A State of Ignorance and An Ignorance of State

Okay, I’m sick and tired of this meme, and you guys know that when I’m sick and tired of something, I usually go to the keyboard and start typing away.  This is, after all, how Darkship Thieves was born!

As sick and tired as I am of this one, I’m in the middle of two novels (well, the first quarter of two novels) – Through Fire and Darkship Revenge — which are coming out alternating one chapter at a time. (Because they hate me.)  I’ve also got The Brave And The Free patiently waiting its turn (since it’s 500 years in the future from Athena, well… it is not as urgent.)  I’ve also got two novels – Shadow Gods and Witchfinder – patiently waiting mid-revision.  I’ve got covers to draw.  I’ve got…

I’ve got no time to write a whole novel on this, though I very much suspect it will attack as a subtheme of a novel sometime in the future.

However, let’s dispose once and for all of the meme all over conservative websites that goes something like this “the citizenry doesn’t know x” (the number of judges on the Supreme Court; the name of their local representative, the color of underwear the president prefers) — ?????? —  “Game over, man, game over.”

Then there’s the slightly saner version – why only slightly saner? See first point – which a) assumes that most people only know about the country what is on Jay Walking.  b) that this is a unique form of ignorance in history. c) That the republic can’t survive without precise knowledge of the founding documents and the arcana of government.  The ?????? comes in where, apparently, without being able to quote verse and line of the constitution, people won’t know when things get so bad they want to throw the bums out.

Generally speaking, the devil is in the ????.   Also in the lack of historical perspective.  We tend to get this picture of history where “the country rose up and…”  I advise you actually READ the history, or even read The Moon Is A Harsh mistress, which gives you the impression of how many people were involved in arguably the most successful revolution he world has ever seen.  (TMIAHM was loosely based on the American revolution, as was my own A Few Good Men.)

I have reliable information that the people actively involved were around  3%.  The sympathizers probably were around 25%.  Even after the revolution more than half the people were royalists, just not engaged enough to do anything about it.  And I bet you given the state of communication in those days most of the royalists were sort of royalists.  They had a vague idea we’d always had a king.  They had no idea what was going on, but by gum, they didn’t want their lives disrupted.  IF the royal mercenaries burned their house they might become ardent patriots.  Or they might turn even more to the king, because if it weren’t for those danged revolutionaries, the burning wouldn’t have happened.

THAT was our founding.  That was our inception.  And I bet you since then the rates of engagement, wrong headedness and “get your politics off my face, I’m getting on with life” is about the same.

Look, I care passionately about politics, partly because I lived in times when not knowing who was likely to gain power the next turn could cost you your life (a lot of people become engaged in those circumstances) and partly because I come from that sort of stock.  My family has a passionate penchant to pick at philosophical scabs.  They will spend hours discussing a line in the Bible, and/or the symbolical meaning of a Roman myth and/or the concept of the divine right of kings.  You get three of us together, you have at least eight opinions, and we enjoy taking the universe apart, then putting it back together, metaphorically speaking.  (There’s always a bunch of metaphorical planets left over, and a dimension that doesn’t fit quite right, but by and large no one notices.)

It took me a long time to figure out most people aren’t like that.  It helps that I live with a husband who got engaged in politics ONLY this last year (even living with me) and that only one of my kids actively talks about politics.  (Though they are both informed.)

Most people in the world care about certain things, more or less universally: food, clothing, shelter, and – secondarily – a relationship (or at least sex) and tertiarily (totally a word, shut up) making and raising fat babies (HT Sanford Begley.)

They care about things they understand to be immediate to achieving those, so work and socializing. All the rest is “boring.”

Even if they learn the constitution and our form of government in public school (At least in CO they do, including having mock congress and mock elections – so, just like the real thing) they forget it as soon as they come out, just like I forgot the atomic weight and symbols of a bunch of elements I used to have by heart so I could do chemical equations without thinking or even as I’ve forgotten most of my German: they forget it because they don’t use it.

