Log in

No account? Create an account
Thoughts Online Magazine
Collected Articles on Culture & Politics
17th-Sep-2019 10:59 am - Education
Talked to a bright young black man today, and I mentioned that the Revolutionary War had lots of great people to learn about. He responded, "Yeah, they were all slaveholders, I'm not going to look."

I'm dismayed. How did his teachers miss Agrippa Hull? Casimir Pulaski? Crispus Attucks?
Do you think that it's the teacher's fault? Or the students' fault?
If half the calls coming into your phone are scams, do you answer the phone when you don't see someone from your contacts?

The answer should be "no". The chances that it's legitimate are too small. There are even products "apps" on the market to help winnow calls, trying to tell you if they are in that half, like Hiya (IOS and Android). Why don't I recommend them? Because call scammers can call you from any number they want to, so blocking calls from a number doesn't work out all that well. They just shift to the next number. I have gotten four calls in a day, all from different numbers, all with the same recorded voice pretending to be the Social Security Administration cancelling my social security number. As if I would believe that the federal government has telephones! My whole life, they have operated only by mail. I don't think they deal with plebs like me in any other way.

Ways that work: 1. Put your phone on "Do Not Disturb" and set it so only "favorites" or "contacts" get through. Everyone else counts as a missed call, and you can review them at your leisure, and if they want to sell you something, the game is to see how long you can keep them on the line. 2. Use a Google Assistant to screen calls. 3. Only use calls from "mysudo" (app, IOS, not free). The calls won't be high quality, and are easily interrupted, but you can have trash numbers to hand out that you won't answer. 4. (New) Use Robokiller recommended by a friend of mine who used to get a lot of calls. They try to fingerprint callers so they recognize them no matter what number they use. New approach. Not free, but if you have to answer, probably a good choice.

My recommendation: First one on the list. If you miss an important call from a friend, add his number to your contacts.

Ways that do not work: The Do Not Call List. Any exception to that list includes political calls and includes people who say you've given your consent on page 32 of their 50 page form contract you had to sign to use their service. And call scammers don't care, because they don't expect to be found if you report them: they're stealing someone else's number anyway.

The latest: "Trump is worse than Hitler, Stalin, Mao, he's killed more people." I'm pretty sure that I would notice if one hundred million people were killed in the last three years by the administration.

Here's the coverage:

You'd think a news organization would screen for people who were as nuts as Alex Jones. You would be wrong.
15th-Aug-2019 03:57 pm - It's amazing how simple salvation is.
And yet there are so many who will do anything rather than avail themselves of it.

David Wilkerson, a straight speaker, describes the result. Want it simpler?

Here you go: The simple version. It's important to get the right story. It's not a complicated one, or a contradictory one.
14th-Aug-2019 11:30 am - Still Wrong
It is a matter of some amazement to me that the "scholars" spend their time translating a text which is no more than a decade old, while criticizing the translators of the KJV for relying on "a few recent manuscripts". That the manuscript they cite are wildly in conflict with each other, and only preserved because no one used them doesn't matter: for a scholar, a defective manuscript is good for many articles, while the correct one might command assent, which doesn't lead to tenure.

Let's see what that looks like for Dallas Theological Seminary's "NET Bible":

So I'm making a list of things that mean something other than what they're supposed to mean, and in a jolt I suddenly gain yet another new insight into something that's been weighing on me for over thirty years: How come it is that liberals remain in steadfast disagreement with any competent adult who has common sense.

It's got to do with the introduction.

I'll explain by way of a hypothetical so I'm not including any of the items on the list: Let us say we have become generally aware of a vexing problem in our country, that it's hot out and people can't get ice cream cones whenever they want them. So the government sets up a Department of Frozen Confections...which of course is stupid. And our temptation is to get distracted by that, because people with common sense understand that if you really want a fudgesicle, you just need to pony up a couple of bucks and you can have one. And so we think the great divide between liberals and people with common sense is, liberals can't form a vision of simply earning the $3 through honest labor, and then spending it. They want/need an agency to deliver them things.

That used to be the divide.

Things are changing though.

