Friday, October 30, 2015

Irrational Discourse

Blogging has been slow, but not because I’m tired or losing interest. I am, of course, entirely uninterested in the election process at this stage of the game because it consists of nothing but posturing, game playing and media silliness. I will pay more attention when the stakes become higher as voting nears.

The problem is that I will not write about something unless I am able to research it sufficiently to know what I am talking about, and current issues other than the election are just too long on hype and too short on fact.

It appears to me that Russia is the only rational actor in the Middle East and that we are by far and away the least rational, but the government and media is pumping out so much propaganda on the issue that it’s hard to tell.

Everyone seems to recognize that invading Iraq and taking out the strongman that controlled the Iraqi government led to chaos and the creation of ISIS, but somehow our government thinks that taking out the government of Syria will not have anything like a similar outcome. Why would we think that?

We constantly admit that Syria is involved in a civil war, but when the Syrian Army bombs rebel positions we accusingly claim that “Assad is bombing his own people.”  What were we doing during our own civil war when we subjected Vicksburg to an intense continuous artillery bombardment for three weeks, and when we burned Atlanta to the ground?

Somehow, Bush is a monster for creating chaos in Iraq, but Obama will be a hero for creating chaos in Libya and, if he succeeds in his efforts to do so, in Syria.

We take NATO, an entirely military alliance, right up to the border of Russia, and somehow it is Russia who is the aggressor that is trying to spread its ideology and recreate an empire.

We are critical of Russia for involving themselves in the Syrian civil war, and warn them that they will “become engaged in a quagmire” for doing so, despite the fact that we have been actively engaged in that civil war ourselves for several years.

We are freaked out that China is building military bases outside its national borders, claiming that they threaten international goodwill and peace by doing so, notwithstanding that we have more than 700 military bases spread all over the globe.

So, how does one engage in rational discourse on any of this? Every time I pick a subject and sit down to write about it, I just sort of lose the bubble and give it up.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Masterpiece of Delusion

In a masterly exhibition of delusional thinking, the San Diego Union Tribune has two articles on the front page today, placed one immediately above the other such that one cannot avoid seeing both headlines simultaneously. One headline reads, "'Pathetic' performance might be rock bottom for 2-5 Bolts." The other reads, "Voters could revive downtown Chargers stadium plan."

And there may be a popular write-in campaign to return Bob Filner as Mayor, too, but since he was impeached I'd consider it unlikely.

Well, That Was Ugly

The final score (37-29) was meaningless. After three quarters it was 37-6. The Chargers had managed a paltry two field goals and the Raiders were in a festive mood. "What the hell," they decided, "they have to score five times to even tie the game, so let's let Philip Rivers have some fun." Actually, with the two-point conversion the Chargers only needed to score four times, but it didn't matter, since they only scored three.

Philip threw for 38 completions and 327 yards, but 25 of those and 237 yards were in "garbage time," so in the first three quarters, when the Raiders cared, he completed 15 passes for 90 yards. The Raiders, meanwhile, scored each of the first seven times they had the ball, not punting until near the end of the third quarter.

McCoy said after the game that, "that was not us."  I'm sure he would like to think that, but it sure looked like "us" in the spiffy powder blue uniforms, and the players were standing on the sideline that "us" stands on during the game. Sorry, McCoy, it was "us."

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Oh, Please

CBS Evening News did an emotional piece on a supposed heroin addict this evening who claims she overdosed four times in the month preceding the film she made of herself on the day she “hit bottom,” after which she self-detoxed and has been clean for sixty days.

Oh, please. The young woman in that video hasn't overdosed in her life, let alone four times in the month preceding the video. Long term junkies do not look anything like that. And sixty days of self-created sobriety is about six years short of any reasonable definition of success.

Either a CBS reporter has been conned in a major way, or they are playing the American public for suckers.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Confession of Hyperbole

The headline reads, "El Nino on the way." The second paragraph of this AP story about a northern Arizona rainstorm refers to the storm as the "latest in a series of October storms that could provide a preview of what's in store in the coming months as an El Nino system moves in." The pictures were of a woman being rescued from her car in a flooded wash, an event which happens regularly during the Monsoon Season in Arizona.

The article then goes on at great length about the effects of El Nino on California and the Southwest and, near the end, quotes the National Weather Service in Phoenix that, the "storms that struck Arizona were not El Nino-related."

