Archive for the 'Human Behavior' Category
Posted by Michael Kennedy on 16th November 2015 (All posts by Michael Kennedy)
Power line has a post today that seems to me to be right on the topic of what these students want, which is freedom from accountability. They are afraid they are overmatched against white colleagues. They can’t hack it and want a pass. It is called “Mismatch.”
The biggest change since Grutter, though, has nothing to do with Court membership. It is the mounting empirical evidence that race preferences are doing more harm than good?—even for their supposed beneficiaries. If this evidence is correct, we now have fewer African-American physicians, scientists, and engineers than we would have had using race-neutral admissions policies. We have fewer college professors and lawyers, too. Put more bluntly, affirmative action has backfired.
Why is this ? We know that the normal distribution of IQ is a standard deviation lower for blacks than whites.
This is the over all curve with the distribution around an average of 100, by definition.
The curve for blacks has a peak at IQ about 80. White peak at 100 to 104. Asians peak at around 106. What this means is that the average IQ is lower for blacks but this does not mean that all blacks are less intelligent than whites. At an IQ of 110 there is a large difference but the number of blacks who will do well in certain academic fields like Medicine is still significant. It would seem important to identify those blacks who will do well in fields requiring higher than average intelligence but the present system of affirmative action ignores this truth.
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Posted in Civil Society, Current Events, Education, Human Behavior, Science | 41 Comments »
Posted by Jonathan on 12th November 2015 (All posts by Jonathan)
Read Heather Mac Donald’s column at City Journal.
Imagine an Ivy administration that encouraged frat boys and athletes to abuse women and get into trouble with the law. That’s analogous to the current situation, the only differences being the identities and characteristic weaknesses of the members of the respective groups being egged on and suppressed. The young hysterics desperately need guidance from mature adults who have their best interests at heart. Instead the system their parents trust and pay an arm and leg for indulges, out of cowardice or ideological zeal, the kids’ worst impulses.
Institutional racist or anti-female conspiracies, the figments of fevered leftist/feminist imagination, have never been less frequent, but anti-intellectual and anti-male conspiracies are everywhere.
The college administrators will do fine. The victimized students, mostly men, will learn hard lessons. Many, though not all, will emerge stronger for it. But many of the young leftist women, and some of the men, who have been overprotected and fed lies their entire lives, will have significant difficulty functioning in the real world.
If DCFS employees encourage or look the other way at the corruption of children it’s a scandal. How is it different when university administrators do the same thing with vulnerable young adults?
Posted in Academia, Civil Society, Feminism, Human Behavior, Leftism, Political Philosophy, Politics | 18 Comments »
Posted by David Foster on 6th November 2015 (All posts by David Foster)
(I cross-posted my 2014 review of C S Lewis’s novel That Hideous Strength over at Richochet, where a good comment thread has developed. Some of the comments reminded me of the extremely negative review of the book written by JBS Haldane in 1946, and Lewis’s response thereto.)
Haldane was an eminent British scientist (population genetics) and a Marxist. C S Lewis was…well, you probably already know who C S Lewis was.
Haldane’s critique was directed at the series of novels by Lewis known as the Ransom Trilogy, and particularly the last book of the series, That Hideous Strength . Lewis responded in a letter which remained unpublished for many of years. All this may sound ancient and esoteric, but I believe the Lewis/Haldane controversy is very relevant to our current political and philosophical landscape.
To briefly summarize That Hideous Strength: Mark, a young sociologist, is hired by a government agency called NICE–the National Institute for Coordinated Experimentation–having as its stated mission the application of science to social problems. (Unbelievably, today the real-life British agency which establishes rationing policies for healthcare is also called NICE.) In the novel, NICE turns out to be a conspiracy devoted to very diabolical purposes, as Mark gradually discovers. It also turns out that the main reason NICE wanted to hire Mark is to get control of his wife, Jane (maiden name: Tudor) who has clairvoyant powers. The NICE officials want to use Jane’s abilities to get in touch with the magician Merlin and to effect a junction between modern scientific power and the ancient powers of magic, thereby bringing about the enslavement of mankind and worse. Jane, though, becomes involved with a group which represents the polar opposite of NICE, led by a philology professor named Ransom, who is clearly intended as a Christ-figure. The conflict between NICE and the Ransom group will determine the future of humanity.
A brilliantly written and thought-provoking book, which I highly recommend, even if, like me, you’re not generally a fan of fantasy novels.
With context established, here are some of the highlights of the Lewis/Haldane controversy:
1) Money and Power.
In his article, Haldane attacks Lewis for the latter’s refusal to absolutely condemn usury, and celebrates the fact that “Mammon has been cleared off a sixth of our planet’s surface”…clearly referring to the Soviet Union. Here’s part of Lewis’s response:
The difference between us is that the Professor sees the ‘World’ purely in terms of those threats and those allurements which depend on money. I do not. The most ‘worldly’ society I have ever lived in is that of schoolboys: most worldly in the cruelty and arrogance of the strong, the toadyism and mutual treachery of the weak, and the unqualified snobbery of both. Nothing was so base that most members of the school proletariat would not do it, or suffer it, to win the favour of the school aristocracy: hardly any injustice too bad for the aristocracy to practise. But the class system did not in the least depend on the amount of pocket money. Who needs to care about money if most of the things he wants will be offered by cringing servility and the remainder can be taken by force? This lesson has remained with me all my life. That is one of the reasons why I cannot share Professor Haldanes exaltation at the banishment of Mammon from ‘a sixth of our planet’s surface’. I have already lived in a world from which Mammon was banished: it was the most wicked and miserable I have yet known. If Mammon were the only devil, it would be another matter. But where Mammon vacates the throne, how if Moloch takes his
place? As Aristotle said, ‘Men do not become tyrants in order to keep warm’. All men, of course, desire pleasure and safety. But all men also desire power and all men desire the mere sense of being ‘in the know’ or the ‘inner ring’, of not being ‘outsiders’: a passion insufficiently studied and the chief theme of my story. When the state of society is such that money is the passport to all these prizes, then of course money will be the prime temptation. But when the passport changes, the desires will remain.
