Not a good day.

On the surface, today was just like any other day, but then I went home.   On the way I stopped a Hannaford to pick up something for dinner, and some tonic water (yeah, you know what that's for--to cure the malaria I got when I prematurely visited my office during reservations--;)).

Anywho, this girl has always been a tomboy.  More than that, she belongs to one of those little-bit-country families that border actual civilization, but that isn't feral enough to summon the vampire hunters...

But to be honest, when we were tweens, I remember visiting her place, and she had satellite TV (we didn't even have cable), and it was cool!  She had the Disney channel (which kicked ass at that age).

Now to be clear, the house was closer to a double-wide than a McMansion.  And by closer I mean "was," but at that age....

Anyway.  I ran into this girl at the supermarket this afternoon, and I'm heartbroken.  She's always been "a Little bit country," and very much a tomboy, so romance was never on my radar.  She's friendly, and deserves whatever kindness she gives.

But she has MS, and having grown up with that in my family, I am absolutely heartbroken.  My grandmother had it, my uncle (her son) has it, and I'm scared I may roll the dice the wrong way on this one.  It's a horrifying disease.  Nothing more to say about it than that.

She has always been a tomboy, and now is out of the closet.  I really hope her girlfriend is up to the task.  MS is a devastating disease.  Nobody asks for it, and nobody should be punished for having it.

I've run into a handful of my former classmates over the last year, but this is just tragic.  I have a family history with MS, so I know what's in store.  Even though she was at best an acquaintance, I can't help but feel a big loss is at stake.

So Dena, hang in there!  Leave the biggest impact on those that you love, and never question yourself!


Mixed feelings

On one hand, this New York Times article about colleges and universities putting more effort into recruiting rural students seems like a good thing, but I have some misgivings.

First, and this is the good part, saving these people from a meager existence in crumbling, cow-shit smeared havens of insular anti-intellectualism and religious extremism that dot the rural landscape is a worthwhile endeavor. 

But here are my misgivings.  Primarily, anybody who has opportunities elsewhere will not return.  So educating part of the rural population reduces the size of the rural population, ultimately, but does nothing to counter the insularity of those remaining.  I suspect it will further exacerbate rural resentment if educated urban people, rather than mitigate it.

Second, rural students have similar graduation rates to suburban students, but class sizes are smaller, and resources are constrained, so they lack many opportunities, like AP courses.  It's easy to see how rural students might require remedial catch-up courses or tutoring in a university setting.


Yeah, well

No apologies for the bullet in your brain.


I have never been so proud of my fellow citizens.  The second video is amazing for it's sheer humanity, but  Watch them all.

We have been soiled by the president, but we refuse to forget what makes us great.  There is hope.


And on Wednesday*

* This one is obscure, even for me.  It begins:

"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

Any American with two brain cells within rubbing distance of each other should recognize this.  Any American worthy of the title lives by it.

And now for the obscurity:  This is a poem by Emma Lazarus.  Lazarus of the four days makes is Wednesday, now being Saturday.  Yes that's a bible thing.

I never forget.

This stain will not wash out.  We are forever tainted.  Now I know what Germans feel like when they confront their history.

EDIT: here's the whole thing.  I'm seriously thinking of getting this tattooed across my back.

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"



I don't get many comments.  So far, there has been only one person who commented here who I actually cared to receive feedback from, but there have been episodes of spam (Christian apologetics, and now Muslim "exterminators").

As a result, all comments are now required to be a member of this blog, and will be moderated.  Since nobody really reads this anyway (as judging by the ratio of non-spam to spam comments), I doubt the world will shed a tear for it's loss.

BTW:  I'm not going to bother deleting any of the most recent comments.  DO NOT click on any of the links!  I don't know where they go, or what they'll do to your computer if you do, and I am not responsible.  You have been warned.

That's going to leave a mark.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s job running the State Department just got considerably more difficult. The entire senior level of management officials resigned Wednesday, part of an ongoing mass exodus of senior foreign service officers who don’t want to stick around for the Trump era.
These are the career civil servants who possess vital institutional knowledge of the State Department's structure and function.
Several senior foreign service officers in the State Department’s regional bureaus have also left their posts or resigned since the election. But the emptying of leadership in the management bureaus is more disruptive because those offices need to be led by people who know the department and have experience running its complicated bureaucracies. There’s no easy way to replace that via the private sector, said Wade.


