Monday, January 30, 2006

Kennedy / Kerry on Alito

If there was any doubt that Alito was a great pick for the Supreme Court, Kennedy and Kerry certainly put it to rest on the floor of the Senate today. We have elections to choose presidents that get to appoint supreme court judges, and it is completely unsurprising that the other side isn't going to like them. Of course, if the other side follows the constitution, they are supposed to discover if the judges are qualified and then "consent", maybe something like 96-3 as the Republicans did for Ruth Bader-Ginsberg when they were in about the same numbers in the Senate as the Democrats are now. Naturally, reasonable people would never expect Democrats to be reasonable, so Kerry and Kennedy just did a good job of doing what one would expect.

Both Kennedy and Kerry should have provided some great sound bites for commercials in the fall, Kennedy especially looked like a man unhinged and out of control, one would have thought that Alito drowned his daughter in a car or something. (Mary-Jo Kopechne could not be reached for comment).

There is always something sureal about guys like Kennedy and Kerry screaming about "the little guy". One married into 800 million, and the other was born to a dynasty and has never known life without privliege and 100's of millions of dollars at his service. If either really wanted to "help the poor", they could give away 100's of millions to the poor, keep just a paltry 10-20 million each, and "scrape by" with a nice luxury condo or two each, fly commercial (horror!) and still do essentially anything they wanted for recreation as often as they wanted. But of course that would be a HUGE step down for them, and one THEY are not going to take.

On the other hand, they spend all their days trying to take actions to prevent a few million Americans from having a shot at building up a million or so and retiring someday to a decent but far from the lifestyle that they won't even deign to consider as a "sacrifice step down". They have the multiple homes, compounds, private aircraft, and trust funds that let them live the life of royalty while they try to deny the opportunity for a decent number to move to "upper middle class" with caps on Roth IRA's, high taxes on 401Ks, deduction limits, and has high a tax rates on income as they can possibly get. They know that income is the only leverage a lot of people have to escape dependence on the government, and they want to keep them dependendent so they can control their votes. During the '80s, too many people moved up enough to see a higher plane and ended up Republicans. They can't have that kind of opportunity.

It must be a cyncal life, living in opulent wealth, and holding as much of the masses as possible on the "Government Plantation" where any attempt to improve their station is beaten down with as much vigor as possible by programs that are supposed to be "fair", but only hurt people at a far lower srata then the lofty heights of a Kennedy or Kerry. There are few things that Democrats hate more than someone who has actually lived the American dream and moved up from government dependence to even a small level of personal independence. People like that leave their plantation, and when Democrats talk about plantations, they know of what they speak.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Stuck in the '70's

Michael Barone has a well written editorial called "Stuck in the '70s" here:
http://www.realclearpolitics.com/Commentary/com-1_30_06_MB.html
He picks up on some of the themes of why it was the decade from hell on both the substantive issues front (Watergate, Wage and Price Controls, Stagflation, Iran Hostages, Loss in Vietnam), but the more mundane as well (Disco, odd clothes, mass media wasteland, horrible product and building quality).

He correctly points out that many Democrats and MSM people seem to be stuck in the '70's, but only claims that they are there because it makes them "forever young". I think he misses that part. The more I observe the liberal mind and behavior, I maintain that they are there because they look back FONDLY on the '70s. What certainly most conservative Americans, and in general, most moderate Americans see as "bad", the bulk of the left sees as the "glory days". Defeat in Vietnam and Nixon resigning were unalloyed great days of victory for them. The increased influence of the USSR and China, and Carter's statements that the best days of the US had past fit their model of a US in decline. The powerlessness of the US in the face of Iran was the US that they wanted to see.

To a huge mass of our opposition party and our media, the '70s are "the good old days", and understanding this is a major help in undertanding the agenda of Democrats and the MSM, and in seeing why they react the way they do to events today, and projecting what kind of America would be to their liking.

Limits of Democracy

Heading to work Friday AM the NPR announcer discussed how the win by Hezbolah in the elections was a huge problem for Bush, since he has been pushing for democracy as a solution in the Mideast, and now finds himself with a conflict of not being willing to work with an organization that has won a legitimate election that officially espouses terrorism and the destruction of Israel.