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Posted in Arts & Letters, Big Government, Britain, Christianity, Crime and Punishment, Deep Thoughts, History, Human Behavior, Law, Leftism, Philosophy, Political Philosophy, Religion, Society | 18 Comments »
Posted by David Foster on 24th October 2015 (All posts by David Foster)
Maggie’s Farm reminds us that October 21 was the 210th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar. (JMW Turner painting of the battle at the link) I am reminded of a thoughtful document written in 1797 by a Spanish naval official, Don Domingo Perez de Grandallana, on the general subject “why do we keep losing to the British, and what can we do about it?” His thoughts were inspired by his observations while with the Spanish fleet off Cape St Vincent, in a battle which was a significant defeat for Spain, and are relevant to a question which is very relevant to us today:
What attributes of an organization make it possible for that organization to accomplish its mission in an environment of uncertainty, rapid change, and high stress?
Here are de Grandallana’s key points:
An Englishman enters a naval action with the firm conviction that his duty is to hurt his enemies and help his friends and allies without looking out for directions in the midst of the fight; and while he thus clears his mind of all subsidiary distractions, he rests in confidence on the certainty that his comrades, actuated by the same principles as himself, will be bound by the sacred and priceless principle of mutual support.
Accordingly, both he and his fellows fix their minds on acting with zeal and judgement upon the spur of the moment, and with the certainty that they will not be deserted. Experience shows, on the contrary, that a Frenchman or a Spaniard, working under a system which leans to formality and strict order being maintained in battle, has no feeling for mutual support, and goes into battle with hesitation, preoccupied with the anxiety of seeing or hearing the commander-in-chief’s signals for such and such manoeures…
Thus they can never make up their minds to seize any favourable opportunity that may present itself. They are fettered by the strict rule to keep station which is enforced upon then in both navies, and the usual result is that in one place ten of their ships may be firing on four, while in another four of their comrades may be receiving the fire of ten of the enemy. Worst of all they are denied the confidence inspired by mutual support, which is as surely maintained by the English as it is neglected by us, who will not learn from them.
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Posted in Anglosphere, Book Notes, Britain, France, History, Human Behavior, Management, Military Affairs, Society, War and Peace | 4 Comments »
Posted by David Foster on 22nd October 2015 (All posts by David Foster)
Bookworm attended an awards dinner for Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and reports at length on the honoree’s speech. For those not familiar with Hirsi Ali: raised as a Muslim in Somalia, she eventually moved to Holland, where she became of member of Parliament and collaborated on a film about Islam with Theo van Gogh, who was murdered. Although she has been the target of many death threats, Ayaan Hirsi Ali has refused to be silenced. Be sure to read Book’s well-written post.
BBC has a new documentary about Ada, countess of Lovelace…computer pioneer of the 1840s, daughter of the “mad, bad, and dangerous to know” poet, Lord Byron, and aficionado of gambling on the horses.
Once, there was an unpleasant political movement called the “Know-Nothings.” Today, we have the Know-Betters,
Claire Berlinski writes about the growing phenomenon of ritual humiliations and denunciations.
Related to the above, a very interesting analysis of the evolution of society from Cultures of Honor–in which the individual must personally avenge wrongs and insults…to Cultures of Dignity–in which people are assumed to have dignity, foreswear individual violence, rely on the judicial system to to respond to major transgressions and sometime simply ignore minor transgressions (there’s no more dueling)…and now to a Culture of Victimhood, in which people are encouraged to respond to even the slightest unintentional offense, as in an honor culture–but they must not obtain redress on their own, rather, they must appeal to powerful others or administrative bodies.
Renowned physicist Freeman Dyson says that Obama “chose the wrong side” on the climate-change debate. His thoughts on the psychology behind apocalyptic climate thinking are interesting,
Posted in Civil Liberties, Energy & Power Generation, Environment, History, Human Behavior, Miscellaneous, Tech | 11 Comments »
Posted by David Foster on 21st October 2015 (All posts by David Foster)
Again and again, I see people referring to those Americans who have nothing but bad things to say about their own country as “self-hating Americans.” I see Jews who display unhinged rage against Israel referred to as “self-hating Jews.” And I have also seen many references to “self-hating Europeans.”
I believe that the “self-hating” diagnosis of the behavior of this sort of people is in most cases quite wrong, and this wrongness matters.
In 1940, C S Lewis wrote a little essay titled “Dangers of National Repentance.” Apparently, there was a movement among Christian youth to “repent” England’s sins (which were thought to include the treaty of Versailles) and to “forgive” England’s enemies. Lewis’s analysis of this movement is highly relevant to our current situation.
“Young Christians especially..are turning to (the National Repentance Movement) in large numbers,” Lewis wrote. “They are ready to believe that England bears part of the guilt for the present war, and ready to admit their own share in the guilt of England…Most of these young men were children…when England made many of those decisions to which the present disorders could plausibly be traced. Are they, perhaps, repenting what they have in no sense done?”
“If they are, it might be supposed that their error is very harmless: men fail so often to repent their real sins that the occasional repentance of an imaginary sin might appear almost desirable. But what actually happens (I have watched it happen) to the youthful national penitent is a little more complicated than that. England is not a natural agent, but a civil society…The young man who is called upon to repent of England’s foreign policy is really being called upon to repent the acts of his neighbor; for a foreign secretary or a cabinet minister is certainly a neighbor…A group of such young penitents will say, “Let us repent our national sins”; what they mean is, “Let us attribute to our neighbor (even our Christian neighbor) in the cabinet, whenever we disagree with him,every abominable motive that Satan can suggest to our fancy.” (Emphasis added.)
Lewis points out that when a man who was raised to be patriotic tries to repent the sins of England, he is attempting something that will be difficult for him. “But an educated man who is now in his twenties usually has no such sentiment to mortify. In art, in literature, in politics, he has been, ever since he can remember, one of an angry minority; he has drunk in almost with his mother’s milk a distrust of English statesmen and a contempt for the manners, pleasures, and enthusiasms of his less-educated fellow countrymen.”
It’s hard to believe that this was written more than 60 years ago–it’s such a bulls-eye description of a broad swath of our current “progressives.” (The only difference being that many of them today are a lot older than “in their twenties.”)
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Posted in Anti-Americanism, Britain, Europe, History, Human Behavior, Leftism, USA | 11 Comments »
Posted by David Foster on 29th September 2015 (All posts by David Foster)
Antoine de St-Exupery, writer and pioneering airmail pilot, was based for a time in the then-French-colonial territory of North Africa. He recorded his observations about the people and their culture in his essay Men of the Desert, which is one of the chapters in his book Wind, Sand and Stars. I previously excerpted part of this essay in my post the French aviators and the slave. Several recent events in which American soldiers were murdered by Afghan and Iraqi men who they thought were their comrades have again called it to mind.