Prediction: trump wins California.

A butthurt narcissist is launching an investigation of voter fraud in an election he [legally] won.  This will most certainly result in a popular vote victory for Trump in 2016.



Salon steps in it again in a post about the Women's march on 1/21.  The usual suspects are all there.

  1. Complaining about liberal intolerance of politically-motivated bigotry.
  2. False equivalence of religious expression with political expression, in a setting where the latter is less protected due to the need to provide a safe environment conducive to learning.
  3. Ironic safe-space straw man; complaining that safe spaces have replaced rigorous debate, in an op-ed demanding safe-spaces for people who are ideologically opposed to the purpose of the goddamn march to begin with!
  4. Whining about rich urban liberal intolerance if ignorant rural bigotry.  As if it wasn't a half-century of right-wing anti-intellectual propaganda that is the root cause of such resentments.
  5. Projected misunderstanding of how urbanites don't understand rural issues like teen pregnancy, or "unmarried parenting."  (hint, we do, which is why we fund sex education and family planning services).
Here's the kicker (I'll go through the points below); it's the last paragraph.
In the past weeks, since winning the election, Trump’s rhetoric has cooled somewhat as the realities of governing begin to sink in. The question now is whether the new president can maintain his cool, and also if these protesters can do more than march. Do they understand that those who are easily offended are also easily manipulated?
Bwahahaha!  Oh, you're serious, let me laugh even harder!  Cooled how?  His victory tour, which wasn't as heavily covered as his taking credit for other peoples long-term industrial planning?  But since 1/20, cool isn't a word that's even in the same ballpark as the behavior we've witnessed.  Also, citation needed on that offended/manipulated thing.

Now for the points:
  1. Marchers pleading for a diverse country too often hypocritically shun and marginalize those who don’t share their political beliefs. The profound irony of many marchers’ militant intolerance — in marches meant to cultivate tolerance — would be hilarious if the stakes weren’t so high. [intolerance of intolerance is not a compelling argument]
  2. One girl in Iowa reported that her father feared his daughter attending school in a MAGA hat; ironically, she was bullied, mocked and dehumanized by another girl, a Muslim, wearing another head covering, a hijab.  [one of these is not like the other.  We're supposed to pretend that since both items are headgear, they're equivalent?  Also, is the Muslim girl not entitled to express herself?  What if it was a Jewish boy wearing a Yarmulke?]  
  3. [the very next sentence] This is not such an isolated example; college students and administrators often shut out dissenting political views, both from the classroom and the ceremonial podium. Safe spaces have replaced critical thought and rigorous debate. [Where has this actually happened? And what debate is at stake here?  Access to family planning services?  Equal pay for equal work?  Acknowledging that more than half the population are actually human beings with agency and therefore the ability to make up their own minds on these issues?  If it's a debate between those who believe the above and those who want to see us regress in these areas (the opinions of whom are accommodated by allowing individuals to choose courses of their own lives), or otherwise impose a specific, narrow world-view on others, then it fundamentally boils down to one side offering lifestyle CHOICE and the other NOT. ]
  4. Then there is the educational elitism reflected among the march demographic. College graduates backed Hillary Clinton over Trump by a margin of 52 percent to 43 percent, while those without a college degree backed Trump by almost exactly the same margin, 52 percent to 44 percent. Pew reports this is by far the widest gap in support between college graduates and non-graduates found in exit polls dating back to 1980. Many marchers don’t seem to understand that the intolerance of rich urban liberals, both among the mainstream media and in a broader context, is in part what helped create President Trump. [No, it's the intolerance of rich urban liberals by the rural uneducated that created this gap.  This is a one-sided problem; that is rural america is completely incapable of introspection, and utterly unreceptive to expertise.]
  5. They don’t seem to grasp the problems of rural America. For example, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report, teen births in the United States hit an all-time low in 2015 — but rural America experienced a smaller decline than urban areas. Harvard researchers have found that unmarried parenting is the strongest variable holding back class mobility; it’s no wonder rural girls and women feel like they’re falling further behind. Yet these women don’t necessarily want abortions. They need better options that match their goals, and the current feminist academy cannot speak for them or to them. 
It's amazing that this person has her thumb so firmly on the pulse of methbilly America:
Carrie Sheffield is a political writer for Salon, founder of Bold and senior contributor to Opportunity Lives. She previously wrote editorials for The Washington Times, covered politics for POLITICO and The Hill and analyzed municipal credit for Goldman Sachs and Moody's Investors Service.