College Football

I was thinking that the LSU Tiger pass defense really sucked, and then I realized that they were playing against a team which, while ranked #8 overall, ranks 103rd in rushing. That must mean they pass pretty good, so maybe I need to cut Les Miles' boys some slack.

Meanwhile, the announcers are talking about how Florida is successfully stopping #7, and I'm just smiling. Everybody thinks they have a handle on that guy, until they find out they don't. He would have a lot of trophies, except he never keeps one. I wonder who he will give the Heisman to.

Alabama was actually somewhat less impressive than they looked. Without the four picks they would have been in trouble. Nick Saban needs a quarterback.

And what can you say about Michigan? Probably not much, but I would like to have been a fly on the wall at Brady Hoke's house.

My sister is probably a bit giddy, what with being a Utah alum. Their record is not a fluke, though. The win over Arizona State was impressive, and they didn't seem to mind the downpour in the least.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Extreme Pragmatism

In the NASCAR race today Joey Logano was running second to Matt Kenseth and becoming frustrated by his inability to pass him for the lead. He solved the problem by hitting the leader's back bumper, causing Kenseth's car to spin out and wreck and putting Logano into first place. The announcers unanimously agreed that Logano was merely "doing what he needed to do to win the race," which he eventually did.

By that standard I guess Chargers' coach Mike McCoy should have brought a M1911A1 .45 caliber pistol with him to Lambeau Field and simply shot Aaron Rodgers dead. He would simply have been "doing what he needed to do" to win today's game.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Hyperbole Comes Naturally

Just to prove their purpose to be entertainment reather than information, the The Market Business reports on astronomy, describing a new and unusual star found recently by scientists. The possibilities for the oddity of said star offered by astronomers include "instrument defects, shrapnel from an asteroid belt pileup, and an impact of planetary scale, like the process that created the moon," which doesn't keep the "news media" from a headline that the "‘BIZARRE’ LIGHT PATTERN" is "DUE TO POSSIBLE ‘EXTRATERRESTRIAL CIVILISATION’." In all caps, no less.

Friday, October 16, 2015

You know it's humid...

...when the low at night is 71 and the daytime high is 79. We're not used to that kind of nonsense here. Yecch.

Begging the Question

When Hillary Clinton was asked about her contradictory positions on the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, she said, "I did say, when I was secretary of state, three years ago, that I hoped it would be the gold standard. It was just finally negotiated last week, and in looking at it, it didn't meet my standards. My standards for more new, good jobs for Americans, for raising wages for Americans.”

She didn’t, of course, say that she hoped it would be the gold standard,” she said that it “sets the gold standard in trade agreements to open free, transparent, fair trade, the kind of environment that has the rule of law and a level playing field,” which sort of evokes a paraphrase of an old saying, “hope in one hand and lie in the other and see which one fills up first.”  The original saying does not use dishonesty as an alternative to hoping, it uses the product of the south end of a northbound dog, but

Be that as it may, people do change their mind, as Clinton has admitted she has done on other issues, but she has never said why she has done so. I have no problem with a change of mind, provided that the person offers an explanation of why the change occurred.

If something changed in the content of the TPP or if Mrs. Clinton learned something about it which she did not previously know, then it is perfectly reasonable for her to oppose it now while having previously supported it, but to remain credible she needs to provide us with an explanation of what changed in the treaty or what she learned that she did not previously know.

She has not even claimed that the content of the TPP has changed since she was supporting it as Secretary of State. She has said that “with what I have learned about it I am not in favor of it,” but she has not explained what it is that she has learned, and has offered no explanation why she will not tell us specifically what she has learned.

In the absence of any other explanation for her change of position, why should we not assume that she has merely shifted with the political breeze, saying whatever she thinks will prevail in terms of primary election votes?

“With what I have learned” is simply nowhere close to a sufficient explanation. Mrs. Clinton is remiss in expecting us to accept that insufficient answer; the media is grossly remiss in not demanding a more forthcoming response from her; and voters are remiss in continuing to support her campaign without a better explanation.

But this is the nature of our political discourse today; empty soundbites devoid of actual meaning or content, which the media and public accept as sufficient.

Monday, October 12, 2015

1 Equals 2

A man with one eye is not half blind.

