Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Fire Them All - Outreach

I've lost all track of how many political and media types (evil loyal Democrats to a man) have been canned for sexual harassment of women.

A counter for that would look like the national debt clock.

Let's just fire them all, on the entirely plausible theory that the odds are in favor of that, and the ones that haven't been fired yet, merely haven't been caught.

But at least the endless purge explains the hysterical rants of Dumbocrat women: they've been trapped in a rape culture of their own choosing, and now they're shell-shocked Stockholm Syndrome survivors.

Hey, battered harpies of Leftism, c'mon over to the other side!

We have cookies, and we encourage you to deal with sexual harassment with either a knee to the offender's crotch, or if that doesn't end the problem, follow it up with a few rounds of gunfire to the same region.
We'll even teach you both techniques.
Bonus: the entire might of the NRA would defend you.

And you'd stop losing election after election.

Deal-breaker: You'd probably have to renounce man-hating for life.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

In Theory: Standing On The Shoulders Of Retards

h/t to GvDL at American Digest

What is this? Read on.

According to Darwin's Theory of Evolution, espoused in Origin of the Species by means of natural selection, amoebas evolved into humans. (Nota bene I'm not referring to adaptation within a single species, but rather to the big-"E" theories of the evolution of everything, which was Darwin's magnum opus stupidae.)

Besides stating the obvious, that adherence to this century-plus load of claptrap is sciencism and not science, it's also, like Marxism, one of the most gobsmackingly stupid expressions of 19th century under-informed academia forming hypotheses on things they don't grasp, and a sterling example of what happens when people educated beyond their intelligence try to extrapolate based on their own ignorance. (And out of a butthurt bias based on feeling raw towards a Deity, exactly as in Darwin's case specifically, but I digress.)

The first problem is the original jump, from nothing to life.

It is the supreme example of The Underpants Gnome making an appearance in pseudo-scientific theory. Because the gap from a toxic chemical stew to a functioning "simple" single-celled micro-organism is the difference between a pile of sticks and the Wright Flyer, ready for takeoff at Kitty Hawk. With Orville at the controls.

If you believe that the parts in a junkyard could, given enough time, assemble themselves into not one, but every 767 ready for takeoff, and the associated worldwide air traffic control system, stop reading here, and go back where you came from. You're not tall enough for this ride.

The second biggest bullfrog for this brand of sciencism to swallow for breakfast, after the "minor" problem of the first one, is that even, against far-worse-than-Powerball-odds of the first hurdle ever being spanned, is that there isn't enough time in history for us to get from Step One, above, to the current arrangement.

Every theorem of the requisite common ancestor between apes and humans is always somewhere in the no-existing-evidence section of dotted lines of pre-history. And every time they name a date, then find older evidence, they have to keep pushing that bridge species' date of existence that much farther back before evidence, ad infinitum, ad absurdum.
There is a simple example of this phenomenon in popular culture:

The obvious explanation being that there never was a common ancestor, because that doesn't happen, as anyone not sentimentally attached to Darwinism out of an overarching antipathy towards religion and or a Designer would conclude in about two seconds.

Or, we can look at eyes.

First, because we have them, and second, because they disprove Darwinism rather instantaneously.

Darwin, living at a time when gross anatomy and the medical arts were in their infancy, by which I mean they were still in underpants and shitting themselves out of sheer infantile ignorance, simply didn't know what he didn't know. And then went on about it all, founded on nothing but naked hubris and supposition. And based on this monumental ignorance of what is now basic biology, Darwin figured that species would grow eyes out of sheer utility, and that these primitive organs would advance, and improve, in succeeding generations, until now we have the current marvel of biotechnology, though which you're reading this humble essay.

But, and I repeat myself, Darwin was a monumentally ignorant idiot.

I leave it for the microbiologists to explain in detail, but the eye doesn't "get better", and differing exemplars from other species aren't early, lesser attempts at the problem. The process of photons of light striking your retina, after passing through a remarkably (and wholly unknown to 19th century anatomists) complex system to get to the retinal nerve, and then travel along it in an enormously complex series of biochemical processes to the visual cortex of the brain, to be interpreted there by a subset of a microcomputer of phenomenal and still largely unfathomed complexity is a chain of hundreds to thousands of individual steps.

Like a computer program.

And you don't "evolve" lines of code until the process gets to perfect refinement; if one line of code is missing, nothing happens.
If one biochemical step in the process of vision isn't there, you're blind.
It's a binary equation.
You either see, or you don't.
You don't go from darkness, in gradual steps, to UHD color.

Darwin suggesting, with a straight face, that a 128- or 256- or 1024-bit lock first evolved itself into being ex nihilo, and then opened itself, is no less complicated than what I said about that fully formed 767 generating itself out of scrapyard parts. Or the mentality that thinks an AR-15 sitting in my closest will spontaneously assemble from pieces, load itself, drive to Las Vegas unassisted, and go off on a shooting spree while I sleep peacefully in my bed.

If you can convince yourself of the latter, you'll fall for anything, including Nigerian banking e-mail scams, and should therefore leave the Internet, and in haste.

As further proof, I offer the post's masthead photograph, of the foot - just the foot, mind you - of a humble mosquito, magnified some 800X. Look at the complexity (wholly unimagined in Darwin's time, doubtless) and then extrapolate mathematically back to a basic foot, and all the time in history that would be required for merely the foot of that small flying insect's body to get from A to Z. Then multiply that times every other part on its entire body. Then multiply that times every species, extinct and still-living, times all their parts. The timeline since the Big Bang is far too short to accomplish a fraction of that. And earnest hand-waving and incantations to the contrary notwithstanding, the fossil record supports no such thing either. (If your guru disagrees, ask about the "Cambrian Explosion" and watch the lip sweat and mumbo-jumbo that ensues.)

To say that all that "just happened", is to find the engine of an SR-71 sitting in the middle of the Sahara Desert, and postulate that it must have sprung into being spontaneously.

And, simultaneously, to beat yourself over the head, slap your own naked asscheeks, and announce in a monumental baboon-like yawp to the entire watching universe that one is an idiot.

Like Darwin.

This takedown was done very well and in depth in an excellent book called

Darwins Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge To Evolution. I commend it to the intellectually curious.

You can decide whether this essay was the product of an intelligent mind, or whether it just spontaneously assembled itself after seeing the original photograph.

If this left a mark, pull up your pants, and use your head for something other than a hat rack.
The universe laughs at you.
And so do the baboons.

Let the yawping and gnashing of teeth commence.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Generic Democrat Cover Letter

(Check all that apply)

( ) I have no recollection of the events alleged to have happened.

( ) I sincerely and completely apologize for doing what I don't recall ever doing.

( ) This
( ) sole event does
( ) pair of
( ) trio of
( ) four to four thousand alleged occurrence(s) do
not represent what sort of a person I really and truly am, as my record prior to the unfortunate exposure of all this sordid behavior used to bear out.
Just ask anyone (who's not on the CC: list for this memo).

( ) I therefore hope I can still count on your full support in returning me to
___________________________________ (fill in office/position) at the next election, so that I can continue my ceaseless efforts in upholding the rights of women, and stopping the Republican War On Women, which sounds more like what I do than what they do, which is why I apologize for never having done any of those horrible things.
You don't need to ever come to Washington to see me about those issues, but if you have any female friends you'd like to send by, I would sincerely appreciate the gesture, so that they can share their concerns in person as well.

( ) If this apology isn't enough to answer your concerns, please contact the DNC switchboard at
and our staff will get you signed up immediately for the newest Democratic government program for women and/or single mothers.

Thank you again for bringing up what I never recall ever doing to my attention.