This is beauty

This is what true beauty looks like.  Especially when she's not facing down storm troopers.

Fuck Reagan, put Ieshia on the dime.  This is what a national treasure looks like.

This is the real America

I'm posting this again because I honestly believe that it represents the best of us.  We are good.  We are humble.  And we are Kind.  This had better become the defining picture or the last decade.

And this should follow.

We are becoming a just people; we have a simple setback.  Remember who your role models are, and your moral compass will guide you to liberty.

Off to a good start

At least this is on the front page.  The salient bits are in the first few paragraphs.
WASHINGTON — President Trump used his first full day in office on Saturday to unleash a remarkably bitter attack on the news media, falsely accusing journalists of both inventing a rift between him and intelligence agencies and deliberately understating the size of his inauguration crowd.

In a visit to the Central Intelligence Agency intended to showcase his support for the intelligence community, Mr. Trump ignored his own repeated public statements criticizing the intelligence community, a group he compared to Nazis just over a week ago.

He also called journalists “among the most dishonest human beings on earth,” and he said that up to 1.5 million people had attended his inauguration, a claim that photographs disproved.

Later, at the White House, he dispatched Sean Spicer, the press secretary, to the briefing room in the West Wing, where Mr. Spicer scolded reporters and made a series of false statements.
Lies are lies, and the media needs to call out falsehoods.  Now more than ever.  To quote a Republican, before they became the party of white supremacism.
You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.
The lingering problem is the herds of followers who believe that if the Carrot-Hued Philistine says something, then it is prima facie true.

Ouch, or why we're not beyond redemption

This is heartbreaking.  (note: I am reproducing the entire article below, there's no way in hell The Washington Post can claim to "own" this story). 

Charles Ikins lives in Clinton, Ohio.

I’ve read with concern news articles about divisions among the organizers of Saturday’s Women’s March on Washington, including questions about why men haven’t been more involved. One Post online headline speculated that participation might be “ considered unmasculine ” by some. Regardless, the march is important to me for a very personal reason.
It’s this: My beloved wife, Debbie, who worked hard as a volunteer for the candidate of her choice in this election, suffered an accident late on Election Day and died early the next morning. Nov. 8 was the worst day of my life.
All day, worried because of how high tempers were running out there, I escorted her on her canvassing rounds. Were you to see me in my Ford pickup with military decals, my Marines cap — I am a retired Marine — and my beard, you might have assumed that we were canvassing for Donald Trump. But you’d have been wrong. As I crept conspicuously along behind in the pickup, Debbie strode up and down driveways for Hillary Clinton. This was the eighth day of her canvassing “mission” (as she viewed it). She was angry about the steady stream of attitudes denigrating women so prominently on display during the campaign. She intended to do something about it.

She related to me the comments she received. Some were unpleasant, but she was unfailingly civil in response. Sometimes there were small victories. One woman she talked to the previous weekend had prayed for guidance, and then Debbie appeared. Result: an early vote for Clinton. As I drove, we talked, laughed and made plans for the future.

I’ve read that some activists have instructed those attending the march to “check your privilege.” I understand (I think), but this misses the point. This march is in part an answer to the indignities women experience — especially as they have been reflected in the private and public comments of our new president.
During our drive through African American neighborhoods that last day, the sight of this tall, red-haired, green-eyed white woman marching confidently along the sidewalk, clipboard in hand, was clearly welcomed. A woman visiting from California thanked and encouraged her; a group chatting on the sidewalk engaged her in conversation; a fellow Marine, a Vietnam veteran, came out of his house to greet me. Everyone understood the historic importance of this election. No one mentioned “privilege.” 

