I don’t believe Kaine was linking this alleged disparity to sexism — different standards for a man and a woman, you know — but somebody will. And when they do, that will be stupid.
The story of the past year is that Trump “got away” with things that none of the other Republican candidates got away with. That nobody has ever gotten away with. Some people just have that knack.
Reagan was often called the teflon president because nothing stuck to him. Slick Willie had the same sort of luck.
To the identity politics devotee, the most important difference between Trump and Clinton is that he’s a man and she’s a woman. So any difference in the way they’re covered, treated, spoken about, etc., reduces down to sex. “You treated the man this way but you treated the woman this other way. Double standards!!”
No. Trump is treated one way because he’s Trump. Hillary is treated another way because she’s Hillary. Their sex is certainly a factor, but it’s much more complicated than that.]]>
1. Police use violence against a black man.
2. Early reports — almost always wrong in most or all of their details — rile up the masses and feed the notion that cops are going around killing unarmed, innocent black men.
3. There are riots and unrest.
4. As details emerge we realize the story wasn’t as originally portrayed.
Glenn Reynolds expressed my take on this very well.
“It’s possible to believe both that we have a problem with excessive police violence, and that Black Lives Matter is a bunch of race-baiting frauds.”]]>
People need to be able to be honest with their doctors. If we have an expectation that a candidate will release his records, everyone who thinks he might some day run for president — that is, every senator, congressman, governor, etc. — is going to start hiding things from his doctor.
And that’s not a good thing.]]>
Stories of the experiments have circulated since the 1980s, saying they focused on psychological warfare techniques and things like time travel, teleportation, and mind control.
I don’t believe in any of those things, but when I say “I don’t believe” in something, I usually mean that I don’t have any evidence on which to base such a belief, but if good evidence were to come along I’d re-evaluate.
For example, I don’t believe anyone will find Neanderthal skeletons in the Americas (as much as I would like that), because there’s no reason to believe Neanderthals migrated over here. But … it’s not impossible. I can’t categorically rule it out.
I feel the same way about Big Foot and other weird beliefs. I don’t believe in it, but it wouldn’t cause me an epistemological crisis if somebody captured one. In fact, I think it would be quite amusing.
So what about mind control, or psi-ops, or any of that spooky stuff? I don’t believe in any of it, and I think it’s a waste of time to pursue it, but … then again.
I’ve heard that the military plans for all sorts of weird contingencies. I don’t believe aliens are going to invade the planet, and I don’t believe in a zombie apocalypse, but it wouldn’t surprise me to hear that the military has a plan for both of those, which means somebody had to devote resources to researching the topic and making the plan.
Is there any benefit in that sort of planning?
I would say yes. Imagining what aliens might do and how we would respond gets your brain out of the usual rut. You start thinking creatively about different kinds of weapons and tactics, and that might be the spark for a new offensive or defensive system.
When I was growing up there were rumors that the Soviets were researching psionic warfare and other nutty stuff. What if they had discovered something? Not psionics, but maybe their research into psionics led them to find something else, like a better way to train or detect spies.
Sometimes research on one thing turns up something entirely unexpected.
That line of argument could be used to justify spending money on any kind of crazy research, and obviously you have to draw the line somewhere. We don’t have unlimited resources. But the point is that I would not be at all surprised if we had military labs studying some rather nutty things. And that’s not all bad.]]>
Remember the old saying that a camel is a horse designed by committee? Keep that in mind as you think of the “design” of Obamacare.
It was mess from start to finish. They just wanted to “do something” so they could feel as if they were moving in the right direction — and then sort out the details later.
IMO, saying Obamacare was designed to fail and usher in a government-run, single payer system is to attribute too much design to the process.
I’m certain some people wanted that, and I’m certain others did not.]]>
Let’s dispense with the obvious first. You’ll blame the miscreant who did it, and you’ll blame anyone who directly encouraged / trained him to do it. That’s where the vast majority of the blame should go.