His peripheral vision on one side is diminished, and he lacks binocular vision, but other than that he sees as well as any two-eyed person. The former is solved by turning his head, and the latter is overrated because it’s useless beyond about fifty feet, so I have my doubts about the supposition as to why we have two eyes. I suspect it’s not about judging distance, it’s for the same reason that submarines have two air compressors (and we have two kidneys, come to think of it); it’s in case one of them fails.

Vision does not happen in the eyes, it happens in the brain. Eyes merely provide signals to the brain and the brain builds a picture based on the data available to it. It does not care whether the data came from one eye or from two. When it comes from two eyes the brain feels no compulsion to average the input from both eyes, it discriminates in order to build the best picture. If one eye is providing bad data, the brain has no compunction whatever in discarding that data.

This profound insight occurs to me because right now one of my eyes is providing good data and one is providing bad data, but my vision is astonishingly clear and sharp. You may be wondering how that came to be, but even if you are not I’m going to tell you.

Over the years my eyes have been developing cataracts. Nothing unusual about that, but mine had become really bad, and my vision was terrible. I knew I could not drive a car at night, but in truth I probably should not have been driving at all. (Sorry.) When watching a football game, I inferred by the actions of the players where the football was, because I never actually saw the ball.

Then I had the cataract removed from one eye. It healed immediately, as they are wont to do, and my vision did not improve halfway, it was cured. (I’m having the other eye done this week nonetheless.) I’m watching the LSU/SC game and, “Oh look, there’s the football, right there on the ground.”

So having my vision restored is awesome, of course, and was why I had the procedure, but there was a nice little lagniappe of getting a real life lesson in how the brain works. And it proves, notwithstanding my wife's assertion to the contrary, that I have a brain.

Update, Wed 5:30pm: In all fairness to my wife, she has never actually asserted that I have no brain. She has merely suggested that my actions at times might indicate that said organ was underdeveloped or possibly altogether missing.

Friday, October 09, 2015

What a Farce

Now this, from the New York Times, is a farce.
farcial headline
We have never been training these "moderate rebels" to fight the Islamic State, we have been training them to fight the Syrian government forces, which we refer to as the "Assad regime."  We have been training them in pursuit of "regime change" pure and simple. The pretense that we have been training them for any other purpose is nonsensical.

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Sometimes YouTube Doesn't Work

Who said, “TPP sets the gold standard in trade agreements to open free, transparent, fair trade, the kind of environment that has the rule of law and a level playing field.”

And who said this week, on the same subject, “as of today, I am not in favor of what I have learned about it.”

Yes, both statements were made by Hillary Clinton, and if nothing else has convinced you that our political system is utterly corrupt and totally divorced from the democratic process, this should do so. She should not for one minute believe that she can survive such blatant hypocrisy, and yet she not only believes it, she believes that it will advance her cause and, with the assistance of the media, it probably will.

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Um, Isn't That Obvious?

The University Herald advises us in a headline reading, "Sex dramatically increases fertility," amplified by a subhead to the effect that "A new report shows that sexually active women have a much better chance of getting pregnant than those who remain abstinent."

Let's see. To the best of my recollection only one sexually abstinent woman ever became pregnant, a little over 2000 years ago, and even that event is a little short on physical proof, so the conclusion reached by that study would seem to be pretty obvious.

Actually, the gist of the article seems to be that frequent acts of sexual intercourse increases the potential for some future act of sexual intercourse to result in pregnancy, which is not as obvious as it might seem at first blush, so the study makes a lot more sense than the headline and subheadline suggest it does.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Close Margins

I am doing better in my football league than the Chargers are doing in theirs; I am 4-0. The past couple of weeks have been squeakers, though. This week I won by nine tenths of a point, 112.9-112 decided by a Monday night extra point kick. That was a runaway, however, compared to last week when I won by a score of 109.5-109.3 also, oddly, decided by a Monday night extra point kick.

Kind of disheartening for my fantasy opponents, but...

If you're not familiar with fantasy football, the touchdowns involved were irrelevant because they were scored by players who are not on my fantasy team. Only the kickers are on my team, so I am credited only with the points scored by those kickers.

Monday, October 05, 2015

Stupidity Increases

Now this kind of thing is getting really stupid. First CBS News is prating about Russia and the US being "on opposite sides," and now NATO is issuing warnings to Russia about overflight of Turkey when all involved are fighting the same fundamentalist enemy.

