The Crowhill Weblog - Content

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

Sites endorsed by Crowhill:
Crowhill Publishing Homebrewbeer.biz
The Krehbiel Report on Publishing


No, the right is not winning the culture wars

by Crowhill on 19 August 2016

Jim Geraghty has what he himself admits is a crazy theory, that the right is winning the culture wars.

But all he shows is that we’re not going to Hell in a handbasket quite as fast as some people want. Which is really the essence of the modern “conservative” movement. “Yeah, okay, but less and slower.”

8 comments  ::  Add your comment  ::  2016-08-19  ::  Crowhill



Hillary’s coronation is likely, but not certain

by Crowhill on 19 August 2016

Regular readers know that I went out on a limb and predicted that Hillary would not only not be president, but wouldn’t even get the nomination. That prediction was mostly based on two assumptions.

  • That there is still something almost like justice in this country, and Hillary would be held accountable for her clearly illegal handling of her emails.
  • That Hillary is such an awful candidate that even Democrats would sour on her.

I was wrong on both counts for the same basic reason. The system is rigged. Laws are only for the little people, and the Clintons have done such a good job laying the groundwork for her run this time that nobody else had a chance. That despite the fact that Hillary Clinton is an extremely unlikeable person.

But there is still a ways to go, and a lot can happen before election day to spoil her coronation. I think the most likely thing is a health issue, but there are other events / revelations that could get in her way.

I don’t say these things in support of Trump. While I reject the ridiculous anti-Trump rhetoric of the left, I don’t like the guy and I don’t want him to be president. If I didn’t live where I do I might agonize over who I will vote for. But in reliably blue Maryland it hardly makes a difference.

7 comments  ::  Add your comment  ::  2016-08-19  ::  Crowhill



If you’re not reading Scott Adams …

by Crowhill on 17 August 2016

… you should be.

I watched Clinton surrogates on CNN criticize Trump’s speech, and their criticisms were mostly these two:

1. All of Trump’s foreign policy ideas are crazy and uninformed.

2. Obama is already wisely doing all of those same things.

That would seem absurd in any other context. But keep in mind that we voters believe we can assess foreign policy ideas by listening to biased liars talk on television. So the entire situation is ridiculous, but we play along.

Trump’s Foreign Policy Speech

 ::  Add your comment  ::  2016-08-17  ::  Crowhill



Ideologically driven data, “studies” and political rhetoric

by Crowhill on 17 August 2016

This morning on CSPAN radio I listened to a portion of a Heritage Foundation seminar on the Gingrich-Clinton welfare reform in the 90s. The part I heard addressed some recent claim that while welfare reform did move some people toward work, it hurt the very poor who, it’s been claimed, have to live on $2/day.

The panelists said these claims are based on income studies where people on public assistance report how much money they have received over a certain period of time. According to the guys from Heritage, the data from these studies is pretty much useless because when you compare people’s reported income with their reported spending, there’s a huge discrepancy. E.g., people are spending $5 for every $1 they allegedly get as income, and a relatively large number of people report no income at all. So how are they buying these things?

People underreport their income, these guys claim, and fail to report as income many of the benefits they receive, like food stamps and such.

After one of the presentations, somebody asked if the people promoting the $2/day story are lying or stupid — which seemed like an apt question.

I don’t know who has their facts right and who doesn’t, but I know with dead certainty that people twist and bend and spin the facts to promote their agenda. It’s usually a question of who is twisting the most.

This thing about welfare reform is just one example of a trend we see all the time — that both sides can present seemingly compelling cases and claim that their position is “fact-based.” That’s always in the back of my mind when I read political memes, or when I hear politicians talk about how their programs did such and so, or how housing or jobs or crime or whatever went from X to Y.

I don’t believe most of it, and I think the public is starting to tune it out as well. It’s not the boy who cried wolf, it’s the expert who cried yes, followed by the expert who yelled no, followed by ….

The public’s refusal to get on board with “fact-based” policies frustrates the heck out of the media because they are living under the delusion that there are accessible facts that resolve these questions one way or another. No, Trump can’t possibly build the wall and make Mexico pay for it (or yes, he actually can). Yes, Hillary can pay for free college (or no, she really can’t). “Experts” have resolved the issue and enlightened people will follow the “fact-based” policies!!