But we were not always in the air, and our idle hours were spent taming the Moors. They would come out of their forbidden regions (those regions we crossed in our flights and where they would shoot at us the whole length of our crossing), would venture to the stockade in the hope of buying loaves of sugar, cotton cloth, tea, and then would sink back again into their mystery. Whenever they turned up we would try to tame a few of them in order to establish little nuclei of friendship in the desert; thus if we were forced clown among them there would be at any rate a few who might be persuaded to sell us into slavery rather than massacre us.Now and then an influential chief came up, and him, with the approval of the Line, we would load into the plane and carry off to see something of the world. The aim was to soften their pride, for, repositories of the truth, defenders of Allah, the only God, it was more in contempt than in hatred that he and his kind murdered their prisoners.
When they met us in the region of Juby or Cisneros, they never troubled to shout abuse at us. They would merely turn away and spit; and this not by way of personal insult but out of sincere disgust at having crossed the path of a Christian. Their pride was born of the illusion of their power. Allah renders a believer invincible. Many a time a chief has said to me, pointing to his army of three hundred rifles, “Lucky it is for France that she lies more than a hundred days’ march from here.”
And so we would take them up for a little spin. Three of them even visited France in our planes. I happened to be present when they returned. I met them when they landed, went with them to their tents, and waited in infinite curiosity to hear their first words. They were of the same race as those who, having once been flown by me to the Senegal, had burst into tears at the sight of trees. What a revelation Europe must have been for them! And yet their first replies astonished me by their coolness.
“Paris? Very big.” Everything was “very big” – Paris, the Trocadero, the automobiles. What with everyone in Paris asking if the Louvre was not “very big” they had gradually learned that this was the answer that flattered us. And with a sort of, vague contempt, as if pacifying a lot of children, they would grant that the Louvre was “very big.”
These Moors took very little trouble to dissemble the freezing indifference they felt for the Eiffel Tower, the steamships, and the locomotives. They were ready to agree once and for always that we knew how to build things out of iron. We also knew how to fling a bridge from one continent to another. The plain fact was that they did not know enough to admire our technical progress. The wireless astonished them less than the telephone, since the mystery of the telephone resided in the very fact of the wire.
It took a little time for me to understand that my questions were on the wrong track. For what they thought admirable was not the locomotive, but the tree. When you think of it, a tree does possess a perfection that a locomotive cannot know. And then I remembered the Moors who had wept at the sight of trees.
Yes, France was in some sense admirable, but it was not because of those stupid things made of iron. They had seen pastures in France in which all the camels of Er-Reguibat could have grazed! There were forests in France! The French had cows, cows filled with milk! And of course my three Moors were amazed by the incredible customs of the people. “In Paris,” they said, “you walk through a crowd of a thousand people. You stare at them. And nobody carries a rifle!” But there were better things in France than this inconceivable friendliness between men. There was the circus, for example.
“Frenchwomen,” they said, “can jump standing from one galloping horse to another.”
Thereupon they would stop and reflect. “You take one Moor from each tribe,” they went on. “You take him to the circus. And nevermore will the tribes of Er-Reguibat make war on the French.” I remember my chiefs sitting among the crowding tribesmen in the opening of their tents, savoring the pleasure of reciting this new series of Arabian Nights, extolling the music halls in which naked women dance on carpets of flowers.
Here were men who had never seen a tree, a river, a rose ; who knew only through the Koran of the existence of gardens where streams run, which is their name for Paradise. In their desert, Paradise -and its beautiful captives could be won only by bitter death from an infidel’s rifle-shot, after thirty years of a miserable existence. But God had tricked them, since from the Frenchmen to whom he grants these treasures he exacts payment neither by thirst nor by death. And it was upon this that the chiefs now mused. This was why, gazing out at the Sahara surrounding their tents, at that desert with its barren promise of such thin pleasures, they let themselves go in murmured confidences.
“You know . . . the God of the French . . . He is more generous to the French than the God of the Moors is to the Moors.”
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Posted in Afghanistan/Pakistan, Aviation, Book Notes, France, Human Behavior, Islam, Middle East, Terrorism | 6 Comments »
Posted by Lexington Green on 25th September 2015 (All posts by Lexington Green)
I have in recent years been reading the work of Joseph Conrad. I spent many years believing the best writers in English were George Orwell, Evelyn Waugh, with Leo Tolstoy in translation as a titan and peer. Then all of a sudden, in the last five or years I discovered that Ernest Hemingway is a near peer, and that V.S. Naipaul is every bit the equal of these great ones. And through Naipaul, I met Conrad, who also merits admission to this august company.
Naipaul and Conrad both have as a main theme the encounter, the clash, between European civilization and the peoples and ways of Asia and Africa. Conrad depicts the European imperial and commercial expansion near its peak, and while it is still confident and expanding. Naipaul depicts the world after the European domination has receded, like an outgoing tsunami, which has left a transformed landscape behind.
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Posted in America 3.0, Anglosphere, Arts & Letters, Book Notes, Civil Society, Culture, History, Human Behavior | 48 Comments »
Posted by David Foster on 21st September 2015 (All posts by David Foster)
It’s well-known that Christianity in Europe is on the decline; links confirming this trend are easy to find. (For example)
Why, then, does this writer assert that: “Today in Europe, we have become if anything over-Christianized”? Read the article to understand his thinking.
I am reminded of a passage from G K Chesterton, written circa 1908:
The modern world is not evil; in some ways the modern world is far too good. It is full of wild and wasted virtues. When a religious scheme is shattered (as Christianity was shattered at the Reformation), it is not merely the vices that are let loose. The vices are, indeed, let loose, and they wander and do damage. But the virtues are let loose also; and the virtues wander more wildly, and the virtues do more terrible damage. The modern world is full of the old Christian virtues gone mad. The virtues have gone mad because they have been isolated from each other and are wandering alone. Thus some scientists care for truth; and their truth is pitiless. Thus some humanitarians only care for pity; and their pity (I am sorry to say) is often untruthful. For example, Mr. Blatchford attacks Christianity because he is mad on one Christian virtue: the merely mystical and almost irrational virtue of charity. He has a strange idea that he will make it easier to forgive sins by saying that there are no sins to forgive. Mr. Blatchford is not only an early Christian, he is the only early Christian who ought really to have been eaten by lions. For in his case the pagan accusation is really true: his mercy would mean mere anarchy. He really is the enemy of the human race– because he is so human.
