Two Sides Not Alike In Dignity

Yesterday I had a very curious experience.  The gentleman who came here to brag of being an NPR listener (Okay, I know that’s not all he came to do.  He also came to exhibit his caring.  But I repeat myself and I’ll explain how those are the same later) sent me a dollar and a diatribe about how we’d taught him he was an idiotic, bigoted NPR listener or words to that effect.  I only read the first line, and refunded his dollar with a note that I was also now teaching him he was childish because that’s a trick only an infant would play.  (And stupid, thinking I’d feel obliged to read his pettish rant for a dollar.)

I’m sure somewhere in there he said he’d been a fan and now would never again read my books – because, they all do.  Let me tell you, children, if I’d lost as many readers as the ones who tell me they’ll never read me again, I’d need to have been a mega bestseller before.

I found this rather bizarre, since the NPR quip was thrown out at random, and wasn’t even particularly offensive.  Also, as was shown immediately after, a lot of us listen to or used to listen to (mostly used to listen to) NPR.  Heck, I even used to have PBS on all day (that or the Disney Channel when we had cable.) which led my in laws to think I was infantile.  (I came from a large extended family that was in and out of the house all the time, and yelling/talking/shouting at each other all day.  The silence in the house when we had no kids and Dan went to work gave me the creeps.  So I turned the TV on in the Living room, medium-low while I did stuff over the house or worked in the office upstairs.  Those two channels were the only ones where I wouldn’t suddenly get growling or shooting [or not often] that startled me out of my skin.  Of course, my inlaws came over, saw Disney and ignored my explanations that I wasn’t even in the room.  You should see the gifts they got me.  And also it took me forever to convince them that I did NOT in fact, want to or have the slightest inclination to write children’s books.)

Philosophically I disapprove of the idea that the state needs to – or should – underwrite a radio station and a tv station.  Philosophically I TRULY disapprove of the idea that there is an “approved” culture that should be shoved down the throats of the hoy ploy.

But frankly other than being dry as dust and twice as uppity, NPR and PBS are no worse than most of the mainstream media.  The opinions ventilated are exactly the same, only now with a veneer of intellectual justification that always fails to go into debate or into the law of unintended consequences, or…

And that was where the commenter was odd.  He came in, hanging his hat on that previous comment about being an NPR listener, and proclaiming it, as a way – I think – to put the rest of us in our place.  See, I PRESUME he thought that the comment was a stray one, and that the rest of us would skitter away from it.  This not only assumes people on this blog intimidate easy, it also assumes that anything on this blog is simple or easy.  To be blunt if one of us, who is a regular, proclaimed that anyone who thinks the sky is blue is dumb, and someone came in spouting obviously stupid (other) opinions and said “and I think the sky is blue” we’d be FAR more likely to close ranks about the one of ours who had gone one step too crazy than to back up.  The most he’d be likely to get was “Well, some people who think the sky is blue are only crazy.”  And then two of you would get into a to-the-death dispute over the meaning of “blue.”

So he’d either not read our comment section at all, or he was laboring under some misapprehension that prevented him from seeing where that would lead.  Frankly, I was very proud of ourselves, for sticking to mostly the economic argument with only a few sideswipes at NPR – except for the side track about several different NPR stations and their slants.  Normally, I’d have expected puns about NPR or worse.

Since he was an authorized commenter, and since I know he’s been by (and only marginally offensive at worst, since he never got banned) before, I have to assume he’d waded through our comments in the past.

So…

So I have to assume he thought the NPR listener thing was a shield of invincibility. See, there are these stereotypes in our culture, and he was wrapping himself in two of them.  Saying he was an NPR listener would prove he was a serious and intellectual, and saying he wanted the minimum wage to prevent Burger King from paying $3 an hour showed that he cared for the downtrodden and was therefore a good person.  How could you attack that?

The problem is that he was out of the place where such stereotypes are accepted.  First, we’re in ATH where we’re all Odd and stereotypes, like cows, are to be tipped.  Second, most of us are really into – really into – economics and numbers, and most of you guys make me look ill-read when it comes to history (I’ve bought more books from your casual mentions than I could afford to.) And third… those stereotypes no longer hold with at least half (perhaps more, depending on how bad the fraud was) of the population.

The political sides of the argument in this country have fractured deeply over the last twelve years.  Before that, those of us of an intellectual bend were as likely as not to listen to NPR or to listen/watch what in the UK (and Portugal) used to be called “Second program.”  You know, lectures, discussions of historical events, arguments on the meaning of the word “blue”.

The other side… were they really less offensive?  I honestly don’t know and can’t tell you, because see, the boundaries of the game were different.  As I’ve said before NPR is not much more loonie left than the mainstream media, and might be less.  I’ll confess that I haven’t listened in a long time, but I doubt they’d say fire doesn’t melt steel, and I’m almost absolutely sure they wouldn’t say global warming causes meteorite strikes.  This, by itself, makes them considerably less insane-left than what passes for talk and news in other stations.  And that’s without going into the biases built into sitcoms and dramas.

But I think they’ve got more explicit in their politics.  All of this is a market-driven change, and it shouldn’t surprise those of us who like economics.

Look, before 9-11, most of us were still getting our news from standard channels.  I think I started reading news on the net about two years later, when the hand-wringing of “what have we done to the oppressed brown people to make them murder us” put me in a permanent state of nausea.  Judging from the size of sites when I started reading them and how big they got since, I’d say I’m not alone.  Those of us of an independent er… path-finding nature took to finding channels that didn’t make us want to murder bunnies just to relieve our spleen.

Those of us who tried to hold on longer, because we liked classical music or whatever, became a tiny minority of the listeners of NPR – or watchers of CNN, which I also was back then.  In response, the stations felt free to radicalize further to the left, thereby sending the rest of us running from the audience, with our hands over our mouths.

This, in turn, left them free to radicalize further.

The readers/listeners/viewers who remained were of two kinds – the kind that thought that Stalin “had the right idea” and who think NPR is too right wing and reasonable by half, but will put up with it till the Let’s Kill All the Kulaks station comes on line – and people who are, I think, like my commenter.

Most people regardless of IQ want two things: to think as little as possible (a masochistic penchant for the activity is what makes the rest of us Odds) and to be thought as intelligent as possible.

So there is a vast majority of normal or above average people who flock to programs (and books.  The success in marketing grey goo comes from convincing people smart people read this) that they think make other people think they’re brilliant do so for that reason alone, and avoid thinking as much as possible.  They don’t even notice when the programs, while sounding learned and profound, in fact, refuse to discuss anything.

For an example of actual discussion on the minimum wage, look at Dave Freer’s comments.  He is somewhat handicapped, because I KNOW how the US is reported abroad and also because, frankly, we are a confusing mess when it comes to welfare (and everything else administrative.)  The flaw (small) in his argument is that he doesn’t realize that while our minimum wage is around seven dollars and change, people making that already qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit (we qualified for this once, and got 10k in addition to however much we’d made, which was I THINK around 30k) and also for a slew of programs including free school lunch, etc.  In fact, I THINK the “support money” you get on welfare is probably fairly equivalent to Australia’s $17 dollars and hour minimum wage, and the support you get if you ARE making minimum wage is probably higher, particularly if you throw in city subsidies for power purchases, etc.  (It leaves behind people who have no clue how to navigate the system, but they’re almost always left behind anyway.)

What I mean by Dave got to the actual discussion is that ultimately it ALWAYS comes to the same question: do we lower the wage, (or eliminate it) level the playing field and allow for a greater wealth of opportunity for all; or do we intervene, set a really high minimum wage and live with the fact unemployment will always be high, leaving employers with the ability to pay as little as they legally can and treat employees like dirt, thereby forcing the state to intervene more?

