Choose the Means, not the Ends

Here’s a typically insightful article on the Affordable Care Act (so-called) by Joseph Moore, the proprietor of Yard Sale of the Mind. I highly recommend reading the whole thing, but the opening paragraphs are, I think, the most interesting:

As is characteristic of virtually all political decisions, in health care policy, we cannot choose ends. We can only choose means. We are not choosing and cannot choose between Wonderful Affordable Health Care for All (WAHCA) (1) and Misery For All But The Rich. All we can do is chose to support or oppose a particular next step, in this case, continuation or repeal/fundamental modification of the Affordable Care Act.

The ACA is not, in itself, WAHCA. Do not go on until you, dear reader, grasp this. Voting for the ACA was not voting for WAHCA. Passing the ACA did not achieve WAHCA. WAHCA is an *end*. The ACA is a *means*. We all may *hope* that  the ACA results  in better, cheaper health care – but that depends entirely on those pesky details of *how it works in practice*. You know, those details we had to pass the bill to see.

I think this one distinction would, if understood, eliminate a goodly part of the confusion and hostility that currently grips so much of the American electorate: We don’t choose ends, we choose means. We may agree on the end without agreeing on the means.

This, by the way, is one of the reasons that the ends do not justify the means: the means are real and immediate, while the ends are only speculative. Over the last century some hundred million people were murdered in order to bring about a utopia that never came. The people were real; the imagined utopia of Karl Marx was never more than a dream (and not a particularly likely one at that). To sacrifice freedom for some imagined end of prosperity or safety or (worst of all) equality is a fool’s bargain: the thing you sacrifice is real; the end is only speculative. Indeed, often your only guarantee that the end you are bargaining for is the one intended is the word of someone you have no reason to trust.

Anyway, read the whole thing for a sober breakdown of how and why the ACA isn’t WAHCA, probably will never lead to WAHCA, and may not even have been intended to lead to WAHCA.

On The Memory Problem

I am not very computer literate. I can do a little coding and navigate my way around my Mac, but the more I learn about computer issues, the more tangled and incomprehensible it seems to me.

But this article, by the insightful Tom Simon of Bondwine Books is less about computer issues than it is about human nature, which is a subject I find much more interesting. For, though it is infinitely more complicated than computer design, there aren’t as many over-complicated words and acronyms associated with it.

The article is a retrospective on the early days of home computers, when 16 kilobytes of RAM was a heady dream believed only by a few. I recommend reading the whole thing, but the key point is here, presented without further comment, because it really says everything that needs to be said.

Ted Nelson wrote a column for ROM, called ‘Missionary Position’: a mildly daring thing to do in 1977. In one of those columns, he addressed himself to the ‘Memory Problem’. The early microcomputer hobbyists had to work on machines with painfully tiny amounts of RAM – usually 4 or 8 kilobytes; 16K was a dream of sybaritic luxury. Of course they imagined that all their programming difficulties would be solved if only they had enough memory. Nelson, who had been working on mainframe computers for decades, rudely disabused them of this notion. As he put it, the Memory Problem is fundamentally like the Time Problem, and the Money, Sex, and Quiche Problems: there is never any such thing as enough.

Memory, bandwidth, and processor speed, like time, money, bureaucracy, and labour (and possibly also sex and quiche), are subject to Parkinson’s Law. C. Northcote Parkinson originally observed, ‘Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.’ In fact, work expands so as to consume all the available X, for almost any value of X. This knowledge is a vaccine against a wide range of disappointments in life; but there are always unvaccinated souls (in technical language, ‘suckers’) who are ready to be taken in. 

 

A Primer on Gun Suppressors

Here’s a good article in The Federalist arguing why law abiding gun owners might want to own a suppressor and why (as usual) Liberals don’t know what they’re talking about. The best part is when the author quotes a Washington Post piece that claims a YouTube video of a man firing a suppressed .22LR demonstrates that “silencers make high powered rifles have no more sound than a pellet gun,” a sentence that made me think of the words of that great entertainer, Kermit the Frog: “You know, it’s amazing, you are 100% wrong. I mean, nothing you said was right!”

A sample:

To put things into perspective, the sound of firing an unsuppressed AR-15 — the most popular rifle platform in America — is approximately 165 decibels, or dB. A jet engine from 100 feet away is approximately 140dB. The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration bans employers from exposing employees to 115 decibels for more than 15 minutes per day without providing them sound mitigation or hearing protection measures. 

Physical pain and potentially permanent hearing damage begins to occur at 140dB. Eardrums will begin to rupture at approximately 150dB. If you fire an AR-15 without a suppressor and without any hearing protection, the overpressure generated by the gunshot will blow out your eardrums, as well as of those of anyone else in the near vicinity. If you were forced to defend your home from armed invaders and had to shoot one of them in a small hallway or bedroom, you and your family would suffer permanent hearing damage from the sound of the gunshot alone.