Hoplophobian Liberalism Is A Mental Disease

h/t Phil @ Vulgar Curmudgeon

All firearms will be banned from the public galleries above the Washington Senate floor once the legislative session begins in January, under an order issued Monday by Lt. Gov. Cyrus Habib.
Habib, a Democrat who serves as the presiding officer of the chamber, told The Associated Press and Northwest News Network that his goal is to create a safer environment for all working in the Senate.

That’ll work.
Criminals and murderers being so circumspectly obedient about following laws, and all.

If there was any common sense in reporting (cf: when pigs fly unassisted), they’d note that only law-abiding citizens are banned from bringing guns, but the criminals will do whatever they like, by definition. Thus proving that the law won’t affect the legislators whatsoever.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Comment Of The Year

From a thread over at WRSA...

"...Her friend said, "You have to understand something about these men. They know what fear and courage are. They seek both constantly, it's in their blood. They are the warriors who in times past grabbed their spears and swords and rushed to the sound of war."
She stopped for a moment waiting for her friend to respond, but all she got was the most classical response imaginable, a nose in the air and a "Hrrrrmph."
She was quiet for a few more moments and said to her friend, “One day us woman are going to need these warriors, and they will need us. Everything comes full circle, we will need these men to protect us and our children."

Its the quiet men among us, who look in your eyes; it's past words now. It’s that time when we check the edges on our swords, check how it draws out of the scabbard. How our mags seat, the bolt sliding home slick and keen like a razor's edge through fresh muscle, does the sight come up perfect every time, how our gear sits, snug, ready, but never constraining our movements."

Seasoned Greetings

The Christmas lights went up today.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Paycheck - Pillow - Toys

Not literally, but there's a big Fun Show this weekend, and I'll be hunting for anything I've "just gotta have".
And I'm working all weekend.
And somewhere in there, I should probably sleep so I don't crash on the road or kill people at work.
Which they frown on thereabouts.

Posting will therefore be light, unless insomnia takes a hand.

Y'all have a pleasant weekend, and we'll see how it goes.

Friday, November 24, 2017

More Rose Fertilizer

So, this information in a "closed" case took only 55 days to release...

Gunman Stephen Paddock fired more than 1,100 rounds the night of the Las Vegas  shooting, Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo told the Las Vegas Review-Journal on Wednesday. 
The new total includes about 200 rounds fired from Paddock’s Mandalay Bay corner suite and into the hallway of the 32nd floor late Oct. 1, injuring hotel security guard Jesus Campos. 
Lombardo was aware of the previously unreported total because the Metropolitan Police Department’s forensics lab is working in conjunction with the FBI to process all ballistics evidence from the mass shooting, which left 58 concertgoers dead and more than 500 injured. 
Investigators have not determined why Paddock stopped shooting. Lombardo said they found about 4,000 more rounds of unused ammunition in the gunman’s suite. 
The sheriff also mentioned that “multiple weapons” had jammed, as the Review-Journal has previously reported, but Lombardo again did not provide a specific number. He also did not provide a detailed list of the weapons Paddock had available to him. 
Investigators still have not determined the gunman’s motive.
Top. Men.

So, to recap, that leaves us with a .196 average, with gunfire hits on 216 or so out of 1100 attempts (and notably, only 1 out of 200 on Campos in the hallway at a range measured in inches), while firing at a crowded outdoor concert with 22,000 attendees at a venue the size of a WWII aircraft carrier. If you look at the concert goer average, it was about .010, or about what, in baseball, selects you to be a designated peanut vendor.

This wasn't just the worst shooting in U.S. history, it was the worst shooter in US history. The last time America saw someone shoot this badly, it was the roommate in Frank Whaley's apartment in Pulp Fiction, right before Vincent and Jules blow him away.

The only other time there were this many rounds fired in Vegas with so little pay-off was in Clint Eastwood's The Gauntlet.

Thank the heavens for small mercies in the case of the concert-goers.

And despite nearly two months, they still haven't identified the weapons involved, but have notified us that multiple weapons "jammed". Y'know, like they do when you shoot them.

And oh, BTW, they have no idea why Paddock is supposed to have started shooting.
Nor why he stopped.
Nor why he quit with over 4,000 additional rounds remaining.

I repeat, this wasn't a mass shooting as much as it was a photo op. One or two weapons is a shooter. Twenty-three is a press release.

And quitting while fully healthy, with over 80% of your rounds remaining?

The simple answer is that the shooter didn't want to get caught. And didn't.

But he (or they) left us Schmuck Paddock, helpfully already dead on the suite floor, likely the exact same place he was when the shooting started, as he/they made their retreat a full 10 minutes before anyone from LVMPD arrived to secure the shooting scene's perimeter.

And both the Clark County Sheriff's Department and the FBI know this, but they have no idea who they're actually looking for, so they don't want to reveal that nugget.

Or, alternatively, they know exactly who they're looking for, and don't want to reveal that nugget.

Either way, once again:
Top. Men.

And we've known, since 55 minutes after it stopped, that no terrorism was involved, because Far Beyond Insanity told us that.

Which tells you where the case files and evidence are going when this is all over.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

"Oh My God,They're Turkeys!"

GMTA h/t to McThag

"As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly..."

From Season 1, 1978: "Turkeys Away"
Twenty-five minutes of comedic brilliance.
Saw this the night it aired, and it's been a TV sitcom classic moment for all time.
Happy Turkey Day.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

The Universe Has A Wry Sense Of Humor

How else can you explain losing the icons of the Manson Family and the Partridge Family in the same week?

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Back At Ya, Sir...

Once again this week, like many other well-executed blog efforts, we've been kindly favored with a link by Remus in his regular mental confection, the Woodpile Report, a weekly offering that is one hundred-fold the antidote for liberal tripe like 60 Minutes, and the former excellent work far more worthy of your time each week than the latter.

Such notice there never ceases to amaze and please hereabouts, because I take it as a sign I'm hitting the mark more than missing it.

And in the spirit of mutual appreciation, this masterpiece meme posted there today:

(Click to embiggen)

Accurate, delicious, and hilarious, if someone prints them 8½" x 11", we'll take a ream.
If not, we may have to make our own, and start distributing them, Sabo-like, around town.

Hint, Anyone: A poster-size version would break Amazon. You heard it here first.

Remus is taking a week off next week, so we thank him for the continued notice, and wish him the happiest of Thanksgiving weekends, and continued health and prosperity.

We'll try to be worthy of notice here as often as possible.

Self Driving Cars

If you're interested in technology, Silicon Graybeard has a fascinating set of articles (with more promised!) on self-driving cars, and the sensor problem.
And here.

The articles, and the comments, are always worthwhile, and I'm looking forward to the future installments.
(Word to the editorial boards at Popular Science and Popular Mechanics: this is what you should be like 24/7/365/forever, instead of shilling for silly ideas and brochure pipe-dream press releases. Just saying.)

While I'm curious, and following the trend, I think it's ultimately futile, and will always remain more of a Jetsons nightmare than it will ever be a Starfleet reality, at least in my lifetime, or that of your kids.

These, with good reason, are the poster children for bad engineering ideas:

It's what you get when you do something because you think you can, instead of asking whether you should.

Yet again, Michael Crichton for the win.

In comments there, relating to sorting out the signals from thousands of moving vehicles all trying to use the same bandwith for navigation radar, I offered the example of overloading a cellphone service area.

I believe someone was yanking your chain, because there's no scenario I can calculate that can put that much power into a receiver antenna more than a foot or two away. If a million people transmitted on their cellphones to a receiver 300' feet away, their powers combined might approach a level that could overload a receiver, but I doubt it. It wouldn't physically damage it.

Something else broke. Now, could they handle a million calls? Nope. The base station "getting confused" isn't killing the hardware.

The problem you're worrying about happens around you every day, and is managed by the way the systems are designed.