Think on this not in terms of conservatives and liberals, but in terms of conservatives, liberals and moderates. It's important because most people self-identify as moderate. The department is created and the stalwart conservatives will write some blog posts about how terrible this is, taxpayer money is being wasted, kids are being taught how to go begging to Uncle Sam instead of how to do some hard work...these are all legitimate complaints. But most people don't identify with them. Most people will say "Eh, that's a stupid idea but who cares." And they'll agree with the liberals, ultimately. After all you can't stop it, the department's already created.

And the liberals will harass people in restaurants and spit in their food, if a single syllable is ever uttered against this new Department of Frozen Confections.

But then a funny thing happens.

The DFC doesn't hand out any ice cream cones to anybody. It goes off on this wild tear, subsidizing "alternative milk product" development because cows are bad for the environment. Or they find some other excuse to harass people and get involved in all sorts of goofy projects that have nothing to do with fudsicles.

What then develops is this bizarre, crazy-quilt divide between promise vs. delivery, between labels vs. packaging, between expectation vs. fulfillment. This is where the support of liberal initiatives shrinks. See, the die-hard liberal is always going to go by the label. It's the ice cream department! Because that's what the announced intention was...you stupid idiot. But gradually the moderates who simply have some common sense, and didn't identify as conservatives...come to swing over to the conservative side, after years and years of paying cable and telephone bills with "Department of Frozen Confection" surcharges at the bottom.

Bottom-lining it, liberals have a real problem with learning from experience. They can't grasp that a symbol of something might be different from the actual thing. "Education," to a liberal, is exactly that and it can't mean anything different..."ANTIFA" must be anti-fascist, they're entirely unswayed by the accumulated evidence that the group is, in fact, fascist. And it's not just because they sympathize with them ideologically, although there is that. The big problem is that the name says anti-fascist. That it might actually mean something different from that, doesn't register.

"This undocumented migrant's 'child' might actually not be his child" -- they can't even comprehend the possibility.

Some of this is by definition, since a lot of liberals are young. You can't have much experience when you're young, that's what being young is. That's why liberals want to lower the voting age. They must.

They haven't come up with a cogent answer to the question "What's the difference between socialism and 'democratic socialism'?" Because there isn't one. D.S. is a label invented by left-wing power-brokers to bamboozle left-wing acolytes.

They think "journalists" actually do journalism, and "climate scientists" actually do climate science. This is why the divide exists, is so wide & deep, and is getting worse. You can explain to them until you're blue in the face, your own personal story of how you came to suspect "climate change" might have more to do with politics than science. And you won't get through, not because they're disagreeing with you, but because they cannot understand how something might possibly be different from what it represents itself to be.

They didn't read Little Red Riding Hood, or if they did, it was lost on them that the big bad wolf pretended to be L.L.R.H.'s bedridden grandmother. They may have watched Fargo, but if they did, they missed the significance of Mike Yamagita fibbing to Marge Gunderson about being married to Linda Cooksey, how before that surprise Margie had never earnestly dealt before with prevarication. Didn't pick up that the whole story is about her world getting a little bit bigger, how she had to change her worldview to solve the crime.

This is the problem liberals have. It's not all caused by inexperience. There are some old liberals out there. You'll notice they all have that weird, mean look about them. It is the look that comes from having given up on untangling the mysteries of deceptive labeling, chalking up all detected contradictions in life to the sinister machinations of "George W. Bush and his oil buddies." It is the look of realizing you've been deceived, again and again and again, and then failing to anticipate or untangle the deception, and eventually resolving to join the deceivers.

They're confused, and angry because they can't see a way through their confusion. They rely too much on the verity of labels, and not enough on their own experiences.

This is connected, I'm convinced, to their obsession with leaving it up to government to handle everything and forcing all their fellow citizens to do likewise. "Don't need a gun, call nine one one"; it's connected to all that.
5th-Aug-2019 05:49 pm - Price's Law
Fifty percent of the work is done by the square root of the number of people on the project.
We love to spend time pointing at the faults of other people. Sadly, this is a waste of time. People are as they are, with all their virtues and faults. We have to accept them, as we accept our own virtues and faults. If we can, we give them time to think and change, and a Bible if they need one.