A decent suppressor for an AR-15 (.223/5.56mm) can reduce the sound of that rifle being fired by 30-35 dB. Thus, a quality suppressor can turn what would’ve been a 165 dB, eardrum-bursting gunshot into a mere 135 dB gunshot — roughly the same volume as a jackhammer you might see a construction worker using. Remember that pain and permanent hearing damage begins at 140 dB.

By all means, read the whole thing.

I notice when arguing with Liberal friends and family members that ideas culled from movies and other works of fiction inform a lot of their thinking. This isn’t limited to leftists either; fiction has an extremely powerful, and often unrecognized influence on the mind, which is part of its glory. But you have to be sure when discussing facts that you aren’t basing them on anything you’ve read in novels or seen on film, because facts are a secondary consideration of such things. We should make it a rule to never trust any fact offered in a work of fiction until we’ve verified it.

p22_silencer1

*Pew! Pew!*

 

 

 

A Christmas Concert

Merry Christmas to you all!

I beg leave to present for your enjoyment a brief Christmas concert made up of some of my favorite Christmas songs. Most of these are classics, but a few are more on the quirky side.

With that said, let us open with one of those classics: the great Bing Crosby sings Good King Wenceslas. What more needs to be said?

For our second number, we have a light-hearted romantic classic going out to all of you who are either spending Christmas with your loved ones or who may be secretly pining for someone who warms your heart. I present Let it Snow, delightfully performed by the super cute Isabella Garcia-Shapiro:

I think we need a bit of comedy to brush off all the warm-fuzzies that we got from that number. With that in mind, I offer a nice little song for all those who are spending tonight in public houses and other liquor-serving establishments: A Patrick Swayze Christmas, performed by Crow T. Robot, Joel Robinson, and Tom Servo.

That seems like a good segway into the darker side of Christmas: the people who simply can’t get into the mood. With that in mind, here is You’re A Mean One Mr. Grinch, performed by Thurl Ravenscroft:

Building on that jolly number is a chilling little song offering warning and opportunity for the Grinch-like sinner. I present Marley and Marley, performed by Statler and Waldorf:

Returning a bit more to the serious side of things, here’s a melancholy number by a man who needs no introduction. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you A Blue Christmas by Elvis Presley!

Staying on the melancholy note, but striking a more hopeful strain is Burl Ives singing Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s defiant song of hope in the midst of tragedy, I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day, reminding all of us who are suffering, lonely, and without hope that “God is not dead, nor doth He sleep.”

I think that’s enough doom and gloom: let’s move into the glory of Christmas with a memorable rendition of Silent Night from the 1999 version of A Christmas Carol. The visuals are a little distracting, but the point they convey remains powerful, as we see poor men all across Christendom lift their voices in joy on this night of nights:

Our penultimate number is a gorgeous rendition of the triumphant Hark the Herald Angels Sing, performed by a flash mob (I couldn’t find out where or when, but it hardly matters).

Finally, let’s close out with my personal favorite: O Come All Ye Faithful, performed during Christmas Eve services at Westminster Abbey in 2013. Let the sounds of hundreds of faithful voices singing in one of the most beautiful churches in Christendom and the wellspring of the British Crown fill your hearts with the joy and love that comes from God as we welcome Him this Christmas night:

A Merry Christmas everyone!

Where We Go From Here: The Reconquest of America.

If I have learned anything during this election cycle, it’s not to make any predictions involving Donald Trump. So I’m going to say that I don’t know what he plans to do, or what kind of President he’s going to make. Only thing I can say for sure is that we’re probably in for an interesting time.

Meanwhile, conservatives need to seize the moment. The Left has received a major upset; we need to follow up on that. We might not get another chance.

Politics is downstream of culture. The government responds to the people, and the people act on ideas. If the ideas are bad or false, then the result is bad politicians pushing bad policies. If they ideas are true and good, the result is good politicians pushing good policies. Culture might be defined as the general field of ideas that are popular among a given people.

Every culture is a mix of good and bad, true and false ideas. Just which ones are which is very difficult to determine from inside the culture, though in ours we can form a pretty good notion of the bad ones based on the state of our civilization: the ones that go under the names of Multiculturalism, Diversity, Sexual Liberation, Feminism, Political Correctness and so on. These ideas form a large part of the culture of modern America, and they are, objectively, really terrible ideas.

The thing is, nothing Donald Trump could do as President would eradicate these poisonous ideas. His victory is a setback for them and the larger worldview known as Liberalism that embraces them, but only a setback. They still dominate the news media, the entertainment industry, the schools, and much of the political landscape. They reign supreme in almost every major city, and they are in the atmosphere throughout the country.