Ever flown commercial into LAX? Of course you have. Every airplane on approach is using a weather radar that's managing the same frequency problem. It can be done.
No one was yanking my chain; we overloaded the local ability of the network to process calls. I'm not saying anything happened to the hardware physically, just too many pigs trying to suckle on too few teats. It's better now than it was a decade ago, but anyone in a disaster knows what happens when everyone hits the network at once.
Which is exactly what driving rush hour is, every day, forever: every driver trying to drive at once. And for a bonus, on their gorram cellphones ;) !

"No service" is fine when you're just standing there.
Not so fine when you're moving in traffic at 65MPH.

And there may be the capability at LAX for a finite set of highly-managed/tracked objects moving along fixed routes between waypoints, but the problem isn't 100-200 planes an hour moving towards a fixed target in two straight lines, inbound and outbound, and it requires God Alone Knows how many people besides the pilots to make it work - when it mostly does. No one's even suggesting we automate it "because we can". (At least, no one with a whit of common sense.)
We won't even talk about the skills gap between the average CATP and the average holder of a non-commercial driving license in a non-automated system, because the annual death toll for the last twenty years tells that tell with precision. Air travel is annoyingly boring, because, at least for commercial American carriers, the risk of not arriving alive is as close to zero as it's likely to ever get. The risk for getting to the Qwikiemart two miles down the road in your jalopie is astronomically higher.

So I'm just saying that taking a system that "works" because of the intense efforts of thousands of highly skilled CATPs, and hundreds of air traffic controllers, and generations of safety improvements paid for in blood, isn't the best exemplar of how the problem with automating every private vehicle over every foot of travel over every road in America, or anywhere else, is going to go.

Now let's imagine every passenger passing through LAX was flying every which way simultaneously, in a single-person plane.
LAX, the system, and most of the fliers, would crash.
The area within three miles of the airport in all directions would be a scorched and pock-marked impact area.
And that's what a system dealing with ground vehicle traffic is supposed to be going to handle, with functional flawlessness.
Color me a wee bit skeptical.

A mapmaker can handle border conflicts using only five colors.

But...there's only 190 or so countries, and they aren't trying to drive past each other at 70MPH!

Any urban freeway system, plus the street grid, would require a solution set that'd make rooms full of programmers and engineers eat a pistol just to attempt.

Anyone who's ever been in a simple straightforward ride at Disneyland/Disneyworld, and had it pack up and crap out while they're on it, with a short, fixed route on a track, knows the problems with doing the whole thing in the real world completely wirelessly automated are damn near insurmountable, for any definition of terms. Or else Disney, with a far higher financial investment in flawless performance at every park would have done it already seven days a week, and they wouldn't have killed a dozen or so people and injured dozens more over the years.

So I can believe the hype, or my lying eyes.

Am I interested?
Do I want research to continue?
Of course.
Do I think they could get traffic deaths down from 10K/yr?
I hope so.
Do I think they'll ever make a fully automated driving system that isn't a nightmare of biblical proportions in my lifetime?
Not bloody likely.

Someone telling me they can manage 150M vehicles driving around is on a par with someone telling me he can predict the shape of clouds to the molecular level, in advance, when they can't even predict the weather.

But I'm open to evidence of progress, even though it mainly just reveals the lack of respect for the level of complexity in the real world.

Real life is analog. Or fractals cubed moving in the fourth dimension of time. But never, ever is it digital.

The only way to make it so is to simplify the problem, by restricting the choices. The model for that is taking the African veldt biopsphere, and turning it into the zoo.

Zebras and wildebeests sit still for that.
"One of these things is not like the other..."

Drivers will burn your world down for trying it with them.
And then they'll back up over you a couple of more times, just to make sure they got the job done.
Anybody - futurist, scientist, engineer, or peyote-smoking medicine man - who thinks otherwise has never been in an Italian traffic roundabout, a Tijuana taxi, a Manila jitney, a bus on Okinawa, or L.A. traffic any day of the week. And they don't know what they don't know.
That inevitably leads to the most catastrophic failures ever witnessed.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Dog Training: Why A Rolled Up Newspaper Is Not A Gun

A few items:
Item One: Klavan
So if leftists really want conservatives to behave like conservatives, they should make sure the networks and the Times and CNN begin to hold everyone to the same standards all the time no matter what's at stake. Otherwise, if the right does become as hollow as the left, leftists will have no one but themselves to blame. In a two-party winner-take-all system, either the rules apply to both sides equally or both sides are bound to start playing without them.
Item Two: Vox
Klavan and other conservative commentators have got to get over their irrepressible desire to fix the Left and understand that they don't get a vote. The point is not to prove to the Left that they are wrong and that they should stop what they are doing and behave more like we do. The point is to defeat them utterly, then eradicate their ideas from Western civilization before they manage to destroy it once and for all.
Item Three: Mike @ Cold Fury , who put A and B together.

Batting clean-up: moi.

If Vox thinks Klavan wants to "fix' the Left, he's clueless in a lookout-on-the-Titanic-one-foggy-night sort of way.

Klavan is a rhetorical genius, as any twenty of his videos on YouTube will demonstrate beyond dispute.

The unspoken point of Klavan's admonitions to the Left, is that after showing them how they miss the standard of success, and telling them what they'd need to do to reverse course, lies the salient and silent "But you'll NEVER do that, because you're a bunch of retarded evil people who could no more think intelligently than a dog could perform Shakespeare."

Klavan has made a hobby of skewering the Left on their own petards, and showing it to be every bit as difficult as shooting fish in a barrel - with a howitzer.

To imagine he's seriously expecting that the Left will suddenly break suction, pull their heads out, and start acting like rational human beings is to ignore the body of Klavan's work to date.

His work is masterful black comedy, for its own sake, and his remonstrations to the Left are in the same vein as lecturing a puppy before applying the rolled up newspaper: one doesn't do it because they expect the pooch will suddenly stand upright on its hind legs, hang its head, and profess sorrow, remorse, and an earnest aspiration to behave better, delivered in the Queen's English.

They do it to observe the proprieties before the Sword (or in this example, the Rolled-Up Newspaper) of Justice falls, and delivers the Smackdown of Justified Wrath on the guilty party.

In short, you don't do it for Fido, you do it for you.
This is why you're not just a brutal thug beating a dumb animal, and it's also why you don't shoot the dog.
(Or the Left.)

At least until they graduate from being asses, to being outright terrorists, at which point lopping heads off is all well and good, as Klavan would assent to in a heartbeat.

I wouldn't shoot a dog for peeing on a fire hydrant, and I wouldn't shoot a Leftist for being an ignorant braying jackass. In both cases, it's what they do.

But when either one graduates from transgressing polite behavior, to threatening life and limb, they need to be put down.

Like you do with any rabid dogs you encounter.
Soiling your carpets is trainable with a rolled up newspaper.
Rabies is only corrected with a bullet to the brain.

R.I.H., Charlie

And enjoy eternity licking the sweat from Satan's nutsack, which almost makes up for you living in prison for nearly fifty years too long.

Had the Warren court not overturned the death penalty shortly after his conviction, he and his waste-of-skin-and-oxygen followers would have been rendered into fertilizer outside San Quentin State Prison long since, after being convicted of first degree murder for a paltry six such grisly crimes.

When I read he was on death's door a couple of days ago, my heart leapt with joy, and now that he's nothing but a dead meatsack, the only thing that'd have made me happier would have been if he shuffled off his mortal coil after being set on fire, and the flames beaten out with an icepick.

The biggest pity about his lengthy term in prison waiting for parole was that it was not the assigned duty each day for a given guard to crack him over the kneecaps with a yard-long steel pipe.

As it is, someone noted that his medical care in prison was really substandard.
That, my friends, is a feature, not a bug.

If I were emperor, his medical care would have consisted of an 1800's manual on first aid, and a few bandage rolls made from the unwashed underpants of other inmates.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

According To The Prophecy

h/t WRSA

I told you, barely more than a dozen hours ago, that someone would do a worldwide faceplant any minute.