But since that’s so obvious, we usually spend most of our mental energy finding somebody else to blame. We worry about people who “created a climate of hate,” or who — through their inaction or incompetence — allowed or encouraged it to happen.
Who are those people?
Should we blame Congress for failing to get serious about enforcing our immigration laws? There’s no question that they’ve neglected their duties on that score — for decades.
Should we blame Muslims for failing to crack down on the crazies in their midst?
Should we blame lying American politicians who choose to appease soft-hearted people and tell us lies about Islam being peaceful?
Should we blame the lack of seriousness in prosecuting the war against ISIS and their ilk?
While all those things might have some bearing on the problem, IMO the thing we should be the most upset about is our reluctance to profile people, which is born out of our fear of being called bigots and racists.
Stopping domestic terror is a matter of police work, and police work requires profiling. But we’ve accepted the silly notion that profiling is wrong.
Think of the neighbors of Tashfeen Malik and Syed Rizwan Farook. They knew something bad was happening, but were afraid to say something for fear they’d be labeled as bigots. In another context, think of all the horror in Rotherham because the police didn’t want to break up a child sex syndicate for fear of being labeled racist.
I believe our foreign policy is a mess. I believe Muslims need to do more to police their own. I believe Congress is criminally negligent. But all those things pale into insignificance next to the danger of political correctness.]]>
I’ll bet it would generate a surprising pattern.
Then this weekend (while mowing the lawn) I realized you might get better data if you put a GPS-type tracker on the four corners of the deck of your mower and fed that into the system. It would get a much better map of the yard and see a little more precisely what areas to avoid.
The next step would be to get a programmable mower, like one of those automatic vacuums.
The trouble is, I don’t think people want a computer-controlled lawn mower roving around, untended. It seems too dangerous. So rather than having whirling steel blades tripping around your yard on autopilot, you design a gentler version — a glorified weed wacker. The nylon cord on those things can cut grass, but they can’t cause as much damage.
The thing could be solar powered and just sit out in the yard, wandering around as necessary, whirring away at the grass. Since it would be cutting the grass more frequently — almost continually, except on rainy days — there would be no need to bag the cuttings.
And it wouldn’t be a random thing, like those pool sweepers that just go until they run into a wall. It would develop a good sense of the yard, which spots grow faster and need more attention, etc., and it would get more efficient over time. The homeowner could have an interface to adjust coverage — if you put in a new flower or if it needs to get a little closer to the mailbox.
So … if some entrepreneur out there wants to make it, buy me lunch or something as thanks.]]>
How about Al Capone?
To the extent that the left is making Trump out to be the former, and the right is making Clinton out as the latter, shouldn’t we expect cheating?
If you believed Trump was as bad as Hitler, wouldn’t you be willing to help an ineligble person vote against him? Or change a few numbers around when you’re reporting results?
And if Hillary is the criminal some people believe, wouldn’t you try to hack a local server and change some numbers?
Calling your opponent nasty names might be effective in getting votes, but I think it might also be effective in undermining the system you hope to work in if you win.]]>
If you’re on the left, you’re supposed to be certain that Hillary’s email server is a non-issue, her health is fine, and Trump is a racist. If you question any of those things, you lose your left-wing cred.
If you’re on the right, you’re supposed to be certain that global warming is not a problem, there’s a concerted war against Christians, and Obamacare is going to destroy the country.
The weird thing is how that dogmatic certainty seems to sprout out of everyone’s head from the moment a new issue arises. Hillary’s health comes up, and the right spontaneously believes she’s on death’s door while the left is convinced she’s as strong as a horse. Neither of them having evaluated any real information to get to those conclusions.
A large segment of the population has lost the ability to evaluate claims as factual claims, treating them instead as matters of virtue signalling.
Recently I was discussing one of these issues with a leftist on Facebook and she immediately had to clarify that there was no question in her mind that the doctrinaire left-wing position was true. The impression she left me was that she can’t be seen even admitting the possibility that “those people” might be right.
Of course not everybody is this way. I know people on both sides who are willing to have reasonable dialog. But that’s because I went to the best high school in the country and have some friends who got an actual education.
