Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Editorials: Where I rant to the wall about politics. And sometimes the wall rants back.

2020 in Photos

Jerry Stratton, January 1, 2020

September 30, 2020: The Post Office is not designed for universal mail-in ballots
Wrongly delivered: Your Texas Benefits

Universal mail-in ballots introduce serious problems with security, reliability, and confidentiality that the United States Postal Service is not designed to handle.

Having really old mail be delivered after decades is not as uncommon as it ought to be, but it’s still ironic enough that a postcard from a hundred years ago just got delivered in Michigan, a battleground state—just as judges have started rewriting election law to allow late entries.

Apparently they’re not going far enough. We should continue accepting ballots for one hundred years after election day.

With my favorite annual book sales closing down due to lockdowns, I’ve been buying more books online at AbeBooks and eBay. And so I’ve been paying more attention to the USPS Informed Delivery notices. The behavior of their tracking system doesn’t inspire confidence. Several times I’ve seen a book leave a particular post office, not show up anywhere for several days, and then leave that same post office again several days later. The original leave time disappears, to be replaced with the new leave time. That is, a package that is marked as having left a particular post office at time x will later change to have left at time y a few to several days later with no indication of what happened to previous time x. The earlier time is erased from the system.

That’s not how tracking systems are supposed to work.

Then there are the packages that come reasonably quickly to my local post office… and then go to a city north of me and then to a city south of me before circling back to my local post office again.

There’s a dark joke going around about how you wouldn’t trust the Post Office with your winning lottery ticket, so how can you trust it with your vote? Sadly, some people do trust the Post Office with their lottery tickets, and lose their winnings.

Mail-in ballots multiply the potential for harm through both fraud and error. A few days ago I received the two letters pictured in this post. They weren’t addressed to me; the address was a neighbor’s address. The “voter registration” mail is probably junk mail, but the other mail appears to be real.

And it turns out, that latter mail was not only mis-delivered, it was mis-addressed. The recipient isn’t at the address the government has for them.

July 15, 2020: Eager to Believe: Stupid Americans and Smart Corporations
How many leftists to screw in a light bulb?

It seemed as though the left’s war against the middle class ramped up heavily during the COVID-19 shutdown. Whether it was denigrating middle-class workers, who are less able to work from home than the information class, or denigrating farmers and gardeners, who recognize that nature cannot be shut down and if you want to eat in the fall you must plant in the spring, they seemed to go all out attacking anyone who pointed out the insane nature of shutting down the very people we need most to help us through a crisis.

But I don’t think any of their social media jibes have been as blatant as this meme about A&W’s third-pound hamburger failure that I saw on Facebook during the shutdown:

“Describe Americans using a single picture”

Me: [photo of a hamburger]

[Text:] In the 1980s, A&W tried to compete with the McDonald’s Quarter Pounder by selling a 1/3 pound burger at lower cost. The product failed, because most customers thought ¼ pound was bigger.1

Another weird thing about Americans is that there’s a special class that would rather believe that the majority of their fellow citizens are uneducated, than that a person—writing an unverified side note in a memoir—might misremember a focus group session from one or two decades past that they didn’t see and no longer have the report on.

Do a google search on third vs. quarter pound burgers, and you’ll see everything from “That’s not how fractions work” to “stop those people from reproducing.” The very article the quote probably came from is a New York Times article from 2014 titled “Why do Americans stink at math?

One of the most vivid arithmetic failings displayed by Americans occurred in the early 1980s, when the A&W restaurant chain released a new hamburger to rival the McDonald’s Quarter Pounder. With a third-pound of beef, the A&W burger had more meat than the Quarter Pounder; in taste tests, customers preferred A&W’s burger. And it was less expensive. A lavish A&W television and radio marketing campaign cited these benefits. Yet instead of leaping at the great value, customers snubbed it.

Only when the company held customer focus groups did it become clear why. The Third Pounder presented the American public with a test in fractions. And we failed. Misunderstanding the value of one-third, customers believed they were being overcharged. Why, they asked the researchers, should they pay the same amount for a third of a pound of meat as they did for a quarter-pound of meat at McDonald’s. The “4” in “¼,” larger than the “3” in “⅓,” led them astray.

June 13, 2020: My Car My Abortion

From the “Do they realize” department… does she realize that this is a very powerful anti-abortion message? Until I read the tiny text in the hash tag at the bottom of the sign, I thought it was a pro-life protester. I’m still not absolutely sure it isn’t; I honestly don’t know how Trump has been on abortion and am too lazy to look it up.

