Thursday, January 24, 2013

I Made a New Word

alwarmist \ˈalˈwärm-ist\  - A Global Warming alarmist.

I particularly like that the first syllable is "Al".

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Hobbit, and the return of ancient evil

I went to see the Hobbit with my son Christmas Night, as he wanted to see it.  I generally have something against commerce on Christmas Day, but it was a "Cats in the Cradle" In Reverse moment.  I went.

A particular scene struck me.  More than one, really, but this one more than the rest.  It was not in the book, but it was suggested by refrerences in Tolkien's lore of The White Council.   It was, to say the least, a little too familiar.

So much so that I wanted to see the film again.  I went again with my wife the night before last [she hadn't seen it yet].  

Here's the scene:

Galadriel: The dragon, has long been on your mind.

Gandalf: It is true my lady. Smaug owes allegiance to no one. But if he should side with the enemy: A dragon can be used to terrible effect!

Saruman: What enemy? Gandalf, the enemy is defeated. Sauron is vanquished! He can never regain his full strength.

Elrond: Gandalf, for four hundred years we have lived in peace. A hard-one watchful peace.

Gandalf: Are we? Are we at peace?! Trolls have come down from the mountains. They're raiding villages, destroying farms. Orcs have attacked us ON the road!

Elrond: Hardly a prelude to war.

Saruman: Always you must meddle. Looking for trouble where non exist.

Galadriel: Let him speak.

Gandalf: There is something at work beyond the evil of Smaug. Something far more powerful. We can remain blind, but it will not be ignoring us, that I can promise. A sickness lies over the Green Wood. The woodsmen that live there now call it Mirkwood. And…eh…they say…

Saruman: Well? Don't stop now. Tell us what the woodsmen say.

Gandalf: They speak of a necromancer living in Dol Guldûr. A sorcerer who can summon the dead!

Saruman: That's absurd. No such power exists in this world. This..necromancer, is nothing more than a mortal man. A conjurer dabbling in black magic.

Gandalf: And so I though too. But Radagast has seen…

Saruman: Radagast?! Do not speak to me of Radagast, the Brown. He's a foolish fellow.

Gandalf: He's odd, I'll grant you. He lives a solitary life…

Saruman: It's not that. It is excessive consumption of mushrooms! They've addled his brain. And yellowed his teeth. I warn you. It is unfitting of one of the Istari woadering the woods [continues unintelligible in the background]…

Galadriel: (to Gandalf telepathically) You carry something. It came to you from Radagast. He found it in Dol Guldûr.

Gandalf: (to Galadriel telepathically) Yes.

Galadriel: (to Gandalf telepathically) Show me.

Saruman: (still going on and on) …I would think I was talking to myself. With intention of (not understandable). By all means…

(Gandalf picks up the sword given to him by Radagast wrapped on garment and places it above the table)

Elrond: What is that?!

(Elrond uncovers the mystery wrapped in cloth)

Galadriel: A relic … of Mordor!

Elrond: The Morgo blade.

Galadriel: Made for the Witch-King of Angmar. And buried with him! When Angmar fell, the men of the North took his body and all that he possessed and sealed it within the high fels of Rudá. Deep within the rock they buried him. In a tomb so dark, it would never come to light!

Elrond: This is not possible. A powerful spell has upon those tombs. They cannot be opened!

Saruman: What proof do we have this weapon came from Angmar's grave?

Gandalf: I have none.

Saruman: Because there is none! Let us examine what we know. A single orc pack is dead across the Bruinen. A dagger from a bygone age has been found. And a human sorcerer who calls himself the Necromancer has taken up presidence in a ruined fortress. It is not very much, after all. The question of this dwarfish company, however, troubles me deeply. I am not convinced, Gandalf. I don't feel like I could condole such a quest. If they had come to me I might have spared them of this disappointment. I will not pretend to understand your reason and hopes….

Absolutely every bit of evidence Gandalf, Elrond, and Galadriel say here is dismissed one way or another by Saruman.  Always dismissing danger, ridicule, ad hominem, oversimplification.  Sounds a bit ... familiar, no? 

Look at all these things he's hiding.  Look at the influences in this man's past.  Look at the things he says and does and how one supports the other.   Look at what is happening.

And the response is, Progress! [Sauron has been vanquished!]

Hardly a prelude to war! [Isolated, unrelated incidents!]

Radagast! [Fox News!  Dismiss all of the above!]

No such power exists! [There is no evil!]

What proof do you have?! [Unfortunately, myriad relevant documents have been sealed.]

I will not pretend to understand your reason and hopes. [You are an irrational idiot.]

I do not know what Peter Jackson's (or whoever wrote this script's] worldview is ... but Andrew Klavan was right.  Conservative values sell, and Hollywood knows it either conciously or subconciously.

Sunday, January 06, 2013

10% Facts, 90% Snark

I've long thought that part of our problem as conservatives is that we're generally serious people when it comes to making important decisions in life -- and that when we argue we actually make arguments. This means the person making the argument has to actually take the time to construct one, and the person listening has to listen to and digest an often complex and more often than that boring rhetorical structure that takes more brain power than emotional reaction.

In other words, I find that most liberal arguments are about 10% fact and 90% snark. And snark is cool. Snark is fun. Snark puts down the other guy, which, by Einstein's theory of relativity, puts "up" the snarker. Not only is it easier to be a liberal, it's more fun - and you can always blame the consequences on someone else.