Now, no matter what happens in the next four years, the culture will remain steeped in Liberal ideas unless we the people do something about it. Yes, the direction of government has to change, and hopefully will, but that would only be a temporary, ultimately futile solution if the culture does not change even more drastically. This election has given us breathing space and momentum, but it’s up to us to take advantage of it.

Another thing it has done is to show us the weakness of our enemy. Trump had almost every news media outlet, all of academia, the entertainment industry, and the political establishment against him…yet he still won. They threw everything they had against him and it still wasn’t enough to stop him.

This supports something I have long suspected; that the Left, for all its formidable arsenal, is a paper tiger. Its primary weapon is emotional blackmail: “support this or you are a bigot.” The power it has is largely the power that we give it. Take that away and it crumbles.

So what do we do now? Here’s a summary of a few suggestions.

First we need to recognize that it is up to us, the people, to make the real change and take back the culture: no politician can or will do it for us (least of all Donald Trump, who is the last person in the world to overturn the central problem of our culture, which is the sexual revolution, but that’s a topic in itself), and no law will ultimately matter unless we do.

We also need to recognize that we can do it; we have seen the consequences of Liberal ideas and know that they don’t work. Reality is on our side and we have nothing to fear from open debate. Their ideas have had power for a relatively short time; perhaps a century or so at best, while our ideas are ancient and proven by experience. Their ideas are temporary fashions: ours are eternal truths. Besides which, if the other side can enact such sweeping societal change as they have over the past few decades, there is no reason why we can’t push it back: they have shown that what is unimaginable one year can become a basic assumption in the next. There’s nothing they can destroy that we can’t rebuild.

To believe that we can, and that we ought, is the first step to doing.

Next we need to start making out case publicly. We should stand up and celebrate Western Civilization, Masculinity, the Family, Religion, and so on. When someone denigrates these things, we should hit back at once, attacking their position both with reason and mockery. This is an important point: ideas are born from emotional responses as much as intellectual ones. Dissecting the illogic of Liberal positions won’t be enough; we need to make their ideas feel as ridiculous and wrong and immoral as we know them to be. Both reason and mockery are necessary for social change.

We need to reduce our concern for the feelings of others. I know how bad that sounds, but again, emotional blackmail is the Left’s greatest weapon: we won’t win unless we neutralize it. Their standard refrain has been, “if you don’t agree with this, you’re a racist or a sexist or homophobic or just a bigot.” Our answer to such accusations should be, “Call it what you like; it’s the truth.” If people get angry or hate us for it, so be it: we don’t have the luxury of caring anymore.

We ought to become more active in pushing our views. Mostly I find Conservatives are far less willing to proselytize than Liberals, and that needs to change. With the world as it is, people are more likely to be receptive to what we have to say than they have been in the past and we ought to be making a concentrated effort to persuade people of our ideas.

Those who are able to should create works of fiction, music, art, or even advertisements that reflect a conservative worldview. ‘Pop culture’ is far more powerful than it is usually given credit for in terms of inculcating ideas and emotional reactions in people, and we need to start taking advantage of that. The entertainment industry is overwhelmingly Liberal, but it is also going through a transition: the internet has opened the world of entertainment to anyone who is willing to put in the work and the old gatekeepers in publishing, music, and the film world are less and less powerful. We must seize this opportunity to establish a foothold on the field of entertainment.

Perhaps most importantly, we need to stop sending our children to be educated by the Left. We raise our children to be moral, sensible, upright citizens, then we send them to universities controlled by the most radical Liberals in the country, where they spend four years being indoctrinated and pressured into accepting Leftist ideas and then we wonder why they defect to the other side (yet another reason to avoid college altogether if you can). Since at least the sixties, American universities have largely been the enemies of American ideas and it’s long past time we realize that.

We should be thoroughly vetting every school our children attend, up to and including college. If we find a school functioning as a reeducation facility for the Left, we need to avoid it like the plague. If our children are already attending one, we should pull them out as soon as possible and either send them to a different school or teach them at home. I realize this won’t be practical for many, perhaps most people. If it isn’t, then we at least need to monitor what the school is trying to teach and point out the lies and propaganda, reassuring our children that it’s okay if they get in trouble or lose points because they don’t follow the party line. Whatever we do, we have to always keep in mind that we Cannot. Trust. The schools.

These are just a few suggestions: maybe they will work, maybe they won’t. The question of what specifically we need to do to reconquer American culture is at present less important than awareness of the fact that it needs to be conquered. Our present culture is a poisonous sewer, and unless we can do something to create a more sober and rational society, America will die no matter whom we elect.

The election of Donald Trump is not a victory; it is an opportunity. Politics are symptoms: not the real disease. The real illness is the culture. It’s up to us to take advantage of it. Make no mistake; if there is not a serious change in the direction of this culture, this election will ultimately not change a thing.

Let the reconquest begin!