And the blah-blah-blog continues . . .
No, seriously, who is fooled by these things?
Obama proposed this "Buffet Rule" for the specific purpose of giving the Republicans something they had to vote against. This is the Hussein Hustle, only barely more artfully implemented than when Saddam Hussein proposed a ridiculous peace plan so he could say that President Bush didn't want peace.
Those two were the same trick, but a cousin of that trick was Bill Clinton's government shut down.
You'll recall that about May of 1995—six months before the budget was due—you heard on the radio "The White House says that there
may be a government shutdown if they can't come to an agreement on the budget."
What? Isn't premature to be warning of that already? Nobody's even working on the budget yet.
What you didn't realize was at that point there was going to be a government shutdown, and there was nothing anybody could do about it.
As the budget deadline got closer the congress kept working on the budget while Clinton kept talking about a shutdown. Clinton refused to tell Congress what was wrong with the budgets they submitted, he just rejected them. Bob Dole said "I've been put in the bizarre position where I'm negotiating with the President through the media."
Finally the deadline came and the government shut down. Then Clinton signed a budget—that was not significantly different from any of the ones he rejected—and the government was funded again.
You wondered "Okay, what was the point of that?" It made no sense.
Until . . .
1996. It was an election year and the democrats had nothing. They were shackled to a useless waste of skin of a President on top of the perennial democrat difficulty of selling Americans on ideals they don't agree with. Then they started talking about when the Republicans shut down the government. The Republicans didn't rebut it, because, after all, nobody wastes a lot of breath saying "No, the moon is not made of green cheese." What they didn't understand is that an American populace stupid enough to elect Bill Clinton is stupid enough to believe the moon is made of green cheese if you tell them often enough.
Okay, I'm not saying that I'm smarter than all the Republican political structure . . . what the heck, of course I am. I lost my voice screaming at the TV. "Do you not see this coming? Say something, you useless tubs of lard!"
But they never saw it coming. If you're down to your last dollar, always bet on the evil politician over the stupid one. Every. Single. Time.
I kid you not, the Sunday before the election—the election is in two days—someone on a Sunday TV news program asked Haley Barbour "Do you regret shutting down the government?"
Holy . . . what the . . . . ?!
Two days before the election Haley Barbour said "I regret not getting the truth out about what really happened with that government shutdown."
I just threw up my hands and left the room, and the rest is history.
It's a Trick!
You recall just before the first Persian Gulf War (Desert Shield), Saddam Hussein offered President Bush a deal. Hussein said that if Bush would send home all his troops and let him stay in Kuwait and renounce Israel, then he, Hussein, would quit killing people in Kuwait.
Bush didn't turn him down, he just ignored him and kept going forward with his plans, the way you do with tinpot weenies like Saddam Hussein.
Of course that wasn't a real offer at all—it wasn't something Bush would ever agree to. The purpose of the "offer" was so Hussein could say Bush didn't want peace, because he rejected Hussein's offer of peace.
Nobody paid any attention to Hussein—in fact, you may not even remember the event. But it was a perfect example of the trick.
This is the kind of tricks that tin pot weenies like Hussein use. Two-bit, tin pot amateurs like Barack Hussein Obama.
So Obama, tin pot, two-bit would be dictator, proposes the "Buffet" rule, knowing that it's a sham, knowing that it has nothing to do with helping the economy or raising money or getting the federal budget under control. The whole purpose of the trick was to force the Republicans to reject it so that Obama, that sniveling little weenie, could say that they don't want to reduce the deficit, they just want to protect their rich friends.
Don't you believe any of it. All of the lies about Buffet's secretary paying a higher rate than he does (demonstrably not true), all of the misleading and the . . . pick your euphemism for lying . . . is all intended to incite class warfare.
It's not about contraception. It's not about women's rights, or race, or guns, or taxes, or poverty.
It's about getting us to hate each other. The weaker we are as a country, the more power Obama has over us.
My wife has always struggled with this. "Why is he doing this? Why is he trying to destroy the very country that he lives in?"
The real reason is that it's just his nature. I honestly don't think Obama is smart enough to be orchestrating a revolution. It's just his nature to think the way they think in the Third World. He's just that kind of a person.
