The ObamaCare jobs lost archive

Bob Kerrey is politically dead, and de mortuis nihil nisi bonum, so I'm going to replace his archive with a link to ObamaCare job losses.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Embarrassed by UNL Political Science, part 293

You may have read how UNL Political Science professor John Gruhl was videotaped dressing up as Dick Cheney and pretendy-shooting his students on Halloween, then launched into the sort of partisan tirade that students say is a common feature of his lectures.

Watch it on You Tube.

That Department which employed no registered Republicans last time I checked, is no stranger to scandal. It has had repeated problems with sexual harrassment.

There are a couple of good people in Poli. Sci., notably John Hibbing and Kevin Smith, but also some complete lunatics.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The straw that broke this camel's back: 'manspreading'

Apparenlty, 'manspreading' is a thing, and feminists are offended by it. Well, of course they are, i hear you say. But they even take pictures and set up blogs to bitch about it. Yes, I said 'bitch'.

Several of these premenstrual harpies had enough time on their hands to create tumblr blogs of the horror and stock them with pictures.

And to add to the ridiculousness, Massachuestts, a state entirely populated by eunuchs and steatopygian Brunnhildes, wants to outlaw it. Well, if you could elect Elizabeth Warren to the Senate, there are probably no limits to your stupidity.

OK, I've officially had enough. As of today, I am the patriarchal cisprivileged heteronormative white male oppressor you perpetually aggrieved sociopaths have for far too long accused me of being. If I'm going to be smeared with it, I'm going to do it. Whine at me, complain at me, and you're loudly going to be countered in the most snarky and demeaning way I can waste 5 seconds on. Which, as my wife will occasionally admit, but only occasionally, because she hates to encourage me, is Caro's acid strength. (I never snark at my wife, because she's not a raving harpy.)

Oh, you might say, what has changed? Well, actually, hard though it may be to believe, 90% of the time, I swallow hard and say nothing. No longer. Tell me what I can say, tell me what I can wear, or otherwise act like an officious santimonious twit, and I'm going to use my white male heterosexual cisgendered privilege to get in your face. Deal with it. Or as we in the oppressor business say, don't start a fight you can't finish.

And by the way, I'll spread my legs as wide as I want to, and then increase it a bit to piss you off. If you're uncomfortable, lose some weight in that overpadded arse. Kim Kardassian's (heh)freak husband may like them gynormous, but normal men don't. Word: 'Big Bottom' wasn't a love song, it was comedy.

And it you had to look up Caro's acid, you're a ditz.

Friday, November 14, 2014

GMO denialists get EU Chief Scientific Advisor sacked

The European Union, using the positive publicity of the Philae comet landing as cover, has terminated the post of EU Chief Science Advisor. CSA Anne Glover had been the victim of an intense lobby campaign by a coalition of environmental organizations, notably Greenpeace, follwing her insistence tha tthe safety of GMOs is a matter of scientific consensus and that opposition is 'a form of madness'. Incoming commission president, the alcoholic and corrupt Jean-Claude Juncker, is former prime minister of Luxembourg, which bans GMOs; pressure also came from the French.

Despite attempts from the left at fudging the issue ("it's an Anglo Saxon vs. Continental Europe thing"), there is wide consensus Professor Glover's GMO position led to her ouster.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Quisling outbreak

UNL now has a student group called 'Men @ Nebraska'. Don't be fooled by it for a minute. They won't be protesting the withdrawal of protection for the accused in sexual assault cases, or asking why there are, six years after the passage of the Nebraska Civil Rights Inititative, still gender selective women's conferences at UNL, or why men pay more than women for drivers' insurance, but the same for health insurance. No, they'll be sitting around wondering why male athletes cheat, how they can prevent rape (easy one that: don't rape), grooving on Michael Kimmel (but in a manly way) and discussing why, generally, men are such pigs. Big clue: they meet at the women's center, and seem to be affiliated with that body and the LGBTQ alliance. Strong stench of male feminism here, methinks.
You have to admire the local feminists, though. This is a nice preemptive strike against there being any organized opposition to the 'preponderance of evidence' kangaroo courts currently sitting on campus.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