USAFarce Gen. John "Dipshit Candyass" Hyten, come on down:

The top US nuclear commander has said that if President Trump ordered a nuclear attack that he disagreed with he would refuse. 
Air Force General John Hyten on Saturday told an audience at the Halifax International Security Forum in Nova Scotia that he's thought a lot about what he will do if Trump orders a strike he considers illegal. 
'I think some people think we're stupid,' Hyten said, responding to a question about the scenario, according to CBS News. He is the commander of the US Strategic Command, or STRATCOM. 
'We're not stupid people. We think about these things a lot. When you have this responsibility, how do you not think about it?' 
Hyten said though that if the 'illegal' command did come, they would go through a process to find a better solution.
I'm not being insensitive here: I know picking on the US Air Farce, always an honorable alternative to military service, is like kicking the retarded kids. (But it feels so right!) So maybe those of you with influence in that organization could ask your leaders managers to stop bending over with big red and white targets on their asses, and "Kick Me" signs on their yellow-striped backs.

So for the benefit of all concerned, the following.

See here, Mr. Virtue-Signalling Four-Starred Fucktard:

You are "stupid people". You yourself are, anyways.
The lackwit liars and cheaters at Missile Command cribbing test answers are fish for another kettle.

But if President Trump issues an order to nuke North Korea to SecDef Mattis, who relays it to you directly or through subordinate commands, it is, by law and definition, a "legal order". Period. Full stop.

If possession of your obviously hypertrophied mangina will not permit you to carry out such a lawful order from your commander in chief, or there is any possibility that you might be inclined to refuse it, you should resign immediately. Leaving your tunic and trousers behind, and whacking yourself over the head with a stick while shouting, as you leave the Pentagon semi-naked, and proceed to your POV to drive home "I'm a fucking pussy and a pale excuse for manhood!" is entirely optional, but clearly indicated. If you'd like, I'm pretty sure suitable MPs can be found to assist you in the latter if you find yourself incapable of that act as well, you cowardly dickless bastard.

In the meantime, having indicated your tendency and intention to mutiny on impetus of personal whimsy, particularly in the control or use of nuclear weapons, the holy grail of why you even have a job, your statements should be a clear call for the General of the Air Force, Secretary of the Air Force, and Secretary of Defense to relieve you from your post immediately under both common sense, and the long-standing  guidelines of the Personal Reliability Program governing nuclear weapons going back decades and decades (maybe you've heard of them?), and also institute immediate investigation in support of accelerated general court-martial proceedings for your flagrant and public violations of Articles 88, 92, 98, 104, 133, and 134 of the Uniform Code Of Military Justice.
(That means your next thirty or so years of federal service will be in command of a mop at Leavenworth Military Correctional Facility, you jet-fuel genius. If the USAF can manage to get your skill assessment right with one more bite at that apple. Seeing how your retarded sisters at the sister service have handled similar black-letter law violations of the UCMJ by communist 2LT Spenser Rapone, USA, I give the USAF 30/70 odds on that, but they deserve at least the bare chance to try.)

And maybe I'm missing something in the arcana of chest-shit you chairborne pukes accumulate over there on your side of the playground, but it boggles the mind how anyone could rise to four-star rank in the USAF without so much as one single award for personal combat bravery, in a period of service wherein we've fought three major wars and numerous smaller conflicts. But I'm sure all the pencils in your desk cup are precisely the same length, and you never missed the urinal once and always washed up afterwards, as two or more of the ribbons on your rack must surely attest, possibly with oak-leaf clusters.

And on a personal note, I wish SecDef Mattis would personally haul you into custody himself, by your earlobe, on national TV, pour encourager les autres, but I'd settle for him simply firing every Air Farce general who's never heard a shot fired in anger or flown a single combat mission, and instituting an immediate review and in most cases same-day retirement, of every general promoted to the ranks O-7 to O-10 in all the military services from 2009-2017.

There seem to be an abundance of kissasses and suckups retained or promoted during the prior administration who should never have made it past the selection board for captain, and you appear to be the prize-winning example of that from your year-group.


P.S. Be happy that firing squads are all out of vogue now. In a just universe, yours would be six Hog drivers firing parked A-10s at you tied to a stake, and we'd show the video of your fenestration as morning motivation for new Air Farce recruits for the next 50 years.

As it is, the DoD barring the award of any future contracts to any company that would hire you (including Uber or the Home Depot) after your early retirement should make your next job, greeting guests and opening the front door at a major hotel, a shoe-in, as befitting your previous level of experience and aptitude.

Friday, November 17, 2017

The Day Nothing Happened

Not loafing today (well, except for a couple of hours surfing YouTube), but I couldn't find much that could keep my attention long enough to write about.

Which, now that I think about it, isn't a bad thing.

And it drizzled here today, which generally puts me in the mood to find a good book and turn the heat up. The cat agrees, and has declared a campaign to sit in my lap as frequently as possible. I'm pretty sure I'm just a cat heating pad with legs once I settle in.

But I'm sure someone will do a worldwide faceplant in a day or two, and I'll be rested, and with an extra days' worth of rotten eggs to throw.

Hope y'all had a nice Friday, sliding into a lazy weekend.

And fair warning: Sunday is National Ammo Day.
You should start planning your purchases now, if you hadn't already.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Future Darwin Award Winners - Team Event

h/t Kenny

If these people ever breed, the species is so f****d.

Some people are only worth anything if we set them on fire, and practiced beating out the flames with rakes, mattocks, and brush hooks.

"Lighten up, Francis."

From comments here:

-- "'re nominally supposed to remember the almost literal real three-percenters who've actually served to give you other slacker 97% the freedom to ignore and spit on us the rest of the year. "--

That is uncalled-for arrogance. We of the 97% you disdain made your service possible. We paid the taxes that provided for every facet and element of your soldiering. We supported you with our purchases of War Bonds. We've practically fallen over backwards in praising you and thanking you. And a great many of us worked at making the weapons you wielded, or learned to wield, rather than at higher-paying occupations elsewhere in the private sector.

You want thanks? You get more of that today than any class of veterans in America's history. You want praise? See previous answer. But don't expect either of those conditions to continue if you make a practice of sneering at us, simply because we never donned the uniform.

As Sgt. Hulka said. "Lighten up, Francis."

But you sound serious, so here's my serious reply to that.

I don't disdain the 97%. As lifelong civilians, the vast majority of them are exactly what I expect.
(This is why there hasn't been a Democrat elected president with any military experience since Jimmy Carter.)
I just call it like I see it. And perhaps it escaped your notice, but veterans, including those in combat, pay taxes too. Which, last I heard, was more of a contribution than 51% of the country does, year in and year out. So if anything, I'd only be disdaining maybe those douchebags, who neither pay nor serve.

Secondly, for comparison, in 1944, something like 16% of the males 18-45 in America were in uniform. Now it's less than 1%, going back 25 or 50 years. As Churchill once said, "Never have so many owed so much to so few."

As for "making the weapons" thanks, sincerely. I was unaware, however, that working for defense contractors was such a financial sacrifice. Mainly because most of the kids I went to school with had parents who worked for Lockheed, Hughes, Northrop, McDonnell-Douglas, Martin, Consolidated, Vought, North American Rockwell, Rocketdyne, General Dynamics, and a few other small companies, now mainly departed to more tax-friendly havens, and conglomerated out of existence in most cases. And BTW, most of their dads had served in uniform too, unlike most of their own sons. I seem to remember most of them doing just fine, financially, but when the government gives you college and wildly advantageous home loans gratis just for serving, it's a lot harder to screw up in life. I wouldn't know.

