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Color me dubious

In which the latest excuse for an expanded crackdown on American liberties is unveiled:

The threats came in the mail and to date, there have been 25 letters that warn of nuclear bombs destroying America…. The letter inside said, “The Al-Qaeda organization has planted 160 nuclear bombs throughout the U.S. in schools, stadiums, churches, stores, financial institutions and government buildings.” It also said, “This is a suicide mission for us.”

As we have learned from the details released about Operation Fast and Furious, the ATF’s gun-running operation into Mexico, if anyone is planting bombs around the schools and shopping malls of America it is probably a federal agency.

Dumbing down and dreaming on

I feel quite confident in stating that the scenario suggested in the cartoon has NEVER EVER happened in the entire history of Man.  Barely any men understand quantum physics; the number of women who not only understand them but are prone to discussing them on a girls night out can probably be counted on a woodworker’s hand.  As for Plato, I have yet to meet a single woman who has actually read the entire Republic outside of the one hopelessly nerdy girl in my senior year Classics class who once read a poem in public that was, we were reliably informed, written “from the point of view of me and a lizard”.  In the various debates over Euthyphro over the last two years, I’m not sure if a single woman has even commented on the matter of the pious and the gods, much less whether Socrates was justified in his artful redefinition of the terms in mid-dialogue.  Women’s book clubs don’t discuss Thucydides and Dante, much less Bohr and Alcibiades, most are devoted to novels from the Oprah list as evidenced by the helpful discussion guidelines provided at the back of those books.

There are three reasons that women play dumb on occasion.  The first is because they are insufficiently attractive to attract men that they can look up to intellectually.  Note that the author, who is an aged 3 at best, admits that the dim boyfriend to whom she refers was only the second man who had agreed to go out with her when she was in her 30s.  It wasn’t her brains that were the problem there.  The second reason is because women understand on some level that most men prefer less intelligent women.  This is not because men are intimidated by smart women, (think about that claim for a second, are they intimidated by male nerds and geeks?),  but because intelligent women tend to be a quotidian posterior pain.  Intelligent, educated, middle-class women are extraordinarily annoying because they seem to feel the need to constantly reaffirm either their intelligence or their education by pointlessly challenging those close to them over the most trivial minutiae.  The fact that a more intelligent man can effortlessly slap down those challenges doesn’t mean that he wants to waste his time doing so, especially when it interrupts his train of thought.

(To be fair, most intelligent people of both sexes are difficult compared to the norm, the significant difference is that women find the difficulty to be attractive due to their hypergamous nature.  Men just find it difficult and don’t want to deal with it.)

I found her cited example of a mispronounced word as an indication of a lack of intelligence to be more than a little amusing.  In fact, those who mispronounce words on a regular basis are probably more intelligent than the norm because it indicates that they are learning words from reading them rather than hearing them.  The writer has confused ignorance with intelligence; to the extent that a mispronunciation indicts anyone, it indicts the social circle around the mispronouncing individual who have never used the word around him.  The assumption that “Arkansas” would be pronounced in the same manner as “Kansas” is a perfectly reasonable one, especially for an Englishman who is no more likely to know the difference between the two than the average American if it is Leicester or Worcester that is found in the East Midlands.

And the third reason is that women play dumb as an excuse to get out of things they don’t want to do.  Figuring out how to program a remote or change a tire isn’t difficult, but why bother when you can simply get someone else to do it for you?

Make that 5 of 8

Or, if you prefer to leave the non-economic prediction out of the equation, 4 of 7. In my review of my 2010 predictions, I noted that there were still two weeks left, the trend was down, and adjusted TOTLL was only $13 billion above my prediction of $6.3 trillion. In the December 22nd report, published today, TOTLL fell another $19.9 billion, ($22.1 billion from the revised 12/15 report).

That brings adjusted TOTLL down to $6.293 trillion, just enough to render the prediction correct if you are willing to remove the one-time $452 billion anomaly for which I have yet to see an explanation.

The flatulence of Tom Friedman

Jonah Goldberg steamrolls America’s silliest would-be grand thinker:

All this reductio ad flatus stemmed from a conversation Friedman had with Nandan Nilekani, the CEO of Infosys, in Banga­lore, India. Nilekani said something that was intellectu­ally, uh, flat about the effects of globalization on international competition: “Tom, the playing field is being leveled.”

“As I left the Infosys campus that evening along the road back to Bangalore,” Friedman explains, “I kept chewing on that phrase: The playing field is being leveled.” Indeed, he masticated it to the point where it was meaningless cud and then had his eureka moment: “What Nandan is saying, I thought, is that the playing field is being flattened . . . Flattened? Flattened? My God, he’s telling me the world is flat!”

The rational response to this is: “My God! That is so not what he’s saying!” As countless others have noted, saying that a playing field is level is not remotely the same thing as saying that the world is flat, even metaphorically. Playing fields are defined by rules, often highly complex, that the participants agree to in advance; “leveling the playing field” means making competition in a specified arena fair….

He claims to be simplifying complex ideas and making them more understandable. But what he is in fact doing is taking an already simple idea — say, that of a level playing field — and making it meaningless. You can boil something down to the essentials, but if you keep boiling it you’re just left with nonsense. The level playing field is already a boiled-down idea, comprehensible by high-school sophomores and Charlie Rose alike. Friedman’s alchemist’s brain transmutes the dross of the banal into the bullion of bull.

Unlike Paul Krugman, however, Friedman’s ideas are essentially harmless. Although some of them, such as his wistful advocacy of totalitarian rule in the Chinese mode, would be rightly seen as dangerous in the mind of a more substantive writer, Friedman’s essential silliness which is best exemplified by his incompetent abuse of metaphors renders him little more than a delightfully comic figure. He is the funny pages of the NYT op/ed paper. When the intelligent reader reads a Krugman editorial, he often finds his eyes narrowing as he thinks “that bastard damn well knows better than that!” But when he reads Friedman, he can always relax and chuckle at the absurd literary juggling in the knowledge that no matter how important the editorial purports to be, it is no more to be taken seriously than a Maureen Dowd column.

We is not I

Have you ever noticed that it’s always men who refer to their wives as “their better half”? Have you ever heard a woman introduce her husband that way? I don’t know why, but that phrase has always given me the willies and makes me wonder if those men are speaking tongue in cheek or are simply oleaginous gammas. Either way, it doesn’t seem like a promising sign to me.

The Stupid Party

I am really going to laugh if Brown manages to blow the big Republican upset bid in Massachusetts because he’s more interested in protecting the profits of the zombie banks than he is in being elected:

It’s been five new attacks a day from the Coakley campaign, so it’s hard to say if they’ve settled on the final push. But it appears that they want the last four days to be about President Obama’s $90 billion bank tax. She’s for the tax hike. Brown is against it. On one level, there’s nothing new here for either candidate. Martha “We’ve Got To Get Taxes Up” Coakley is already on the record for billions in new taxes. Scott Brown is the tax cutter. What gives this a problematic wrinkle for Brown is that the energized part of his base, the “tea party” voters are very mad about the bailouts and the big banks. This could be a wedge issue for Coakley to use to cool off some of his support.

I am against taxes too, but this tax has nothing to do with taxes per se. I’m 100 percent for a 100 percent tax on the profits and bonuses of the giant zombie banks and the pirate-class executives who run them for the next 20 years. They are no longer private institutions and they are not capable of surviving in a free market without government support, so they should not benefit from crying capitalism and the free market. And the claim to have repaid the TARP money is a red herring, as Karl Dennninger shows, that’s only the frosting on the bailout cake.