Posted in Christianity, Conservatism, Deep Thoughts, Human Behavior, Leftism, Religion | 16 Comments »
Posted by Sgt. Mom on 19th September 2015 (All posts by Sgt. Mom)
It’s one of those things that one becomes aware of as a blogger, over time. The internet is like a vast ocean, with weird currents, storms and agitations in far corners that eventually send out waves and ripples that travel across wide spaces and eventually turn up crashing into the shore of awareness. Many moons ago, as time is counted in internet years, the ruckus over the fraudulent documents presented in a 60 Minutes/Dan Rather expose broadcast on the eve of the 2004 election created one of those far-rippling storms. So did the fracas generated by the Swift Boat veterans, when it turned out that despite John Kerry’s attempt to campaign as a sort of studly Dudley Do-Right Vietnam veteran, those who served with him in-theater viewed him as more of a Frank Burns/Eddie Haskell figure, and were not afraid to say so in whatever small-media or internet venue would give them the time of day. Yes, eventually the whole issue crashed ashore on the Island of Major Media Awareness.
Ever since then, I am of the notion that it pays to keep an eye out for those interesting ripples, especially when those on the Island of Major Media Awareness seem most determined to avert their eyes. I very much suspect that a lot of ordinary news-consumers are not ignoring these concerns. Look at how many people turned out for Chic-Fil-A appreciation day, having got the word through blogs and social media.
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Posted in Blogging, Civil Society, Conservatism, Current Events, Elections, Feminism, Human Behavior | 62 Comments »
Posted by Carl from Chicago on 12th September 2015 (All posts by Carl from Chicago)
Dan and I and Gerry often joke about Midwest drinking and how people from other parts of the country simply have zero concept of what the midwesterner’s relationship with alcohol is like. We often go to sporting events together and watch massive drinking binges playing out to the left and to the right.
Recently I was out in Wrigleyville which is just packed with new bars and drinkers as far as the eye can see. The plaque below was at a bar called “Stretch”. For best results, click on the photo and read the individual “merit badges” that have been earned.
Here are some of the “highlights”
8 shots of Bacardi 151 in 22 seconds
Wow that much alcohol that fast is crazy. Dan and I were at a bar with some of the heaviest drinking I’ve ever seen and some crazy guy tried to buy us all shots of Jagermeister (there were 6 of us standing around) and no one would drink them so he just took all the shots and poured them into 2 regular drinking glasses and downed them in a couple gulps. That was so nuts I had to ask Dan the next day if we really saw it.
15 shots and 6 beers in one hour
This sounds about like “Mayor Daley” the merry idiot immortalized at Drunk Bear Fans. That guy was just probably trying to get loaded before going to a Cubs game. The best part about this is that I’d bet that guy drinks like that all the time and someone just had the foresight to document it for history’s sake. When you are on the clock you need to make the most of it, I guess.
The biggest differences occur when someone from another city is just plunged into the madness that we take for granted here in the midwest. A “normal” citizen who walks into Wrigleyville or game day near Madison or any midwestern city on a Friday night in the summer really can’t believe what is happening and thinks it is something special – it can’t be like this every day, can it? Oh yes it can. We are old now but I saw with my own eyes an entire new drinking class at Wrigleyville last night and they cover most of River North at 2am and beyond.
It is nothing to be proud of but it is reality here. You have to see it to believe it. Or just put up a plaque.
Cross posted at LITGM
Posted in Chicagoania, Human Behavior, Humor, That's NOT Funny | 7 Comments »
Posted by Jonathan on 26th August 2015 (All posts by Jonathan)
Here’s an interesting article on CNBC’s website: Katrina anniversary: Will New Orleans levees hold next time?
The 100-year threshold is also a statistical guess based on data on past storms and assessments of whether they’ll occur in the future. That means the models change every time a new hurricane strikes. The numbers being used as guidelines for construction are changing as time passes.
The standard also does not mean—can’t possibly mean—that a 100-year storm will occur only once per century. It means that such a storm has a 1 percent chance of happening in any given year. So for example, it’s technically possible for several 100-year floods to occur in just a few years, although it’s highly unlikely.
One way to look at it is that the engineers need to estimate how high a wall New Orleans needs to protect itself against a reasonably unlikely flood — say, a 1-in-1000-year event. This is the line of discussion pursued in the CNBC article.
Another way to look at it is to observe that the odds of another Katrina, or worse, within a specified period are highly uncertain. In this case a radical course of action might be called for. You do something like: take the best estimate for the wall height needed to protect against a 1000-year flood and then double it. Building such a levee would probably be extremely expensive but at least the costs would be out in the open. Or you might decide that it’s not the best idea to have a coastal city that’s below sea level, and so you would discourage people from moving back to New Orleans, rather than encourage them by subsidizing a new and stronger system of walls.
In this kind of situation the political incentives are usually going to encourage public decisionmakers to ignore radical solutions with high obvious costs, in favor of the minimum acceptable incremental solution with hidden costs: probably subsidies to rebuild the levees to, or perhaps a bit beyond, the standard needed to protect the city in the event of another Katrina. And it’s unlikely that any local pol is going to advise residents to move out and depopulate his constituency. Thus, eventually, a worst case will probably happen again.
Posted in Deep Thoughts, Economics & Finance, Environment, Human Behavior, Markets and Trading, New Orleans Tragedy, Predictions, Public Finance, Statistics, Systems Analysis, Tradeoffs | 14 Comments »
Posted by Mrs. Davis on 18th August 2015 (All posts by Mrs. Davis)
The Wall Street Journal had a fascinating, to me, article on A Simple Fix for Drunken Driving called Sobriety 24/7 now implemented in North and South Dakota, and Montana.
(DUI) Offenders in 24/7 Sobriety can drive all they want to, but they are under a court order not to drink. Every morning and evening, for an average of five months, they visit a police facility to take a breathalyzer test. Unlike most consequences imposed by the criminal justice system, the penalties for noncompliance are swift, certain and modest. Drinking results in mandatory arrest, with a night or two in jail as the typical penalty.
