Sunday, October 30, 2016


The Dim Leading the Dim

I've almost always found E.J. Dionne to have the intellectual heft of an electron. The main problem is that he has no insight into himself or his party, nor any accurate knowledge of the current political zeitgeist of our great country. This deficit is rarely more clearly expressed than in this piece today in the Washington Post. It's called: After 2016, will everyone please admit that Republicans are more extreme than Democrats?

First, let me reconstruct the left to right political spectrum which I believe all of Mr. Dionne's ilk believe.

On the extreme left are the Communists: Marx, Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Castro, Pol Pot, etc. Halfway between that extreme and the center are socialists, like Swedes or Danes. Just to the left of the center are the Democrats. Moving next to the right, pretty far from center are the squishy Republicans Dionne and his comrades can barely stand and way further to the right are the conservatives and then the Ku Klux Klan, and then, finally, the Nazis are on the extreme right.

It's an absurd view. The Democrats are now just barely to the right of the Swedes and Danes, and far from the center. The Ku Klux Klan's membership was 99.999% Democrats, so they belong on the left side of center; and the Nazis were socialists, national socialists as opposed to the international socialists of the USSR, etc., so they also don't belong on the right at all.

I see it slightly differently. A lot of really evil people are on the left. The modern Republican party is just to the right of center and the Tea Party conservatives are about halfway between center and the extreme right, which is where the American Founding Fathers reside. Once you realize E.J. has no accurate concept of the political spectrum and puts the Democrats just left of center and the Republicans way right of center, when it's the opposite, you get a clearer idea of how truly ignorant he is, and how worthless is his opinion on "extremism". So let's look at some of his Bizarro World article.

When this election is over, can we acknowledge that at least one big debate in American politics is settled? I am referring to the question of whether our two parties have moved equally far away from the political center, or whether the polarization in our politics is asymmetric. The very fact of Donald Trump’s nomination should be seen as proof that the Republicans have strayed much further from middle-ground opinion. Advocates of the they’re-both-the-same view should finally throw in the towel.

Donald Trump was until recently a Democrat and I can assure you that the bulk of his principles are center left. He's smart enough (barely) and experienced enough in business to know that the conservatives are correct regarding the best way to create jobs and growth but that doesn't even get him within hailing distance of the Tea Party. Almost all of the Republican candidates for President since Reagan have been center right with some of their principles over the line into lefty land. And Reagan was just barely to the right of the Tea Party, a very good place to be but no real comparison to the geniuses of our founding revolutionaries.

But as bad as EJ's sense of history and misjudgment of the political spectrum are, that pales in comparison to his apparent definition of what is extreme. What Dionne considers extreme is just lame. First, Trump is aware that there is an awful lot of voter fraud by the Democrats and vows to contest the election if he gets cheated out of a win. How extreme! That was sarcasm. Only lefties could recognize lawlessness and someone opposing it extreme

Second, Republicans stand on principles and won't compromise to effectuate laws and policies that hurt America. (I'm glad we have that reputation; I just wish it was true). Compromise which screws people over is not a good thing and stopping bad things is not extreme. The Democrats count compromise as a very good thing because way too often the "compromise" the Republicans make is merely giving completely in to the wishes of the Democrats.

Here is a short, incomplete list of the things perpetrated by the Democrats which I count as extreme. You be the judge of my perception and the propriety of my outrage, all in contrast to EJ's picks.

The Democrats believe that it is the God given right of a female to abort her baby at any time, for any reason, without any say by the father or by that substantial portion of society which equates, properly, killing a fetus that could easily survive outside the womb with murder. And they believe this God given right is self evident and has always existed here. They also think you can find it, somewhere, somehow, in the Constitution although babies and abortion are not actually mentioned therein. You can't get more extreme on this subject than that without actually making abortion mandatory, and some on the left want to do that too. Not a lot of compromise in that position is there, EJ?