As for "more thanks" and "more praise", hey great.
Send a can of that to my brother, who graduated from DaNang, Class of '65, and got called "baby killer" when he rotated home through LAX.
He still hasn't gotten his parade, or thanks, or any praise (and long since gave up looking for any of the above from the wastrels of society, and got over it), and last I looked, Ken Burns and the Usual Hippie Suspects just shit on his generation all over again on PBS/Pravda. Like they do, since forever.
Some day when I get the courage to broach the subject, I want to sit down with my brother and his boot camp yearbook, and see how that class from MCRD did. I suspect if it was compared alongside such artistic endeavors as HBO's Band of Brothers, the aftermath for his classmates would be a national scandal.
(That is, it would if the yellow-backed cowardly jackasses culpable for that generation's treatment had any sense of self-respect. John Kerry, Bill Clinton, and almost everyone in Hollywood, call your office.)

Please read what I wrote, instead of what you imagined I wrote, and note that I didn't ask for praise, nor even thanks. As if either would ever be forthcoming. Just a little unspoken respect, and acting like decent Americans, all on your own. It's not like I demanded you stand watch in Bumfuckistan at 3AM 8000 miles away from home in freezing rain for less than minimum wage, or something equally unreasonable. But as befits those of lesser mettle, just don't be douchebags, and flaming embarrassments to your entire country. That's all.

FTR, I haven't seen any "bending over backwards", except for about five minutes after the Gulf War, which was over in, what, 72 hours on the ground, and six weeks of near-bloodless air pummeling? And that was 26 years ago.

But I've lost track of how many movies, articles, and newspaper stories have done nothing but paint every vet as a defective drug-addicted suicidal PTSD loser, going back to about 1966. The only bending I've seen is actual vets, being bent over before they take it in the pants, yet again.

We won't even talk much about the pampered pussies of the NFL, or their mostly libtard kissass owners. The only thing that hasn't been beaten almost to death there (that ought to be) is the players pulling that crap.
The best thing we could do, instead of having the Army start taking Cat IV retards and psych cases, should be re-instituting national conscription. I'd start with the NFL; they already understand how a draft works, and giving those overpaid thugs some constructive supervision would probably straighten out more than a few of them. And the rest could use some serious wall-to-wall counseling, from people who aren't playing a kid's game.

{Oh, and while we're there, let's draft the chicks, too. Nothing will cool all that happygas BS about "women in combat" like mandating that 50% of all draftees be women, starting tomorrow, and that they be assigned to infantry, artillery, and armor units at the exact same percentage males are. If they wash out, keep drafting women until they find enough to fill the quotas. That will be every woman of draft age in America, by the way, to find the three dozen living that can pass the current standards. Sure, if there's a shooting war, they'll die in droves, and get half their male counterparts killed too, but what's that compared to seriously inconveniencing 20 million crippled women washouts, and serving the "Diversity is our strength" mantra?}

And don't even start with what the 97% have paid for; I've seen the pictures of sewer rats and cockroaches running through the VA hospitals without a single civil service oxygen thief running that shitshow demoted, fired, or prosecuted once going back to the 1970s, while vets back to the WWII are literally dying waiting to see a doctor. That's what taxes and war bonds (War bonds? Those haven't been a thing since, when...? 1945?? How old are you?) have paid for.

I'm sorry if a half-serious comment hurt your feelings. Really, I am.
You seem to be a pretty bright and decent guy, a fellow blogger, and well-known author, and I think what I wrote struck a lot closer to home for you than I ever intended. That a mostly tongue-in-cheek comment gets you that riled says more about you, I think, that it does about the sentiment I expressed.
But sneering at those who never donned the uniform?
What would be the point?
The phrase "He never served" is so pregnant with meaning to those who have, none of us would ever waste the effort to even exercise our facial muscles about it. Mainly because the military isn't for everybody, and I'm actually pretty happy for many of those who never attempted it (not least of all because I wouldn't trust any number of them with firearms, high explosives, nor any conveyance more complicated than a pack mule).

I merely repeat my fond yearning from the original post, that those of you, by happenstance, choice, temperament, or accidents of fate, who never put yourselves at risk for the country, to please not make those of us who did wish we hadn't either.

I don't think that's really too much to ask for.

And the only contempt I've seen expressed has all been going the other way, pretty much non-stop, for decades. (When, in contrast, the Westboro @$$clowns get beaten to a bloody pulp by bystanders for mocking and jeering at soldiers who've died, and NFL take-a-knee protesters start getting the Tonya Harding steel pipe leg massage every time they venture out amongst the public, give a holler. I not only want to watch, I'd pay to see that.)

I'll even go out on a limb, and say that if those who served from about 1917-1991 knew how their children and grandchildren were going to f**k up both the country, and the world, they'd have probably stayed home too. Mainly so that succeeding generations of their progeny would get to learn the hard way and first-person what simple common sense would have taught them otherwise, and exactly how, in all likelihood, they're going to learn the lesson when it's dropped on their doorstep again and again, like it was on 9/11.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Plague Hysteria Is, Rose Fertilizer

I told you the preceding Crichton essay to tell you this one...

As some of my readers here have noted in recent comments in the last few weeks, the media keeps reporting on the "ZOMG Plague!" epidemic going on in Madagascar (famous previously mainly for being the setting of a couple of kids' cartoons). As I've noted in brief replies, it's not a thing. But the media under-played the near-apocalypse that was Ebola, and now they're way overplaying the yawner that is another African plague outbreak. Folks, the two don't cancel each other out, and average to decent journalism. In fact, the media has sucked ass both times, and I will now illuminate the point.

Premise: The Media Are Idiots, and they lie reflexively.

Case In Point:
Drudge, today has two links to the plague stories dribbling out.

This one, beyond retarded. Beyond even fucktarded.
Cringe-worthy and beyond-fucktarded money quote (the reason Drudge linked it):
Infection and immunity expert Dr. Matthew Avison, of University of Bristol, has revealed the outbreak in east Africa is likely to become more serious before the "crisis" ends.
Speaking exclusively to Daily Star Online, Dr. Avison said because the disease is “extremely rare” it has been “resilient” to antibiotics.
“Because this disease is extremely rare, it doesn’t get exposed to antibiotics that often,” he said.
“That means it’s more resistant to antibiotics and the risk of death is higher.”
However, he said if antibiotics are handed out quickly then the disease “can still be treated”.
If Avison is indeed an "infection and immunity expert", he's been grievously misquoted. Or he's a raving lunatic jackass. There is no third option there.
And as we're talking Britistan, it could go either way.

Because the way it works is that diseases become resistant by too much exposure to antibiotics, particularly under-dosing, not by too little exposure. This is Microbiology 101 stuff, not trade secrets from Bayer Labs.

So the only reason antibiotics don't work is because no one did a Culture & Sensitivity test to see what kills this plague strain the best. Which is what everyone, even in Third World Madagascar, does. unless they're too broke, or morons.
(A C&S is where you grow the bacteria you're worried about on a petri dish in an incubator, and then, once it's thriving, drop little wafers of 2 to 12 antibiotics onto the dish in different spots to see what kills it at all, or kills it the best. It's something a C-student in high school can accomplish with minimal supervision.)

So, either the Star's ace reporter, Joshua Nebbish Nitwit Nevett, fucked the quote up by the numbers, because he never had so much as even high school biology, or else Dr. Avison fell on his head a lot as a baby, and got his doctorate the same place Dr. Jenny McCarthy learned about vaccines and autism. Put your chips where you like on that, but without more information, it's a straight 50/50 bet, IMHO.

Super bonus fucktardation moment, same article:
Scientists also believe the disease – which can kill in 24 hours – could become untreatable in the future if the virus mutates.
Boys and girls, if the plague virus mutated, it wouldn't be a epidemiological catastrophe, it would be a medical miracle - because Plague is caused by a bacterium, pictured at the top of the post, not by a virus. But the Star's resident halfwit doesn't know the difference between a bacteria and a virus, which is the difference between houses and houseflies. So if you can't get the basics of biology even remotely correct on the first pass, you're entirely untrustworthy and deserve to be the subject of ridicule for making retarded people look smart by comparison with reporters.