But if he were intentionally trying to do all the damage he is doing . . .
Look at Castro. He lives in palaces (plural). He wants for nothing. His country is as poor as it can possibly get. He doesn't suffer because his country is starving. That's what happens in the Trashcanistans of the world where you have no middle class. Most of the people live a horrifying existence. But the ones in the ruling class live like kings. They couldn't keep a job mopping floors on the night shift at Circle K over here, but in their crapholes they live in palaces.
That's the kind of country Obama is used to living in. I'm picking on Obama, but it's the mentality of everyone who shares his political ideology. They will preach programs about poverty and they will preach equality, and they use that preaching as a very effective way to keep people unequal and in poverty.
So many places to take this
I'm standing at one of those prickly signposts. One is pointing to "Evil vs. Stupid." One says "Democracy—democrats' worst nightmare." There's "Why not here?" "Facts don't matter," "Those who don't learn from history . . .," and, oh, look . . . here's one that says "If you cared, you already informed yourself." That's the road I'm leaning toward.
Can you imagine Obama saying "Well, if people don't want Universal Health Care, let's find out what they do want." Not in any universe
you've ever lived in. What he did say was "If the legislature won't do it, I'll do it myself."
PJ O'Rourke was right. The hallmark of liberalism is sanctimony. You will never hear me call Obama's party "democratic."
The last thing they want is democracy, but they sell it to people that way 'cause
that's how they enslave those very people.
Communism is the perfect example—in theory everyone is equal. In practice,
the whole purpose of the system is to render most of the people miserable so that a few can live in obscene luxury.
Soviet Russia, Castro's Cuba, Hussein's Iraq, Chavez's Venezuela . . . and soon to be Obama's Amerika.
It can't happen here? We're no better than the people it has happened to. Our system is better, but they've found a way around that.
Don't like socialized medicine? You're a racist. Think that homemaking is an honorable vocation? Racist.
Think that people should keep the money they earn? Racist. Don't want to be killed by the New Black Panthers? You get the idea.
The bizarre thing is that the idiots who are doing the dirty work are the ones who suffer first in the society they want to usher in.
There is no consolation in what's about to happen to this country, but I'll get whatever enjoyment I can when the imbeciles in the
media start to disappear.
Happy Tax Day
Estar vs. Ser
English speakers trying to learn Spanish initially struggle with the concept of the verb "To be." In Spanish there is a "to be" verb for a
temporary condition, like where your car keys are, and a different "to be" verb for a more integral description like "The car is red."
But it actually makes perfect sense. You wouldn't say "I am hungry" the same way you would "I am American." Wait . . . in my case . . .
Anyway, it hit me today how inadequate just one verb is for that. Someone asked me how old I was. I said "I am . . ." and when the number
came out of my mouth, it sounded all wrong. No. No, I'm not. That's not me. That's not what I am.
This whole Hilary Rosen deal has raised a question that nobody seems to be addressing:
Who in the crap is Hilary Rosen?
Am I the only one who's never heard of this insignificant twit? She describes herself as "a partner in a firm full of . . . stay at home mothers."
I'm not making this up. She says that women who work in her firm are "Stay at home mothers."
Well, I guess I know everything I need to know about his idiot.
On to the Toons
Just in case you didn't notice . . .
The American Thinker has been added to "What to do until the blog arrives."
Now, back to the Toons
You know the deal. Every so often, just as an exercise, I try to come up with fictitious stories about things that might happen
in the workplace. Just kind of an exercise in fiction writing, and maybe ties into the encyclopedia I'll never do where I catalog
tricks, techniques and political maneuvers, and how they relate to each other.
So . . . here's my latest stab at it. It's a little rough, but it's fiction. Obviously real adult human beings would never act the
way I've depicted them acting here. That's the beauty of fiction.
It had been probably six or seven years ago, maybe more. Frank had been walking down the hallway from the Salt Lab to his office
when his phone rang. It was Darren.
Stay tuned for the Great Retaining Ring Fiasco.
"Are Steve's guys working in the Salt Lab this morning?"
"Yes. He called and asked . . ."
"Well, Steve has work he needs to get done and he can't get it done without his guys."
"I . . ." Frank started to say, but Darren wasn't finished.