The benefits of the program aren’t just confined to road safety; counties using 24/7 Sobriety experienced not only a 12% drop in repeat drunken-driving arrests but also a 9% drop in domestic-violence arrests. Unlike interventions that only constrain drinking while driving, the removal of alcohol from an offender’s life also reduces the incidence of other alcohol-related crimes.
Why do repeat offenders change their behavior in response to relatively modest incentives? Patients continue using cocaine in the face of great harm to their families, livelihoods and physical health, yet they could still be induced to refrain from it when promised a small reward, like $10 for a negative urine test. The reward was relatively trivial, but it was unlike other potential consequences because it was both certain and immediate.
It turns out that people with drug and alcohol problems are just like the rest of us. Their behavior is affected much more by what is definitely going to happen today than by what might or might not happen far in the future, even if the potential future consequences are more serious.
Today we were talking to a big data company that can extract enormous amounts of information from your cell phone and make even more incredible inferences about your life style. How long will it be before your wearable will have a bluetooth connection to your phone to transmit all kinds of information on your biologic state? Certainly within two decades, possibly less. It will be able to monitor your body function and relate it to the unhealthy lifestyle choices you made in the last 24 hours.
At least half of our medical costs are the result of behavior that will not happen today and might or might not happen far in the future. Let’s assume that insurance costs $5,000 per person, probably not far off. Would you sign up for a policy that cost only $2,500 but required you to wear the monitor system and took $10 from your checking account and told you what you did the day before to warrant it any time you engaged in sufficiently unhealthy life style? It’s coming within years to auto insurance. I can’t imagine living in that world. That’s why it’s good we are mortal. One can only take a limited amount of change. And progress requires change.
Somewhere Mary Baker Eddy and BF Skinner are smiling.
Posted in Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Current Events, Human Behavior, Law Enforcement, Leftism, Political Philosophy | 27 Comments »
Posted by Michael Kennedy on 9th August 2015 (All posts by Michael Kennedy)
This is a new term to me but it makes a lot of sense. It seems to have begun in Britain where it has been explained well.
“The most savage, bilious, self-righteous rants are from people living affluent self-pleasing lives in comfortable homes, doing lucky and rewarding jobs with like-minded friends. What they are doing (I risk losing a friend or two) is “virtue-signalling”: competing to seem compassionate. Few are notably open-handed: St Matthew would need a rewrite of Chapter 19. “Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast and give to the poor. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. So he went on Twitter instead and called Michael Gove a ‘vile reptilian evil tory scumbag’, and linked to a cartoon of Iain Duncan Smith stealing a paralysed woman’s wheelchair. And lo, he felt better and went for a £3.50 caramel macchiato with some mates from the BBC”
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Posted in Civil Society, Current Events, Elections, Human Behavior, Leftism, Politics | 8 Comments »
Posted by David Foster on 5th August 2015 (All posts by David Foster)
Arthur Koestler, himself a former Communist, wrote about closed intellectual systems:
A closed sysem has three peculiarities. Firstly, it claims to represent a truth of universal validity, capable of explaining all phenomena, and to have a cure for all that ails man. In the second place, it is a system which cannot be refuted by evidence, because all potentially damaging data are automatically processed and reinterpreted to make them fit the expected pattern. The processing is done by sophisticated methods of causistry, centered on axioms of great emotive power, and indifferent to the rules of common logic; it is a kind of Wonderland croquet, played with mobile hoops. In the third place, it is a system which invalidates criticism by shifting the argument to the subjective motivation of the critic, and deducing his motivation from the axioms of the system itself. The orthodox Freudian school in its early stages approximated a closed system; if you argued that for such and such reasons you doubted the existence of the so-called castration complex, the Freudian’s prompt answer was that your argument betrayed an unconscious resistance indicating that you ourself have a castration complex; you were caught in a vicious circle. Similarly, if you argued with a Stalinist that to make a pact with Hitler was not a nice thing to do he would explain that your bourgeois class-consciousness made you unable to understand the dialectics of history…In short, the closed system excludes the possibility of objective argument by two related proceedings: (a) facts are deprived of their value as evidence by scholastic processing; (b) objections are invalidated by shifting the argument to the personal motive behind the objection. This procedure is legitimate according to the closed system’s rules of the game which, however absurd they seem to the outsider, have a great coherence and inner consistency.
The atmosphere inside the closed system is highly charged; it is an emoional hothouse…The trained, “closed-minded” theologian, psychoanalyst, or Marxist can at any time make mincemeat of his “open-minded” adversary and thus prove the superiority of his system to the world and to himself.
In debating with “progressives,” one often encounters this kind of closed-system thinking: there is absolutely no way you are going to change their minds, whatever the evidence or logic. (I don’t think this is true of all “progressives”–otherwise the situation in America today would be even more grim than it actually is–but it’s true of a lot of them.)
But what are the “axioms of great emotive power” in which “progressives” believe? It is pretty easy to write down on one sheet of paper the basic beliefs of Christianity, or of Marxism, or of American Democratic Republicanism. The fundamental tenets of Naziism…Nationalism, Socialism, anti-Semitism, etc….were well summarized by Joseph Goebbels in this pamphlet.
I find it difficult to summarize today’s “progressive” belief system. It does not seem to be a coherent intellectual system, not even a faux-coherent intellectual system such as Marxism. But it clearly appeals deeply to millions of people, and has largely pervaded many if not most institutions, ranging from academia to popular media, throughout America and Western Europe.
So let’s try to identify these axioms. What are the things in which one must believe if one is to be a good “progressive”? Please try to be maximally objective and to maintain emotional distance, as if you were describing the religious beliefs of a lost tribe in South America or a band of Christian heretics in the Middle Ages, and try to separate the intellectual content of the belief system from the emotional drivers of those beliefs.
Posted in Europe, History, Human Behavior, Philosophy, Political Philosophy, USA | 38 Comments »
Posted by David Foster on 31st July 2015 (All posts by David Foster)
Girlwithadragonflytattoo has a post on anger, in which she argues that expressing one’s anger is generally not a good idea, from the standpoint of one’s own mental health.
Dragonfly Girl’s post reminded me of a recent post by Grim, in which he discusses anger in a political context, and channels Andrew Klavan to point out that anger can make you stupid.