My Car My Choice

If anything encapsulates the pro-abortion movement more than “My Feelings > Your Life”, I haven’t heard it yet.

“My body, my choice” does seem to be where the left’s principles break down—it’s about the only choice they’re adamant about, and it seems to be the most obvious contradiction to what they claim their principles are.

June 3, 2020: How many fingers, America?

One day too late for the 2020 Mitt Romney Day awards, I saw this image in my Facebook feed. It is probably the most Orwellian thing I’ve seen so far this year, and perhaps ever.

The two images were captioned with dates across the top, “April 16th 2020 vs. May 26th 2020”. On the one side, the peaceful protests in Michigan several weeks ago—protests that went without violence, but that the left persisted in calling violent and riots.

On the other, the violent riots going on right now, that the left refuses to call riots, and calls peaceful protest.

They’ve even gone so far as to deny that St. John’s Church in DC was burning as the flames rose on their television screens. Even denying violence as the flames rose behind them while they were speaking.

April vs. May protests

“How many fingers, America?”

We’re asked, as Winston was in 1984, to believe not our lying eyes, but the lies they tell us. We’re asked to believe that peaceful protest is violence and that violence is peaceful protest. With the images of peaceful protest vs. violence literally right in front of us.

I’ve never particularly liked the slogan, “1984 was not an instruction manual”, but it certainly looks like the press and the left is using it as an instruction manual. The caption to that collage ought to have been,

“How many fingers am I holding up, America?”

Yesterday we were at war with COVID-19/Eastasia. We were told that anyone who massed together would die—or, worse, that they were grandma killers. Today we aren’t even asked to forget it, or to change our mind; we’re just expected to believe that we were always at war with Eurasia and there never was any danger from Eastasia. The one commonality—whether it’s a shutdown or a riot, they don’t really care when other people’s lives are destroyed.

May 16, 2020: The Jurassic Park shutdown

This was a very quick response to a Jurassic Park meme, “You know what else was opened before it was ready?” Presumably, comparing people’s livelihoods to carnivorous dinosaurs. Other people’s livelihoods, as the person posting it was a government employee and still had a job.

You know what else was shut down?

Ghostbusters and William Atherton: You know what else was shut down by a bureaucrat who had no idea how many lives it was saving?

Mind you, neither of these memes withstand serious scrutiny. But then, you’re not really supposed to think about memes, just regurgitate them. If you find it useful, great; if you don’t, well, you can never go wrong with a Ghostbusters reference.

April 16, 2020: Mongols and turnips: coronavirus roundup
Mongols and Turnips

Yes, those whiners who want to be able to feed their children while you whine on about needing a total lockdown against a virus that can supposedly be defeated simply by walking six feet away from everybody else.

The Mongol and the turnip farmer

There must be a version of l’esprit d’espalier that describes someone making a social media post you wish they’d made before you wrote your blog post.

The meme went like this: two people on the walls overlooking a Mongol invasion, except that later we discover that the Mongols aren’t there all the time, and some farmer is complaining that he needs to harvest his crops. The other guy says, no, the Mongols will kill you if you try to harvest your crops.

The point of the meme is that it is silly to try to harvest your crops while there might be Mongols outside.

It’s very apt, because in real life, the Mongols got through the walls without any help from turnip farmers. Walls aren’t meant to keep the Mongols out on their own. They’re meant to divert and delay. They’re meant to divert the Mongols to areas more easily defended, and to buy time until we can bring a defense against the Mongols.1

But the crops… the crops are meant to feed us, and without the crops we die.

I will give this meme credit: it neatly encapsulates the tradeoff that I was talking about in Deadly Perfection between the unreasoning fear we’re asked to accept at the cost of the civilization we’ve built. The Mongols are an immediate threat. It might be possible to fight the Mongols hand-to-hand, or to attempt to build up a resistance against them slowly. But the crops are the future. Without the crops, we die when winter comes.

The Mongols are barbarism, the crops are civilization.

The barbarian at the walls isn’t the virus. The virus is the excuse for the barbarians to act. The barbarians are the politicians and the media who want to destroy our civilization. Everything that is made is made for a reason. Every week we don’t build, every week that we let what we’ve made rot for lack of use and distribution, we increase the chances of a deadly winter.

And when people start talking seriously about the tradeoffs involved, and how we’re killing real people in the future to prevent deaths predicted by models that have failed spectacularly, we’re met with fearmongering about Mongols at the walls.

  1. <- 2019 in Photos