And then this one, doubling down on teh Stoopid.

A local news crew following one health worker in the stricken city heard doctors informing residents that the new strain of the disease “can kill in three hours”.
So, just to be clear, we're basing medical credibility on the recollection and medical grasp of the brighter lights of a local news crew, and hearsay given to people with a middle-school education, in a country where the median age is 19, where bare literacy hovers at 60%, and just getting to the 11th grade is considered to be a college degree.
(As Casey Stengel used to say, you could look it up.)

So no, plague - not even pneumonic plague - doesn't kill anyone "in three hours".
Nor even in 24 hours.
Even in a country where the concept of hours is probably lost on a population where 99% of them can't afford a wristwatch.

Even the bastion of scholarly scientific accuracy, Wikipedia, notes the following about pneumonic plague:
Symptoms include fever, headache, shortness of breath, chest pain, and cough. They typically start about three to seven days after exposure.
So, three hours...or did we mean to say 72-168 hours? One of these things is not like the other.

Oh, and that "resilient" plague strain?
Dr Avison said...old antibiotics developed decades ago can still cure the disease.
He said the problem is “access to those” antibiotics in countries with poor health infrastructure.
In other words, "Please ignore the ascientific frothing moonbat hysteria we clickbaited you here with in the previous paragraphs. We regret any inference that our raging journalistic stupidity might be confused with actual facts." - Sincerely, the Usual Gang Of Forty-IQ Clot-headed Mouthbreathing Idiots at The Star.

Oh, and a country where residents have an average income of under $1000 might have a wee bit of trouble shelling out $50 for a course of doxycycline? File that under "No shit, Sherlock!"

Something else that RoomTemp IQ Reporter at the Star forgot to mention is that in Madagascar (just like in Ebolaville, West Africa in 2014) the local custom of the geniuses there is to play with the dead bodies of infected victims. No, really. In Madagascar, they dance with them. Cheek to cheek. So as you ponder that, consider that the rhymes of "Ring around the rosie" was originally descriptive and commemorative of the Black Death as it toured throughout Europe in the 1300s, and not a children's playground rhyme.

Maybe you could update the Madagascar version to some Oingo Boingo:

For those of you inclined to panic or just over-prepare, a box of N100 respirator masks, a bottle of aquarium doxycycline, and a modicum of diligent personal research, will cost you under $100, and solve your plague problems, even if we start shipping infected Madagascar slum residents to both Disneyworld and the NYFC Subway by the 767-load tomorrow. It's that much of a non-problem in the First World.

And somebody should tell Drudge that the boobs on the Page 3 girls (in inches) are a higher number than the IQ of the reporters at The Star. As is generally true for any newspaper, anywhere, at any point in history.

Michael Crichton - Why Speculate?