Grim: We need to be cunning. We need to think and act strategically.
Klavan: You want to win back your country? Here’s how. Fear nothing. Hate no one. Stick to principles. Unchecked borders are dangerous not because Mexicans are evil but because evil thrives when good men don’t stand guard. Poverty programs are misguided, not because the poor are undeserving criminals, but because dependency on government breeds dysfunction and more poverty. Guns save lives and protect liberty. Property rights guarantee liberty. Religious rights are essential to liberty. Without liberty we are equal only in misery.
Anger of course does have a purpose. In politics, it is anger at bad policies and their destructive impact that can motivate one to get involved and work hard for positive change. In relationships, anger at mistreatment can motivate one to fix it or get out of it. But anger needs to be controlled and moderated or it becomes the enemy of judicious thought and effective action.
Speaking of effective action, the original post also reminded me (oddly enough!) of a famous event in military history, the Charge of the Light Brigade. This unnecessary disaster took place during the Crimean War, in 1854, and seems to have been driven in considerable part by toxic emotions on the part of British officers involved. While the details of the Charge are still being debated by historians, 161 years later, the general outline was as follows…
The Light Cavalry Brigade was commanded by Lord Cardigan, who in turn was subordinate to the overall Cavalry commander, Lord Lucan. The two men were related, and they could not stand each other, to the point where they avoided communication. Neither was popular in the army.
On October 25, the overall British commander in the Crimea, Lord Raglan, was situated on high ground, from which he had a far better view of the field than did Cardigan and Lucan. He and his staff observed that the Russians had captured some heavy British guns and were about to haul them away. An order was dispatched to Lucan under the signature of Raglan’s chief of staff:
Lord Raglan wishes the cavalry to advance rapidly to the front – follow the enemy and try to prevent the enemy carrying away the guns. Troop Horse Artillery may accompany. French cavalry is on your left. R Airey. Immediate.
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Posted in Britain, History, Human Behavior, Politics | 21 Comments »
Posted by David Foster on 29th July 2015 (All posts by David Foster)
…some thoughts from the UK:
A lot of what happens on Facebook, as with Twitter, is “virtue signalling” – showing off to your friends about how right on you are.
via the Assistant Village Idiot, who says:
I mentioned this long ago in terms of Not In Our Name, and also suggested that Jonathan Haidt overlooks those places where liberals are just as purity vs. disgust* concerned as conservatives. (See also environmentalism, vegetarianism, NASCAR and a host of other disgust issues, including, I think wealth – though that is more ambiguous in both camps.
*And authority driven, another trait supposedly more common among conservatives. The imprimatur of Roberth Reich or Paul Krugman is enough in economics; climate change catastrophe is based on choice of authorities.
See also my related post Something is happening here, but you don’t know what it is…do you, Mr Priebus?
Posted in Britain, Human Behavior, Internet, Leftism, Media, Politics, Tech | 1 Comment »
Posted by David Foster on 20th July 2015 (All posts by David Foster)
…do you, Mr Priebus?
A study by Pew Research says that Americans are increasingly getting their news from Facebook and Twitter. The study indicates that 63% of both FB and Twitter users says that they get news from these sites, up from 47% and 52% in 2013. (Bear in mind that 66% of US adults use Facebook, whereas only 17% use Twitter.) In general, it seems that FB users are more likely to pro-actively share and comment on politically-related posts, whereas Twitter users are more likely to follow stories from “official” news organizations.
Of course, the fact that someone gets news from FB or Twitter does not by itself say anything about how important that site is to them within the universe of possible news sources. Another part of the survey attempts to answer that question. Among people 35 and over, 34% say Facebook is “the most or an important” way they get news; the corresponding number for Twitter is 31%. But among those 18-34, the number is 49% for both FB and Twitter.
WSJ recently reviewed a new book, The Selfie Vote, by political analyst Kristen Soltis Anderson, who says:
“I’ve spent the last six years trying to crack the code on young voters. What I’ve found should terrify Republicans.”
She believes the current Republican approach to political marketing does not mesh with the way Millennials (“who view their comfort with technology as what makes their generation ‘special'”) tend to get information. Quoting the WSJ piece:
“Take the 2012 presidential race. Mitt Romney’s campaign stuck mostly with network TV ads during prime time, sometimes…paying nearly six times as much as Barack Obama’s campaign for an ad of the same length during the same time slot. Team Obama made use of individually targeted ads for satellite subscribers, tailoring the campaign’s message to specific voters in swing states and spending less money on network TV. The Obama campaign also developed cost-effective online ads that targeted Facebook and YouTube users based on personal-preference data, even running ads in online videogames…As more millennials pull the cable plug and spend their free time exclusively online, Republicans can’t expect to compete by pouring resources into 30-second spots during “Jeopardy!””
I think Facebook is a poor source for news and a very inferior venue for political discussion. But the Left is using it very effectively to circulate memes, usually in the form of simplistic poster-like images with a photo or graphic of some kind and a few words or dubious statistics. There does not seem to be any coherent effort on the part of the RNC, or any other Republican campaign organization or conservative/libertarian organization, to rapidly generate refutations of these when called for, nor do I see very many counter-leftist memes that I judge to be good enough, from a marketing standpoint, to be worth circulating. And there is very little of marketing value to be found on either the FB page of the RNC or the FB page of RNC chairman Reince Priebus.
My sense is that while the RNC leadership may understand old-style get-out-the-vote campaigns and precinct organization, they have little concept of social media marketing, and have also been outdone in the use of “big data” for campaign management. (See my post Catalist, “The 480,” and The Real 480.) I don’t think they’re really all that good at old-fashioned direct-mail marketing, either, based on what shows up in my mailbox.
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Posted in Advertising, Blogging, Book Notes, Elections, Human Behavior, Media, Politics, Rhetoric, Tech | 31 Comments »
Posted by David Foster on 12th July 2015 (All posts by David Foster)
When Goethe was 15, he was already recognized by friends as an exceptional writer. One of these friends, “Pylades,” told Goethe that he had recently read some of his verses aloud to “some pleasant companions…and not one of them will believe that you have made them.” Goethe said he didn’t much care whether they believed it or not, but just then one of the “pleasant companions” showed up, and Pylades proposed a way of convincing the fellow of Goethe’s abilities: “Give him any theme, and he will make you a poem on the spot.”