Heading home, we responded to an invitation to an election party. Debbie was excited at the prospect of the first woman being elected president, and she dressed accordingly. She wanted to represent all the women in her life, past and present. She wore her grandmother’s earrings. She carried a small purse belonging to a departed friend. She wore boots from a joint shopping expedition with our 13-year-old niece. Her top was a gift from her sister. And, with a gesture, she indicated that she was carrying her mother in her heart. 

Arriving, we joined small groups in different rooms watching election reports. I was in the living room, Debbie in the kitchen. She left the kitchen, and then a loud crash was heard. We found her at the bottom of the basement steps, unconscious. No one knows how it happened. She was rushed to a nearby hospital and then to a trauma center, but there was nothing to be done; her head injury was too severe. She would never regain consciousness. As she lay in intensive care, I avoided any mention of the election results. I held her hand and watched the love of my life, my soul mate, slip away. 

Debbie was extraordinary. Underlying her giving and considerate nature was a core of steel that became unyielding when she saw wrong being done. She was unafraid of attempts to intimidate her into silence. Our Ohio county went for Hillary Clinton — one of only eight in the state; I know that Debbie had a direct impact upon that. I also know that Debbie would have wanted to attend the march. She can’t, so I will attend for her. Unmasculine? Hardly.

Edit: The Daily Kos implores us to be like Debbie.  If you can't be like Debbie, be like Chuck.



I comment on Ars Technica, and somehow I acquired the title "dominus contumeliam."  It fits.  Well.

(at ars, I think we have the ability to chose our own titles, but I didn't choose this.  I'm not familiar with Latin.  As far as I can tell, it means "master insulter" or "master abuser").

I actually like it.

Funny if not so pathetic

Ego ego ego.

Mr. Trump won the election on November 8 of 2016 in the largest electoral college landslide for a Republican in 28 years. He won over 2,600 counties nationwide, the most since President Reagan in 1984. Additionally, he won over 62 million votes in the popular vote, the highest all-time for a Republican nominee. He also won 306 electoral votes, the most for a Republican since George H.W. Bush in 1988. 
Remember, there has been exactly one Republican President since George H. W. Bush, so the pool for comparison is vanishingly small. The number of counties won has nothing to do with the end result of an election.  Besides, if this moron won over 62 million votes, his opponent won about 65 million.  Also,
Mr. Trump has authored over fourteen bestsellers and his first book, The Art of the Deal, in addition to being the #1 book of the year, is considered a business classic.
You mean the ghost-written one? (and I'm fairly sure they're all ghost-written but I don't care enough to google it).  There's mendacity, there's bullshitting, and then there's this asshole.


ask the right question

This question isn't "why am I here," it's "why am I still here."

Forever a satirist

if only

Running backwards played backwards.

Presented without comment, other than if it can be done, there's probably a youtube video of it.

That's no moon!

Wait, yes it is

Saturn has an extensive ring system that extends out to 282,000km away from the planet, or about three quarters of the distance between the Earth and the Moon. Within this structure there are a dozen or so significant gaps, one of which is the Keeler Gap located near the outer edge of the planet's main rings. The tiny moon Daphnis has cleared this gap, which measures just 42km across.
This is really cool.  I had no idea this existed (though it was apparently discovered in 2005).  The pictures in the Ars Technica article are amazing.

click to embiggen


This is what we'll lose tomorrow

And think for a second how this sort of thing will play out in the near future.

But this is the thing I think I'll most remember: his unabashed humanity.

And his enthusiasm for science and education.

And it breaks the heart to realize that we're losing what will sadly be the best president of my lifetime because herds of old and over-privileged uneducated white people in flyover country, butthurt about nigger jokes becoming passe, decided to rebel against common decency and elect the most transparent and obvious charlatan our country as ever known.  America dies tomorrow at noon.

Science and Politics

The Verge has an excellent editorial today--read the whole thing--explaining why coverage of our enduring national embarrassment has crept into their science reporting.  It begins.
Over the past few weeks, we’ve gotten notes from Verge Science readers wondering why news from the incoming Trump administration has seeped into our science coverage. I wasn’t surprised: it’s tempting to believe that science is apolitical. But science and politics are plainly related: science is the pursuit of knowledge, knowledge is power, and power is politics. 