"This concrete has to be poured! Right away!" Darren yelled. "Steve needs his workers, but you've got them doing things that aren't
their job!" Darren was screaming now. He sounded on the verge of tears. "And that JUST ISN'T RIGHT!" In his mind, Frank could see
Darren's face, red and bloated with apoplexy.
Of all the things Frank wanted to say, he chose "Okay. I'll send them over right away." His voice was calm and quiet, but his hands
were trembling with rage as he slid his phone back into his pocket. Just that morning Steve had called Frank asking for any work his
guys could do to keep busy, otherwise he'd have to send them home. It was a request Steve sometimes made—his work was somewhat seasonal—and Frank always tried to accommodate him. Together with Roger, the salt lab supervisor, they had come up with some work Steve's crew could do to keep them busy.
Frank turned and headed back to the Salt Lab. He explained the situation to Roger. "But, but Steve, he . . ." Roger started to sputter
Frank held up his hand. "I know, I know. Just make sure that we never, ever, let Steve send us his guys again. No matter what.
Next time he calls just tell him we don't have anything, no matter how busy we are."
Frank tried to cool off. He had always liked Steve, respected him, and gotten along well with him. He could see the scene in his mind.
Steve is working on the forms when Darren walks up. "How come these aren't done yet?" Darren asks. Steve, caught off guard, has to think
of something. In desperation he spurts out "Well, as soon as I get my crew back . . ." Darren, the man of action, pulls out his phone and
goes to the source of the "problem."
It can be pretty intimidating, the guy who signs your paychecks asking why your work is not getting done. Frank guessed he could
He could forgive Steve that one.
The company owned a skid steer loader. It got sporadic use during the week and occasionally an employee would ask to take it home on a
weekend. Darren always agreed to that, and finally decided that the loan of that piece of equipment would be a good carrot to use with
the employees. He asked Frank to be in charge of keeping track of who took it on the weekends. That was one of the drawbacks of having
an office close to Darren's. Frank was used to getting random assignments having nothing to do with his job.
Frank kept the keys in a lock box on his wall. He tracked the users on a spreadsheet on his computer.
One day while Steve's crew was using the loader to clear brush behind the plant they allowed the radiator to get clogged. The engine
overheated and seized up. It was going to have to be rebuilt or replaced.
When Frank found out, he contacted the people on the list and let them know that the loader wouldn't be available for a while. About
a month after the incident, Frank ran into Steve in the parking lot. "What's the status on the skid steer loader?" he asked.
Steve said that it was still down; he had to get on that. Frank asked "What did Darren say when he found about the blown engine?"
Steve looked a little uncomfortable. He said he still had to figure out a way tell Darren.
That was understandable. Darren was not going to be pleased at that $10,000 expense. Still, it seemed odd that he hadn't found out
through the grapevine. What the Physical Plant crew had done was common knowledge around the plant.
About six weeks after Steve's crew blew the engine, Frank was sitting in his office when the door opened and Jarvis marched in.
He walked over to the lock box on the wall. He started looking around it, giving it tentative tugs. "How do I get in here?"
"Here's the key." Frank stood up and handed it to Jarvis. "What do you need?"
"I'll be assuming responsibility for these keys going forward."
"Okay . . ."
As Frank opened the box and unscrewed it from the wall he asked Jarvis "Might I know what this is about?" Jarvis explained he had
just come from the weekly Physical Plant meeting and Darren was upset about the blown engine on the skid steer loader.
Frank was about to ask what Steve's guys blowing an engine had to do with a key box on his wall, but he really didn't need to.
That afternoon Frank came across Steve in the breakroom. "So, what did Darren say when he found out about the engine
on the skid steer?" he asked.
Steve swallowed. He looked away as if thinking, then turned his attention to somewhere over Frank's shoulder as he spoke. "Well, he
was a little surprised that employees were taking it for personal use."
But Steve couldn't stay and chat. He headed out the door.
As Frank went back to his office, the annoyance that he felt began to build to fury. He composed an e-mail explaining exactly what
had really happened and how he felt about being the scapegoat.