A poem about a faculty meeting

Shut up shut up shut up shut up shut up
if you'd all just shut up we could leave
month after month for 23 years
in this stuffy low-ceilinged-room
I've sat and listened to you drone
and sometimes I confess droned on myself
and if we ever had anything to say by now we've said it
and if anyone of us had gotten any wiser in that quarter lifetime
then he'd know at least one thing which is to
shut up shut up shut up shut up shut up.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Twitter Is Hard, or, how do Millennials manage to wipe their own bums?

As some of you know, yesterday Nebraska elected (by a massive majority) Pete Ricketts to be the next governor of Nebraska. Pete's a former COO of TD Ameritrade, a brokerage house his father founded, and he's a nice guy. He's the only billionaire I know (very slightly) so of course he's a nice guy. He says hello to me.

Anyway, the gubernatorial campaign here mercifully steered clear of social issues, as did most of the national campaigns. In fact, I don't even remember the issue of gay rights coming up. I'm sure Pete pays lipservice to the standard GOP 'marriage should be between one man and one woman' boilerplate, because this is, after all, Nebraska; but I also know his sister is gay and that he's basically a libertarian conservative.

In any case, the election had its usual contingent of social media leftist twits, carpeting the standard election hashtags with cretinous slogans and having absolutely no influence on anyone at all. But, despite their complete and ignominious defeat in Nebraska, the struggle continues, man! So one of them just posted this.

Problem is, and I know this will be a shock, so sit down, but there is more than one public figure with the name 'Peter Ricketts'. And our little Golem chum happened to find Sir Peter Forbes Ricketts, who happens to be Her Majesty's Ambassador to France (The HMA in his Twitter handle is a big clue). Sir Peter might be quite surprised he's against gay equality, since of course gay equality is most certainly the position of HMG. I've no idea what he thought about this tweet, except it probably reinforced a prejudice that all Americans are lunatics.

So, if all this social media stuff is a Millennial thang, how come Millennials don't seem to be able to do it very well? I suspect it's just that they really can't do anything very well. In that case, I'm going to increase the storage capcity of my bunker to two years, because heaven help us all when this lot have to run the world without mommie's help.

It gets better. Sir Peter Ricketts clears up the confusion!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Mission creep and the League of Women Voters

I'm a pretty serious birder. I keep a life-list (we all do; some of us just admit it). I spend hours in swamps in cold rain trying to photograph them. My wife complains they dominate every vacation we take.(It is true I've got a mental list of the number of endemics on each Caribbean island, just in case we're get into a discussion where to go).

So it would be logical that I join Audubon, right? When I moved to Nebraska, I considered doing that. I looked up Wachiska Audubon, on the proto-internet. What I found is that it was an active chapter, which scheduled a lot of night meetings. But not to hunt for owls. Wachiska Audubon's primary focus seemed to be human population control.

Now you might argue, and they do, that humans affect birds (indisputable) and that reducing the number of humans increases the health of the bird population (very disputable). But when a birding organization takes a position on human population growth, it first of all excludes those of us who don't see human population growth as a major problem (IMHO, the best way to limit population is grow the economy). And second of all, there are lots of organizations dedicated to limiting human population growth already, and if those float your boat, you can join them instead of Audubon.

But that's not how it works. Being a mere birding club is not good enough for some people. I call it the totalizing impulse; the temptation to make every interest, every avocation, every activity part of one great scheme to Save the Planet. It's consumed most nature-oriented organizations. Audubon is now about Saving the Planet. The Nature Conservancy, which once had the very admirable mission of buying private land and setting it aside for wildlife, is now about Saving the Planet. The Sierra Club, which used to be about creating and maintaining a trail network, is now about Saving the Planet. I'm tempted to see in all of this a manifestation of O Sullivan's Law

Any organization or enterprise that is not expressly right wing will become left wing over time
The Left cannot leave anything alone. The most innocuous club, be it dedicated to needlepoint, or model airplanes, or birds, must be coopted as part of the great totalitarian endeavor.