NPR is a great source of humor for me, and I was able to get a good belly laugh out of that one, as it shows the true NPR colors at a number of levels. The first level of course is that it is a problem for BUSH, since HE espouses Democracy. NPR, and of course liberals in general DON'T support Democracy ... they support "good results", or some other abstract concept.

They are very familiar with the idea that a Democracy can get "wrong results", since Bush is the President of the US ... sometimes they think because of Diebold messing up Ohio, but most of the time just because there are a bunch of idiot Christians in the red states that voted for something foolish like "values", rather then their proper "self interest" as defined by NPR and Democrats. They are very familiar with the idea of Democracy providing a "bad result" if they would just reflect for a second.

Is Hezbollah winning in Palestine a "bad result"? Democracy is one of those "it is what it is" things like a market economy. Are gas prices "bad"? Well, we would all like them lower (we think), but one of the things that the higher price provides is available gas. We like that part. Both the market and democracy (which is a political/ideas market) tend to provide a much more reality based view of the world than a command economy, or a dictatorship.

For people not taken in by the bleating of the MSM, it has been clear for a very long time that the Palestinian people generally support the destruction of Israel by whatever means, and so did their leaders, although they were very willing to lie to the likes of Billy Clinton, the UN, and the MSM if they thought it served their purposes. All that has happened now is that they have voted and let the rest of the folks know what non-sheep knew forever ... the majority of the Palestinians care more about the destruction of Israel than they do about their own safety, children, or any sort of future as long as Israel is DESTROYED!

Reality a huge problem for the left, and since one of things they like to do best is project their problems somewhere else, it is unsurprising to hear NPR call it "a problem for Bush". Hopefully Bush understands the right course of action pretty well ... it doesn't really make any difference how people with terrorist views get into power ... ballots, bullets, the answers are the same. Cut off their aid, cut off their trade, isolate them any way that we can, and help make the cost of their ideas as high as we possibly can. It is very true and unfortunate that a lot of them aren't going to change their minds until they are dead, so since they have selected their ideas, we need to do all we can to make sure that they get to live the logical Hobbesian outcome of those ideas (lives that are solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short)!

NPR and liberals like to be on the side of "reality avoidance". Providing aid and comfort to the PLO and cheering negotiations between Arafat and Israel even though the official position of the PLO was the annihilation of Israel was perfectly reasonable. It allowed the situation to go on forever, and it fit right into their world model where ideas don't have consequences, and there is no reason at all to have any sort of consistency in your view of the world. You make yourself feel good by negotiating with the PLO and simply ignore the fact that they want to destroy Israel by any means possible!

The vote is good in the sense that it is real. There should be a lot less doubt of what we are dealing with in Palestine. Conservatives at least tend to find that dealing with the real world has a higher chance of success than dealing with some abstract view of how we might like the world to be, the situation with Israel and the Palestinians is about as bad a reality as any around for hopes of success, but having a more realistic picture of the situation is at least a baby step in the way of progress.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Kerry vs Hillary

With the attempt to fillibuster the Alito confirmation it appears that Kerry is staking out his position on the left wing of the Democratic party for a 2008 attempt. In the lsat week or so he has also posted to the Daily Kos, a flaming far left Blog that amoung other things took the position that contractors that were killed and their bodies hung from a bridge "deserved what they got, and he didn't feel any remorse for them or their families".

Hillary seems to be in "scattergun mode". Take a shot at moving to the right by claiming that going tough and unilateral on Iran and North Korea, and then taking a shot at some ham handed race baiting with her "Republicans treating the House of Representatives like a plantation" comment.

I'll never figure out how one develops an affinity for politicians that seem to only cynically take positions for purposes of getting votes and gaining power, and one wonders if they have any actual beliefs at all beyond wanting to be in power.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

State of Fear

After having the Michael Crichton "State of Fear" book on my shelf for over a year, being under the elbow weather was a good excuse to read it. I have to applaud him very strongly fore being willing to go completely gainst the general world view on the environment and Global Warming. The book is fiction, but he makes it clear in the forewards and on the web that he stands behind the science that calls global warming into question, and is very concerned about the kind of media and academic power that can create what is essentially a hoax, if not in complete reality, at least in the level of fake certainty of global warming being a fact.