Except that we claim Russia is fighting the wrong fundamentalist enemy, because it is fighting the one to which we are supplying arms, which we are supporting and, which it should be pointed out, was formerly led by Osama bin Laden until we assassinated the bastard.

Now we are threatening to shoot down Russian airplanes because they are overflying the territory of Turkey, which itself is bombing the Kurds who are the only effective ground force in the fight against the Islamic State, which we claim is the only enemy in the area.

Al Queda, which took down our World Trade Center and killed thousands in this country, is a dangerous enemy in Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia, but in Syria they are now "moderate rebels" who should be allowed to control Syria, notwithstanding that they would massacre the large Syrian Christian community if they did.

Hillary Clinton has joined the Republicans in saying that we should declare and maintain a "no fly zone" in Syria even though that would mean shooting down Russian airplanes and bombing Russian anti-aircraft installations, because that worked out so well in Libya. Okay, she didn't say the part about Libya.

The longer we engage in Syria the stupider we become. It seems that if we keep this up long enough Syria will be the least of our problems because we will be at war with Russia, and they have nuclear-armed ICBMs. Do the amateurs in Washington actually realize that?

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Roseburg Must Be a Nice Town

They don't want to know anything about the shooter. They want, in effect, to put him on the slag heap of forgotten history. "Don't say his name,"  they tell the media. Good advice; I hope the media will listen.

I have long contended that the media storm is at least part of what these poor sick bastards seek, part of why they do it, and this one confirms that in his own writing. "It seems,"  he said on his blog, "that the more people you kill the more you are in the limelight."  Do we need anything more to make the media stop with the endless euglogies?

Friday, October 02, 2015

Name No Names

The sheriff in Oregon who is in charge of the investigation of the shooting says he will not dignify the shooter by using his name. Good for him. I wish the media would do the same. I have no doubt whatever that the massive attention devoted to these sick bastards encourages others to emulate them.

It's wierd. The media will not name a person who runs onto the baseball field and disrupts a game, fearing that to do so might encourage others to behave similarly, but they give massive attention to multiple murderers.

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Thursday Night Football

Watching a football game on the HD television which we have had for some years, 48 hours after the cataract was removed from one eye. Whole new experience. I can, for one thing, read the score without getting out of my chair and moving eight feet closer to the set. Awesome.

Nonetheless, no matter how much improved one's vision is, Phil Simms is still tremendously annoying. Almost as annoying as having to apply eye drops 83 times per day.

All The News Not Fit To Print

CBS Evening News intoned dramatically on Tuesday evening that “the stakes shot up”  in the Middle East as “Russia joined the fighting in Syria.”  Pelley went on to say that for the first time, this scenario placed “Russian and American planes are on opposite sides.”

His explanation for why the planes are on opposite sides is that “The US is bombing ISIS,”  and he calls upon David Martin to “tell us who Russia is fighting for.”  Martin sort of beats around the bush as to where and whom Russia is bombing and that says that Russia “is not joining the US in the fight against ISIS, but is intervening in the fight against Assad, the brutal dictator whom Obama has repeatedly said must go.”

One has to distort reality rather badly to conclude that any of that puts Russian and American warplanes “on opposite sides.”  The US is providing arms and training to some, but not all, of the rebels who are fighting against Assad, but we are not in any way engaged militarily against Assad. For Russia to be engaged in support of Assad does not, therefor, make them militarily “on the opposite side”  from us.

David Martin tries to imply that Russia is bombing the “moderate rebels”  who we have supplied with weapons and trained in the fight against Assad, but that is not likely because all of those “moderate rebels”  turned out not to be moderate at all and promptly surrendered to ISIS and handed over the weapons we had given to them.

The only warplanes in the area are Syrian, Russian, American and NATO, none of which have any reason to be shooting at each other. Syrians are not going to be shooting at any of them, because all of them are in support of Syria, and ISIS is going to be shooting at all of them. It’s not complicated.

Turkey complicates the picture a bit, but they are busy bombing Kurds, who are our allies against ISIS, and are in northern Iraq, not Syria. CBS News is trying to pretend that Turkey doesn’t exist because they are our ally, we are flying out of their bases, and they are bombing our friends rather than our enemies.

If all of that leads you to believe that US policy in Syria and Iraq is not very rational, you should be congratulated on the clarity of your thinking. If it leads you to believe that CBS Evening News is run by idiots, another star for clear thinking.