But let's focus on our particular situation: Psalm 62:7 says "In God is my salvation and my glory: the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God." What we should hear from this passage is that each believer can find peace and comfort, even when we don't think so -- we are prone to illusions. People are so good at finding things that we can even find them when they are not there. So let's focus on the truth. God gives us the strength we need. No matter our pains, no matter our sins. Jesus died for us, and he accepts us when we accept his gift, and he understands us better than we understand ourselves. We will never be alone, for he is with us. We have nowhere we need to go, because he is with us, always. He is there for us. He loves us. Even when we hate ourselves, he loves us. Even when we're so full of ourselves we're a balloon, he loves us, and he died for us. He is our refuge. His arms are around us. He gives us what we need, and will remake us into a glorious creature of the new Jerusalem. That's what that means. So say it: "In God is my salvation and my glory: the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God." This is our cry when we need help, and our shout of triumph when we do right. Say it one more time, slowly: "In God is my salvation and my glory: the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God." That's the truth of who we are in Jesus Christ.
Inspired by this column from West Virginia newspaperman Don Surber, a quick review of all the investigations that Trump has gone through. And not been charged as a result of.

They tried to bring him down with Russian Collusion. And failed.

They tried to bring him down with the Emoluments Clause. And failed.

They tried to bring him down with the Creepy Porn Lawyer. And failed.

They tried to bring him down with [Campaign Finance Laws]. And failed.

Not to mention the consistently negative coverage from all the major television and newspaper media, which also failed.

Not recognizing the election was a mistake.
13th-Jul-2019 11:52 am - Theatrical Makeup
Theatrical makeup is both a skill and an artistic outlet. The skill lies in creating the lines and shades you need to apply, and assembling the makeup kit you're using in the first place.

Lines and shades you can practice with a pencil and a sketchpad. You'll need a sketchpad anyway, because you have to create the makeup for every character you're working on: who are they, how old are they, what kind of hardships have they had before the production? You want distinct faces, and that requires creativity.

Assembling the makeup kit is what you do at the local drugstore, not from the "makeup kits" sold on Amazon, because you can't spend huge amounts of money on every character and make this work.

A good starting place: will take you through the basics of putting a kit together.

You still have to add spirit gum and some samples of crepe hair for mustaches and eyebrows as well as a spirit gum remover. Finally, you'll need to have some fake skin and fake blood for wounds and scars. Mehron liquid latex is probably a necessity unless you're really into creating combinations of loose powder and vaseline stiff enough to last under the lights (hint, it's hard).

Finally, you need some heads with stands (not real ones, ones you can show the actors their makeup with). Most actors will look harder at your face with a stand than at your sketches, so take the trouble to do it right. Faces with stands cost between $9-$20. I've generally gotten along fine with just the front of the face to show what needed to be done.
The periodic government infatuation with warrantless access to cell phone data is an example. This is mere laziness on the government's part, and utter ignorance of the math traps they create with their stupid ideas.


Yet another article in favor of this bad idea. And, of course, well-intentioned people trying to implement it without realizing that the "secret" to their backdoor is subject to acquisition without mathematical analysis.

Finally, people who think rationally about the problem realize that designing encryption backdoor protocols is giving up privacy with no determinate endpoint, as shown here.
26th-Jun-2019 03:00 pm - Message for Mr Kapusta

Mr. Kapusta, с днем рождения, желаю Success и веселья, будь Happy и Joyous!

26th-Jun-2019 02:55 pm - Investigative Reporting Done Right
Watch carefully. What you see is Google abusing its position as a search engine. What should you do? My choice is to use DuckDuckGo.com -- most browsers will accept it in place of Google, and you'll get better results.

Happens every now and again, right?

13th-Jun-2019 10:49 am - Oh.
That moment when you're amazed at the connections people make.

In a way, this is impressive. Four bad stories in 54 seconds, while theoretically occupied with an interview. Could you lie with a straight face so effectively? If not, perhaps you aren't newscaster material. Notice I didn't say "journalist" -- that, as it turns out, is a word like "unicorn" -- a word with nothing real being described. This on what the network calls its "flagship" news program, "Meet the Press."

Now, some of the transcript is just funny: quoting Cohen as describing Trump as a "racist" for example. The sad part here is that Trump has been in the public eye for longer than his campaign and presidency, so the fact that NBC is utterly ignorant about the person they are covering is without excuse. But it's funny anyway, and should be a quick benchmark for how seriously to take the MainStreamMedia groups. My brother points out that he's quoting Cohen, and I just pointed out "He's quoting someone who's been convicted of perjury, lying under oath, before: if he lies about stuff, he lies about stuff. We don't take him seriously."