I live with a young man who wants to be a neurosurgeon and who babbles endlessly about the brain and its structure (in case people wonder why my fiction tends to go that way these days.)  Because it’s not one of my primary areas of interest, I mostly tune it out.  HOWEVER so much of it is poured at me (when we walk, he provides the sound system) that some is bound to stick.  One thing I remember is how he says our brain is evolutionarily designed to cut out information we don’t use very often.  That’s how, if a band of hominids migrated from the shore to the prairie, the info on how to detect the approach of a sneaker wave was erased in favor of the info on how to avoid big-cat-that-eats-hominids.

The info might still be there – in fact probably is there – but it is no longer easily accessible.  You have to work for it, because it got routed around and other info comes up faster.  HOWEVER if something reminds you, you can usually vaguely unspool the rest.

This is what a lot of our education, including civic education, is based on.  You put a lot of things into teens which they might never need, and you hope that, given need and a beginning of a hint, the rest will come up.

Unless we build some system to mine the brain and modify it and have everything accessible RIGHT THEN, people mugged on the street by some idiot talk show host (or worse, a survey) are going to give stupid answers.  H*ll.  I might give stupid answers myself, if you asked me something like the name of the mayor in my city I think I remember the Denver one, because he’s such a pain.  Actually most of the names of representatives I remember are the ones who make me drop on the floor and foam in a fury.

This is right, because my brain is attuned to DANGER.  And these people are dangerous.  However, the undistinguished middle?  The go alongs?  Couldn’t care less.

(As a note, btw, I bet not half the women are as stupid as they seem when interviewed on something like Jay Walking.  I don’t know if it applies to the men, but I suspect so, amid beer buddies.  However, women view “not being too bright” as a mating strategy.  This is because it appeals to men’s protective instincts.  Being an Odd, I never played that game.  BUT I went to an all girls school, so I saw these women in the presence of males and not.)

Most people in America – for now – are living their lives, minding their own business, trying to survive, a task made more difficult by run away (if officially invisible) inflation, run away college fees, mounting taxes and stupid regulations AND the difficulty of finding and keeping jobs.

These are their primary concerns.  Do all of them realize these are caused by politicians?  No.  I’d bet at least half think “it’s just one of those things” and it’s a cycle.  Some might even think it’s caused by Global Warming or some other thing they heard a lot about but have no idea how it works (this is how we get the idea that Global Warming causes earthquakes.)

You’re not going to change that.  You can’t.  Most people can’t care less about politics, provided it doesn’t get in their faces and scream. It’s how human beings are and it might be a very good thing.

Those of us who care about politics tend to get into odd theories, and one or the other of them can become a fad.  More trouble has been caused by theories in the world than by all the people who don’t care and go along doing other stuff.

The problem we have right now is the confusing of politics with social clubs.  A lot of this has always happened.  Hereditary democrats who don’t believe anything the democrats are promising vote democrat because their local Ward people met their immigrant grandfather coming off the boat and helped.  So, in gratitude, they keep voting democrat.

But it is worse now, because there are a lot fewer other (local) clubs and sports are less …  uh… fewer people care about sports.  So people identify with a party in the same way that people would identify with a sports fandom.  They vote democrat because their neighbors do.  Other people do it was a status thing “All of my industry votes democrat.  It’s what smart people do.”

As I said, this has always happened, but it’s become more so as the mass media – note I used all democrat above.  There’s a reason – has worked very hard to foster this kind of clubbish partisanship.  (Including reporting everything stupid a republican says and keeping mum about things like Guam tipping over and/or having to pass the law to find what’s in it.)

The mass media is a massive problem.  (But one that’s being dealt with by tech, which is why the darlings have gotten even more shrill.)  The people who don’t know much about politics and care even less?  They’re just human beings.

Frankly, what makes America special is how many people showed up at Tea Parties: how many normal, everyday, work-a-day people got that concerned about runaway spending.

Those people are still there.  Those people still care.  They’re awake.  They care.  They’re waiting.