For those that don't recall the name Crichton, he is the author of Jurrasic Park, and Andromeda strain to name a couple, creator of the TV series ER, and a graduate of Harvard medical school ... so not a complete idiot. He uses the theory of eugenics early in the 20th century as an example of a theory that had very close to the same level of scientific, academic, political, and popular support, but of course was dangerous and wrong. He does a good job of using fiction to point out the techniques that are used to create "facts" out of guesses, wishes, partial data, imagination, selective reporting and other more sinister techniques.

When someone that has something to lose comes out and strongly questions the "standard model that everyone agrees with", it is very refreshing. While he is far from my favorite author, and one gets tired to reading screenplays disquised as books, it is worth a read just hear some contrarian science to the dogma of global warming ... something that is extremely rare in the press.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Conservative Mind 2

As I said before, I in no way want to give the impression that a summary of this book comes even close to capturing the majesty of the book, and to go even further, a reading of the book shows that Burke, Locke, Rousseau, Locke, Hobbes, John Adams, Tocqueville and a host of others need to be read and understood to claim to be appreciating the meaning of what is written. To grossly summarize the key insights that stick with me however:

Leveling in all its forms is supremely dangerous to all freedoms of man, to the freedoms of both the masses and the aristocracy. We see the result of economic leveling in socialist and communist countries where the general outcome is that the overall standard of living is lowered in the extreme so that all may be “equal”, but the equivalence is of the lowest common denominator where nobody has anything worth having economically. The economic results are minor compared to the intellectual and spiritual cost, and in fact the tyranny of spiritual and intellectual leveling is perfectly capable to be carried out, and maybe even preferably so where people are in fact worshiping material gain and unaware that they have lost the meaning of their lives.

Sadly, we see that the cultural, intellectual, and spiritual leveling has already been carried out successfully for the bulk of the US population, and the mass of people are chasing various material goods while only dimly aware that they have no sense of meaning, allegiance to family, church, country or any other organization. They gather material with no more meaning than “the flies of summer”, since their connection to any higher power of history, culture, religion, family, or community has been taken from the them by the combination of minimal education, and a mass culture dedicated to the lowest common denominator.

The term “aristocracy” is used as a positive thing throughout the book, while it isn’t precisely their definition I’ll define it as “it is good to have betters”. I’m often maligned by people for saying that I actually appreciate that there are some people of wealth that can have multiple beautiful homes, private jets, and the like. The point I try to make is that jealousy isn’t the ONLY human emotion … one can appreciate the good fortune of others, and feel that the fact that things are possible for SOME is an improvement on them not being impossible for any, and raises the overall level of the economic system.

Most people hate that analysis, but after reading this book I realize in more depth the profound thankfulness and some level of jealousy that I have for a William Buckley. Without “betters”, we have nothing to even aspire to, or realize where life CAN go, to appreciate what is possible. We are dumb sheep that wallow in the pre-packaged crumbs of civilization, religion, and knowledge that are doled out to us by an educational system and media that by and large has lost track of what even exists in the store room of western culture.

This is again the same lament of the Closing of the American Mind. We have lost the basic connection with our own culture. From the Conservative Mind it becomes clear that this is at least in part a "conspiracy". When people are aware of the treasure of thought and culture that has gone before them in western civilization, that understanding in itself acts as a conserving anchor. When one appreciates what they have, they are far less likely to tear it down in a vain attempt to create some abstract heaven on earth.

All of the loss of meaning to life, the trivialization of religion, family, and all institutions other than the federal government was predicted and discussed by conservatives before 1700. The dangers of increasingly direct democratic rule, of removal of religion from connection with the state, and of even the rise of protestantism are discussed in detail as risks to freedom. As Bork points out in Slouching Toward Gomorrah, there isn't, nor can be any brake on the forces of radicalism and liberalism. Once the masses believe that they are on a train named “progress”, they are only interested in going faster and faster even if it becomes clear that the near destination is tyranny, hell on earth, followed by destruction.