And those rubes — those idiots — that is, the general public — they can’t understand the plain facts, even when the media darlings patiently explain them using small words.

What the media doesn’t realize is that the public is smarter than the media gives them credit for, just not in a way the media credits. The elite find it hilarioius that so many people can’t name the country that borders us to the south, or whether it was Hillary or Trump who said X or Y, and in their mind that proves the people are idiots. And … of course it does with respect to general knowledge.

Just remember, as my son reminded me last night, when you think about how stupid the average person is, fully half of them are stupider than that.

But facts and policy details aren’t the whole story, and they really can’t be. It would take a lot of work to dig through all the he said / she said on any given policy question to have any decent assurance you knew the truth of the matter, and most people don’t have time to do that for even one issue, let alone the dozens of issues that we (allegedly) vote on.

I’m a decently well-informed guy, but I don’t know and really can’t know whether policy A will yield result 1 or 2, and people who think they do know those things are almost always kidding themselves.

This is why things like “morning in America” or “keep hope alive” are so powerful. They get past the arguments about facts and speak to vision.

Being a leader isn’t a matter of explaining all the details of your campaign. It’s about giving a vision of the task ahead, and how great it will be to achieve it.

9 comments  ::  Add your comment  ::  2016-08-17  ::  Crowhill



Let’s import people who don’t believe in democracy and pretend things will be just fine

by Crowhill on 16 August 2016

Things are so crazy these days that sometimes it’s hard for me to take seriously the garbage people say and, apparently, believe. What people say about immigration is a case in point.

To illustrate how crazy things have become, imagine there were only two countries in the world: Democracyland and Islamoland.

Democracyland has a system of government that’s based on clearly delineated powers that are limited, dispersed broadly among groups with different interests, with a series of checks and balances. Government power is generally distrusted, and is considered to derive its authority from the consent of the governed, who have the right to change it when it no longer suits them. The people in Democracyland believe in this form of government.

Islamoland is ruled by religious fanatics who take their marching orders from the Koran, which they believe is the ultimate source of law because it flows straight from the mouth of God. As a secondary authority they rely on the hadith because it recounts the words and actions of Muhammad, who was a violent, crazy person. The people in Islamoland respect power and believe in it, and they don’t believe in voting except as a means to impose sharia law. But voting is kinda tame stuff for them and they usually take over new areas through violence.

Why would the people in Democracyland allow anyone from Islamoland to even enter their country without first renouncing the insane stuff the people in Islamoland believe?

Obviously I have exaggerated the situation. Not everyone in America believes in our form of government, and not everyone in Islamic countries believes in their system. But a lot do, and in a system where people have the ability to change the government, why would you import people who don’t share your values? A few, maybe. But certainly not very many of them.

2 comments  ::  Add your comment  ::  2016-08-16  ::  Crowhill



The headline writer’s dilemma

by Crowhill on 15 August 2016

Shall I call attention to Michael Phelps, because he (as the most medaled Olympic athlete ever) gets clicks, which gets page views, which sells advertising, which pays my salary … or, shall I call attention to the gold medal accomplishment of Ledecky so the feminists won’t take offense? Hmmm.

tiresome-feminists-450

1 comment  ::  Add your comment  ::  2016-08-15  ::  Crowhill



God’s Debris, by Scott Adams

by Crowhill on 15 August 2016

Scott Adams — who has done a great job analyzing the Trump phenomenon — wrote a little book called God’s Debris: A Thought Experiment. I had downloaded the ebook many years ago and started to read it, but he starts off with some rather unimpressive arguments about free will (as are all arguments about free will), and in that time of my life I had no patience for such things. I set it aside.

A friend recently gave me a paperback copy, so I read it some Sunday afternoon. It still has lame arguments about free will, and a few other things, but these days I’m a little more tolerant of weird ideas, so I persevered.

It’s an interesting read, although more than a little silly at times.

The underlying mythology of the book is that God blew himself up and is slowly reassembling himself through the agency of chance.

The main point of the book is that our brains are delusion generators. We create stories for ourselves to get through life, but most of those stories are bunk. Much of that is true.

The secret to life is to come to terms with this, see through our delusions and conform our lives to where probability wants us to go. I.e., be sensible and do things that trend in a positive direction.