Then, in an uncharacteristic display of clear-headedness, he decided to let the draft simmer overnight before he sent it. Over the
next week he carefully edited and massaged the e-mailed, shooting for the perfect tone that would awaken Darren's sense of fairness and
justice without making Frank seem vindictive toward Steve. Although Frank's fury was slow to abate, with every passing day the e-mail
seemed less relevant, until Frank finally deleted it.
He never decided whether that had been the right thing to do.
These learning experiences now flooded back into Frank's head as he sat in the daily lunch meeting. Rob was talking. "In the meeting
yesterday Daren asked about the drum box," he said. The drum box was Frank's latest assignment. The fact that it was being discussed
in a meeting he wasn't invited to was a little disconcerting, but not that unusual.
"Darren asked when it was going to get tested," Rob continued, "and we told him we'd given you all the contact information, but you
hadn't called anyone."
"Oh?" Frank said. "And when were you planning to get me that information?" Frank was slightly amused that, mixed in with the
annoyance, he felt a sense of surprise that Rob's direct approach still caught him of guard after all these years.
"Well," Rob said. "Harry sent you that e-mail . . ."
Frank wasn't sure how to play it, but he hoped he had learned something from his past. "You mean the one that said he would
talk to Joplin?"
"Well, I mean . . . I'm just telling you what was said."
Frank laughed. "Well, thanks for standing up for me, anyway." Of the dozen or so people in the room, about half of them chuckled
openly. Nick made a very passable imitation of the sound of a bus running someone over.
Frank shot some barb about how it was nice to hear about things that involve him after the fact, Rob responded that he was telling
him now, and the meeting moved on.
At least he's telling me, Frank thought, but he was still irritated.
Compare and Contrast
Here's a contrast for you: Medved and Hannity.
Especially today. Today is Conspiracy Day on the Michael Medved Show. That's where people call in with ridiculous conspiracy theories, and Medved tells them they're wrong. But he's never offensive, no matter how stupid or crazy his caller is.
Slip over to another station at the same time, and Hannity is being nasty and insulting with someone who is trying to agree with him. I kid you not. A well-spoken, very well-mannered, intelligent caller is trying to talk to Sean and Sean says, "So you're saying all Americans are racist?! Huh? Is that what you're saying?"
Uh . . . no, he never said that. You didn't hear what he actually did say.
Sean wouldn't even let the guy talk, and It just struck me how he's losing out on knowledge and understanding he could be gaining if he weren't scared to death to just listen to someone else for a minute.
That, of course, brought to mind what Ben Franklin said
If you wish information and improvement from the knowledge of others, and yet, at the same time, express yourself as firmly fixed in your present opinions, modest, sensible men, who do not love disputation, will probably leave you undisturbed in the possession of your error.
I thought what a contrast Hannity is from mild-mannered, very intelligent, very well-informed Michael Medved who isn't threatened by people who don't think the way he does.
What Sean missed
What the guy was saying was that blacks have to deal with a racism in a way that most whites will never understand. Absolutely true.
We have come a long ways in society--I'm not going to say "in this country," because this country isn't the only offender. We did, after all, outlaw slavery; a practice that still exists elsewhere in the world. But we've come a long ways.
Even so, if you are black you have to deal with things I don't understand. Hearing that from a person who does understand furthers my awareness; I appreciate the insight. I feel sorry for people like Sean who miss out on so much because they feel threatened by other viewpoints.
Agreeing to . . . agree that you're wrong
Reasonable people can disagree on a lot of things.
A lot of stories have different viewpoints that are reasonable. For a lot of years I figured the toilet paper roll was
an exception to that rule. There was only one side to that story; I couldn't see any good reason to roll toilet paper from the back.
Then someone said it's for when you have little kids and they just randomly slap the roll down, (which is the way they do
it, this is a visual deal, the way it was explained to me) so it doesn't unravel all over the floor.
I'll give you that one.
I'll never give you this one: If you show up to vote as a certain person, you shouldn't be allowed to vote unless you can prove that you're that person.
That's why I'd suck as a talk show host.
Today we're going to discuss whether you should present ID to vote.
No discussion required. Anything else is just stupid. Don't give me the crap about being open-minded. Having stupid,
indefensible positions is not open-minded.
Tune in tomorrow, same time, same station.