Depending on culture, size of country and homogeneity of the population – and the ability to live out of the grid, which is massive in places like Australia – the answer can VALIDLY be completely different.  (The size and homogeneity come in because in a large heterogeneous country studies have proven fraud is proportionally much higher, which means the US risks a lot more money PROPORTIONALLY going up the spout – and, given the mess the regulations are, we also risk NOT helping many of the people we’re supposed to be helping.  Heck, even something “simple” like minimum wage pushes minimum skills workers into competition with illegals (who are entitled to welfare, but whose employers don’t have to make all the legal deductions and paperwork, so they get the best of both worlds) and/or into a grey market where they have no legal recourse.)

From there we can get to a discussion of the unique US conditions that make the president’s suggestion of raising the minimum wage not only stupid, but rock-bottom-dumb.  For instance, the fraud in our system is massive and we have one of the least efficient bureaucracies in the world (and that’s saying a lot) with no supervision at all and no penalty for wrong moves.  Or the fact that the US has been, for the last just about 100 years, the main CONSUMER in the world, which means the engine that keeps the world economies chugging, and which allows smaller countries that pick security over prosperity to keep enough prosperity to keep giving security… So while the US driving itself to a crash will make everyone else not only poorer but markedly poorer and force other choices on other countries.  (This is expressed abroad as “when the US sneezes the rest of the world catches pneumonia.)  Or we can discuss the open borders that make an open welfare system and a generous (by comparison to south of the border) welfare system the equivalent of an unguarded pool in the neighborhood in a summer day, the kind that when the children drown in it, gets called “an attractive nuisance.”  Because if you can come North, live off welfare and send home the $9 (they’re not paying benefits in addition, so it’s a bargain) you make which make your family the wealthiest in the village – WHY WOULDN’T YOU?  Particularly if you’re starving?

I come from a country that flood Europe with illegal immigrants in the aftermath of WWII.  I know the other side of this.  People don’t think of legality when their kids need shoes and an education.

The difference, of course, was that the recipients of the Portuguese wave, like France, forced people to acculturate.  Kids HAD to attend all French school from kindergarten on, for instance.  Given something like that, and a demand that you speak the local tongue, this “invasion” though it strains our welfare systems (talk to Basset sometime about the reduction of services to his handicapped daughter because of the strain caused by illegal immigrants) and leaves the untrained in our population out to dry would not be all detrimental.  More citizens are usually good.  But if you add to those drawbacks the “unassimilated and taught to consider itself aggrieved” minority, then it becomes a disaster.

Then there is the fact that almost all regulations, including increasing the minimum wage (which also increases deductions) gives big companies with lawyers to negotiate exceptions and favored status the leg up over the start ups who might challenge them, but who never GET started up.  (And given our current system of crony capitalism, that’s probably a feature, not a bug for the Aristos.)

All of these are valid discussions.  Coming in and saying that OF COURSE unless a benevolent government forces the minimum wage up to a “decent” level people will pay $3 an hour isn’t.  First because yeah, right now – RIGHT NOW – very young kids might be desperate enough to take that (must be very young kids, because even college students can get more benefits than that, with food stamps which most of them receive.)  Which wouldn’t be all bad, since it would allow those kids to get work experience, and get better jobs, which, yes, are still available, but not to those with no experience. Second because if the regulations that prevent kids from being hired were loosened, it would open the door to more legal employment and squeeze out more illegal employment (kind of like lawful use of a park drives out drug dealing.)  NO ONE wants to have employees who have no concept of time, or who don’t get the culture.  They only hire them because they can’t afford to hire legal workers.  Lift the restrictions that make this prohibitive, and the economy will take off.  And then we can afford both to have more mobility of workers and more targeted help to those who REALLY need it.

But NPR-listeners who are still listening to the opinion pieces don’t KNOW that.  They are listening to commentary that ASSUMES that all private employers are larcenous b*stards, and all government officials not only like onto angels but smart and infallible.

Because it’s in NPR they also assume it’s “smart” – if they really wanted to think, they wouldn’t be looking for markers of IQ, they’d be reading and informing themselves.

And that’s why my commenter had such a weird reaction – because suddenly he found himself in the position of those people they call “Faux News Viewers” – which I very much doubt anyone here watches, or at least with any regularity – when they comment on left-leaning blogs.

See, NPR to them still has pre-9-11 status.  That it’s “smart” is not supposed to be in dispute.  So to hear it treated as just another peddler of bad fish left him completely confused and feeling as though we’d attacked him personally – hence the childish lashing out.  Because it hit him below his adult, formed and thinking mind, with the force of a kick in the gut.

We weren’t just, you see – as we thought – discussing opinions, with the occasional snark –

NO, we were attacking him personally by going after his idea of himself.

And both sides are NOT alike in dignity.  Because the left (what I call the fluffy left, which has slid considerably further left without noticing in the last twelve years) had long since captured all the channels of communication and most of the door-keeping functions of entertainment, people who wanted to think themselves smart had “fluffy left” as a default setting. (The fact this is also the side proclaimed ex-cathedra in colleges only helped it think of itself as “smart.”)

The few of those like me who escaped the reservation and looked for other forms of information had the option of “lower brow” radio shows or TV programs, OR of reading primary sources, which required a lot of work.  And even we admitted – back then – that a lot of the radio shows that weren’t hard left were “lower brow” even when we enjoyed them.

The left fails to realize that there are more channels now – because they consume news and entertainment mostly as status markers, so they would NOT go to places no one knows – and therefore sneers at anyone who disagrees with them as “Faux News Viewers” which makes most of us furrow our brows and shrug.  It doesn’t hurt because … because it would be like me calling you “Beaver cap wearers.”  Some of you might wear one, now and then, but I bet most have not ever except as a costume of some kind.  So even if you know the other side assumes “Beaver Cap Wearers” are all stupid, it doesn’t apply to you.

However, when you call someone a “NPR listener” as though it were a bad thing, you’re pulling the rug from under the feet of people who PRESUMED that by listening to NPR they were PROVING they were smart, with no more effort required.

Of course, part of me thinks that it should be done more.  That if they’re not willing to concede any dignity to – even – well reasoned opposition, no dignity should be afforded them.

The other side of this, though, is that most people – MOST PEOPLE ON ANY SIDE – would rather die than think.  Which means a lot of this would cause a hardening of the sides into unbreakable fortresses of thought.

On the other hand, it’s already happening, and they’re capturing a lot of people who fall into the “increasingly less fluffy” left simply because it’s the “smart” side, and unless and until we shake that assumption they’ll continue to do so.

So – with apologies to those who’ll fall on their asses and get bruised – let’s pull the rug.  One, two–

 

163 responses to “Two Sides Not Alike In Dignity

  1. You are so brilliant!
    I miss you–just sayin’

  2. Sarah, I love ya. (Apologies to Dan.)

    You have just explained, in far more detail than I ever have (or would want to), what I call The Leftist Bubble.

    It consists of the NY Times, NPR, and MSNBC as the primary print, radio, and TV outlets, with a number of secondary and tertiary outlets that would love to be primary (coughHuffingtonPostcough).

    Most leftists live out their lives in their safe condos in deep-blue cities, read/listen to/watch only the approved outlets mentioned above, and never ever talk to anyone who reads/listens to/watches anything else.

    So it comes as a tremendous culture shock to them when they realize that there really are people who think differently, who have come to different conclusions from the available evidence, and who (gasp!) don’t think the self-anointed elite (as described by Thomas Sowell so well in Vision of the Anointed) should be in charge of telling us how much water our toilet or shower should use, or what kind of light bulbs we should be permitted to buy.