Read the article referred to in the first paragraph carefully. It's a masterful takedown of a low-down con man, Chuck Todd. Just so you know what NBC thinks you believe about the program "Meet the Press", check out their website: scroll down for laudatory text. The first paragraph is a good example of the self-praising style:

"Meet the Press" is America's most-watched and No. 1 Sunday morning public affairs broadcast. Every Sunday morning for more than 70 years, millions of Americans have tuned in to get answers from U.S. and world leaders, and to hear analysis, discussion and review of the week's political events from noted journalists and experts. Acclaimed by conservatives and liberals, newsmakers and television critics, "Meet the Press" consistently makes Monday morning headlines and has become the most-quoted television program in the world.

NBC may be doing its solid best to get us to disbelieve in the "expertise" of the establishment. It's succeeding. I certainly don't believe they know what they're talking about.
5th-Feb-2019 06:21 pm - "Learn to code"
Journalists, well, ex-journalists are upset that they are being told to "learn to code" upon being laid off. It helps that it's usually young people with no memory of the previous decade who make these charges: they don't have any idea where the phrase came from. Here's an example of the ignorant resentment.

Why display your ignorance so openly? Is this an occupational qualification? The phrase "learn to code" was the advice dispensed BY NEWSPAPERS to coal miners and others laid off during the Obama presidency. A little investigation with google would have revealed this to the clueless journalists: but google is, for many of them, a tool they don't know how to use.

That it's advice being given to those who dispensed it is merely part of the fun of those who send the notes: they resented it when they were told to learn to code. No one likes being told it. And it's advice that some of them should heed. The rest can go work for the merchant marine, I suppose.

"Journalism" -- a word whose aspirational meaning has no instances.
4th-Feb-2019 03:03 pm - WHEN YOU WALK INTO THE ROOM:
Just a reminder for those who notice that our common life is becoming a bit fraught, and wonders how to keep out of the scrum:

1. Avoid crowds. Avoid crowds. Avoid crowds.
-Possibly the most important advice.
-Wear neutral clothes.
-Don’t ‘daydream’ in public.
-Especially in public, keep your mental focus outward, not inward.
-When entering any environment, do a quick scan around you.
-Assess the baseline of the environment you’re in.
-Utilize your peripheral vision.
-Reflections in windows will reveal what’s going on behind you while walking.

2.Whenever you enter a building, identify the exits. Plan your exit.
-During a panic most people will exit the way they came in, creating a bottleneck.
-Most restaurants have an exit in the kitchen.

3.In a public establishment, sit where you can see the main entrance.
-Try not to sit with your back towards the majority.

4.When parking against a wall or barrier, back in for a quicker exit.
-Look around when walking away or towards your vehicle.
-In a parking lot, identify vehicles with people inside.

5.Observe others. ‘Oddness’ will stand out.
-Attempt to identify those who may be carrying concealed.
-If your gut is warning you, pay attention.
-Notice those who are themselves looking around, being observant.
-Observe others who are dressed outside that environment’s normality.
-Listen and identify conversation topics of those nearby.
-Facial expressions are often worth a thousand words.
-Look for aggressive body language.
-Look at the hands. Anything there?
1st-Feb-2019 03:56 pm - Evolution: my own argument against.
The planet has been around for billions of years, and we are expecting to use nothing but atoms, energy, and chance.

Sounds possible?

Let's try to put some numbers to that chance, and see how likely we are to get there.

We don't. We don't get there within the age of the universe, much less the age of the planet. If you're going to rely on chance, you have to accept what we know about the arithmetic of chance. Here, several shortcuts were made to make it work even at that pathetic level. In reality, those shortcuts would have knocked out the possibility of evolution entirely within the first time frame.

Keep in mind that Charles Darwin spoke as if chance was operating on undifferentiated live stuff, and producing that would be sufficient: but it's not sufficient for eyes and other sensory organs.

Some assembly required. End of story on undirected evolution.
Here it is! Your guide to interpreting pictures of people in the news!

Be sure to pay attention to details. Your local Social Justice Warrior will want to see if you understand, and threaten you with unemployment through community pressure.

