- Sarah Palin: Break up ‘Boomtown’ by scattering gov’t agencies across nation—Tuesday, January 27th, 2015
“Politicians have spoke endlessly about breaking up big banks in recent years, but Palin is crusading to break up Washington. There were a lot of platitudes and red meat at the Freedom Summit, but Palin put forth a significant idea to reduce cronyism and making government get closer to the people.”
I should have known not to listen to the media blowhards telling me what Palin said. Getting rid of capitol cities is a great reform idea. Capitols concentrate partisans of big government in one place. I only have to look south to Austin to see the dangers of government concentrated in one place.
- Twelve cookies on a plate—Tuesday, January 27th, 2015
The political elite are always going to tell you that they can pay for their programs by taking someone else’s money. But if you’re in the middle class, you are where the money is; they’re lying if they tell you otherwise. When there are twelve cookies, a CEO, a middle-class worker, and the poor, it will be the middle class who gets shafted, no matter what they “elite” try to tell you on Facebook memes.
Of course, the real answer is to get rid of the crazy regulations that keep the baker from hiring more than ten employees. The left likes to think that the pie—or the plate of cookies, in this case—is always the same size, and that everyone taking a cookie is stealing from the poor. Free the baker to hire more employees to bake more cookies, or free the poor to start their own bakery without having to come up with the cash to hire a battery of tax lawyers and employment lawyers, and the supply of cookies will increase.
- 2015 in photos—Tuesday, January 27th, 2015
For photos and perhaps other quick notes sent from my mobile device or written on the fly during 2015.
- First Sergeant Reginald Daniels provides a counter-argument for the flag—Thursday, January 22nd, 2015
And, for an alternative view of the flag, here’s First Sergeant Reginald Daniels:
Even though it looks like this, it still means a lot to me… I love this country and what it stands for. I know everybody has their views, but… I take pride in the flag.
- God willing and the movie blurb don’t rise—Wednesday, January 21st, 2015
I was at the movie theater today to see American Sniper (my only review: great movie, see it). On the way out, I saw two movie posters right next to each other both using the clichéd “will rise” verbiage.
I have no intention of seeing either of them, although the pun in Seventh Son is moderately humorous.
- The Sum of All Fears et Charlie Hebdo—Thursday, January 15th, 2015
I watched the movie version of The Sum of All Fears last night. Normally I’m resigned to Hollywood’s changing books to be more in line with Hollywood thinking, but coming so soon on the heels of the Charlie Hebdo massacre I can’t help but think that this is part of why Hebdo happened.
Note that spoilers follow. The biggest spoiler? Hollywood is filled with cowards, and it is hurting us.
The short version: In Tom Clancy’s The Sum of All Fears, Islamic terrorists, angry that there is finally peace between Israel and Palestine, decide to detonate a stolen Israeli nuclear bomb in the United States, killing the President and Vice President as well as a whole bunch of other people, in order to trigger war between the United States and Russia.
In Hollywood’s The Sum of All Fears, it’s a secret cabal of right-wing internationalist neo-Nazis. The only Arabs involved are ones who don’t know what a nuclear missile looks like or why something dug up from the ground decades after it was buried might still be warm.
It isn’t just that they switched from non-PC Arabic villains to standard right-wing villains. Nor that their standard right-wing villains are oxymoronic right-wing socialists. The central idea of the book’s was that some Muslim extremists would be disappointed if the Israeli peace process succeeded, and that those terrorists would become even more violent.
It’s an important concern and one that applies to our search for peace today, in the real world.
To emphasize this, there was also secondary plotter who was an East German angered over the downfall of East German socialism and the unification of East Germany into democratic West Germany.
The movie’s central idea, to the extent that it had one, was about villains who, despite never being able to pull off any kind of terrorism despite Hollywood trying to show them how so often as the rehashed go-to villain since at least Boys from Brazil. We don’t have to worry about right-wing socialists, as by their nature right-wing socialists are too stupid to carry out the sort of finely-tuned conspiracy necessary for movie terrorism. Something Islamic terrorists have been doing for decades.