So what set this off? Ben Sasse, Nebraska candidate for Senate, did not fill out a voter survey sent by the League of Women Voters. LWV is a classic example of O Sullivan's Law in action. Founded in 1920 as an organization to register women to vote, it still calls itself 'non-partisan', but has gotten deeply into public advocacy in areas that have nothing at all to do with exercising the franchise. It's most notorious intervention to date was a vicious attack ad run against Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown, which used a young girl with asthma as a vehicle to assail Brown's position on the EPA regulating CO2 emissions (which, of course, don't cause asthma.) Factcheck.org called the ads deceitful. LMV's incredibly contorted excuse was that increased CO2 increases plant growth, which increases pollen production, which aggravates asthma. On this basis they should oppose planting trees.

In the end, of course, this will hurt LWV. Instead of having a distinctive and noble mission, it becomes just another generic red/green advocacy group. And there is absolutely no reason why a conservative or libertarian should treat it otherwise.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

"Never mind"

On Monday, October 3, Mr Eugene Quillen, a Berkeley student, was charged in Alameda County Superior Court with rape by use of drugs to commit sexual assault. He faced jail time and permanent registration on the sex-offender's list, and had to post $100,000 bail. Yesterday, Mr. Quillin was exonerated. California has an unusual (and highly laudable) legal finding called a 'factual finding of innocence', which states not just that the charges were dropped, but that the facts indicate the accused is innocent and should never have been arrested at all.

This is the assistant DA's remarkable statement.

In court Friday, deputy district attorney Joni Leventis said, according to a court transcript, that she had closely reviewed the evidence from police, and had interviewed the woman who initially reported the rape. “I’ve had several discussions with her about those events and we’ve concluded that Mr. Quillin did not commit any sexual assault on September 27th, 2014. And I would add that Jane Doe is in agreement with that conclusion that we have come to,” Leventis told the judge. Leventis also told the judge that there had been no indication that Quillin had been responsible in any way for the woman’s intoxication.
So 'Jane Doe' (unlike Mr Quillen, she is granted the privilege of anonymity), decided that she wasn't raped after all. Hard to believe one could be mistaken about something like that.

Too bad Mr. Quillen's name is all over the internet now. Even though his arrest records will be expunged, any future potential employer will find him in a Google search and likely rule him out immediately. He will live with this false accusation the rest of his life. And his accuser, who one is led to believe accused someone of rape, watched him charged, and then decided he didn't, will face no consequences at all.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Dach deeds at the White House

This is hilarious.

Leslie Dach (I like to call him Papa Dach) is a long-time Democrat operative who also lobbied for Walmart. Presumably as a reward for his help in 2008, the Obama administration hired him as a 'counselor' at HHS and his son Jonathan Dach as a volunteer staffer in the White House. As an advance-man for the President's ill-fated trip to Colombia, Baby Dach had a prostitute stay in his room overnight. So did a bunch of Secret Service agents. They were fired. The White House denied all involvement by its staff. Baby Dach wasn't fired; instead, he's now under federal contract with the State Department, working for, wait for it...

The Office of Global Women's Issues! (rimshot)

Well, he's certainly had experience with global women!

BTW, Mama Dach, whose actual name is Mary Dickie (the laughs keep coming), is on the far left, Papa Dach next to her, and Baby Dach on the far right.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Closet deontology, or how climate change turns utilitarians into Kantians

(Despite my knowledge of the jargon, I don't philosophize for a living, so be patient, and if possible, kind. I'm not, by the way, claiming these are novel observations. In fact, I have no idea if they are, but I expect they're not.)