Now, protocol requires that I say "Because, you have to have ID to . . ." then list a bunch of things.
Nope. Not gonna' do it. It doesn't matter. Not in the least. Even if you didn't have to have ID to do all those things, to
vote you should be required to have ID. Requiring that you are who you say you are in order to participate in the defining
element of a democratic system is not onerous. If you don't want to do that, that's fine. You just don't vote. Done.
Okay, there is one valid reason to bring up all the other things you need ID for in this context. If you don't have ID, you
are shut out of participating in almost anything in society or the economy. Liberals are always going on about how onerous it is to
require ID at the polls, but they don't give two microcraps about these people--the ones they say they want to be voting--being shut out
of everything else in society and the economy.
So, the more liberals whine about that, the more they reveal their own hypocrisy.
This is what I mean about why I hate democrats so freaking much. They are dishonest. To be fair, they have to be. What they are
trying to do is just plain evil. Do I really expect them to acknowledge that? The reason they fight ID at the voting booth is so
they can commit vote fraud. That's all.
It's so transparent, but they keep screaming about requiring ID being racist. What?
They are rape hoax artists. They don't care about the damage they do to the causes they proclaim to support. Those are just pawns in their power game.
So they take something as serious as racism and undermine it to further their despicable ends.
The Christmas Blog
When I was a kid, 17 or so, I was with my family in a department store in Albuquerque along about late November or early December. My mother showed me a tune up instrument kit for $25. It had a dwellmeter, tach, timing light—everything you needed to tune up a car (back in the days when they still had points and distributors). And for twenty-five dollars. She asked me if that was something I could use. "Yes, definitely." Is that a good deal? "Oh, yeah!"
"No, Mom, we should get it, it's really cool—it has everything. And that's a really good deal." (I didn't know about Xenon timing lights at the time) Well, maybe we'll pick it up another time. "But we don't get to Albuquerque that often." Oh, I don't know . . .
"Well, I'm going to go ahead and get it with my own money," I said.
Mom tried to convince me that I could wait, but I wouldn't budge. I had the money, it was a good deal, I was going to leave the store with it that day.
So she finally had to tell me that she had planned to get it for me for Christmas. I felt like a total dink.
I like being surprised at Christmas morning. It's cool when I get stuff that I've been wanting and needing, but I don't see Christmas as a day to get the stuff I need for the year so I don't have to buy it myself.
My wife is amazingly good at getting me presents that I can use that I really like that I didn't really know I wanted. But most of the stuff I want or need I just buy myself. I have a close personal friend whose wife would just as soon present a list and say "Here. That's what I expect to find under my stocking Christmas morning." I'm not that way.
This blog is like Christmas. You don't come here to get a comprehensive analysis of the issues of the day. There are other places you go for that. You don't come here for news, or jokes, or education. You don't . . . in fact, beats the living crap out of me why anybody would come here . . .
The point is, what you get is a surprise and it's not intended to fill needs that you can predictably get other places.
Having said that . . .
I often intentionally shy away from these kind of things—not that I shy away from politics or loudly voicing my opinion, but I don't address things that are the hot topic where I can't really add anything to the discussion. If you cared, you already informed yourself other places.
But I can't ignore this one.
Barack "Hugo Chavez" Obama has threatened to send Guido to break the Supreme Court's kneecaps. You've already heard about this. If you're not stupid or stoned or trying to justify your vote, you're already flabbergasted and appalled that he would 1) So obscenely blast the system the Framers created, 2) Openly reveal how he holds the system in contempt, and 3) Be given a complete pass by so many on his views.
I don't know where to start. Like I said, I usually don't comment unless I can add to the discussion, so I'll just try to bring some eloquence to this discussion:
Barack Obama is a piece of crap.
That's it. You've already formed your opinion on the matter; all the analysis and explanation I can do keeps boiling down to that simple point.
Barack Obama is telling us something that just plain is not true. There are two possibilities: He is evil or he is stupid. If he really believes the falsehoods he's telling us, he is completely incapable of rational thought. If he knows it's a lie, he's trying to manipulate us; trying to make us act based on fraudulent understanding.
Like I said, go somewhere else for analysis. The best I can do is try to stem the bleeding from my burst jugular and lay out the facts: Barack Obama is a piece of crap.