    Some leftists I’ve run into online like to claim that conservatives live in a similar bubble… which notion I debunk by pointing out that we can’t, the leftist worldview permeates the vast majority of American media… I can’t even watch Mythbusters (one of my all-time favorite shows) without having to put up with the occasional green paean.

    So, bottom line… leftists live in a nice bubble — or perhaps cocoon would be a better word — and it’s very painful for them when the bubble is popped by reality.

    Let us be compassionate to them in their pain… but at the same time, keep on popping the bubble whenever we can.

  3. Actually, when someone says that they regularly listen to NPR, I kinda automatically think they’re limousine liberals. The real pinkos think NPR is too centrist/balanced, and we conservatives know that NPR is squishy-liberal (not to say pseudo-intellectual as well).

    The gun rights people know this nonsense only too well. Some twerp comes in saying, “Well, I own guns, and I hunt, but I think that nobody should be allowed to own [insert gun-fearing scary item here]…” Immediately, real gun supporters know the tactic: either pure naivete or false-flagging.

    And just for the record: NPR is crap – 95% crap. (Yeah, sometimes they get something right, but it’s not the way to bet.)

    • The gun rights people know this nonsense only too well. Some twerp comes in saying, “Well, I own guns, and I hunt, but I think that nobody should be allowed to own [insert gun-fearing scary item here]…” Immediately, real gun supporters know the tactic: either pure naivete or false-flagging.

      Concern trolling.

      It also happens a lot right around election day… someone will claim, “I’ve voted Republican since…” and then proceed to launch into a laundry list of what’s wrong with the Republicans that’s pretty much indistinguishable from anything you’d find written on DemocraticUnderground.

      Most of us that engage a lot in online debate either call out the concern troll immediately, or just ignore them.

      • I have noticed that with many folks in the MSM (and online commentary) that their level of respect for Republicans varies inversely with the CO2 output of the Republican. Critics whose careers were founded on castigating Reagan for “not reaching across the aisle the way Eisenhower did” were eventually dismissing George W. Bush for not emulating Reagan’s comity and swapping stories with Tip O’Neill. As certain as tomorrow’s sunrise is that the next Republican president will suffer unfavorably in comparison to W.

        Lincoln is the Democrats’ favourite Republican primarily because they can complain about how bad contemporary Republicans are in comparison, while associating themselves with Lincoln’s achievements that their ideological forebears fought to prevent. Sorta the way Obama is declaring victory in Iraq after Bush did all the heavy lifting to achieve it (over the active opposition of Democrats — including Obama — and which the present administration is trying to squander.)

        • They’ll try to appropriate Lincoln because of the reverence he is held in by most folks. They detest when you remind them that, for all the evil they want to project onto the other side, he was and always will be a Republican. And they really don’t like when you remind them of what the other party was doing during those years.

          • I’ve actually had people become angry with me and call me a liar when I told them that Lincoln was Republican. Can’t possibly be true. Same goes for the KKK being closely tied to the Democrats back in it’s early days. And as is typical, rather than discuss historical fact they will desperately try to attack me or find some means to invalidate my point.

            • Wayne Blackburn

              Odd. Usually they come back with claims that the racist Democrats left the party and took over the Republican party.

              • Yep – I’ve seen posts and comment threads on Open Salon where they explained that in great detail. The misunderstanding and misuse of history was so marked, I hardly knew where to begin.

            • Oh geez– and some of our illustrious leaders *cough Clinton *cough had segregationist mentors. (and his grandfather who was also in politics had a lot to say about segregation– I can’t seem to find it now, but I discovered a lot in the 1990s in our local library)

    • I’ve listened to NPR perhaps twice. I prefer silence to gasbags pontificating. I do watch PBS, but only when they have a Celtic Woman special.

      Yesterday’s commenter sounded young and naive to me — and not terribly educated. Maybe he was a school teacher…

    • And just for the record: NPR is crap – 95% crap. (Yeah, sometimes they get something right, but it’s not the way to bet.)

      One thing they got right, to my mind, was on 9-11 itself. At the time, I had a 30-minute walk to work, and both planes hit between the time I left home and the time I arrived at work. My coworker asked me if I’d heard about the plane crashes, plural, and I headed over to the group where someone had a radio tuned to NPR. And on that day, they were doing journalism the right way: just reporting the known facts, without speculation. When they arrived at the end of the known facts, they said something like “For those of you just tuning in, here’s what happened…” and started over at the beginning, adding to the story as more details started trickling in. And while the TV news stations were falling all over themselves speculating about who might have been behind this, the NPR reporters were wisely leaving speculation until later and just reporting the facts.

      For all that NPR has been turning themselves into National Proletariat Radio in the time since 9-11, I will always feel grateful to them for not screwing up the coverage of the event itself, and being the one news source I could stand to listen to that day. (That day was the last time I could stand to listen to NPR’s news coverage, but that’s a story we’re all familiar with.)

      • Agreed … I was listening to NPR on the morning of 9/11 also. They did it right. And they were human enough to sound shocked when the second tower fell as well.
        I drifted away from listening to them over the next three or four years. The cloud of smug was just too thick to breath.
        But I still listen to the local public radio classical station, though. Although I don’t pledge at all any more. And sometimes I felt like asking for a refund of every pledge I had given before!

        • I don’t even think this little burg has an NPR station within broadcast range.

          I suppose I could find it on XM if I wanted, but I really don’t want. If I want news, XM runs the audio from Fox News and CNN both, so I have options.

        • “They did it right. And they were human enough to sound shocked when the second tower fell as well.”

          They didn’t have time to rewire the narrative and had to react in the moment. Not so easy to pervert when you have to think on your feet.

      • I didn’t have a TV at the time, and had to leave the phone line open in case my employer called (we were one of the first aviation groups ungrounded), so all I had for news was NPR. As others have said: they did it right. Their home had been attacked (NYC, D.C.). I think the magnitude and shock were such that they couldn’t spin it.

        • There was a time when “pure news” was a childhood ideal for journalists and reporters. Like the rest of us, a lot of reporters had their version of being called back to patriotism and their ideals, which was their news ideals. So although they changed back after a bit, that was NPR’s better selves we saw that day.

  4. Blue? But, but, Sarah! It’s actually the atmosphere differentially scattering light of different wavelengths so the sky _appears_ to be blue, during the daylight hours, in good weather. On Earth. On the Moon the sky is black with little twinkly things, even in broad daylight. On Mars, even NASA’s not sure whether it’s blue or pinkish. It may depend on the amount of dust stirred up on any given day. At night, I’m reasonably certain it’s black with little twinkly things, although I don’t, offhand, recall seeing a night time picture from Mars.

    G, D & R

    • (looks out window) Looks grey to me.

    • To quote Satchel, “Oh, the color blue. I thought they meant sad. What color is blue?”

      (see, Satchel is a dog, and colorblind…)

      • ~450 nm :-P

        One of the neat things about an old job of mine was that we regularly dealt with all sorts of other parts of the spectrum. Specialized cameras to see various things relevant to our research that weren’t visible to the eye. We regularly talked about sources, reflection, transmission, scattering of “colors” well beyond the band of what people can naturally see.

        I was messing around with a long-wave infrared microbolometer camera once, and placed a hot water bottle in front of the camera on a desk. The slight roughness of the desk was small with respect to the wavelength of the light, and so what was a matte surface in the visible looked polished in LWIR. The hot water bottle acted as a light source and illuminated the surrounding area.

        In UV, the sky is “closer” than it is in blue. If you’ve looked at mountains in the distance in the morning, you will see the reds clearly, and the greens also. But blue wavelengths are washed out due to Rayleigh scattering – whatever features may exist at long distances are blurred into a bulk-background by the scattering. What goes for blue goes moreso for UV – it was hard to even make out the same mountains with the filters – just a fog-like wall that was closer than the blue fog-like wall.