So this link was given specifically to me and my friend Whitehawk via facebook for us to respond to....
Phil, Gavin-we need this why?
The United States is making a gigantic investment in the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, billed by its advocates as the next -- by their count the fifth -- generatio...n of air-to-air and air-to-ground combat aircraft. Claimed to be near invisible to radar and able to dominate any future battlefield, the F-…
The "challenge" was thrown down because he perceives I am against any cuts in defense spending, ever (I point out to him that this is an erroneous assumption). He gets to point to cost overruns and development problems during the R&D phase of a new weapon and snark, "We need this, why?"

And I have to talk about pros and cons. Which is much less fun to read or to repeat. But here it is:

If you look carefully back on everything I've said in the past about cutting defense spending, you'll not find one place where I said I was unilaterally against it, especially where waste and fraud are concerned.

What I am against is cutting defense spending just because it's defense spending and it's n% of the budget or the GDP or that it's more than the GDP of some country or that it's designed [duh] to kill. What I have said is at least it is one of the enumerated powers of the Federal Government, and it isn't where I would look first. But show me waste and fraud, and I'll be right there with you voting for the axe.

Now ... do we need this plane?

From what I've read, it would be a plane that would be nice to have, except for the fact that it doesn't exist. This article makes it sound like it is never going to exist, and it may be right, I don't know.

A half-billion per plane indeed sounds shockingly ludicrous if that is in fact what they'll end up costing -- which the article indicates could well be the case (right now they're figuring the $161 million will likely triple, in part because it thinks we won't buy as many of them which will up the R&D cost per plane). I would hate to watch as one of them malfunctions and crashes, or gets shot down ... seeing a half billion literally go up in smoke.

On the other hand, I'd like to see it compared (inflation-adjusted) to the R&D phases of the F-16's and F-22's they are being built to replace as well as the handy B-2 "Stealth" -- I imagine they were fraught with cost overruns and problems as well and there were probably articles written about what a waste of money they were and that they'd never live up to expectations.

There is some irony in watching people who crow about all of the tangential technological advances that have come out of R&D that happened to be Government funded (both in military and space programs) as an argument to why Government spending is superior to private-sector spending suddenly get all wobbly-kneed when it comes to defense. Wasn't it Paul Krugman who in the past couple of years suggested with a straight face that preparing for a Mars Invasion that everybody knows isn't coming would produce a massive economic boom? What if these fighters could fight off Martians? Sounds like they'd be better able to do it than F-22's, at least, and what difference does it make anyway since Paul's premise included the knowledge that the Martians would never come and it was the spending that mattered?

That all being said, since I disagree vehemently with Mr. Krugman on stimulus spending ... can we get by with F-22's for now -- and by that I mean, could we buy 2,500 new f-22's to replace the old planes for a lot less? Yeah, I think that should be looked at. But I don't have all of the arguments pro and con available to me immediately to make an informed decision on it this morning.

Crossposted at Rotten Chestnuts

Saturday, January 05, 2013

It's Not Just "You Didn't Build That"

No, it turns out there is no "you", either.

I’m reading this book, “Vindicating the Founders” ... I think by some prof at Hillsdale ... nice place. (Imprimis. I look forward to it in the mail, I think twice a month. It's worth signing up. But you can just read it on the web as well.)

Anyway, as an Atmospheric Science/Computer Science major, I really didn’t dabble in polisci or philosophy ... not formally, anyway. And over time, I’ve come to realize ... probably largely due to Thomas Sowell’s writings, that there’s this fundamental difference in worldview ... the tragic vision and the “progressive” vision of man.

I thought it was just an observation ... a distillation of the assumptions that have to be being made for “progressives” to hew to their view and for classical liberals to hew to theirs.

I had no idea that they literally spelled this out.

John Dewey, according to this book, and they quote:
“Social arrangements, laws, institutions ... are means of creating individuals. Individuality in a social and moral sense is something to be wrought out.”
They literally believe human nature is a product of social institutions (and apparently this goes back at lest to Rousseau). They literally therefore see social institutions as The Creator. As God. This makes their actions make perfect sense, if you look at them in that light.

Our worldview sees the Creator as something or someone outside of ourselves. That we have a nature the same way as a dog has a nature ... something all dogs are born with. Dogs have no social institutions to “create” individual dogs. No... in our view, social institutions are there to constrain and channel human nature, a nature that is already there just like dog nature is already there. But humans, humans have self-awareness – and thus a conscience. Which is a part of human nature, and it is the part that is susceptible to social constructs ... but it does not negate the animal nature we were born with. If social constructs don’t recognize and accommodate to some extent that part of our nature, the are doomed to fail. We know that.

But to the progressive, they are literally creating new humans, new individuals ... themselves. No wonder they eventually justify genocide ... or maybe “ideocide”, and simply try to advance the natural, Godless evolution of man by killing off those who profess any opposing belief.

They are God.

If the individual is born of “social constructs”, then we are not born with natural rights ... our rights are merely “social constructs”. At that point, we are only entitled to life, liberty, and property (pursuit of happiness) .... as long as government says so.

Ours are supposedly derived from our natural rights. The progressives say we have no natural rights. Our rights are what they say they are, depending on their mood this year.

Crossposted at Rotten Chestnuts.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

At Last, Gun Free Zones!

This is pretty darned close to a video I've been thinking about making for years. (hat tip to Morgan via Facebook)