At the same time they're fanatics about a constitutional right that doesn't exist, the Democrats are just as fanatical about ending or severely eroding two of the Bill of Rights which really do exist.
Although there are few God given rights more clearly established than the right to life, that is, the right to resist, with deadly force, if necessary, being murdered, the Democrats think the clearly worded independent clause of the Second Amendment doesn't mean what it plainly says. I call that pretty extreme.

Although the freedom to speak true facts, or one's believed opinions, is as fundamental a right as we have, uniquely, as Americans, the Democrats think the First Amendment protection of speech doesn't apply to inconvenient facts or opinions that are unpopular with them. The Democrats don't engage in more speech in order to persuade, they shut people up. Shutting down the speech of unpopular speakers voicing opinions contrary to the beliefs of those shouting them down is as an extremely un-American an activity as is currently possible (although worse could be in store, if the history of the totalitarian left is any guide). And only the left, only Democrats and their fellow travelers, shut down speakers they don't like. There are about a thousand examples recently and several quite good books on the subject. We so-called extreme Republicans almost never prevent speech we don't like but rather we love to argue why the speech of the Democrats is illogical or just plain stupid, (which is just what I'm doing here with dimwit Dionne).

So, I ask the rational observer, which is more extreme --voicing an opinion which offends some people or not allowing someone to voice an opinion because it might offend someone?

As I've said, E.J. Dionne doesn't have a clue.


Thursday, October 27, 2016


Telling Us the Opposite of the Truth

I got schooled by my smarter, better friend Bill at our latest Stanford reunion about being persuasive regarding global warming. He was right about where my emphasis should be. But he got me thinking about persuasion in general. If I'm trying very hard to be factual in order to persuade people not to believe that increased CO2 in the atmosphere is a crisis, what does the other side's trying hard not to be factual mean?

Here is a story from Esquire, which magazine has become a bastion for Warmie true believers lately, which says that global warming is rapidly expanding deserts throughout the world. Money quote:

Desertification is a worldwide problem; it shouldn't be necessary to remind people that the United States has deserts, too, and that they're expanding as well.
Here is a good response to that statement, but I have another.

You see, we have satellites with sufficiently advanced cameras taking photos of the earth's surface (and other gadgets as well) so that we can use computers to count the pixels of the satellite photos of the earth's surface to see what color each pixel is and how many of the same color there are; and we can compare the very recent counts of the green pixels with older satellite photo's green pixel counts to see if there is more green or less green on the earth's surface over time. Less green would necessarily mean that deserts (traditionally devoid of vegetation) are growing. This is called data, as opposed to models. Data is evidence, models are not--they're mere theory. So what do the data say?

Here is NASA's take on a recent scientific paper (from April 2016). Here is the scientific paper itself  (they really are hard to read due to excessive jargon) but you have to pay to read it. Here are the data in plain English.

The earth in the past 35 years has seen a 14% increase in vegetation of which 70% of that growth is assigned directly to the recent increase in atmospheric CO2.

So rather than getting more deserts, were getting more forests and grasslands, more vegetation. I will put this as plainly as I can. To say we're getting more deserts from increased atmospheric CO2 is to lie to us. Just the opposite is really happening.

So if you lie regarding your theory, ultimately are you being more persuasive? I have to think not, which is why global warming as a crisis is apparently a delusion which seems only to afflict the rich and ignorant* (and scientists for whom a global warming crisis generates income). The normal people don't think it's a crisis at all. And it's not.

With the ending of the Pleistocene CO2 drought, the earth will be warmer, wetter, greener. It will generally be nicer outside as the increased summer heat is mostly at night. Not my idea of a crisis.

* Despite their excellent acting chops, warmie true believers like Leonardo DiCaprio and Cameron Diaz are high school dropouts. Mark Ruffalo, who graduated high school but did not attend a college, is severely dyslexic so he can barely read anything. Why should anyone listen to people with little actual knowledge on the subject?


Monday, October 17, 2016


The Accountant

I saw The Accountant on Sunday afternoon with all the other old people. It was OK. Only a little actual accounting and a lot of shooting and killing by other means.