        Anyway, one thing that I always found fascinating was all the information that is constantly washing about that we can’t see. Human vision is pretty far above average for mammals, it is our primary sense and window to the world. And yet, it is such a narrow window. Just 3 color channels that lump everything happening in their range of sensitivity into “red”, “green”, “blue”. Only sensitive to a microscopic portion of the spectrum.

        And with enough experience with the cameras/instruments, you find yourself unconsciously extending your concepts of “color” and “vision” to encompass all this other stuff. Adopting the “sense” an instrument gives you, as it were.

        • That’s interesting. I have sometimes tried to figure how would somebody who sees a bit wider spectrum than humans normally do see the world – first, would it work well, or would more information just make things confusing if we presume somebody whose brain is mostly human. Then of course how would what she sees relate to what the people around her see, how would it affect their communication.

          • I expect a person who saw, for example, further into the IR spectrum would either go mad or learn to adapt and possibly both. As a child the usual games of Hide’n’Seek would seem pointless to a person able to track the other players by their heat signatures and incapable of comprehending that they think they are hiding behind a sofa when their radiating heat makes them standout as if neon-lit.

            Of course, since the person doesn’t know nobody else sees in that range … at least, not until much older … Daughtorial Unit was diagnosed with astigmatism very late for such things because they always tested her good eye first, and nobody told her not to remember the chart — as if that was an option! — so it wasn’t until the pediatrician’s daughter, helping out at Mom’s office, unknowingly tested the “wrong” eye first that the problem was discovered.

            Assume our IR child manages to adapt to the visual range of the data stream it might prove very useful. It might be handy for telling when a person is lying, for example, or for diagnosing certain ailments and illnesses. If the person has wandered into the … occult? odd-science? … area it might lend itself to a belief in Kirlian auras, for example.

            • I understand that birds, insects and probably, and dinosaurs, have/had a broader spectrum of vision than us poor warm-blooded critters. I understand that mammals’ limited seeing of the spectrum comes from the fact that our basal stock was a night-hunting insectivore type critter that had limited color vision because it needed to focus on motion, and not color, which is better done with red and blacks. Each additional color we see is because of a mutation.
              So, I suspect that bluejays and ducks see more colors than I do. Insects for sure. I’m sure if they could talk they would find human paintings as odd in color as I found the color palettes used by our color-blind costume designer.

              • Back 40 – 50 years ago I recall seeing pictures purporting to display the spectrum seen by various insects, birds, etc. in what I would guess was a Life Magazine article or perhaps one of those Time~Life books on science. Fascinating and strange (although, considering my Odd mind as a child, the two words were largely synonymous.)

                You would think IR vision would be handy in a predator species, particularly one hunting at night. It certainly seems useful for our modern night-stalkers in the infantry.

              • I think, on examination of certain birds such as pigeons’ retinae, they have 5 different types of cones. They are, at least potentially, pentachromats.

                Depending on how their visual cortexes are wired, they may have as many as 10 secondary colors, and 10 “tertiary” colors, and 5 “quaternary” colors (just going off the number of independent channel-combinations).

                http://www.cals.ncsu.edu/course/ent425/tutorial/colorvision.html
                Insects have UV sensitive cones, and in the UV there are certain patterns on flower petals which are invisible to us. Presumably there for the insect’s benefit.

                As for IR: The near infrared is not significantly different from the red (just invisible to us). (Though there are unique reflectivity (surface color) behaviors in NIR vs. red)

                Hot things glow in NIR sooner than they would in red, but they still have to be pretty hot. Mid and long wave IR are where objects at near room temperatures become light sources – “heat vision”. I don’t think many animals naturally see there – you need to cool your detector, otherwise it is saturated with it’s own emissions.

                As for the extension of human spectral sensitivity – I can’t find a link right now, but I thought I read that people who have lens replacement surgery with glass lenses can see somewhat into the UV. (Our lenses filter some UV, but if it can get through, it stimulates the blue cones a bit)

                  • I read somewhere once that widening the spectrum of what was visible wouldn’t be practical because the angle of refraction was different, and wouldn’t focus with the current visible spectrum. Not good for the average hunter-gatherer, but _now_ all you’d need would be specific glasses to focus what was most useful at any given time. I wonder if the brain could handle the outlying spectral defocused light without loss of quality, or if filters would be needed.

                • Probably not the link you were wanting, but related:

                  Scientists create ‘sixth sense’ brain implant to detect infrared light
                  A brain implant which could allow humans to detect invisible infrared light has been developed by scientists in America
                  [SNIP]
                  Similar devices have previously been used to make up for lost capabilities, for example giving paralysed patients the ability to move a cursor around the screen with their thoughts.

                  But the new study, by researchers from Duke University in North Carolina, is the first case in which such devices have been used to give an animal a completely new sense.

                  Dr Miguel Nicolelis said the advance, reported in the Nature Communications journal this week, was just a prelude to a major breakthrough on a “brain-to-brain interface” which will be announced in another paper next month.

                  [SNIP]

                  In the first study, rats wore an infrared detector on their head which was connected to electrodes in the part of their brain which governs touch.

                  When one of three ultraviolet light sources in their cage was switched on, the rats initially began rubbing their whiskers, indicating that they felt as if they were touching the invisible light.

                  After a month of training, they learned to link the new sensation with the light sources and were able to find which one was switched on with 100 per cent accuracy. A monkey has since been taught to perform the same task.

                  The study demonstrates that a part of the brain which is designed to process one sense can interpret other types of sensory information, researchers said.

                  [SNIP]

                  “The nerves were responding to both touch and infrared light at the same time. This shows that the adult brain can acquire new capabilities that have never been experienced by the animal before.

                  “This suggests that, in the future, you could use prosthetic devices to restore sensory modalities that have been lost, such as vision, using a different part of the brain.”
                  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/science-news/9875931/Scientists-create-sixth-sense-brain-implant-to-detect-infrared-light.html

    • I once lost points on a text because, when asked “why is the sky blue?”, I answered “because Rayleigh scattering leads red wavelengths to preferentially penetrate air, while bluer wavelengths scatter. So blue light is scattered and comes from the whole sky, while red light penetrates and so is seen best when the Sun is near the horizon.”

      Sadly, this was in a “rocks for jocks” sort of Astronomy class; the grader had a key that said “because the atmosphere scatters blue light” and all the big words confused him.

      • Sir Charles, what in the world were you doing in a “rocks for jocks” astronomy class? :p

      • Because we have by common agreement assigned the label “Blue” to the color of the sky on Earth during daylight hours. Had we designated that colour “Aqua” or “Indigo” or “Puce” or even “Mangifrabble” the apparent colour of the sky would remain the same because the label is not the thing.

        You must learn, Grasshopper, to not confuse the label with the substance of any thing or person.

        • Mmmmm! Mangifrabble, the color of correctly aged thorps.
          Sprinkle some amaranth groats on that and you’ve got a real feed.

          Coffee. need more coffee.

        • Sky where? On the coasts, the blue tends to be pale blue (robin’s egg) to grey-blue. Out in the high desert of the Colorado Plateau, it is more of a hard, lapis lazuli blue. In eastern Oregon it is grey or dark green, depending on if you are on the beach or in the forest.

          • :D And then you try to get the right mix from the colors you have available, which can lead to some hair tearing and probably ends with you figuring that you will just use what looks nice on the canvas.