The biggest sense that I’m left with is much the same as when I read “Atlas Shrugged”. How could I have gone through a normal US education and graduated from college and be completely ignorant of Edmund Burke? Much as in the case of the ideas of Ayn Rand, it becomes clear that it wasn’t an accident.

The Conservative Mind

“The Conservative Mind” by Russel Kirk takes it’s place at the head of my all-time favorite books, eclipsing “The Closing of the American Mind”. It may be that Closing is more profound, but it is much less accessible, so “CM” takes over as the single “must read” if one wants to get what it means (or ought to mean) to be a Conservative. I still search for a liberal book equivalent, perhaps I will find it in Rousseau or Locke in the future.

This is sub-titled “From Burke to Eliot” and makes it clear how woefully incomplete my education, and the education of everyone in the west has been at least since the 1930’s or so, and likely much longer. The push to liberalism didn’t burn the books and ideas of the past, it just chose to ignore them and declare them irrelevant. The list of books and ideas that need to be understood to even have a passing knowledge of what has gone before, what is known of human nature, democracy, the relation of God and man, what is knowable and what is not philosophically; this vast body of knowledge has purposely ignored so that the lives of man could be “leveled” by our educational and government systems. The work of economic leveling turns out to be minor compared to the intellectual and cultural leveling that has been done so that the vast bulk of mankind has no idea of what it is that they are even missing. Conservatives saw this happening hundreds of years ago and were unable to prevent it, but the thoughts live on, there remains hope.

An interesting extended quote; “This book distinctly does not supply it’s readers with a conservative ideology: for the conservative abhors all forms of ideology. An abstract rigorous set of political dogma: that is ideology, a “political religion”, promising a terrestrial paradise to the faithful; and ordinarily that paradise is to be taken by storm. Such a priori designs for the perfection of human nature and society are anathema to the conservative, who knows them for the tools and the weapons of the coffeehouse fanatics.

For the conservative, custom, convention, constitution and prescription are the sources of a tolerable civil social order. Men not being angels, a terrestrial paradise cannot be contrieved by metaphysical enthusiasts; yet an earthly hell can be arranged readily by ideologues of one stamp or another”.

In listening to the mass media and most of education, one would believe that ONLY “conservatives” have “ideology”. The book also runs into the problem that Hayak is so plain on that the modern use of “liberal” and “conservative” has very little to do with the real meanings of the terms historically. To help on that front, here are the 6 canons of coservatitism according to Kirk:

1) Belief in a transcendent order, or body of natural law, which rules society as well as conscience. Political problems are at the bottom religious and moral problems.
2) Affection for the proliferating variety and mystery of human existence, as opposed to the narrow uniformity, egalitarianism, and utilitarian aims of most radical systems.
3) Conviction that civilized society requires order and classes as against the notion of a “classless society”. Ultimate equality in the judgment of God, and equality before courts of law are recognized by conservatives; but equality of condition, they think, means equality in servitude and boredom.
4) Persuasion that freedom and property are closely linked; separate property from private possession and Leviathan becomes master of all. Economic leveling, they maintain, is not economic progress.
5) Faith in prescription and distrust of “sophisters , calculators, and economists” who would reconstruct society on abstract designs.
6) Recognition that change may not be salutary reform: hasty innovation may be a devouring conflagration, rather than the torch of progress.


To contrast, the following are the radical or “liberal” tenents:

1) The perfectibility of man and the illimitable progress of society.
2) Contempt for tradition
3) Political leveling. Order and privilege are condemned; eagerness for centralization and consolidation.
4) Economic leveling. The ancient rules of property, especially land, are suspect to almost all radicals.
5) Animosity to God, “souls”, or any power that is “above man”.

By way of introduction, that is a start. I’ll try to capture some more in another Blog.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Singular Design

The Singularity book brought to mind a number of recent technology and science issues. First, Ray has no problem creating a new religion based on the perfectibility of man via technology and becoming such an adherent to that religion that he is taking 100’s of supplements and medications an attempt to be granted eternal earthy life on the alter of human technology. He doesn’t hammer as much on the foolishness of belief in God as some, but it is there, he is a materialist through and through, so one of the wags that I read put it, “we are 100% meat with absolutely no spiritual additives”.