A talk by Michael Crichton
There are two times in a man’s life when he should not speculate: when he can’t afford it and when he can.
—Mark Twain
My topic for today is the prevalence of speculation in media. What does it mean? Why has it become so ubiquitous? Should we do something about it? If so, what? And why? Should we care at all? Isn’t speculation valuable? Isn’t it natural? And so on.
I will join this speculative trend and speculate about why there is so much speculation. In keeping with the trend, I will try to express my views without any factual support, simply providing you with a series of bald assertions.
This is not my natural style, and it’s going to be a challenge for me, but I will do my best. Some of you may see that I have written out my talk, which is already a contradiction of principle. To keep within the spirit of our time, it should really be off the top of my head.
Before we begin, I’d like to clarify a definition. By the media I mean movies, television, Internet, books, newspapers and magazines. Again, in keeping with the general trend of speculation, let’s not make too many fine distinctions.
First we might begin by asking, to what degree has the media turned to pure speculation? Someone could do a study of this and present facts, but nobody has. I certainly won’t. There’s no reason to bother. The requirement that you demonstrate a factual basis for your claim vanished long ago. It went out with the universal praise for Susan Faludi’s book Backlash, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award for General Nonfiction in 1991, and which presented hundreds of pages of quasi-statistical assertions based on a premise that was never demonstrated and that was almost certainly false.
But that’s old news. I merely refer to it now to set standards.
Today, of course everybody knows that “Hardball,” “Rivera Live” and similar shows are nothing but a steady stream of guesses about the future. The Sunday morning talk shows are pure speculation. They have to be. Everybody knows there’s no news on Sunday.
But television is entertainment. Let’s look at the so-called serious media. For example, here is The New York Times for March 6, the day Dick Farson told me I was giving this talk. The column one story for that day concerns Bush’s tariffs on imported steel. Now we read: Mr. Bush’s action “is likely to send the price of steel up sharply, perhaps as much as ten percent…” American consumers “will ultimately bear” higher prices. America’s allies “would almost certainly challenge” the decision. Their legal case “could take years to litigate in Geneva, is likely to hinge” on thus and such.
Also note the vague and hidden speculation. The Allies’ challenge would be “setting the stage for a major trade fight with many of the same countries Mr. Bush is trying to hold together in the fractious coalition against terrorism.” In other words, the story speculates that tariffs may rebound against the fight against terrorism.
By now, under the Faludi Standard I have firmly established that media are hopelessly riddled with speculation, and we can go on to consider its ramifications.
You may read this tariff story and think, what’s the big deal? The story’s not bad. Isn’t it reasonable to talk about effects of current events in this way? I answer, absolutely not. Such speculation is a complete waste of time. It’s useless. It’s bullshit on the front page of the Times.
The reason why it is useless, of course, is that nobody knows what the future holds.
Do we all agree that nobody knows what the future holds? Or do I have to prove it to you? I ask this because there are some well-studied media effects which suggest that simply appearing in media provides credibility. There was a well-known series of excellent studies by Stanford researchers that have shown, for example, that children take media literally. If you show them a bag of popcorn on a television set and ask them what will happen if you turn the TV upside down, the children say the popcorn will fall out of the bag. This result would be amusing if it were confined to children. But the studies show that no one is exempt. All human beings are subject to this media effect, including those of us who think we are self-aware and hip and knowledgeable.
{Pay attention now... -A.}
Media carries with it a credibility that is totally undeserved. You have all experienced this, in what I call the Murray Gell-Mann Amnesia effect. (I refer to it by this name because I once discussed it with Murray Gell-Mann, and by dropping a famous name I imply greater importance to myself, and to the effect, than it would otherwise have.)
Briefly stated, the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect is as follows. You open the newspaper to an article on some subject you know well. In Murray’s case, physics. In mine, show business. You read the article and see the journalist has absolutely no understanding of either the facts or the issues. Often, the article is so wrong it actually presents the story backward—reversing cause and effect. I call these the “wet streets cause rain” stories. Paper’s full of them.
In any case, you read with exasperation or amusement the multiple errors in a story, and then turn the page to national or international affairs, and read as if the rest of the newspaper was somehow more accurate about Palestine than the baloney you just read. You turn the page, and forget what you know.
That is the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect. I’d point out it does not operate in other arenas of life. In ordinary life, if somebody consistently exaggerates or lies to you, you soon discount everything they say. In court, there is the legal doctrine of falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus, which means untruthful in one part, untruthful in all. But when it comes to the media, we believe against evidence that it is probably worth our time to read other parts of the paper. When, in fact, it almost certainly isn’t. The only possible explanation for our behavior is amnesia.
{As The Gunny used to note, "You will see this material again." - A.}
So one problem with speculation is that it piggybacks on the Gell-Mann effect of unwarranted credibility, making the speculation look more useful than it is.
Another issue concerns the sheer volume of speculation. Sheer volume comes to imply a value which is specious. I call this the There-Must-Be-A-Pony effect, from the old joke in which a kid comes down Christmas morning, finds the room filled with horseshit, and claps his hands with delight. His astonished parents ask: why are you so happy? He says, with this much horseshit, there must be a pony.
Because we are confronted by speculation at every turn, in print, on video, on the net, in conversation, we may eventually conclude that it must have value. But it doesn’t. Because no matter how many people are speculating, no matter how familiar their faces, how good their makeup and how well they are lit, no matter how many weeks they appear before us in person or in columns, it remains true that none of them knows what the future holds.
Some people secretly believe that the future can be known. They imagine two groups of people that can know the future, and therefore should be listened to. The first is pundits. Since they expound on the future all the time, they must know what they are talking about. Do they? “Brill’s Content” used to track the pundit’s guesses, and while one or another had an occasional winning streak, over the long haul they did no better than chance. This is what you would expect. Because nobody knows the future.
I want to mention in passing that punditry has undergone a subtle change over the years. In the old days, commentators such as Eric Sevareid spent most of their time putting events in a context, giving a point of view about what had already happened. Telling what they thought was important or irrelevant in the events that had already taken place. This is of course a legitimate function of expertise in every area of human knowledge.
But over the years the punditic thrust has shifted away from discussing what has happened, to discussing what may happen. And here the pundits have no benefit of expertise at all. Worse, they may, like the Sunday politicians, attempt to advance one or another agenda by predicting its imminent arrival or demise. This is politicking, not predicting.
The second group that some people imagine may know the future are specialists of various kinds. They don’t, either. As a limiting case, I remind you there is a new kind of specialist occupation—I refuse to call it a discipline, or a field of study—called futurism. The notion here is that there is a way to study trends and know what the future holds. That would indeed be valuable, if it were possible. But it isn’t possible. Futurists don’t know any more about the future than you or I. Read their magazines from a couple of years ago and you’ll see an endless parade of error.
Expertise is no shield against failure to see ahead. That’s why it was Thomas Watson, head of IBM, who predicted the world only needed 4 or 5 computers. That is about as wrong a prediction as it is possible to make, by a man who had every reason to be informed about what he was talking about. Not only did he fail to anticipate a trend, or a technology, he failed to understand the myriad uses to which a general purpose machine might be put. Similarly, Paul Erlich, a brilliant academic who has devoted his entire life to ecological issues, has been wrong in nearly all his major predictions.
He was wrong about diminishing resources, he was wrong about the population explosion, and he was wrong that we would lose 50% of all species by the year 2000. He devoted his life to intensely felt issues, yet he has been spectacularly wrong.
All right, you may say, you’ll accept that the future can’t be known, in the way I am talking. But what about more immediate matters, such as the effects of pending legislation? Surely it is important to talk about what will happen if certain legislation passes. Well, no, it isn’t. Nobody knows what is going to happen when the legislation passes. I give you two examples, one from the left and one from the right.
The first is the Clinton welfare reform, harshly criticized by his own left wing for caving in to the Republican agenda. The left’s predictions were for vast human suffering, shivering cold, child abuse, terrible outcomes. What happened? None of these things. Child abuse declined. In fact, as government reforms go, its been a success; but Mother Jones still predicts dire effects just ahead.
This failure to predict the effects of a program was mirrored by the hysterical cries from the Republican right over raising the minimum wage. Chaos and dark days would surely follow as businesses closed their doors and the country was plunged into needless recession. But what was the actual effect? Basically, nothing. Who discusses it now? Nobody. What will happen if there is an attempt to raise the minimum wage again? The same dire predictions all over again. Have we learned anything? No.
But my point is, for pending legislation as with everything else, nobody knows the future.
The same thing is true concerning the effect of elections and appointments. What will be the effect of electing a certain president, or a supreme court justice? Nobody knows. Some of you are old enough to remember Art Buchwald’s famous column from the days of the Johnson Administration. Buchwald wrote a “Thank God we don’t have Barry Goldwater” essay, recalling how everyone feared Goldwater would get us into a major war. So we elected Johnson, who promptly committed 200,000 troops to Vietnam. That’s what happens when you choose the dove-ish candidate. You get a war. Or, you elect the intellectually brilliant Jimmy Carter, and watch as he ends up personally deciding who gets to use the White House tennis courts. Or you elect Richard Nixon because he can pull the plug on Vietnam, and he continues to fight for years. And then opens China.
Similarly, the history of the Supreme Court appointments is a litany of error in predicting how justices will vote once on the court. They don’t all surprise us, but a lot of them do.
So, in terms of imminent events, can we predict anything at all? No. You need only look at what was said days before the Berlin Wall came down, to see nobody can predict even a few hours ahead. People said all sorts of silly things about the Communist empire just hours before its collapse. I can’t quote them, because that would mean I had looked them up and had facts at hand, and I have promised you not to do that. But take my word for it, you can find silly statements 24 hours in advance.
Now, this is not new information. It was Mark Twain who said, “I’ve seen a heap of trouble in my life, and most of it never came to pass.”
And much of what politicians say is not so much a prediction as an attempt to make it come true. It’s argument disguised as analysis. But it doesn’t really persuade anybody. Because most people can see through it.
If speculation is worthless, why is there so much of it? Is it because people want it? I don’t think so. I myself speculate that media has turned to speculation for media’s own reasons. So now let’s consider the advantages of speculation from a media standpoint.