            Learning to draw or paint seems to consist more about learning how to see (ask Sarah) than about almost anything else because you can’t accurately reproduce something on the canvas or paper unless you can separate the whole into its components. Which can occasionally lead to a funny way of looking at things. Also lots of staring (and since I started to do it again now I’m not only talking to myself on the street or bus when I think about dialogue or scenes, I’m also occasionally caught staring at people when I see something interesting and start figuring how I’d get that on paper. Yay.).

            • When we first met Beloved Spouse had a hard time accepting I was a basic Crayola box: eight colours was as much as my memory could handle, while Beloved Spouse thought the 128 Crayola box was a beginning.

              Now, after thirty-plus years of marriage, much encouragement and a bit of prompting, I am up to the sixteen-count box with occasional recourse to the twenty-four-count box.

              For years I have lived with the shame of looking at a car and realizing its colour was aubergine. Which brings to mind: while this is commonly thought an X-, Y- chromosome thing, most American men are quite capable of distinguishing between a wide range of colours when they are applied to cars, while American women are generally indifferent to the range of colours of grey used for handguns.

              • Wayne Blackburn

                Having done screen printing for several years, I can tell you that males are well qualified for discriminating between varying colors and shades. As long as you place them next to each other for comparison.

                Where we get iffy is when trying to apply names to colors.

                Interesting – Firefox didn’t flag “iffy” as a bad spelling. It’s apparently in its dictionary. :-P

                • While searching for the classic “how men and women see colors” chart that you’ve probably all seen before, I came across http://blog.xkcd.com/2010/05/03/color-survey-results/ which I had not seen before. Ho got some fascinating results from that survey.

                  • Gah! BAD typo. HE got some fascinating results from that survey. HE.

                    • Amazing find, thanks.

                      I suspect women pay more attention to color names because a) they are expected to have greater facility from kindergarten on b) because they are invested in make-up which entails learning all sorts of shade names and distinctions for mascara, lipstick, nail polish, whether you are a Winter/Spring/Summer/Fall type person and c) some other reason I am too tired to think of but is needed to comply with the “rule of three” principle.

                      It isn’t so much a matter of perception than it is of having vocabulary for distinctions.

                      Finally, this classic scene from Mr. Blandings builds His Dream House because it so perfectly fits the discussion: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ZwOGVWqHAw

                    • I think there was one theory that women would, on average, actually be able to see colors better because they were the foragers, and so needed to notice and differentiate things like edible berries and other plants and plant parts from the inedible ones, while for men, who hunted, being able to notice something like movement was more important. Doesn’t seem very credible, though. Unless that has something to do with the fact that color blindness is more common in men than women.

                      My father seems to have the rarer version of color blindness, he says he can’t tell blue from green. Well, rarer unless you count total inability to see colors. I have known one man who claimed he could see no colors, and presumably then saw the world as something like a black and white movie.

                • When I did web design, there was a period in time when you could show me a color, and I could tell you its hex code. I couldn’t tell you whether it was beige or sand or wheat, but my assertion that it was #EDD6AE would be spot on.

          • Time of year makes a difference too, from the angle of the sun, moisture in the air, etc…

    • Actually on the Moon, when the sun is in the sky, you can’t see the stars. The landscape is so bright your pupils close down to the point where the stars are invisible. I’ve talked about this with astronauts who have been on the Moon, and they report this phenomenon.

      • Thus leading to the great scene in the Space Brothers anime where, when the one brother is in a deep and narrow lunar ravine/valley, he can finally look up and see the stars.

  5. As for the Weimer Republican … first, the NPR reference was a deliberate insult to the commentariat here. Revisit the post and look at what he actually said and tell me it doesn’t boil down to “Y’all er a bunch of no-neck anti-intellectuals who will rejeck me outta hand on account I use big words.”

    Also notice that the argument he made was devoid of fact and reason. He asserted a value and implied (baldly flat-out as much as said) that anybody who didn’t share that value was a bad person who should shut-up, listen to their betters and go sit in Timeout until they got over being naughty.

    Note what he did not propose: a regime whereby shops posted their wage rates and people could elect to give their custom (or not) according to that information. Nothing he said respected individual liberty or economic reality. He displayed his team T-shirt and said anybody not on this team is bad.

    As a widely acknowledged “BAD” person I don’t much care about the opinions and views of people who demonstrate preemptively that they disdain me and my values. Especially when they begin by announcing that they buy their opinions pre-chewed and pre-digested and with a government seal of approval.

    As Kathy Shaidle has gloriously proclaimed: “You’re not smart enough to tell me how to live.”

    • Oh, I forgot to mention: that dollar was also an insult, like leaving a dime tip. If he did not mean it as such that further demonstrates his arrogance.

    • I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt simply because the $1 donation and the long diatribe attached was so outrageously DUMB. Anyone who has read this blog or my books knew I wouldn’t read past the first line and would either return the donation (I did, because I’ve decided anyone who has donated goes into a list for freebies now and then and I don’t want him there) or laugh in his face and erase the message. I mean, anyone who has even read my books should know I DON’T TAKE WELL TO TALKING DOWN TO ME.
      So he might be so dumb he didn’t realize he was insulting, etc.

    • and for our purposes “dumb” doesn’t mean low IQ, btw. He might simply never have bothered to THINK.

      • Many a person with high IQ learns that the key to success and acclaim in this world is regurgitating the Conventional Wisdom … and the key to opprobrium and denunciation is challenging that CW by actually investing yourself in thoughtful analysis. The Crown rarely executes advisers for praising the Crown’s wisdom and compassion.

        Only a true genius like Vetinari seeks and promotes advisers who say “That is the dumbest idea since displaying the precious stone earrings on an open rack out of the clerk’s sight, and here’s why …” I have often considered that the life of the powerful must be truly sad, bereft of people you can trust for honest advice. Of course, it probably has its compensations …

        • I suspect Vetinari doesn’t hear those things from his “advisers”, but from his intelligence staff, repeating what they heard Important Personages say.

          It’s not that he wouldn’t welcome such an adviser, but that it’s so much easier to convince people to report what others say accurately than to find honest people to play the role of courtier. Particularly when you can convince your intelligence staff that each of them is only ONE of the MANY people reporting on that particular subject and you WILL compare what each reports.

      • Thinking is hard.

        That’s why most people don’t do it.

        Hence, the state our nation is in.

      • I have a friend like that. Very smart in most ways but seems to swallow things like Michael Moore documents whole and it’s impossible to talk with about them because she usually just returns with the same arguments you find in them. So I just avoid talking about those things with her, but even so it’s irritating. She just seems incapable of analyzing some things. I’m not a particularly deep thinker, but I do find going at an idea and playing devil’s advocate even with those ideas I do think are right fun, so I really don’t get that. I may not change my mind, but I like playing with ideas.

        Have to admit I also rather hope she doesn’t happen to wander here and read this. She would probably figure out I’m talking about her, and I’d never hear the last of it. :D

        • Some people, when given an idea, love to bat it about like a kitten with a ball of yarn, pulling it this way and that to see how it stretches. Other people are more like puppies and just gnaw away at the idea until it has been fully absorbed.

          • All I’ve been able to figure is that maybe, for her, it’s that that is the world she would like to live in, those are ideas she likes, so she perhaps prefers not to look at them too closely. Besides she lives in an environment where those are the accepted truths, so not questioning them is probably also more comfortable. That tribe thing. You want to belong. Not belonging with the people you mostly need to deal with can be uncomfortable.

            • There are ample studies demonstrating people’s willingness to subvert what they directly Know in favor of the “wisdom” of crowds. For example: in a classroom somebody bursts through the door and hits the teacher in the face with a pie and runs off. Although the assailant was wearing a clearly BLUE shirt the class members have been coached to report the shirt as Purple. The one person in the room not in on the gag will generally reframe the memory to match the color reported by the class.