Why is this view so important to scientists? They are generally extremely intelligent, yet they fall for to grade school philosophy with formulations like “evolution is how different species were formed, therefore God doesn’t exist”? That statement would be akin to someone saying “this blog was written with MS Word, therefore there is no Moose”.

I’d put the initial blame with the old Catholic Church. When science was in it’s infancy and the Church was in full power, it arrogantly usurped the power of God to claim that it could understand that if the Bible said “the sun stood still” in that one Old Testament battle, then that had to mean it literally stood still, therefore astronomers that claimed the earth orbited it were heretics. It only takes a couple scientists being burned as heretics for them to become a but untrusting of religion. The church ought to avoid pronouncements on the physical, and science should avoid pronouncements on the spiritual.  By this point in human history, movies like ‘The Matrix”, and imagined technology like the Star Trek Transporter ought to make it eminently clear the difficulties of the  “what is reality” problem that perplexed ancient philosophers back to Plato and before.

Any God that can create the universe can create it whenever and however he wants to create it, including doing it while I’m writing this sentence, and from the perspective of any science we have, or ever WILL have, we would be unable to tell the difference. We can ONLY know how it APPEARS from the limits of our senses and thought, and whatever machines we can derive from those. Even if we derive a computer that uses what we see as every particle in this or N universes for computation, it would still be operating from the perspective that WE see. It is possible that is the “only real and true perspective”, but making that decision is every bit the leap of faith that belief in the God of the Bible or some other god is.

Aside from the fault of the church in the normal anti-God view of scientists we have good old human nature. The current discussion about teaching of Intelligent Design (ID) in the schools is instructive. The “unstated alternative” is Random Design (RD). If there is no higher intelligence behind the universe, then we are here due to randomness and all the “design” that we see is random. No matter how much the scientist appeals to very very very large numbers, the thought that all the intricate balances between the forces of physics that allow stars, planets, and eventually intricate chemistry that underlies life to exist “just happens” strains credulity.

Like many liberal arguments, it is relatively easy to point out perceived problems with 6-day creation, age of the earth, or the fact that natural selection happens all the time in say disease resistance of bacteria, BUT, the real issue of “what is the alternative”? is left open. Liberals tend to be good at criticism, but HORRIBLE at implementation or suggesting REASONABLE alternatives! We know they don't like a "god of order", but does declaring a "god of randomness" and then believing that science and figure out things due to order in the universe REALLY make sense?

The god of chaos is willing to to just stand off to the side of the stage and be worshipped without acknowledgement. He realizes that the human soul can be suitably corrupted by just removing the God of order and intelligence from view;  chaos, evil, randomness; all are perfectly willing, and in fact more than happy to rule from the shadows.

One of the keys to perceiving the dark side is the criticism with no alternative, or the “action to nihilism”. “We seek only to be sure that a religious doctrine isn’t taught in the schools, therefore ID must be removed”. But what is it replaced with? “Nothing”, or effectively RD. The decision to worship at the altar of randomness and chaos is an equal leap of faith (and when faced honestly is a greater move against the very human soul), BUT the IMPRESSION is given that it is more “free” (there are “less rules”). This may be the cruelest hoax of all.

If this truly is a universe of RD, what do we know about issues like the perfectibility of man? Our ability to find more answers and create heaven on earth through science? Well, precisely nothing. It could be anything, it is random. We know very little extra in an ID universe if we don't accept something like the Bible, but it seems easier to believe that an ID universe is likely to “make sense” over an RD universe since there was intelligence that begat it in the first place.

As Ray winds his way through toward the Singularity he muddles around with trying to figure out how to claim that the vast new machine intelligence that will arise will be “good”. He admits that by definition it can’t be controlled, and the closest he comes to a reason for it’s goodness is “because it is a child of our minds”. Considering that Hitler, Pol Pot, Stalin, and Bin Ladin were all kids once, somehow I don’t find that very comforting, and I’m not sure why he does … I suspect he just threw up his hands and decided to find it so since he didn’t like the alternative.