If you want a more objective analysis you've already read things like Ann Coulter's column on the topic.
So you have a welder and a lathe and mill in your barn. Occasionally you'll build stuff for people. You know how to do it. You cut off this piece of steel, machine this piece, weld them together, then you machine the slot in the welded assembly, then paint it. You know to bolt up the bracket then make the cut, that way it lines up when you're finished.
That works great for your barn. When you're the boss and you are doing one part at a time, you don't need paperwork.
But what if the operation is huge? And what if you're not the boss?
When you're in charge of getting the parts done but the company dictates the specifications and when they have to ship, you have to get organized.
You buy the raw material in bulk and you have to process it differently. As long as you have the saw set up, you cut multiple pieces. The people that work for you need to know what to do and how to do it every time.
Now you have multiple product lines you build on your machines. Some parts are the same, some are different. You now use prints and routers and bills of material to get things through the shop. You have to. If you don't have procedures you are going scrap parts and miss deadlines. You require that everyone that work for you follow the procedures. They are constantly being updated and improved, but you can't afford to not follow them. You can't just say "You know the best way to do this, good luck."
Barack Obama sucks as President of the United States. He's just inept at it. He would suck just as bad at manufacturing. His third world upbringing and Chicago mob boss training doesn't allow him to think in terms of written procedures. His view is "I'm the boss, and we're going to do it my way, whatever way that happens to be at the moment." Documentation Schmocumentation. Constitution? Pah! If I want you to buy health insurance, you WILL buy health insurance, dammit! And judicial activism is whatever I say it is!
I work with a guy who's never seen a conspiracy theory he doesn't like. He loves to share every fabricated insane story about
Obama's birth certificate and visas to Indonesia and businessmen in Russia who were told in the 70s that a black man named Barack
was being groomed by the communists to be President. Medved has read my blog enough that he's finally adopted my view—that if Obama
isn't behind these crazy stories, he should be, because they make him look better. (Please tell me I don't have to put :o) after a
statement claiming that a talk show host is getting ideas from me.)
I tell—let's just call him "Ron," just so we don't have to keep saying "a guy I work with," that all of these stories miss the point.
They are a distraction. Obama, born in America of an American mother, American citizen, legally eligible to run for President of the
United States, is not an American in any meaningful sense of the word. Americans believe in the American system, the Rule of
Law, freedom and liberty and a host of other things that have nothing to do with your birth certificate.
Barack Obama believes in the Warlord/Mob boss ruler approach to governing. The idea that everyone, even the President, has to follow
rules is completely foreign to his thinking.
If you came away from his "Nice little Supreme Court you have here. It'd be a shame if something were to happen to it" speech not
understanding that, you may be part of the problem.
I've struggled to describe this concept in the past. Literature has a certain texture. Reality has another.
You hear a story about an adventure and it sounds like . . . well, adventure. When you realize that "Hey, I was there,"
it takes on a different texture. It was probably more scary, but actually less dramatic. More . . . well, lifelike.
The story of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah sounds pretty dramatic, but I guarantee you that there were people there at the time
that had no idea it was happening. Ten years ago you would have freaked out to know we'd be paying $4.00 for a gallon of gasoline, but
today, in reality, we fill up the tank and drive to work.
I know someone who lives next door to a sexual predator. Oh, wait—that's me. The neighbor kid is in jail for groping women in parking lots.
He looks like a normal kid. He's nothing like the image you got in your head when you read "sexual predator." The house he lives
in doesn't have an eerie glow and scary music doesn't play whenever people come and go from there. It doesn't seem like a dangerous
Reality doesn't seem as dramatic as literature.
Obama doesn't think like Americans. But he's just a guy. He's saying extreme things, but that's just talking,
and that's just life. That's reality. That's not dangerous, is it?
Living in a country run by a totalitarian who demands people do things his way no matter what the Law says, now that would be dramatic . . .
Figuring it out
I've got to think this stems back to my seventh grade Algebra class with Mrs. Yetter.
I was a country boy from a little farming community, now getting my higher education in one of two, count 'em—two, junior high
schools in the big city of over 5,000 people!