              In most instances there is little to be gained by challenging the beliefs of the collective, little harm is done by those beliefs and this unfying aspect increases, as you noted, the security of members of the group by increased group cohesion.

              In the country of the blind, the one-eyed man is a dangerous lunatic, always stirring up trouble and discomfiting the collective.

              • In most instances there is little to be gained by challenging the beliefs of the collective, little harm is done by those beliefs and this unfying aspect increases, as you noted, the security of members of the group by increased group cohesion.

                The exception to the rule is, IMHO, when the beliefs of the collective are driving the nation over a cliff.

                • And that leads to the problem: what could you do to get to those people? Arguing rarely works, mostly likely it will just lead to yelling matches which lead to people sitting in their trenches and refusing to even try communicating anymore. Playing with ideas can work, that sort of playing where you don’t argue from your preferred point but try to look at something from all angles, but many people refuse to do that. Easy choice is just to avoid these questions, but if most of us do that the consensus will presumably most likely just stay the same, and it’s not in a good place right now.

                  • Aye, you’ve hit upon the problem.

                    I am pretty well convinced — though open to persuasion to another point of view — that the only thing we can do is let the whole thing play out and hope that at least some of those blindly following the herd realize that the herd was going in completely the wrong direction.

                    • At which point the herd may very well start charging towards another equally disastrous direction.

                    • If/when that happens, I hope to be safely in Heaven with my Lord watching it from the sidelines.

                    • I’m hoping that while chipping at the problem may not be enough to solve it before the substance hits the fan now, it may help to ensure that what happens after that will be something at least a bit better. So one should keep on trying. Even if I can’t change anybody’s mind now (unlikely, changing somebody’s opinions is a feat which requires at least some charisma and I’m sorely lacking in that department) if I keep on trying perhaps I can at least leave some seeds in their unconscious, which, if their preferred model turns out not to work, might perhaps make at least some choose a bit more reality based model after that. Only I would prefer to do that in a way which will not alienate the friends I do have here – as I have said before, almost everybody I know in my daily life is more or less left leaning.

                    • “The man convinced against his will/ is of his own opinion still.”

                      I really, really wish I had that feminine skill– much maligned by feminists– of getting folks to consider a change of mind as if it were their very own original idea.

                      I can politely not comment when folks do change their minds, as long as they don’t harass me about it, but the “oh, I don’t know about that…” which was my grandmother’s most powerful level of disagreement? I can’t manage it.

                  • Playing with ideas can work, that sort of playing where you don’t argue from your preferred point but try to look at something from all angles, but many people refuse to do that.

                    A thought: I tend to refuse to do this online unless it’s a VERY safe place, because far too many trolls use it to just be asses. They don’t want to have fun, they want to screw with people. I hate that.

                    • I don’t usually do that online either, that kind of play works best when you do it face to face and can get all the nuances of communicating, like expressions and tone of voice. Otherwise it too can lead to those shouting matches way too easily.

                  • And forgot the second half:
                    So, argue in good faith, call folks on their BS, and try to move on without malice.

        • I think we all know people like this, and you are right, it’s usually not worth talking to them about it. Unfortunately, this reinforces for them the idea that “everyone I know agrees with this”. I’m making a conscious effort after this last election not to allow this. I respond to stupid denigrating comments, not nastily, but with some argument. I don’t know if it will make any difference in the long run, but at least I feel I won’t be contributing to the mass psychosis in this country. You should have seen my sister-in-law’s face!!

      • I once quoted the famous line about it being a good thing that we don’t all like the same thing, just think of the haggis shortage.

        Whereupon a woman with a PhD told me that I could have hers.

        sigh

    • I missed the kerfuffle yesterday (and am too lazy to look it up, being under the influence of both a cold and meds for said cold), but it sounds like he was using the classic leftist tactic of the Appeal to Authority.

      It basically goes, “Expert X says Y, so if you don’t believe Y, you’re stupid.”

      And then leftists wonder why I accuse them of just parroting talking points handed to them by others. ;)

      • You might enjoy it just for the way he talked about his friends calling “NPR” “Nice, Polite Republicans.”

        Might have the first word wrong, though– the meat was that to be a polite Republican, you had to be an NPR-ite.

        • Well, I fail on two accounts.

          I ain’t a Republican — registered with no party affiliation — and I ain’t polite to idiots who wanna stick me into a box based on what I listen to or read or watch.

        • Wayne Blackburn

          Oh, I read it as, “Most people I know are so far Left that NPR is Right to them, but not so far Right that they are Evil.”

  6. Most people don’t want to think. I’ve caused more meltdowns than I can count by asking the kinds of questions that force whoever I’m talking to to think past their beliefs – and this is completely independent of political affiliation. I can send a non-thinking conservative into a frothing meltdown just as quickly as I can send a non-thinking leftist into a frothing meltdown. (I don’t recommend doing this with people you like. It can cause friendships to break down).

    What it comes down to, I suspect, is that thinking is expensive, biologically. It ties up resources that could be used for other things, and takes time – which is in the evolutionary sense, bloody dangerous. Sitting around and thinking gets you eaten by whatever’s out there looking for an easy meal.

    So we Odds are going to have issues no matter what, and the rest will sit in their cozy little bubbles, left or right, until someone pops them. Then they’ll get angry at whoever popped the bubble because it’s easier to take one’s view pre-prepared than to evaluate things for yourself.

    • Welcome to the club. I’ve been called all kinds of things because I ask people to consider their second, third, and fourth order effects. The responses usually boil down to, “B-but, I mean well! Can’t you just validate my feelings and let it go? BTW, you’re a jerk*!”
      (*jerk subsitutued here for the words I wouldn’t use on this forum :-D )

  7. PS – I was LMAO at the NPR commenter the other day. I was thinking that this guy was practically the poster-child for all those smug leftists that like to believe they are sooo very brilliant. How lofty is their thinking, how much the benighted masses need them to illuminate their grey lives with the light of Culture and Civilization. (IRL I can’t afford the eye-roll, as everyone around me more or less takes this worldview deadly seriously.)

    But I’d caution against the impulse to assume everyone out there that doesn’t agree with you is simply refusing to think. One alternative that might be more common than you think is that they simply don’t value the things that you do, and reason accordingly. In some cases, consciously or not, the life and liberty of others, particularly those not of their tribe, might be among the things that hold zero weight in their considerations.

    Also, it risks trapping you in a symmetric bubble of your own if you imagine that everyone who buys into leftism, crazy though many of their shibboleth’s appear to us, is some sort of idiot.

    I’ve been politically “undercover” for several years now, among people whose intelligence in their field I respect, yet whose political opinions are somewhere to the left of Lenin, and think people like my family and friends need to be forcibly uplifted from their reactionary state of nature. I can’t believe they are *stupid* – I’ve seen their work. I wish they would afford the same courtesy to us individualists.

    As it is, they have no idea that what they excoriate walks among them. As much as it might be nice to prod their bubble a bit with some outside thinking, it would not be likely to end well. (I made that mistake once by making an oblique reference to an Ayn Rand novel and having someone explosively accuse me of being some kind of sociopath that is unsafe in civilized company if I’ve even so much as read her books with any kind of approval.) To keep my tenuous position, I’ll need to remain secret-agent-libertarian for the foreseeable future.

    Anyway, echoing the comments of a poster a few days back, thank you for your blog. It is an island of “2+2 = 4″ in a sea of gibbering lunacy. (Well, pockets of gibbering lunacy appearing suddenly just when apparent sanity has you lulled into a false sense of security.) While I pride myself on never subordinating my own understanding of the world to anyone’s opinion, it is still nice not to be *completely alone*. (And yes, the aloneness is partially the artifact of us all being “undercover”.)