- Intermediary journalism and disdain for television viewers—Friday, January 9th, 2015
In Men Without Chests: How C.S. Lewis Predicted Charlie Hebdo Censorship, Sean Davis reports on why CNN refused to show the Charlie Hebdo images:
…how did CNN justify its ban on pictures? It said it was necessary because “[verbal descriptions] are key to understanding the nature of the attack on the magazine and the tension between free expression and respect for religion.”
A TV executive with with an allegedly functioning brain actually wrote that the key — not a key, but the key — to understanding a murderous attack over cartoon images is to…only use spoken words to describe the images, rather than, oh, I don’t know, show the actual images.
Journalists have been afraid that television would render their interpretations pointless since they first started moving from print and radio into television news. I’m currently slogging through Murrow: His Life and Times, and have just now entered the point where Murrow gets into television. Biography A.M. Spearer writes that Murrow worried about “editorial control”. In print,
“editorial judgement has been largely pictorial… most news is made up of what happens in mens [sic] minds as reflected in what comes out of their mouths. And how do you put that in pictures?”
How do you put what happens in men’s minds in pictures? Sometimes I wonder if this is why the left derides television as low-brow: because the default in television is to show rather than tell, to show the viewer directly what is happening rather than tell the viewer the journalist’s interpretation of what was in men’s minds.
In order to get the right interpretation out on television, journalists need to blatantly lie; they need to edit and splice together audio to turn a Zimmerman into a racist; they need to photocopy computer printouts a hundred times to fake an ancient document.
And this is also why the concept of journalist-as-expert is so important to the left: the journalist needs to be trusted as an expert on every topic they report on, so that blatant lies go unquestioned.
They don’t want to be reporters; they don’t want to report the news. They want to be intermediaries between the news and the public, interpreting the unseen. But that’s hard to do when the unseen is displayed on a 40-inch television to be interpreted directly.
- False positives, the Internet, and the grievance media—Monday, January 5th, 2015
There is a little known, except among statisticians1 rule of statistics: when the rate of false positives exceeds the incident rate in a population, that test is more likely to be wrong than to be right about some incident having occurred. It doesn’t matter how accurate the test is, if the false positive rate exceeds the incident rate.
For example, say you have a cancer test that is correct 98% of the time. This means2 that it has a false positive rate of 2%. Since it is wrong 2% of the time, 2% of the time it will say that someone has that cancer when, in fact, they are fine.
Now, suppose that this particular cancer occurs in one out of a hundred thousand people. Some concerned politician of a ten-million population city says, we have this test that is practically always correct, and we have a lot of people with this cancer. We should run this test on everybody.
What happens after the city runs its test on its ten million residents? The test will tell 98 people who have the cancer that they have it.3 And it will tell 200,000 people who don’t have the cancer that they have cancer.
There is a further rule of thumb that, the bigger your population the lower your incident rate for any non-trivial occurrence, just because of the way people work. That cancer test might have made sense when used against patients who come in to have something looked at: it might well be that among patients who come in for an examination for some problem, and who are, after they talk to a doctor, referred to this test, are one in ten likely to have this cancer. The population is a population of people who have something wrong, and that something wrong already resembles this cancer. In that population, of, say, a hundred patients referred to the test, the test will tell about nine or ten of them that they have the cancer when in fact they do have it, and will tell one or two of them that they have cancer when instead they are cancer free.
But expand the test’s population beyond people who in conjunction with their doctors know they are sick, and the test falls apart.
I think we are seeing the same thing in the explosion of false rape reports and false hate crimes in the news media. Most women don’t lie about rape, and most people don’t enjoy being hated. Limit the population that gets reported on to those who call the police and file a police report and whose cases are then prosecuted, and you’re probably going to have mostly true cases reported in the media.