I remember the process Ms. Yetter taught us. She gave us a list of numbers, then a simple equation. She showed us how to list
the numbers in column under "x," then plug them into the equation, and for each x we got a number in the column under y. Then she showed us how to plot them on a chart, going over this far for x, then up that far for y, then putting a dot in that intersection. It was magic. She even gave us a fancy name to remember: Cartesian coordinate system.
I remember the marvel I felt as the concept dawned on me. You can describe every point on that curve by a simple equation.
I wonder if that's behind my lifelong obsession for trying to figure things out—and my lifelong frustration because I don't
think I've ever once figured anything out.
Here's what I'm talking about—(I feel like Kim Peek, examining a hundred different ways to approach this . . .)
Let's start here: When I was in the second or third grade I came across a book in the Bluewater Grade School library about how
cars work. I was fascinated by the idea that a human being can comprehend the intimidating magic that takes place under the hood
of a car that makes the thing go. The simple illustrations were easy to remember and convinced me that I could work on cars. That
book was the basis for my career as an engineer.
I'm having a Rodney Carrington moment here. "I think I'm sharing way too much with you people."
Anyway . . . I might have had a tendency to approach problem solving by memorizing lists of symptoms and the conditions that cause
them. My lazy brain resists doing that. From the book on how a car works I developed an approach (that a lot of people share) of
looking at how the system works in general terms, then working my way from there.
I remember a scene from a parking lot (in Batie's shopping center) where a guy's engine wasn't turning over and he had the air
cleaner off and was spraying starter fluid down the carburetor. That's what you do when your car won't start, isn't it? Well . . .
Instead you should be thinking along the lines of: The engine isn't turning over, what has to happen for the engine to turn over?
I'm sorry, I didn't mean for this to drag on like this, but hey—since no one reads this thing, no harm done.
It's like when a buddy came home from Marine Corps boot camp and he was showing me some hand-to-hand combat stuff. "If he does this,
you do this. If he does this, you do this." Good things to know, but I wondered at the time if there wasn't a more efficient way to
learn that than memorizing every possible move that could be put on you, and its counter. (Note—maybe there isn't in this case. I'll
talk about that in a minute). I got to thinking about grouping attacks and defenses; putting them into categories so there wasn't so
much to memorize.
One final illustration . . . Holy crap, I'm even boring myself now.
Don't tell me "Turn your tires to the right if you're parking downhill, to the left if you're parking uphill." I will never remember.
I'll even make up little mnemonic aids and then forget it. Tell me that the tires need to be positioned so they roll into the curb
if the car rolls. Tell me why and I'll remember.
Are you still with me? You deserve some sort of reward for your patience, if not for your efficient use of your browsing time.
Categories. Grouping things. Figuring things out by grouping them together so you don't have to memorize so much. "This joke is
really just that joke but I've substituted nuns and Corvettes for lawyers and flying monkeys."
So I've always wanted to put together an encyclopedia of . . . of . . . well, crap. I don't know how I can put it together if I
don't even have a name for it. Not tricks, exactly . . . not techniques or strategies or tactics. I've heard them called "tropes."
Kind of concepts . . . but things that can be used to understand the world.
I told you about my favorite list of logical fallacies that grouped them by type instead of just one big ol' honking list of them.
Something like that.
Let's take a break for a minute
Back to the salt mines
Okay, here's one, and I hate that my weak brain has reduced me to this. I hate when people say "The definition is . . ."
then use an example. An example is not a definition. But it might help you understand what my pathetic brain is trying to
wrap itself around.
I'll call this masking. Something that hides what you're really looking for.
One manifestation of it is the cat effect. You've got someone in a warehouse looking for a bad guy. He's hiding behind
some equipment and hears a noise behind some barrels. He points his gun over there and sees a cat run out. Oh, the cat made the noise.
You don't know that. It could be, but that doesn't mean the bad guy is not there. Here's where it gets interesting
(and more complex). That concept ties into a couple of other ones—the he said/she said concept, where different explanations both adequately explain an observation, and the idea that you can't disprove a negative.
The he said/she said should probably be called "Well, what's he going to say?" 'cause it refers to a reasonable explanation for
something bad that's exactly the lie you'd expect to cover it up. Like let's say you come upon a guy standing over a dead person
holding a knife. "I found him like this and pulled the knife out to try to help him." Oh, sure, that's exactly what you'd say if
you killed him.