The disbeliever asked Goethe if he “would venture to compose a pretty love-letter in rhyme, which a modest young woman might be supposed to write to a young man, to declare her inclination.”
“Nothing easier,” said Goethe, and after thinking for a few minutes commenced to write. The now-former disbeliever was very impressed, said he hoped to see more of Goethe soon, and proposed an expedition into the country. For this expedition, they were joined by several more young men “of the same rank”…intelligent and knowledgeable, but from the lower and middle classes, earning their livings by copying for lawyers, tutoring children, etc.
These guys told Goethe that they had copied his letter in a mock-feminine hand and had sent it to “a conceited young man, who was now firmly persuaded that a lady to whom he had paid distant court was excessively enamored of him, and sought an opportunity for closer acquaintance.” The young man had completely fallen for it, and desired to respond to the woman also in verse…but did not believe he had the talent to write such verse.
Believing it was all in good fun, Goethe agreed to also write the reply. Soon, he met the would-be lover, who was “certainly not very bright” and who was thrilled with “his” response to his inamorata.
While Goethe was with this group, “a girl of uncommon…of incredible beauty” came into the room. Her name was Gretchen, and she was a relative of one of the tricksters present. Goethe was quite smitten:
“The form of that girl followed me from that moment on every path; it was the first durable impression which a female being had made upon me: and as I could find no pretext to see her at home, and would not seek one, I went to church for love of her, and had soon traced out where she sat. Thus, during the long Protestant service, I gazed my fill at her.”
The tricksters soon prevailed upon Goethe to write another letter, this one from the lady to the sucker “I immediately set to work, and thought of every thing that would be in the highest degree pleasing if Gretchen were writing it to me.” When finished, he read it to one of the tricksters, with Gretchen sitting by the window and spinning. After the trickster left, Gretchen told Goethe that he should not be participating in this affair: “The thing seems an innocent jest: it is a jest, but it is not innocent”…and asked why “you, a young man man of good family, rich, independent” would allow himself to be used as a tool in this deception, when she herself, although a dependent relative, had refused to become involved by copying the letters.
Gretchen then read the epistle, commenting that “That is very pretty, but it is a pity that it is not destined for a real purpose.” Goethe said how exciting it would be for a young man to really receive such a letter from a girl he cared about, and…greatly daring…asked: “if any one who knew, prized, honored, and adored you, laid such a paper before you, what would you do”…and pushed the paper, which she had previously pushed back toward him, nearer to Gretchen.
“She smiled, reflected for a moment, took the pen, and subscribed her name.”
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Posted in Arts & Letters, Book Notes, Germany, History, Human Behavior | 8 Comments »
Posted by Sgt. Mom on 3rd July 2015 (All posts by Sgt. Mom)
If there are a couple of things which annoy me very intensely in the year 6 A.O. (Anno Obama) – besides petty rudeness and vandalism which are loudly proclaimed to be anti-LBGTYWTF, racist or anti-Islam and then later (often within days or hours) admitted to have been perpetrated by the so-called victim in hopes of tapping into that sweet, sweet overflowing spring of sympathy and righteous affirmation … really, my default position after reading the breathless headlines about one of these incidents is setting a mental over-under of how many days it will take for the ostensible victim to be proven comprehensively to be an attention-seeking drama queen.
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Posted in Civil Society, Current Events, Diversions, Human Behavior, Humor | 10 Comments »
Posted by Michael Kennedy on 2nd July 2015 (All posts by Michael Kennedy)
The subject of “white privilege” is very much in the news there days.
Administration officials at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University have reached an agreement with student activists to force “mandatory power and privilege training” on incoming students during orientation.
The group, which calls itself “HKS Speaks Out,” will have a meeting this week with the dean of the Kennedy School, David T. Ellwood, to discuss the funding for the compulsory training and to “make sure this training is institutionalized” throughout the school, reports Campus Reform.
Who is this group behind the “white privilege” training session ? Well, they are disgruntled students.
The movement, called HKS Speaks Out, began in October after students expressed having “really negative classroom experiences,” according to Reetu D. Mody, a first year Master in Public Policy student and an organizer of the movement. She said the group has amassed about 300 student signatures, or about a fourth of the school’s student population, on a petition that calls for mandatory privilege and power training.
She can’t breathe. She is a Congressional staffer but I can’t find out whose staff. Democrat if not Bernie Sanders.
Steve Sailor is not impressed.
Harvard U. is full of people who clawed their way into Harvard, so it’s not surprising that they often can’t stand each other. Fortunately, 21st Century Harvard students have a vocabulary of whom to blame for any and all frustrations they feel. From the Harvard Crimson:
Kennedy School Students Call for Training To Combat Privilege in Classroom
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Posted in Book Notes, Civil Liberties, Conservatism, Crime and Punishment, Current Events, Education, Human Behavior, Leftism, Morality and Philosphy, Urban Issues | 13 Comments »
Posted by David Foster on 1st July 2015 (All posts by David Foster)
Posted in Anti-Americanism, Big Government, Business, Civil Society, Film, History, Human Behavior, Internet, Leftism, Management, Society, Tech, Transportation | 15 Comments »
Posted by David Foster on 28th June 2015 (All posts by David Foster)
That’s what Hillary Clinton thought was inscribed, in English and in Russian, on the button that she gave to Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov in early 2009…actually she got the translation wrong…(why on earth, with all the linguistic resources that were available to her?…but that’s a subject for another day.)
I don’t think I need to provide a slew of links to prove that the reset didn’t work very well. Russia-US national relations are currently pretty bad, and Russia is now perceived as a threat to many other countries in a way that would have seemed unbelievable back in 2008. Resetting institutional and societal things…complicated, intertwined, human things…is generally much harder than rebooting a computer or flipping a circuit breaker back to ON.
Yet the RESET button is a good metaphor for the entire worldview of the Obama administration, and of the “progressive” movement generally. Remember that line about “fundamentally transforming” the United States?
One tactic employed by modern-era leaders who wish to “fundamentally transform” their societies is to transform the use of language and other symbols. The French revolutionaries pioneered in this: even the names of the months of the year were changed. The Nazis required that the traditional greeting “gruess gott” (roughly, “God bless you”) be replaced with “Heil Hitler.” It was part of their version of what I have called the politicization of absolutely everything.