While I find Ray wildly optimistic, if one extends the time scale to 1000 years rather than 100, I suspect he may not be SO very far off. My reasons for optimism though have little to do with the technology being OUR children, but a lot to do with us and the technology being children of a designer for whom the computational capacity of all the humans that ever lived in one second of clock time isn’t even an issue since his existence and capacity is beyond time and measure.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

The Singularity Is Near

The Singularity is Near is the latest book from technology cheerleader and futurist Ray Kurzweil. There is no doubt Ray is extremely intelligent and understands technology at very deep level given his pioneering work in optical character recognition, speech recognition, and electronic music. He has authored three books on the subject; “The Age of Intelligent Machines”, “The Age of Spiritual Machines”, and now "The Singularity".

The essential claim is that we are rushing headlong to a point in the quite near future (2045 according to Ray) where due to one or more of the “GNR” (Genetic, Nano-Tech, Robotic) technologies, “everything will change” in a way we can’t really predict now because a machine intelligence will arise and be instantly able to replicate over the net around the globe to all computing. Ray can see us rushing to this point due to Moore’s law and “the law of exponential returns”, and although he makes a lot of positive predictions, he admits that where we go beyond this new intelligence arising will be out of our control. (See Terminator movies for a slightly less positive view of what might ensue when the machines take over).

One doesn’t need to read on very long in this book (or his others) to know that Ray doesn’t have anytime for existing religions -- apparently that is why he is working so hard on his new one which says that among the many great outgrowths of all this technological advance is the fact that Ray is going to live forever!  (He is 60) By the 20-teens there will be enough genetic engineering and miracle drugs to insure that nothing like heart or cancer get him before his full 70-80 year current life expectancy. In the 20-twenties, nano-tech will insure that life expectancy is moved out to at least 100 and likely much more. In the 20-forties, no problem, Ray is leaving this biological veil of tears behind and uploading to a nano-tech / silicon super-self.

I got a kick out of his various “laptops”, machines the size of a current laptop that will provide the amount of computing available for one thousand dollars. His 2080 laptop could execute computing equivalent to the total computing power of all human brains for the preceding 10 thousand years in less than one second. Ought to be able to run a dynamite video game on that puppy! I suspect that one might need to have a bit of a lap pad to avoid “slight reddening of the skin” … it ought to have about the same level of heat being thrown off as the surface of the sun, so the cooling fans might put up a little howl and the battery life may not be too long, but hey, at those speeds just think what one can do before going looking for a plug.

Ray is a tad weak on software. It will be “much better” and “much smarter”, but there is a notable lack of anything like a Moore’s curve in the software industry. Too much exposure to Windows may lead people to believe that the glorious technological evolution that drives Ray’s future of wonder might be more like DE-evolution. Perhaps Unix was the pinnacle of software evolution and we are now “reversibly evolving” to the Cro-Magnon era where dumb brutes of Windows programs grunt in approval of the latest blue screen of death. I guess I’m less optimistic than Ray.

Hillary Hawk

Wow, what a tough lady. Bush has made a huge error by working with Britan, France, and Germany in negotiations with Iran, and made the same error by going multi-lateral with North Korea by including China, Russia, and Japan to North Koraa. In the cass UNILATERALLY. I can't drag out a speech, but we know that Iraq required MULTI-lateral action where that is defined as "more than Britan". To see the press sit and listen to such drivel with a straight face would be so very funny if it wasn't such a serious topic. This bimbo could theoretically be Prseident in the future.

Multilateral, unilateral, how does one decide? Hillary needs not explain, just "wrong, wrong, and wrong". Somehow that isn't hard to predict. She also has said in the last couple days that "The Bush Administration will go down in history as one of the worst ever". Ann Coulter points out that wives of Bill Clinton would be very wise to avoid the phrase "go down" at a all costs, nearly much as Teddy Kennedy ought to avoid the analogy "drowning in" as in "I'm drowning in e-mail".

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Where Have I Gone?