But it is a very disturbing trend. We’re no longer taught to evaluate claims as true or false, but as consistent or inconsistent with “the narrative.”
This is the opposite of what was supposed to happen. The idea (if you can dignify it by calling it an idea) was that relativism would make people respect other views.
“Okay, well I’ve always thought horses have four legs, but if your culture believes they have three, who am I to judge? Aren’t I so tolerant?”
Instead, it’s created uber-partisanship. When facts and truth and logic were demoted, “being on the right side” and signalling which team you’re with became the dominant concern.
(But then again, there’s this: The Myth Of Growing Polarization.)]]>
The main takeaway from the book is the growing evidence that the pre-Columbus Americas were vastly more populated than we used to think, and that diseases brought over from Europe wiped out huge numbers of people. (I’ve often wondered if anything could have practically been done to prevent that, and … I don’t think so. It seems to have been one of those sadly inevitable catastrophes.)
One possible implication of this idea that America was very well populated before Columbus is what it says about wildlife. We’re often told that the country was teeming with buffalo, passenger pigeons and so on before the evil white man came. That might be completely wrong. The Indians kept those species in check. When the Indian population collapsed, there was nothing to prevent a population boom among several other species.
So the plains full of buffalo and the sky full of pigeons was not the status quo ante for the Americas. It was a weird fluke because all the hunters were gone.
The book is full of information about the amazing civilizations in central and south America, and while that was interesting, it wasn’t my favorite part. I was more intrigued by the idea that most of the American landscape was actually fashioned by the Indians. Even the holy, pristine, nature temple of the Amazon. It’s not “as nature intended it.” It’s as man intended it.
America wasn’t a wilderness. It was a garden — where, by the time of serious European settlement, the millions of busy gardeners had just recently been wiped out.
The most intriguing suggestion in the book is that a lot of what we regard as quintessentially American ideas (and problems) might have been learned from the Indians. For example, the league of five nations in the New England area may have contributed to the notions of freedom and independence that sparked the revolution. On the other hand, the Indians in the south may have contributed to that region’s extreme views regarding slavery. (There wasn’t one Indian culture.)
I’m not saying this guy is right in everything he asserts, by the way, but his ideas are worth considering.
(And speaking of the achievements of the Indians, this: 6,000-year-old fabric reveals Peruvians were dyeing textiles with indigo long before Egyptians And yes, of course I know that “Indians” is a fraught term. Get over it.)]]>
For example, folk will argue about scientific objectivity, and how rational people are only interested in following the facts, and all that jazz, but when you read about real conflicts over real issues you see how incredibly petty people can be, and what a “scientific consensus” actually means. (Hint: not much, most of the time.)
1491 has some enlightening accounts of various controversies in the study of humans in the Americas. It’s obvious the “scientific consensus” often has more similarity with the movie Mean Girls than with people who only want to follow facts and evidence.]]>
Dave and I were chatting about the upcoming election last night and that was suggested as a rough summary of our choices.
What’s interesting is that the media are essentially all political snobs. They think the world revolves around politics and political issues. So in their mind, anybody who doesn’t know all the inside baseball stuff about Washington, and who doesn’t play the right political games and use the right political speech, is automatically a rube. And clearly “not qualified” for office.
People outside the Beltway don’t care about that stuff. They can’t name all the federal agencies — and would be shocked to know how many there are.
There are lots of weird things going on in this election, but one of them seems to be the empowerment of the outside Washington contingent, and I think that is directly attributable to the Internet.
News and information about politics used to be filtered through the political snobs in D.C. That’s not the case any more. Some of that is good — getting an outside perspective and breaking the monopoly of that crowd — but some of it is bad — allowing crazies with keyboards to have an outsized effect on the national mood.
I think there’s little question that Trump wouldn’t be where he is without Drudge and other websites.
The country is caught in the middle of this transition — from politics filtered through the Tim Russerts of the world (may he rest in peace), and politics filtered through your crazy Facebook feed.]]>