In the US today, the politicized transformation of language has largely originated in universities, especially in their various “studies” departments, and is now being transmitted and amplified by certain corporations.
For example, it is credibly reported that JP Morgan now discourages its employees from using terms such as “wife” and “boyfriend.” According to the internal memo, not referring to your wife as your wife “offers up the opportunity for more inclusive conversations.”
Presumably, the idea is that those who lack wives or boyfriends…on account of being gay or transgender…will be hurt and offended by the use of the terms. Which makes about as much sense as the idea that religious people shouldn’t refer to their “minister” or their “rabbi” because to do so might be painful to the non-religious. Or that people with children shouldn’t refer to their “child” or their “kid” because it might be painful to those who only have cats…maybe a more neutral term like “dependent companion creature” might be used.
What this is really all about, of course, is sucking up to what somebody at JPM thinks the zeitgeist is among those who may have power over its future.
Apple Computer, also, is following a similar course. They have banned the use of the Confederate flag even as a marker for units in Civil War simulation games sold on the App Store. (Specifically, they have banned any such marker appearing on a screenshot of the game which will appear in the store.)
Several days ago, I linked an article arguing that modern “liberalism,” or “progressivism,” or whatever they call themselves, is now almost purely a symbolic project. The Apple policy that I described about represents symbol-obsession taken to a level that is truly insane.
While banning the use of the Confederate flag even for purposes of unit-identification icons, Apple has apparently not restricted the use of the Nazi swastika for similar purposes in WWII simulation games. I don’t conclude from this that Apple is a group of Nazi sympathizers, rather, that they are a group of herd-followers and enforcers of the “progressive” herd’s current direction, whatever that direction may be. (Apple once used the slogan “Think Different”…now, it seems, their slogan should be “think like you are supposed to!)
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Posted in Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Human Behavior, Leftism, USA | 10 Comments »
Posted by Michael Kennedy on 28th June 2015 (All posts by Michael Kennedy)
The saying is “When seconds count, the police are only minutes away.”
I have a gun in my bedside table but do not carry one when I go out. At one time, about the time of the Rodney King riots, I had to go to LA to give a lecture and I put a gun in my car center console. This week I am thinking about terrorism and whether we will see an example next weekend.
Richard Fernandez has more to say about this today and, as usual, what he says is worthwhile. The photo above is of the ISIS murderer at Tunisia where he killed 30 people, all tourists, and walked along as though he was out for a stroll.
The staff of the hotel wash the blood from the site of the massacre.
Why did this happen ? Aside from the foolishness of British tourists going to a country where there was another attack recently. A previous attack killed 19 in March.
One commenter wondered what Someone was doing while this ‘tragedy’ occurred. “How come there was an alarm raised, carrying that machine gun, it was obvious to the onlookers in the picture. Somebody could have prevented another tragedy in the name of this perverse and ancient religion.”
Yes, where was that Someone ?
The West is filled with millions of people like Alex, all of them waiting for Someone.
Alex, a 23-year-old Sunday school teacher and babysitter, was trembling with excitement the day she told her Twitter followers that she had converted to Islam.
For months, she had been growing closer to a new group of friends online — the most attentive she had ever had — who were teaching her what it meant to be a Muslim. Increasingly, they were telling her about the Islamic State and how the group was building a homeland in Syria and Iraq where the holy could live according to God’s law.They are the product of a multi-decade campaign to deliberately empty people of their culture; to actually make them ashamed of it. They were purposely drained of God, country, family like chickens so they could be stuffed with the latest narrative of the progressive meme machine. The Gramscian idea was to produce a blank slate upon which the Marxist narrative could be written.
She is looking for Someone.
Too bad for the Gramscians that the Islamists are beating them to the empty sheets of paper. And they are better at it too.
George Orwell observed the takeover of hardcore Bolshevism by the periphery in the 1930s.
The first thing that must strike any outside observer is that Socialism, in its developed form is a theory confined entirely to the middle classes. The typical Socialist is not, as tremulous old ladies imagine, a ferocious-looking working man with greasy overalls and a raucous voice. He is either a youthful snob-Bolshevik who in five years’ time will quite probably have made a wealthy marriage and been converted to Roman Catholicism; or, still more typically, a prim little man with a white-collar job, usually a secret teetotaller and often with vegetarian leanings, with a history of Nonconformity behind him, and, above all, with a social position which he has no intention of forfeiting.
This is so typical of the gay marriage crowd who ignore the world while focusing on minutiae.
Meanwhile, the Obama Administration ignores ISIS hostages.
The White House did not do enough to rescue the four Americans. During Steve’s imprisonment, it rarely worked with the hostages’ families, kept them in the dark, and was essentially passive, rather than discussing ways to secure their release.During Steve’s imprisonment, it rarely worked with the hostages’ families, kept them in the dark, and was essentially passive, rather than discussing ways to secure their release. And though the White House finally authorized an extraction attempt in late June 2014, it waited far too long to do so.
Whether this is a good idea is another matter but the Administration is doing nothing and worse than nothing,
The FBI was useless. Its tasks were alternately to extract information and to comfort the family. It never shared intelligence. One European hostage, who was incarcerated with the Americans and subsequently released, told me he was shocked that the FBI seemed more interested in gathering evidence to prosecute the hostage-takers than it was in locating the Americans. Our lead agent misled me on several occasions,
Fernandez’ advice is simple.
That Someone’s busy with transfat, transgender and alternative marriage issues. He can’t bother with protecting borders. Just leave your number and the time you called, and he’ll get back to you. The state has finally achieved both universal jurisdiction and total impotence at one and the same moment.
What is to be done? The first task is to start gathering a circle of friends who live within walking distance of your home. Four people — a handyman, a nurse or doctor, an ex-cop or soldier and a strongback for preference — will do. Your second task is to support the causes you care about. Volunteer at your church or club. If you have no club, start one. Donate to your favorite website. If you don’t have a favorite, find one or go online yourself. Buy the book of an author you admire. And switch off the damned telescreen.
I am not into conspiracy theories. I don’t think Obama wants to take our guns away to leave us helpless in the face of terrorists. On the other hand, what would he doing differently if that was what he wanted ?
Posted in Current Events, Human Behavior, Islam, Middle East, Obama, Terrorism | 16 Comments »