    • I’d posit that there is a difference between intelligent and smart. People can be very intelligent, but not smart when it comes to looking at the culture around them or weighing competing ideas. People can also be dumb but very canny.

      There’s also selective smart, or as the family’s (now retired) vet put it, “[animals] are only as smart as they want to be.” This after the dumb-as-a-box-of-rocks cat opened his cage at the vet’s office, climbed onto a counter, opened a cabinet, pulled out a half-full sack of chow, and dragged it back into his cage. Brilliant in his field when he wanted to be, not too with it otherwise.

    • They’re political idiots, which can strike very smart people. For reasons a lot like yours, yours was in the political client for 10 years, & like you I have brilliant colleagues who are politically to the left of Lenin. I don’t think they’re dumb.I think some want to be what they perceive as “mainstream”, others want to be “good” that is their leftism is either social signaling or religion. Btw the term for what you are is Daywalker. Changing them from within by stealth. Carry on my friend.

      • Daywalker, huh? :-P

        That might explain my usual nocturnal habits and aversion to natural light. Either that, or being a complete nerd. It’s hard to assign symptoms to conditions sometimes. :)

    • Though, thinking about it again: The refusing to think thing *might* have merit.

      I did a lot of debating in online forums back when I was younger (and dumber – they call it Sophomoric for a reason.) and trying out different philosophies, the arguments that supported different worldviews, what followed from them. I made the rather unnerving observation that it wouldn’t matter what arguments I would make or what issue I would present, there were only ever two or three different ways of thinking about the topic. Why? Given a position on one or two views, I could with unnerving accuracy predict *everything else* about how someone I didn’t even know saw the world, how they would evaluate events, what they would think of others or their arguments. Why? Why this near perfect correlation among the beliefs of the various ideological tribes? (Politics was just one of the things that had such stark correlation.) (*Especially* since these disparate topics weren’t logically related to each other, and were sometimes logically dissonant.) Each ideological tribe also has it’s own slogans, phrases, post-it-note wisdom, word choices, spelling styles.

      There were millions of people on the internet, and yet it felt like there were only three or four people I was encountering over and over again with different names and avatars. It was creepy.

      Anyway, there were a few people who didn’t fit the mold. Curmudgeons, iconoclasts, people who didn’t quite fit in the boxes. I didn’t always agree with them, but it was a relief to find these guys, because you could see them reasoning about their own positions. (I can see into your brain through the internet, bwahahaha. :-P ) They came to their own conclusions about things. They were *sources*, not merely replicators, of ideas. And since I didn’t fit in any of the ideological tribes myself, it was nice to find people who also weren’t so defined by the various tribes.

      So maybe there is something to the most people not thinking assumption. It’s still a treacherous assumption, IMO, but it would fit what I saw.

      • *laughs* Funny, I’ve frequently been on the receiving end of folks who find out I think D, H and Q, and assume they know what my ABCs are; they assume contradictions where none exist outside of their own worldviews, assume differences where they aren’t and ignore distinctions they don’t like. (I spend a lot of time self-analyzing– and suspect that is exactly why the tactic is popular, though I don’t think most do that deliberately, and suppose those who do it deliberately are just trying to spread self-doubt.)

        • Well, things aren’t always as they appear. And forum debates are a narrow window into the lives of others. Hopefully I was just young, stupid, and assuming too much.

          • I’d guess it’s a mixed bag: a lot of folks fit archetypes, but some of the seeming “only an idiot could think–!!” stuff is just different ways of seeing stuff. Like the folks that believe human dignity requires killing anyone who is less than at the height of health vs the “no killing humans without a really grave reason” folks.

        • Wayne Blackburn

          I run into it all the time. Or, worse in my opinion, are people who will declare what my motives for holding a position are. They are almost universally wrong. I don’t think like other people. Of course, there’s a lot of that here, but I come at my opinions from a whole different angle than even most people here.

          • “Or, worse in my opinion, are people who will declare what my motives for holding a position are.”

            And to me, that is the crux of the matter. It’s usually not about whether you’re thought through a position; it’s about what kind of person you are, and if you have Position X on one thing, you must be an evil man who holds all other morally reprehensible positions. Why, the logic couldn’t be more sound!

          • I usually just ask if they work for a sideshow as a mind reader, if they can determine my motives via telepathy.

            It generally causes much frothing at the mouth on their part… but the point has been made, which is what I wanted.

            • “I could never be so arrogant as to presume to know another person’s motives,” usually puts them off. Because arrogance is their favourite accusation against conservatives (e.g., the MSM’s repeated denunciation of Bush/Cheney arrogance for not paying more attention to the MSM) they get all flustered when called on their own.

          • tell them their motives for ascribing such a motive to you.

    • But I’d caution against the impulse to assume everyone out there that doesn’t agree with you is simply refusing to think. One alternative that might be more common than you think is that they simply don’t value the things that you do, and reason accordingly. In some cases, consciously or not, the life and liberty of others, particularly those not of their tribe, might be among the things that hold zero weight in their considerations.

      Oh, there are indeed intelligent lefties out there. I’ve devised a test that seems to pick them out of the herds of followers who just parrot the talking points du jour.

      Just challenge the talking point. If they engage in a thoughtful manner, then yes, they’ve probably thought about it, or are willing to. If they descend into ad hominems or just keep repeating the talking points, they’re a parrot.

    • What a lot of people tend to forget is that KNOWLEDGE is not INTELLIGENCE. I have a lot of knowledge — I’ve proven it over and over on “IQ” tests, placement tests, and other things. I also have a modicum of native intelligence, which allows me to see things that are there, and on occasion, predict things that are likely to happen. BUT …

      I have a lot of knowledge of history, writing, and a few other subjects. Let’s give that knowledge an arbitrary measure of 12.
      My knowledge of math is pretty good, but nowhere near as good as my knowledge of history. Let’s call it an 8.
      I could go on and on, assigning a value to everything I know, ranging from 0 to 15. It means NOTHING unless it’s applied. Many of us are good at applying what we know to what we do, from preparing breakfast in the morning to what we do to earn a living, to what we spend our leisure time upon.

      Some of us (a majority among Odds) can apply our intelligence to our knowledge, and see things as they are now, and might be in the near future. This is frequently referred to as “wisdom”. A large percentage of the population never get around to applying intelligence to knowledge. That’s why a majority of the population is frequently referred to as “sheeple”.

      Part of the people that apply intellect to knowledge do so for good, another part apply it for other reasons, some of them supposedly good but filled with (un)intended consequences, and some of them for self-satisfaction and self-aggrandizement. They’re not necessarily stupid so much as they’re self-centered, usually with no external or self-imposed limits. These are the people most likely to do what the rest of us consider ‘evil’.

      The ‘sheeple’ are the one that believe listening to NPR makes them special. The “Odds” know that the only thing that makes one special is recognized, acknowledged achievement that results in something desired by others, or beneficial to others, whether they, themselves, are aware of it or not. That’s the reason the NPR visitor yesterday was met with such derision. It was fun to watch… 8^)

      • IIRC, for many of the measures of IQ in the young, KNOWLEDGE IS a proxy for INTELLIGENCE. This is because the accumulation and retention of knowledge is often a result of intelligence, so that a sixth-grader demonstrating as much knowledge as a twelfth-grader will be rated comparably smarter than a sixth-grader possessing the store of knowledge of a eight-grader.

        Similarly, the tests tend to score higher for certain kinds of knowledge (as Charlie Martin’s astronomy anecdote demonstrates.) An ability to navigate unaided through a woods relies on a significant body of knowledge of the sort not likely to show up on an IQ test. It is always important to keep in mind that tests generally only measure the attributes they are designed for and that those attributes are not always the ones the test designers thought they were measuring.