There are two great classes of ethical systems in contemporary philosophy; deontology and utilitarianism. (One could argue there's a third system, based on what seems to be a universal and innate human ethical sense, but I'd argue simply adopting that would be falling into the naturalistic fallacy.) Anyway, broadly speaking, deontology is 'duty ethics'; actions are right or wrong depending whether they accord with doing one's duty. Deontology is often religious; obeying the Ten Commandments is a duty for Christians and Jews. One can argue even fairly strict and seemingly arbitrary deontological rules, such as keeping kosher, once had a rational basis. Avoiding pork and segregating milk from meat probably made a lot of sense in the 1000 BCE middle east. But as several orthodox Jews have explained to me, one obeys God's laws because they are God's laws, not because they make sense.

The idea that one should obey revelation-based rules obviously was not popular during the Enlightenment, and 18th century thought took two tracks. One was Kant's, which sought to found deontological ethics on reason, and led to the categorical imperatives, the most famous of which is 'Act as though the maxim of your actions could be a general law', or as my mother (knowing nothing of Kant) put it "What would happen if everyone did that?" There are all sorts of criticisms of Kant, and attempt to build on or modify his ideas; my own experience is that raw Kantianism leads to a set of rules that are incredibly strict.

The other great thread is utilitarianism, which essentially says one should act to maximize the overall happiness, or good, or something, of the universe. There are of course all sorts of problems with this too. Is happinees necessarily a good thing? After all, a well-supplied drug addict is happy. How can you define good in utilitarianism in a non-circular way? How do we know if animals are happy, and is their happiness to be given equal weight to ours? If we knew killing a baby Hitler would spare 50 million people, should we kill baby Hitlers? But my own view is we can solve most of these problems sufficiently. The one insurmountable problem, in my view, is the impossibility of the utilitarian calculus. It is simply impossible to forecast the long term results of any action, even to some acceptable degree of probability.

It is probably fair to say most deontologists are on the right, and most utilitarians on the left. The reasons for that are pretty obvious, so I won't belabor them. Because of what I view as the fatal flaw of utilitarianism, I am sort of a half-hearted Kantian, partly by upbringing, partly because I see little practical alternative, being an atheist.

That's all background; here's the point of this post. Climate change is a case study in why the flaws of utilitarianism cause its adherents to become deontologists. Climate change is happening, because we are collectively pumping large amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere. I happen to think the short term consequences of this will be overall benign, but it's hard to say that about the long-term consequences; it will take an awful lot of carbon-dioxide-bestowed goodness to offset drowning the coastal regions of the earth. So what, ethically, should one do?

Oh, oh, I know, says the utilitarian. Institute policies to push us away from fossil fuel use. Stop the atmospheric CO2 increase! Problem is, we can't actually do that. We can reduce our own production of CO2, at some considerable cost to ourselves (a utilitarian evil). But there is no indication enough of the world will do the same. China will say it will, but it won't. India simply refuses. If we lower our consumption of fossil fuels, that will simply increase the supply, lower the price, and incentivize consumption elsewhere. It's depressing but entirely reasonable to predict humans will continue to consume fossil fuels, regardless of long term consequences, until the last readily available fossil fuels are used up. At that point, we are seriously screwed. Another problem with utilitarianism; sometimes you can't do anything to increase the good of the universe.

How does the utilitarian answer that? He/she says we should do it anyway, to show 'leadership'. Maybe if we do the right thing, others will follow. it will at least give us the moral standing to pressure them to follow. I think that's deluded. India has all sorts of good moral arguments why it should continue to grow, and self-interest will cause it to pick its own, over ours

So, in the end, utilitarians are forced to argue that we should limit CO2 production, because it would be good if everyone did it. Kant stirs in his grave and murmurs "By golly, that sounds familiar!" (Auf Deutsch, natürlich). Welcome to the categorical imperatives, boys and girls, and get out your reading glasses. The Critique of Practical Reason is heavy going, but you'll get through it; if everyone did, the world would be a better place.