The scientific method consists of generating a hypothesis, attempting to disprove the hypothesis through testing, and accumulating those tests to come up with shared knowledge. And that method also contains ideology: our observed, shared world is the real world. This ideology even has a name: empiricism. An incoming president who clearly picks and chooses facts to suit his own version of the world changes the relationship between science and culture, in potentially destructive ways.
I would argue that  any pushback at all from culture against scientific empiricism is necessarily destructive.  If the raw facts are in dispute, then nothing can be done in the political realm to address them.

Your winnings

I'm shocked, SHOCKED to learn that a guy who majored in farm-animal-fucking and nearly failed a course called "Meats" doesn't know what the DOE is.

WASHINGTON — When President-elect Donald J. Trump offered Rick Perry the job of energy secretary five weeks ago, Mr. Perry gladly accepted, believing he was taking on a role as a global ambassador for the American oil and gas industry that he had long championed in his home state.

In the days after, Mr. Perry, the former Texas governor, discovered that he would be no such thing — that in fact, if confirmed by the Senate, he would become the steward of a vast national security complex he knew almost nothing about, caring for the most fearsome weapons on the planet, the United States’ nuclear arsenal.

Not to mention more mundane standards and practices for dealing with radiation, hazardous materials, and the like. (In my previous position, I was involved with the Nuclear division's DOE software certification process, which was critical to ensure the accuracy of steam dryer lifecycle simulations.  Sadly, the steam dryer is probably the least interesting part of a nuclear reactor).

I mean, how does one not know that the Department of Energy is not only controls the nuclear arsenal, but all things nuclear.  It's not just windmills versus oil derricks! That level of ignorance must be aggressively courted and maintained.


And on a brighter note

I've recently been reminded of my most notable "foreign policy" success.   It's not actually about getting along with our Iraqi friend, but with a spat with a minor bureaucrat.

When we arrived in Karlsruhe, we were assigned to the dorms of Fachhochschule Karlsrushe, which were apartment style.   We arrived in the late afternoon, and were scheduled for a tour of Daimler-Chrysler the following morning.

We had to register as residents of the dorm prior to the following morning's trip, and had literally minutes to accomplish the task.

Here is where I actually succeeded!  I managed to, though both language competence and incompetence, force the desk worker to stay the extra five minutes to process our applications.  She insisted we return the following morning, but I had the 'ace' up my sleeve:

Das is kein Moeglichkeit.  Wir mussen gestern morgen fruh nach Stuttgart gehen!

And this worked! Not that it wasn't the truth or anything.  What I learned is that German bureaucracy is susceptible to a stubborn American with moderate German language skills.

In fingerpaint or crayon?

President-elect Donald Trump has written his inauguration address draft himself, two senior Trump transition officials told CNN Tuesday.
I really don't want to watch this, but I may have to, if only to witness the pathetic train wreck this will end up being.

After all, this is how the guy that is penning the speech answered an innocuous question about heroes.

I shit you not; he doesn't like heroes because his father was a builder and any potential for a person to succeed is necessarily innate?  That's pretty much the gist of what he's saying.

And don't get me started on meaningless bullshit metrics.

We clearly haven't suffered enough.  My prediction: he will start off with some clumsy rhetoric about "coming together as a country," before quickly going off script to denounce his detractors and accuse them of trying to "undermine my totally legitimate, unpresidented, landslide electoral college victory--bigly."

At this point, if there were any justice in the universe, he would promptly shit his pants and die of a stroke.


Mother Russia

Yes, that is a Russian flag pin.  This is too perfect.

(click to embiggen)



That's not how it works.

There are a plethora of old wives tales that promise to predict whether or not you’ll conceive a male or female child, but science has long taught that a baby’s gender is completely up to chance. However, new research has suggested that there may be more factors at play when it comes to determining a child’s sex — researchers discovered that a woman’s blood pressure at the time of conception can influence her child's gender.