23rd-Jan-2019 09:02 am - Nathan Philips: Twerp
I recognize that those who take his publicity seriously might disagree. But then, if the past couple of years have taught us anything, it's to distrust publicity and anything that follows a narrative.

As pointed out here, it is reasonable to think of him as a bully, but only if you disregard the ineffectiveness of his blows.

He's just a guy who will step into anywhere he can get attention, and who will echo the dominant narrative without question. Which makes him not a person, but a bunch of standardized opinions.

A twerp.

Ace of Spades has more. And, for those who doubt that Philips had spotted the kids as Catholics, and decided to attack because of it, a troubled incident.
Most of the objections that I hear about Trump are imaginary - he's racist, he's homophobic, he's Islamophobic, and other projections from the empty imaginations of progressives. None of them are true about most of the people they are applied to, but they get used because the person using them believes that if you might disagree with them about something, you have to disagree with them about everything, and since they are not "racist, homophobic, Islamophobic", and you are everything they are not, all your denials are lies. The bad premise in this way of thinking has been enforced on them from the time before they would be expected to learn how to make arguments, so they accept that it is uncritically true.

The objections are then stated as a form of "health and safety" regulation, picked specifically because no argument is permitted on the premise that more health and safety is better. See prior paragraph for the problem. Precisely this premise is used by the EPA to ban useful chemicals: something might be wrong with them that they are too difficult to catch, so it must be banned.

The name for the bad mode of thinking here is "the precautionary principle", which see, with all sorts of horrific examples, after a simple internet search. On the page, only the US Chamber of Commerce bothers to make a rudimentary objection.

The relevance to Trump? Look at artists like Kanye West, who supports Trump without seeking the permission of either the arts or media companies who wish to use his work. Those who object are those who bring up the problems already dismissed justly as "imaginary" in the first paragraph of this article. They "feel unsafe" because they believe their feelings are beyond criticism. Their feelings, however, are not the basis for anyone else's action. As it should be.
In the weblog "The Subject Supposed to Know" (general anarchist leanings, and some interesting posts), comes a discussion of the psychology of leftism, using as its source TED KACZYNSKI (yes, I tried to spell "Unabomber" wrong twice and gave up before spellcheck helped, and then went for parens).


The main thing that’s notable about all of this is that it can only exist by ignoring a major theme of the manifesto: fuck liberals.

After only five paragraphs, he’s already talking about “The Psychology of Modern Leftism.” It’s really worth quoting at length.

Though perhaps not here. You can look it up. Then you can wonder how little the descriptions have changed from the mid-90s when his manifesto was published -- and maybe from earlier in the 20 years of his terrorist activity.
Somewhat of a surprise to encounter while web surfing: a site called "Dissenting Leftism" (seen here), with many interesting points to ponder, including a reminiscence:

R.I.P. Augusto Pinochet. Pinochet deposed a law-defying Marxist President at the express and desperate invitation of the Chilean parliament. Allende had just burnt the electoral rolls so it wasn't hard to see what was coming. Pinochet pioneered the free-market reforms which Reagan and Thatcher later unleashed to world-changing effect. That he used far-Leftist methods to suppress far-Leftist violence is reasonable if not ideal. The Leftist view that they should have a monopoly of violence and that others should follow the law is a total absurdity which shows only that their hate overcomes their reason.

I've waited for a long time for someone to acknowledge that Chile under Allende would have been as big a human rights issue as Chile under Pinochet. Finally found someone who said it. I'm pleased.
11th-Dec-2018 09:23 am - Long past time to say
I am annoyed every time I read in the paper some utter idiot saying "lie-detector test". You'd think the fact that lie detector tests are as reliable as sacrifices to Cthulu would have gotten around by now (it was discussed publicly during the Watergate hearings in the early 1970's -- and no one has since established that they are of any use at all other than as a bluff by a policeman trying to elicit a confession.

Youtube has many videos on how to beat polygraphs. My friend Willie has only been asked to take one, and he showed up with a machete and a live chicken and a few candles -- when asked why, he said, "You invoke your god, I invoke mine. I'll just use this desk, here." He put the chicken on the desk, and over protests, held it in place as he got out the machete, and was chased from the room by an outraged administrator. His response to his boss? "You should pick calm, thoughtful people next time."

Further notes here.
This page was loaded Oct 21st 2019, 6:26 pm GMT.