It seems like an odd setup for telling people to be sensible, but … whatever.

If you find yourself with nothing to do on a lazy Sunday, give it a read. Despite the overall weirdness of it, there are soime interesting parts that you may profit from. Mostly, it will strengthen your belief in the adage that when men cease to believe in God, they don’t believe nothing, they believe anything.

2 comments  ::  Add your comment  ::  2016-08-15  ::  Crowhill



What if EEOC investigated leftist groups for discrimination based on religion?

by Crowhill on 12 August 2016

Some people falsely believe that disproportionate representation is evidence of discrimination. So if a business has the wrong number of people from a particular minority, that is cause for some government agency to step in and investigate to see if there is bias in hiring, advancement or firing.

In reality, disproportionate representation is not evidence of bias, but … an enterprising conservative administration might be able to stop this madness by giving liberals a dose of their own medicine.

I would be willing to bet that people of faith are under-represented in Hollywood, in the news media, in law and in education. So why not start an investigation and poke these bastions of liberalism in the eyes?

6 comments  ::  Add your comment  ::  2016-08-12  ::  Crowhill



Miracles, science and the Matrix

by Crowhill on 11 August 2016

The quote below from this somewhat uninteresting article on NPR caught my eye.

[T]he whole notion of a supernatural influence doesn’t quite make sense, at least from a scientific perspective. After all, an “influence” denotes a physical occurrence or an event. And an occurrence is something that happens in the physical world through some kind of energy exchange. Any kind of energy exchange or force is very natural and requires a very natural cause. In other words, as soon as the supernatural becomes physical enough to be noticed or detected in some way, it can’t remain supernatural anymore. A “supernatural influence” is an oxymoron. At most, it could mean something currently beyond our scientific understanding. (Italics in original, bold is added.)

This is a rather typical attempt to explain away the supernatural by just playing with words, but what popped in my head as I read it was the idea that we’re all living in a computer program. I don’t mean that we are all living in a computer program, I mean that if we were it would put questions of supernatural interventions in a completely different context.

Imagine you’re inside a computer simulation. Everything that you see follows logical, “natural” rules. For every effect there is a discernible cause, etc. Scientists inside the simulation are busily cataloging them. Then the programmer pokes his finger in and makes something weird happen. The scientists see it and insist that it has to have a “natural” cause, by which they mean something inside the program.

All the same sort of sophomoric babbling can take place in this scenario exactly as it does in the real world. E.g., we don’t need to postulate a programmer because everything follows natural causes, and those weird things that don’t seem to follow natural causes are just things we haven’t figured out yet, and besides, if the programmer is able to poke his finger in and change things then he’s just a natural cause like everything else, etc.

2 comments  ::  Add your comment  ::  2016-08-11  ::  Crowhill



Feminism is so exhausting

by Crowhill on 9 August 2016

Feminists are locked and loaded for taking offense.

The writer of this letter to the editor is offended that the Chicago Tribune mentioned that Olympic medalist Corey Cogdell is the wife of Bears lineman Mitch Unrein.

Corey Cogdell-Unrein’s accomplishments are her own

Please read the letter. (It’s short.)

Do you think that maybe people in Chicago would be interested in the ties to the Bears? Just maybe?

If I can take the liberty of using this letter as an illustration of feminist thinking, consider all the things this letter confirms about feminist attitudes.

First, they’re so sensitive that they’re hair-triggered to take offense at anything. Being around a feminist is like walking on egg shells.

Second, the offense is taken without any connection to reality or justice. Only so much can be said in a headline, and nobody implied that the woman’s accomplishments were her husbands.

Third, it follows the “feminine imperative” — that the woman’s perspective always has to be first.

Feminism is its own worst enemy.

9 comments  ::  Add your comment  ::  2016-08-09  ::  Crowhill

2016-08-04 :: Crowhill // General
Sorry for the down time
2016-08-04 :: Crowhill // General
The charming mafia boss
+ 1 comment
2016-08-03 :: Crowhill // General
Creativity and the need for rules
2016-08-03 :: Crowhill // General
Gen. Dempsey is right
2016-08-02 :: Crowhill // General
The nightmare scenario
+ 5 comments