No, it can't.  The only thing that determines a child's biological sex is the payload of the male gamete.  Period.  

The study determined that women who had boys tended to have higher blood pressure prior to pregnancy (106 mmHg) than women who had girls (103 mmHg), according to The Independent. However, it is still unclear whether women can choose a gender purposely by matching blood pressure with conception time.

It's not unclear.  A woman can't influence the sex of her child at all.  And neither can the father for that matter.  Anybody who went through middle-school sex-ed should understand this!

If it weren't for trump, this would be the stupidest thing I've come across all day.


Oh boy, I can't wait to buy lampshades made of Ivanka's skin!

Dude, your daughter is a Jew.  So when you're followers go all Kristallnacht on the semites, I doubt she'll be spared, despite her fantastic tits.  Which makes shit like this hilarious.

Yeah, invite the hordes following you out of frothing-at-the-mouth apoplectic rage to associate their imagined (and largely self-inflicted) "plight" to be akin to fucking _genocide_.  That'll end well.

But since Ivanka is a fashion icon, and Ilse Koch has had some creative uses for Jews, maybe it's not all bad...

(and yes: this is really fucking offensive.  But less offensive than the tweet that prompted it, though.  It's not like I'm ranting about breads and ovens).

Look, it's one thing to invoke the spectre of history's darkest moments to call attention to parallels that are presently playing out, and another to use the same as a justification to persecute another group for the same reasons.

This is why I haven't spoken with my paternal grandfather in 5 years.  The last time we had dinner together, he went on a rant where if you replaced every "muslim" he spat out with the word "jew," then, well...

He _was_ a smart man, but now is completely lacking in self-awareness.  I may have lost out on a sizable inheritance, but fuck it.  It's more important to be decent than rich.  I have my own problems with race and ethnicity, but at least I recognize that I do, and try to actually fix the problem, my problem.  I can't accept any sort of caste ranking, even as a Brahmin (I shit you not). The sooner this asshole dies off, the better.


I'm serious

I've posted about this song before, specifically about Jessica Brown-Findlay's amazing performance in Black Mirror. 

After watching that particular episode again, I really, really want to hear Noémie Wolfs sing this song.  How much would it cost me to commission a recording?  I'm actually serious.

Dear Dr. Obvious

How do I prevent my car from being stolen?

Schenectady police are urging city residents not to leave their vehicle(s) on the street with the engine running and with no one inside.

This has been brought to you from Well Duh productions, with underwriting by No Shit Sherlock, LLC.

Hey Peter Man, Check Out Channel 9!

There is a bit of truth to the movie Office Space in the work I do, and like virtually every white-collar "elite" I interactive with on a daily basis, I have a certain fondness for the film.

That said, I have two problems with it.

  1. Next month, the film will be old enough to vote, so stop quoting it.  Yes, there are many situationally appropriate lines, but after 18 years, and having heard them all a million times each, it's time to stop.
  2. Lawrence, the neighbor.  And Peter for that matter.  The movie goes out of its way to elevate the blue-collar lifestyle over white collar.  We're led to think it a good thing that Peter ends up cleaning up the ashes of Initech alongside Lawrence at the end.
On that second point, I find it hard to figure Mike Judge out.  He's pretty clearly and equal-opportunity offender when it comes to mocking white/blue-collar classes (see Idiocracy), but he seems to stereotype in mostly shallow ways as to not alienate rural groundlings.

And I was reminded of this by this op-ed in The New York Times purporting to explain rural America to us "coastal elites."  It irks me, because it begins with an illustration of bigotry, which it attempts to whitewash with hard work.

Knoxville, Iowa — One recent morning, I sat near two young men at a coffee shop here whom I’ve known since they were little boys. Now about 18, they pushed away from the table, and one said: “Let’s go to work. Let the liberals sleep in.” The other nodded.

They’re hard workers. As a kid, one washed dishes, took orders and swept the floor at a restaurant. Every summer, the other picked sweet corn by hand at dawn for a farm stand and for grocery stores, and then went to work all day on his parents’ farm. Now one is a welder, and the other is in his first year at a state university on an academic scholarship. They are conservative, believe in hard work, family, the military and cops, and they know that abortion and socialism are evil, that Jesus Christ is our savior, and that Donald J. Trump will be good for America.

