental care, or whether you know anything about bacteria.

The objection is reasonable on the surface, but once you press for details it starts to fall apart.

The other issue to press, I think, is the need for the rule of law. Even if the constitution were completely out of date, does that mean we want people to ignore it and do some other thing, just because they think it’s better?

The whole point of having a constitution is to define and limit powers. If we can just roll our eyes and snigger at it, and wink-wink, nudge-nudge as we ignore those rubes who think it matters, then we have a government with no restraints, which is far worse than following a constitution written by old white guys who rode horses.

4 comments  ::  Add your comment  ::  2016-09-28  ::  Crowhill

What flag will Elon Musk plant on Mars?

by Crowhill on 28 September 2016

I think it would be interesting if a private party — not a government — were the first to get to Mars.

SpaceX Unveils Plan for Manned Mars Mission

But well-informed people know that Billy and Amber have already been.

 ::  Add your comment  ::  2016-09-28  ::  Crowhill

If only men were nicer to women …

by Crowhill on 27 September 2016

There’s a theme in many discussions of marriage relationships that goes basically like this. Women are frustrated because they have to do too much housework (not just dishes, but carting kids around, taking care of sick kids, etc.), and that if men would do their fare share of the work, women wouldn’t be so frustrated.

There are a couple things to be said in favor of that.

First, chores have changed. The idea that the man works outside the home and the wife works in the home isn’t true in most families, but the expectation that certain things are women’s work persists. Men and women need to adjust to that. (At least many do. Some families still retain the older arrangement, in which case it makes perfect sense for the woman to do the dishes while the man reads the paper.)

Second, it’s expected (at least by me) that a woman’s mood and feelings will depend a lot on what her husband does. ISTM that women’s feelings are more influenced by the husband than vice versa. So the husband does have to take the lead to make sure things are peaceful in the home.

(I find that second one particularly funny because the whole female resentment thing fits in so well with feminism — in that it puts all the blame on the man — but the idea that the husband has this responsibility to lead his wife in this way annoys them no end.)

So to some extent I agree with the “do the dishes you lazy men” take on things.

There is, however, another side to this story, which is that women are sinners too. They — like everybody else — complain too much, are lazy and resentful, want to blame shift, etc.

Maybe the men aren’t doing “their fair share.” Maybe. Even probably.

But isn’t it also possible — at least in some cases — that the men are doing far more than their fair share — working longer hours, perhaps in a more demanding job, taking care of the cars, fixing things around the house, etc. — and that women are only focusing on who’s doing the dishes?

Isn’t it possible that some women enjoy feeling resentment towards their husbands? And isn’t it possible that some elements of society want to promote those sorts of feelings?

I’m not saying this is always the case, and as a general rule I think modern men should be picking up a little more of the housework.

What I’m saying is that the issue is usually presented in a very one-sided way — as if men are always at fault and women are innocent sufferers.

The one place you might expect to not to take the women’s perspective on this issue is the allegedly patriarchal Christian church, which has been (so we’re told) blaming everything on Eve for thousands of years. But it seems — from what I’ve seen, heard and read — that the opposite is the case. That pastors are quite guilty of the “blame men first” approach.

Why is that? (Or am I completely off my rocker?)

8 comments  ::  Add your comment  ::  2016-09-27  ::  Crowhill

Why is it racist to question where Obama was born?

by Crowhill on 27 September 2016

I’m not trying to raise the birther issue because — as somebody once said in a different context — what difference, at this point, does it make? He was born in Hawaii, but even if he was born in Kenya, it’s not as if he’s going to be removed from office.

But what does make a difference is the often un-challenged assertion that to question where Obama was born is somehow racist.

It may be misguided. It may be wrong-headed. It may rely on crazy conspiracy theories. But I don’t see how it’s racist.

There are reports that Obama’s official biography in the original Harvard Law Review 1991 Year Book show him as being born in Kenya. I don’t know if that’s a genuine page from the Law Review or some sort of internet forgery, and I honestly don’t care. The point is simply that there were reasons to question where Obama was born.

So … what’s racist about it? A: Nothing at all. But liberals will use any excuse to make the charge of racism, and other people — scared to death of being called racists themselves — refuse to stand up to them.

19 comments  ::  Add your comment  ::  2016-09-27  ::  Crowhill

Clinton was better prepared

by Crowhill on 27 September 2016

Hillary clearly did a very good job preparing for that debate. Trump didn’t, and it showed. He squandered several opportunities (e.g., not bringing up her emails during the conversation on cyber security). The moderator was clearly on Hillary’s side, and the questions were not very good.

Generally speaking, I thought it was boring.

8 comments  ::  Add your comment  ::  2016-09-27  ::  Crowhill

Who are the real climate deniers?

by Crowhill on 26 September 2016

I’ve been following the climate change issue since before James Hansen gave his pivotal testimony in Congress. Climate is one of the issues that come up frequently in both anthropology and geology, both of which I’ve followed for a long time.

One of the most annoying things coming from the freak-out coalition is the use of the term “deniers,” or “denialists.” They want to associate people who question catastrophic man-made global warming with Holocaust deniers. But in reality, it’s the members of the freak-out coalition that are the real deniers.

Here’s a partial list of things they deny.

  • The climate has changed dramatically in the past for reasons we don’t fully understand.
  • The climate has been on a long-term warming trajectory since we left the last glacial period — completely independent of human activity.
  • We are still in an ice age and the “normal” state of the planet is much warmer than today.
  • Leaving human influence aside, nobody knows if we should be going deeper into the current ice age (i.e., into another glacial period) or coming out of it entirely.
  • Humanity has lived through hotter and colder climates than our current climate.
  • Modern man is much more capable of dealing with the climate than people in the past.
  • Cold kills more people than heat.
  • The climate will change, and shorelines will move — up or down — no matter what we do.
  • The people who claim to be following the “scientific consensus” are not reading “science,” but journalistic summaries of science.

 ::  Add your comment  ::  2016-09-26  ::  Crowhill

Get rid of the moderators

by Crowhill on 26 September 2016

These so-called “debates” don’t need moderators, and they do more harm than good, since everybody will be wondering if the moderator was fair.

Here’s what I’d do. Assume the debate will be 90 minutes, and assume each candidate has 1 minute to reply and 30 seconds to rebut. The format would go like this …

  • Present the question
  • Candidate A gets one minute
  • Candidate B gets one minute
  • Candidate A gets 30 seconds
  • Candidate B gets 30 seconds

Time would be enforced by turning off microphones.

Each question would take roughly 3 and a half minutes, which means there’s enough room for about 26 questions.

Let each candidate propose 13 questions, which they will read. So, for example, Trump reads the first question, Hillary answers for a minute, Trump answers the same question for a minute, Hillary responds for 30 seconds, Trump responds for 30 seconds. Then Hillary asks a question.

The only “moderator” would be the sound engineer.

12 comments  ::  Add your comment  ::  2016-09-26  ::  Crowhill

2016-09-22 :: Crowhill // General
Trump’s advantage
2016-09-22 :: Crowhill // General
Riots. Again.
2016-09-19 :: Crowhill // General
Was Obamacare designed to fail?
2016-09-19 :: Crowhill // General
Coming to a trash can near you …