Have to say that Ben Affleck playing a high functioning autistic guy was really not that difficult for him as an actor. In fact, his character seemed a lot like Ben Affleck in all his roles recently.


Thursday, October 13, 2016


Instantly Recognizable Sounds

Here is a partial list of sources of sounds that, once you hear them, you don't or can't forget them and you recognize them right away when you hear them again. Some are good sounds and some are not.

A baseball hit for a home run.

A human cranium hit by a police baton with force.

Large ocean waves crashing onto a beach.

A dental drill encountering tooth enamel.

A bullet striking flesh.

A woman really enjoying sex.

The blades of a helicopter in flight.

A pump shotgun cycling the fired round out and the live round in.

The needle of a record player skating over the tops of the grooves in the record.

Shoveled dirt hitting the top of a casket at the bottom of a standard grave.

There certainly are others.



White Privilege

 I believe there indeed is a thing called "White Privilege" here in America and in Europe. I just use a different word for it than privilege.

I call it achievement.


Saturday, October 08, 2016


Ed Harris' Gun In Westworld on HBO

Although not every watcher is in love with the new HBO series Westworld, based on a bad 70s movie and a fair book by Michael Crichton, I like it a lot. Anything about the scope of artificial intelligence is good for me. It also has guns. I like that too.

So, let's talk about Ed Harris' gun. I have to use the actor's name because his character has none; and Man in Black sounds stupid to me.

He carries a LeMat revolver, a modern remake of the 1850s design. His gun takes .44 centerfire cartridges and has 9 in the cylinder. It also has a 20 gauge shotgun round (or maybe a sweet 16) in a central smoothbore barrel around which the cylinder revolves. Originally, these all were loaded from the front with gunpowder and shot or bullets with a primer cap at each of the closed ends. That probably took some time. The modern Italian made LeMats still have the nipples on the cylinder for the percussion caps. Why not make the one Harris uses?

Harris takes his gun apart to reload it, which is a little weird. I know it has a port for loading the .44 rounds and a flip away 'hatch' to reload the shotgun round, so maybe taking it apart is the best way after all.

It was a formidable weapon at the time, with 3 more rounds than usual and the shotgun center surprise. Confederate generals Braxton Bragg, P.G.T. Beauregard (who helped his cousin develop it), J.E.B. Stuart and Richard Anderson used one. The Confederacy Museum in Richmond has the guns used by Stuart and Beauregard. LeMats have become more popular in books and movies lately.

It is a good choice for the super-predator Harris character. Of course, if no one can effectively shoot back, shooting the robots one by one is certainly no heroic stand against odds and probably not that much fun. I'm waiting for a guest to take the guy on. It would be difficult to cross draw* this big, heavy weapon quickly.

Could guests even shoot other guests? Is Harris a guest or a robot that effectively mimics guest status? I bet we find out.

* Harris is right handed but he wears his holster back to front on his left hip and thus he has to cross over his body to draw the weapon. Most the other gunfighters in the show draw straight up and out from their holster worn on their right hip. They would generally be faster than anyone using the cross-draw rig.

UPDATE: I watched the episode again and the cylinder on the LeMat Harris uses is smooth. It does not have any percussion cap nipples like the gun in the photo above. So it is up to date by 20th Century standards. Make that gun for $800 or so and a lot of people would line up to buy it, I bet.


Wednesday, October 05, 2016


Seeing the Bright Side, Again

If the country disintegrates and the federal government goes belly up at least the NSA would have a way to make money after the disintegration. I even have a name for the new endeavor:

NSA Computer Back-Up Systems

and a tag line:

We Have Everything

So, there's that.


Tuesday, October 04, 2016


Blessings in Disguise

Here is the latest track/estimate of the path of Hurricane Matthew. It looks most probable that it will graze the East Coast. That's bad, right?

Here is the latest Palmer Drought Index for the US. Look at the East Coast drought pattern. So, a lot of rain right up the coast (and a couple of hundred miles inland) might not be the worst thing for the drought areas, after all.


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