They are part of a growing movement in rural America that immerses many young people in a culture — not just conservative news outlets but also home and church environments — that emphasizes contemporary conservative values. It views liberals as loathsome, misinformed and weak, even dangerous.

(emphasis added) Why might they think that?  Maybe it's half a century of ever-louder propaganda that permeates rural landscapes combined with the exodus of youth and talent as soon as the same are able to escape.  Many pixels have been spilled about geographic polarization and the resulting persistent reality gap, but we clearly see those factors in play in the bolded sentence above.  

Then there's some nonesense from a baptist child-molester about original sin, blame vs. fault, and Democrats vs. Republicans.  It's all bullshit, leading into.

Overlay this philosophical perspective on the American rural-urban divides of history, economy and geography, and the conservative individual responsibility narrative becomes even more powerful. In my experience, the urban-rural divide isn’t really so much a red state versus blue state issue, it’s red county versus blue county. Rural Iowans have more in common with the rural residents of Washington State and New Mexico — places I’ve also lived — than with the residents of Des Moines, Seattle and Albuquerque.

In a way, it is being argued that believing a person's default setting is "bad" (rather than good), that is a necessary condition for to value personal responsibility and individualism.   It's not, of course; philosophical outlook on the nature of humanity and one's sense of individualism versus collectivism are orthogonal.  So what is this really about?

Look at a national map of which counties went for Democrats and which for Republicans: Overwhelmingly the blue counties are along waterways, where early river transportation encouraged the formation of cities, and surround state capitals. This is also where most investment in infrastructure and services is made. Rural Americans recognize that this is how it must be, as the cities are where most of the people are, yet it’s a sore spot.

(emphasis added) Comparing counties, rather conveniently papers over any effect local city taxes might have.  Further whining ensues.

In state capitols across America, lawmakers spend billions of dollars to take a few seconds off a city dweller’s commute to his office, while rural counties’ farm-to-market roads fall into disrepair. Some of the paved roads in my region are no longer maintained and are reverting to gravel. For a couple of generations now, services that were once scattered across rural areas have increasingly been consolidated in urban areas, and rural towns die. It’s all done in the name of efficiency.

In cities, firefighters and E.M.T.s are professionals whose departments are funded by local, state and federal tax dollars. Rural America relies on volunteers. If I have a serious heart attack at home, I’ll be cold to the touch by the time the volunteer ambulance crew from a town 22 miles away gets here.

And so on. My city taxes pay for the services my city provides.  They pay for our municipal water, sewer, trash pickup, etc.

In this view, blue counties are where most of our tax dollars are spent, and that’s where all of our laws are written and passed. To rural Americans, sometimes it seems our taxes mostly go to making city residents live better. We recognize that the truth is more complex, particularly when it comes to social programs, but it’s the perception that matters — certainly to the way most people vote.

What's this our tax dollars talk? City taxes shouldn't be funnelled to rural areas outside city limits, and papering over the existence of city taxes by considering counties is an intellectually dishonest way to inflate the tax burden of rural districts versus urban districts within the same county.

What we have is a movement that hates and distrusts government, refusing to fund the same, and becoming resentful when public service aren't forthcoming.  This makes as much sense as my resenting my neighbor for not having a headache, when I keep hitting myself in the head with a hammer every minute.

They most certainly don't recognize the complexity.   Especially if it's the perception that drives the voting patterns.  

The rest how these voters believe in the boilerplate "job-killing regulations" and "government schools" complaints while never exploring why or how they might come to such conclusions, preferring instead to pretend that it's the natural result of philosophical differences and ancient resentment of riverside cities, rather than a multi-decade propaganda campaign to malign and vilify the residents of the same.


I pulled into the security gate at work behind a Honda minivan today, and it struck me: "Odyssey" is a really terrible name for a vehicle.



In my office I have an old placard about "Customer Centricity," which has one humorous point.

  • Understand Our Customers' Point of View
Aside from the grammatical error, I have always had one thought whenever I see this.  I can't shove my head that far up my own ass!