  1. It’s incredibly cheap. Talk is cheap. And speculation shows are the cheapest thing you can put on television, They’re almost as cheap as running a test pattern. Speculation requires no research, no big staff. Minimal set. Just get the talking host, book the talking guests—of which there is no shortage—and you’re done! Instant show. No reporters in different cities around the world, no film crews on location. No deadlines, no footage to edit, no editors…nothing! Just talk. Cheap.
  2. You can’t lose. Even though the speculation is correct only by chance, which means you are wrong at least 50% of the time, nobody remembers and therefore nobody cares. You are never accountable. The audience does not remember yesterday, let alone last week, or last month. Media exists in the eternal now, this minute, this crisis, this talking head, this column, this speculation.
One of the clearest proofs of this is the Currents of Death controversy. It originated with the New Yorker, which has been a gushing fountainhead of erroneous scientific speculation for fifty years. But my point is this: many of the people who ten years ago were frantic to measure dangerous electromagnetic radiation in their houses now spend thousands of dollars buying magnets to attach to their wrists and ankles, because of the putative healthful effects of magnetic fields. These people don’t remember these are the same magnetic fields they formerly wanted to avoid. And since they don’t remember, as a speculator on media, you can’t lose.
Let me expand on this idea that you can’t lose. It’s not confined to the media. Most areas of intellectual life have discovered the virtues of speculation, and have embraced them wildly. In academia, speculation is usually dignified as theory. It’s fascinating that even though the intellectual stance of the pomo deconstructionist era is against theory, particularly overarching theory, in reality what every academic wants to express is theory.
This is in part aping science, but it’s also an escape hatch. Your close textual reading of Jane Austen could well be found wrong, and could be shown to be wrong by a more knowledgeable antagonist. But your theory of radical feminization and authoritarian revolt in the work of Jane Austen is untouchable. Your view of the origins of the First World War could be debated by other authorities more meticulous than you. But your New Historicist essay, which might include your own fantasy about what it would be like if you were a soldier during the first war… well, that’s just unarguable.
A wonderful area for speculative academic work is the unknowable. These days religious subjects are in disfavor, but there are still plenty of good topics. The nature of consciousness, the workings of the brain, the origin of aggression, the origin of language, the origin of life on earth, SETI and life on other worlds… this is all great stuff. Wonderful stuff. You can argue it interminably. But it can’t be contradicted, because nobody knows the answer to any of these topics—and probably, nobody ever will.
But that’s not the only strategy one can employ. Because the media-educated public ignores and forgets past claims, these days even authors who present hard data are undamaged when the data is proven wrong. One of the most consistently wrong thinkers of recent years, Carol Gilligan of Harvard, once MS Magazine’s Scientist of the Year, has had to retract (or modify) much of what she has ever written. Yet her reputation as a profound thinker and important investigator continues undiminished. You don’t have to be right, any more. Nobody remembers.
Then there is the speculative work of anthropologists like Helen Fisher, who claim to tell us about the origins of love or of infidelity or cooperation by reference to other societies, animal behavior, and the fossil record. How can she be wrong? It’s untestable, unprovable, just so stories.
And lest anyone imagine things are different in the hard sciences, consider string theory, for nearly twenty years now the dominant physical theory. More than one generation of physicists has labored over string theory. But—if I understand it correctly, and I may not—string theory cannot be tested or proven or disproven. Although some physicists are distressed by the argument that an untestable theory is nevertheless scientific, who is going to object, really? Face it, an untestable theory is ideal! Your career is secure!
In short, the understanding that so long as you speculate, you can’t lose is widespread. And it is perfect for the information age, which promises a cornucopia of knowledge, but delivers a cornucopia of snake oil.
Now, nowhere is it written that the media need be accurate, or useful. They haven’t been for most or recorded history. So, now they’re speculating… so what? What is wrong with it?
  1. Tendency to excess. The fact that it’s only talk makes drama and spectacle unlikely—unless the talk becomes heated and excessive. So it becomes excessive. Not every show features the Crossfire-style food fight, but it is a tendency on all shows.
  2. “Crisisization” of everything possible. Most speculation is not compelling because most events are not compelling—Gosh, I wonder what will happen to the German Mark? Are they going to get their labor problems under control? This promotes the well-known media need for a crisis. Crisis in the German mark! Uh-oh! Look out! Crises unite the country, draw viewers in large numbers, and give something to speculate about. Without a crisis, the talk soon degenerates into debate about whether the refs should have used instant replay on that last football game. So there is a tendency to hype urgency and importance and be-there-now when such reactions are really not appropriate. Witness the interminable scroll at the bottom of the screen about the Queen Mother’s funeral. Whatever the Queen mother’s story may be, it is not a crisis. I even watched a scroll of my own divorce roll by for a couple of days on CNN. It’s sort of flattering, even though they got it wrong. But my divorce is surely not vital breaking news.
  3. Superficiality as a norm. Gotta go fast. Hit the high points. Speculation adds to the superficiality. That’s it, don’t you think?
  4. Endless presentation of uncertainty and conflict may interfere with resolution of issues. There is some evidence that the television food fights not only don’t represent the views of most people—who are not so polarized—but they may tend to make resolution of actual disputes more difficult in the real world. At the very least, these food fights obscure the recognition that disputes are resolved every day. Compromise is much easier from relatively central positions than it is from extreme and hostile, conflicting positions: Greenpeace Spikers vs the Logging Industry.
  5. The interminable chains of speculation paves the way to litigation about breast implants, hysteria over Y2K and global warming, articles in The New Yorker about currents of death, and a variety of other results that are not, by any thoughtful view, good things to happen. There comes to be a perception—convenient to the media—that nothing is, in the end, knowable for sure. When in fact, that’s not true.
Let me point to a demonstrable bad effect of the assumption that nothing is really knowable. Whole word reading was introduced by the education schools of the country without, to my knowledge, any testing of the efficacy of the new method. It was simply put in place. Generations of teachers were indoctrinated in its methods. As a result, the US has one of the highest illiteracy rates in the industrialized world. The assumption that nothing can be known with certainty does have terrible consequences.
As GK Chesterton said (in a somewhat different context), “If you believe in nothing you’ll believe in anything.” That’s what we see today. People believe in anything.
But just in terms of the general emotional tenor of life, I often think people are nervous, jittery in this media climate of what if, what if, maybe, perhaps, could be—when there is simply no reason to feel nervous. Like a bearded nut in robes on the sidewalk proclaiming the end of the world is near, the media is just doing what makes it feel good, not reporting hard facts. We need to start seeing the media as a bearded nut on the sidewalk, shouting out false fears. It’s not sensible to listen to it.
We need to start remembering that everybody who said that Y2K wasn’t a real problem was either shouted down, or kept off the air. The same thing is true now of issues like species extinction and global warming. You never hear anyone say it’s not a crisis. I won’t go into it, because it might lead to the use of facts, but I’ll just mention two reports I speculate you haven’t heard about. The first is the report in Science magazine January 18 2001 (Oops! a fact) that contrary to prior studies, the Antarctic ice pack is increasing, not decreasing, and that this increase means we are finally seeing an end to the shrinking of the pack that has been going on for thousands of years, ever since the Holocene era. I don’t know which is more surprising, the statement that it’s increasing, or the statement that its shrinkage has preceded global warming by thousands of years.
The second study is a National Academy of Sciences report on the economic effects to the US economy of the last El Nino warming event of 1997. That warming produced a net benefit of 15 billion dollars to the economy. That’s taking into account 1.5 billion loss in California from rain, which was offset by decreased fuel bills for a milder winter, and a longer growing season. Net result 15 billion in increased productivity.
The other thing I will mention to you is that during the last 100 years, while the average temperature on the globe has increased just .3 C, the magnetic field of the earth declined by 10%. This is a much larger effect than global warming and potentially far more serious to life on this planet. Our magnetic field is what keeps the atmosphere in place. It is what deflects lethal radiation from space. A reduction of the earth’s magnetic field by ten percent is extremely worrisome.
But who is worried? Nobody. Who is raising a call to action? Nobody. Why not? Because there is nothing to be done. How this may relate to global warming I leave for you to speculate on your own time.
Personally, I think we need to start turning away from media, and the data shows that we are, at least from television news. I find that whenever I lack exposure to media I am much happier, and my life feels fresher.
In closing, I’d remind you that while there are some things we cannot know for sure, there are many things that can be resolved, and indeed are resolved. Not by speculation, however. By careful investigation, by rigorous statistical analysis. Since we’re awash in this contemporary ocean of speculation, we forget that things can be known with certainty, and that we need not live in a fearful world of interminable unsupported opinion. But the gulf that separates hard fact from speculation is by now so unfamiliar that most people can’t comprehend it. I can perhaps make it clear by this story:
On a plane to Europe, I am seated next to a guy who is very unhappy. Turns out he is a doctor who has been engaged in a two-year double blind study of drug efficacy for the FDA, and it may be tossed out the window. Now a double-blind study means there are four separate research teams, each having no contact with any other team—preferably, they’re at different universities, in different parts of the country. The first team defines the study and makes up the medications, the real meds and the controls. The second team administers the medications to the patients. The third team comes in at the end and independently assesses the effect of the medications on each patient. The fourth team takes the data and does a statistical analysis. The cost of this kind of study, as you might imagine, is millions of dollars. And the teams must never meet.
My guy is unhappy because months after the study is over, he in the waiting room of Frankfurt airport and he strikes up a conversation with another man in the lounge, and they discover—to their horror—that they are both involved in the study. My guy was on the team that administered the meds. The other guy is on the team doing the statistics. There isn’t any reason why one should influence the other at this late date, but nevertheless the protocol requires that team members never meet. So now my guy is waiting to hear if the FDA will throw out the entire study, because of this chance meeting in Frankfurt airport.
Those are the lengths you have to go to if you want to be certain that your information is correct. But when I tell people this story, they just stare at me incomprehendingly. They find it absurd. They don’t think it’s necessary to do all that. They think it’s overkill. They live in the world of MSNBC and The New York Times. And they’ve forgotten what real, reliable information is, and the lengths you have to go to get it. It’s so much harder than just speculating.
And on that point, I have to agree with them.
Thank you very much.
– International Leadership Forum, La Jolla (26 April 2002)
©Michael Crichton 2002
Posted for reference.
All rights reserved to the author.