  8. The most brain-injuring thing I ever heard on NPR was when I accidentally found myself listening to “Democracy Now!” (The radio had been tuned to some delightful pre-war folk music the day before). What I eventually realized was that rather than reasoning, they were just stringing together Left-liberal catchphrases that were shorthand for all of the pre-digested left-liberal arguments. You couldn’t make sense of it without a decoder – although even then it wouldn’t make LOGICAL sense. Phrases became totems, fetishes to be rubbed. “The Bush Administration” came up a lot as shorthand for anything the commenter thought of as evil, even when it had nothing to do with Government.

    In a way, it reminded me of the joke about the Comedian’s retirement home, where all the jokes were so well known, they were simply referred to by numbers. “23.” one retiree would say, and they’d all laugh. “97” was a real side splitter. One newcomer to the home was surprised by this, but then he tried it. “72” he said. Crickets. One of the older residents, sensing his confusion came up to him and said, “Son, it’s a fine joke, but your delivery was terrible.”

    Oh, BTW, it’s “Hoi Polloi”

    • The “Democracy Now!” people are truly lost. If you watch that program, you soon find that one “guest” will say something that is just literally, objectively false – utter inversion of historical fact – and the rest will all nod their heads like it was a deep thought.

      I grew up out in California where among the local “public” radio stations was Radio Pacifica – who made the Democracy Now! people sound like Mensheviks to Pacifica’s Bolsheviks. If anyone had a radio program on “Best Ways to Kill Kulaks” or “Why the Finns Had It Coming to Them” it would be Radio Pacifica.

      • I don’t think the Democracy Now! people are lost. They’ve got tenure at the City University of New York (CUNY) system and have better benefits and better pay than just about any professor including ivy league ones. They don’t leave those jobs till they drop dead and they hang on to grab every possible dollar. Your tax dollar at work (true its NYC but they have a way of grabbing fed dollars also).

  9. >>I’m sure somewhere in there he said he’d been a fan and now would never again read my books – because, they all do.

    I did not, in fact. say that. Just to clarify for the record.

  10. Missed most of this today– Hubby and I celebrated our 20th anniversary by grocery shopping and eating popcorn in front of one of our fav. movies. We handed sweettarts to each other. Best anniversary ever.

  11. What’s frustrating about economics discussions with “NPR listeners” is not that they are especially ill-informed about economics.

    They are, but no more so that all consumers of the MSM.

    Its that they are so convinced of their superior knowledge on the subject. The whole NPR gestalt embodies a firm conviction of being among the cognoscenti of politico-economic theories … when in fact, they are as misinformed as any reader of Paul Krugman’s intentionally misrepresenting screeds.

  12. Actually I thought we were being nice to him. Geez I wonder what would have happened if we were our naturally mean selves.

    • Oh, the usual. Dogs and cats living together, massive 500 kiloton explosions in Russia, blood feuds, cops shooting each other on TV …

      • Wasn’t that yesterday?

      • Popes resigning for the first time in 600 years… (not that I’m Catholic, it’s just a very unusual occurrence.)

          • No, a very pretty crescent, classic cartoon style. Although I did mention to my husband that it was cool I could see the “dark” part of the moon last night….

            (Incidentally, dogs and cats living together might explain our cats. I’m so tired of folks talking about their “big” cat that’s eight pounds; ours are about 24.)

            • “I’m so tired of folks talking about their “big” cat that’s eight pounds; ours are about 24.”

              What do you do when they want to walk on your head?

              • They don’t, thankfully; but when they step on a stomach or lay across your belly, you know about it. Our youngest daughter is FINALLY the same weight as them, so we can relax a little.

              • Havey is 13 lbs but he looks bigger — he’s a sta-puff marshmallow kind of cat.
                Euclid is 16 lbs…
                over that you’re in maine coon territory.

                • One of our cats had a special relationship with gravity. He was not the heaviest nor the largest cat with whom he had had the privilege of sharing our lives, but he was the most immovable object ever I knew.

                  Other cats, when making their displays of indecision standing in an open doorway, I could grasp under the belly and lift them through; Mittens would just flow out of the hand one direction or other.

                  Other cats, when they lay atop the blankets, would flow over you as you shifted underneath. Mittens, once settled atop the blankets, attached to the Earth’s core and any poor soul caught under the blanket had better just move around him, there was no moving under permitted.

                  As I said, I’ve known larger, heavier cats, but never one so capable of remaining where he was until he was good and ready to be elsewhere.

                  • I know your problem. That’s not a cat. Like in Thor and Utgard-Loki’s cat lifting competition, you obviously have the Midgaard serpent there.

                    Actually my cats immobilize me in my sleep too.

                • Yep.

                  Our fluffy one had the vet thinking he was fat…until, thank goodness, he actually did the rib check.

                  Mom half-jokes about there being bobcat blood in our barn cats for a reason…they get decent housecat nutrition and they’re monsters.

                  • I UNDERSTAND it is possible for housecats to mate with bobcats. Since bobcats also EAT housecats, some poor bobcats must get awfully confused.

                    BTW ALL American cats tend to be larger. Whenever I go to Portugal I’m shocked at how small the cats are. I don’t know if it’s genetics or nutrition.

              • Wayne Blackburn

                Well, we bitch a lot when our 20-lb Jack Russell Terrier walks on our heads (she plays Sentinel of the Yard, looking out the window behind our bed), so it’s probably pretty much the same.

                • I WANTED to say, simply: “Object.”

                  But I couldn’t slur the boys like that….

                  • Wayne Blackburn

                    Heh. Thinking of “the boys” reminds me of the dog I had when I was growing up. Weighed about 100 lbs. If I was being difficult to wake in the morning, my mother would start smacking my feet, and the dog would jump on the bed and try to “defend” me. But at the size he was, that put his back feet right on top of my privates.

                    Needless to say, I got out of bed rather quickly.

    • Hey, I’m not NATURALLY mean… I just have mean days sometimes.

      I do my best to stay away from online discussions on those days.

  13. This time difference is irritating. I am up around the time these discussions get going, but usually have to leave for work while they are still going, and when I come back most of you have gone to bed. :/

  14. That’s OK. I used to work a 13 hour day and put in a good 30 minutes on a forum before turning in or doing things like cook dinner. I’d get put on probation because they thought I was a hit-and-run troll.
    I thought of pleading not to ban me because I lived under a bridge and the Wi-Fi was spotty but I just gave up instead. It wasn’t as awful enough to merit kicking like that.

  15. I just lump them togethere, Sarah.
    “Sure, if you’re going to listen to the brain-dead NPR and Fox crowd.”

    They really, really HATE that.

  16. There is an exerpt of a Rothbard article at Ludvig von Mises Institute.
    That State of the Union Speech has really focused attention on minimum wage.

    http://mises.org/daily/6367/Outlawing-Jobs-The-Minimum-Wage

    “In truth, there is only one way to regard a minimum wage law: it is compulsory unemployment, period.”

  17. People who smirk at “Faux News Viewers” are nursing an undeserved superiority complex. How many times since Dan Rather have the “approved” outlets been caught in outright lies? Yes — the prime time programming on Fox is pretty low-brow, but Keith Olbermann wasn’t? And what about Jon Stewart, darling of the “fluffy” left?

    (Apologies for the late response to this post, but I AM Catholic and am therefore trying to avoid the internet for Lent.)

    • Oh. One of my sons gave up procrastination for lent. hillarious results have ensued.

      The internet is work for me.

      And of course, you’re RIGHT.

    • MSNBC gave a prime-time slot to a man who has instigated multiple riots that have result in deaths. By any rational standards, Fox is a paragon of neutral viewpoint journalism in comparison.