When last spotted, the intrepid Blogging Moose was headed to the Keweenaw Penninsula of Michagan for snowmobiling. Thursday the 5th a great time was had out on the trails with the new sleds. The picture shows the Fusion sitting in Phoenix in the AM, there was plenty of snow on the trails, and both the Fusion and the Apex were fantastic. For a pure trail riding high performance person the Apex is certainly the ride to get if dollars aren't a problem ... unlimited power, smooth, gets quieter the faster it goes, fantastic ride, and just all around the sense of "reeks of quality". In general, it draws the most people trying to find out how good it is.

The Fusion however is a great pick if one is "well over 6'" as this writer is. Lots of leg position, tons of torque that wants to pull the skis off the ground, more "rider forward" for the sense of being able to throw the sled around, also great suspension, but at least as set up, a loser to the Apex, although still an improvement over even M-10. Super day with fine trails, although certainly not the kind of pristine trails we have round up there in the past.

Since I had been missing, I suspect that you can guess that something is coming, but not about sleds. Thursday night, black ice on the parking lot at hotel, 1 second cehecking position of vehicle and trailer, next 1/100 of a second, on back with bleeding head and sore elbow. Head was easy fix with stitches, but elbow turned out to be broken and needed surgery, before and after pics included. It is supposed to be 7 screws and a plate, I suspect that there are two screws looking like one at some point in there.

Before:

After


The cast came off today, and it is getting some typing use and holding up OK, so that is good news. Missed work all last week, but worked from home yesterday and went in for awhile today and plan to do more tomorrow. Things can go bad in a hurry sometimes, but apparently with a bit of Mayo Clinic assist, recovery is well underway.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Off Lakoff

Here it is 2006 already, and I just have to get caught up with my reading with writing in the Blog. To finish up Lakoff and the Elephant, I’d like to reiterate that this is a very short, very easy read that allows people from either side to see how the left thinks of itself and thinks of conservatives. The guy deserves a lot of credit for his honesty, if not necessarily for his insight. As he gets to the back of the book he is busy rallying his troops to take on the evil conservatives. A lot of his advice certainly applies equally well to both sides, here are some examples and discussion:

• “Never answer a question framed in your opponent’s point of view. Always re-frame the question to fit your values and your frames.” If both sides follow this simple rule, then the shouting matches should at least be “all about frames”.
• I love this one; “Their health care would be covered by having the top 2% pay the same taxes they used to pay. It’s only fair that the wealthy pay for their own lifestyles, and that people who provide those lifestyles get paid fairly for it.”. A of the liberal model in a nutshell here:

“Fairness”, the emphasis above is his. Liberals are nearly as expert on fairness as 6yr olds. He uses “fairness” twice (and who but a meta-physician, 6yr old, or liberal could be certain about “fairness”?) and uses “payment” twice and manages to be wrong both times. The liberal sees all assets and income as “owned” by the government, so a “wealthy person” getting a tax cut is “taking money from the government” (and therefore not “paying for their lifestyle"), where a person getting the benefit of a government program is getting “paid” for something that they have “earned” by just existing. Liberals have a lot of "basic rights", such as to "a living wage", "retirement", or "healthcare". The liberal universe somehow just hands these "rights" out of the random Godless ether.

The general rule is that private property, business, competition, and the market are NOT FAIR, where congress, endless government bureaucracy ARE “fair”. There are whole books written on the philosophy of that decision, but a liberal simply takes that on faith. They KNOW, in a way that is about as close as they come to religious faith, that any society that didn’t put them on some sort of "easy street" HAS to be grossly unfair.

• “People know how to spend their money better than the government. Reframe: The government has made very wise investments in tax-payer money.” … as if that was new. Democrats have been trying to call government spending “investment” for a very long time … it is one of their oldest and moldiest frames.

• “Use wedge issues, cases where your opponent will violate some belief he holds no matter what he says. Example: Suppose he brings up abortion. Raise the issue of military rape treatment. Women soldiers who are raped (by our own soldiers in Iraq, or on military bases) …. The wedge: If he agrees, he sanctions abortion, in government supported facilities no less, where doctors would have to be trained and facilities provided for terminating pregnancies. If he disagrees, he dishonors our women soldiers who are putting their lives on the line for him. To the women it is like being raped twice-once by the criminal soldier and once by a self-righteous conservative.”