Yeah? And what would I say if I found him like this and pulled the knife out to try to help him?
Then we have the disproving a negative. The fact that no one saw the guy in the disco doesn't mean he wasn't there. The fact that
someone did see him somewhere else does prove that he wasn't. Next related concept, but ties into the he said/she said observation
vs. reality thing, is that the cat moved because the bad guy was there. This takes you to a lot of examples of correlation but not
cause and effect. (More on that later, too.)
Back to the cat and masking. So you hear a noise in your kitchen in the night. You have a cat, it must be the cat. You go back to
When you pull your car behind the barn and get out to do your chores, the warning bell dings. Of course it dings, you left the
keys in. You meant to do that. After chores you have dinner, then go to get your car and the battery is dead. The fact that you
left your keys in masked the fact that the warning buzzer was also trying to tell you that your lights were on.
Give the person an explanation for the observation, and they will quit looking.
Then that ties into a really interesting trick I call the Smokey Yunik technique. Smokey was a stock car builder and mechanic.
He liked to show up to the track with a car that had a couple of really blatant violations of the rules. When the tech inspector
called him on those, he'd raise a fuss. He would argue and fight and try to convince the inspector that he was within the rules,
and threaten and complain and act like he was really being inconvenienced by the whole system. The tech inspector would be pretty
proud of the job he was doing, not letting Smokey get away with that cheating that he was obviously counting on racing with.
Then Smokey would fix the things that were caught, like he planned to do all along, and race with all the real violations the
tech inspector never even looked for because he thought he'd found what he was looking for.
As NHRA team did the same thing back in the 80s. I can't remember the team, but as soon as their rail dragster came back in
the pits they would make a big show of putting a black canvas cover over the pedals in the cockpit so no one could see them.
Everyone was dying to see what technology they had down there that gave them such an advantage, and they tried all sorts of
tricks to get a peek under that cover.
'Turns out there was nothing any different about any of that, but it kept people from looking at their clutch setup and
blower mounts and injector rails . . .
For being so patient and plowing through all that drivel, I present you with these cartoons . . . 'cause
I know you can't just go to Townhall.com and see them for yourself . . .
And you should read
article on the same topic.
And finally, read this article on how
Barack Obama is a Not So Smooth Operator.
Is that as good as a plan?
So, maybe the trick with this encyclopedia thingey dealie is to just get started. Just pour the Cheerios into the bowl
of milk and see if any patterns emerge.
Eventually I want to end up with some sort of Concept Template like:
If only there were some sort of blogging technology where I could just post examples and then mark them with tags so the
software could group them all together . . .
Promises to keep
I said I'd talk about this . . . I know you've been reading with 'bated breath to get to the exciting promised conclusion.
I was talking about how understanding was a better way to remember things than memorizing responses to input. That's not
always true. In a lot of cases there's not time for that kind of deeper memory retrieval. For example, it's an alluring story
to have a creative fighter pilot like in Top Gun, but in real life Naval Aviators don't have time to think up new dogfighting
techniques. The pilots who stay alive are the ones you react automatically without thinking as a result of lots of training.
Then I talked about correlation but not cause and effect.
On Michael Medved's show I heard about a study someone did on political views. I tuned in late, but here's what I got.
They had people fill out a form on things that would indicate liberal/conservative viewpoints. They would get people coming out of bars,
measure their blood alcohol, and correlate that. Then they would have people fill out the form while distracted or while under time
pressure. As it turns out, the higher the blood alcohol level, time pressure, or distraction, the more likely the person was to
identify his views as conservative.
The portrayal was that conservatives are stupid. I was a little peeved, because with a little thought the study makes perfect
sense. The logical answer is conservatism. That's what you naturally come up with because it's the right answer and you don't have
That's the conclusion that Medved made 30 seconds after I thought it and the conclusion the linked article did.
Liberalism is like Orwell said: So absurd only an intellectual would believe it.
The irony is that the correct conclusion takes a little thought, so the moron who said "Ha-hah, this proves conservatives
don't think" wasn't thinking.
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