Lucifer would be proud; I suspect Lakoff really enjoyed writing this. First of all, he gets to call BOTH our soldiers and conservatives “rapists”, which fits well with his basic frame. The concept is great too … the idea that someone would have to deal with “conflicting beliefs” and weigh the “greater good”, or “lesser evil” is a foreign concept to a liberal … John Kerry was a master, why not just courageously take ALL positions? It does sound so much like a lot of the basic discussions between Lucifer and both God the Father and the Son. How proudly and smugly the trap is set where one would have to make a moral choice … a trap that a liberal who has judiciously avoided any concept of “righteousness”, self or otherwise, is completely secure of ever having to face. Such dilemmas are indeed a part of a life of real morals and values, as opposed to the kind of make believe “values” conjured up on the spur of the moment if they appear to be needed to win some more votes.

Much like any other rape, there is a crime, but it wasn’t committed by the fetus. The liberal should be asked how prevalent rape is among our service people (since he raised the issue), and if it is an issue, then is that a sign that women are integrating well into the military services? The idea that they should was a very strong liberal position, without which this “wedge” is removed.

• “Remember once more that our goal is to unite our country behind our values, the best of traditional American values. Right-wing ideologues need to divide our country via a nasty cultural civil war. They need discord and shouting and name-calling and put-downs. We win with civil discourse and respectful cooperative conversation. Why? Because it is an instance of the nurturant model at the level of communication and our job is to evoke and maintain the nurturant model.”

I guess that means that Gay marriage has always been here, there have always been a ton of issues with the use of the term “God”, or “Christmas” in the public square, and abortion was always completely legal and government funded? “Conservatives” are really radicals, and liberals are actually “traditionalists”? Prayer had never been allowed in schools or the public square, and conservatives are trying to force it in to divide the country? One wonders what planet George has been on?

It seems that what he must be seeing is that prior to say the ‘80s the liberal agenda was moving forward with only token objection from some far-right Christians with no organization, a few whimpers from Bill Buckley and then of course Ronald Reagan, an aging actor that the country was nuts to elect. Things have changed since ’80, but it is a lot like the Crusades. They are depicted as “offense”, but they only started after the Muslims had taken Spain and were starting to push into France. It is true that the counterattack went all the way to Jerusalem, but a lot like the Arabs attacking Israel, it might be wise not to whimper TOO much when you find out that the door to the bear’s cage that you were poking with a sharp stick turned out to not be locked.

There is some degree of a “culture war”, but the real complaint from the left ought to be “we never thought they would actually fight”.

I’m going to give up now, but I know I’ve failed to capture the unique combination of smugness, cluelessness, and chilling duplicity that Lakoff brings to the table. This ought to be required reading for any conservative that has any illusions of “reasonableness” or “fairness” from the other side of the barricades. The left deals in abstractions, don’t be taken in. God is a real God of real order, and the other is abstract chaos. One has to give both Lucifer and Lakoff some credit for truth in labeling; at least when they feel they are talking to their own.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Sleds

Playing around withe the Canon Powershot S2 1S taking pictures of my new sled and a buddies sled that is stored at my house as well. Realized that I had the camera set to 640x480, but those should be good sizes to post on the Web at least. Here is my Polaris Fusion 600 HO.

Here is the Yamaha Apex

Here are the two of them together:

My riding impressions from driving around my rather large back yard and some adjoining land. The Polaris sits higher, seems lighter (it is, close to 100lbs), wants to lift the nose under power, easier to manuever, smoother, quieter, adjustable steering position going to nice for dealing wiht rider fatigue during the day.

The Yamaha has more "attitude" and more of the "reeks of quality sportscar". All electric start, nice reverse except for dorky beeper, seems lower and more stable, it is heavier, but the weight is right. Yamaha harder to drive because the extreme torque/power make it shoot ahead, and the back pressure seems like the brakes are on ... however, in some configurations which I don't really have figured out yet, it free-wheels and has ZERO backpressure, so one needs to be on top of that as well.

In general, sort of like picking between fine chocolates, both are going to be fun, and looking forward to heading to the Keweenaw Wednesday.