Pray.  Pray very constantly that the crash isn’t bad enough to wake the rest of the people.  PRAY that there is never a state of affairs where your survival depends on almost everyone knowing the constitution and being able to tell you if they’re for or against each amendment.

Because that will mean a state of unimaginable chaos and fear and possibly a tri-or-four part civil war.

Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.  Let’s hope it’s never required that the majority of the people be THAT well informed.

UPDATE: Welcome Instapundit Readers, and thank you to Glenn for the link.

193 thoughts on “A State of Ignorance and An Ignorance of State

  1. I would have been happy to live my life out loving, working, raising my family. But my nose is being rubbed in the mess more and more. I have no power to do anything about it, which only makes it that much more unpleasant.

    1. I just sit in the darkness, honing my bayonet and cooing, “Soon, soon, my Preciousssss…”

      1. I’d find that disturbing were it not for the horde of sharp, poky things scattered about my domicile. Also, you should be careful of over-honing that bayonet. It’s a good way to sharpen your blade out of existence.

        1. Are you seriously telling Kim Effing Du Toit how to sharpen his blade? For an encore, are you going to teach your grandma to steal eggs?
          (and yes, I’m picking on you, Kiltedone.)

          1. Suck eggs, dear lady: anyone who has to steal their own eggs (or anyone else’s, natch) is working far too hard for their rewards. *ducks* And as for the redoubtable Mr. du Toit, I would never make improper suggestions to another man on how he sharpens his … blade. *dodges* I simply implied that over-sharpening constitutes abuse. My concern is not his practical metallurgical skills, but his eyesight. Sitting in darkness, playing with sharp objects is an excellent way to be unprepared Come What May. *parryfeintriposte* Now, should he eat plenty of carrots and see in the dark better than I, I will of course retract my importunate statement, implications and all. *drops mic, runs for the hills* Ye’ll ne’er take meh alive, revenuers! Ach, crivens!!

          2. Couldn’t help but flash on a quote from John Ringo’s “Princess of Wands”
            “I’ll keep that in mind,” Augustus said, smiling slightly. “How much longer are you going to polish that?”
            “I’m not polishing it,” Barbara said, running the silk cloth down the length of the Murasaki blade. “I’m sharpening it.”
            As for the egg thing, sucking eggs is just gross, but stealing them from the chicken that laid them, now that takes skill.

            1. It has been years since I have gotten so carried away with sharpening something that I was down to honing it with a cloth (and that was an axe, I might have used a cloth on a knife, but I don’t recall doing it) anymore I just work down to a fine stone on a knife until I have all the mars out and it will shave hair smoothly without catching and pulling any. I don’t use an axe enough anymore to do more than file it down until it will shave and call it good.

      2. I find that particularly hilarious, as I am sitting here sharpening my knife while reading this.

  2. However, women view “not being too bright” as a mating strategy.

    Thank goodness I’m a “stealth” male, then (that is, women generally don’t change their behavior when I’m around, at least until I speak, and then only sometimes). If I thought a woman I was talking to was dumbing herself down while talking to me, I’d flip.

    Yeah, yeah, I know the jokes that come to the minds of some people when reading that. Don’t sprain yourself trying to come up with ones I didn’t already think of.

    1. One of the things that makes me an Odd, and many of the women in my life that I actually respect, is that we are attracted to intelligent males. For me, that’s always been what I looked for first. But I see so many who are otherwise bright women and they are in a relationship with a loser. It makes me wonder if there is some survival-of-the-species selection going on there. The men of my acquaintance inform me that being a ‘nice guy’ is a sure way for them to be doomed to not having a woman in their life as other than a friend. I’m still trying to figure it out.

      1. Agreed – though I put brains third, maybe even fourth in importance. First comes kind heart, next comes good sense of humor, and intelligence is probably tied with competent. (Looks isn’t even in the top ten, though good grooming is.)

        But intelligence, yeah, very sexy. ^_^

      2. I saw it the other way too– I could never mask my intelligence so I only had males for friends until I met my hubby. My sisters dated several males– So I would meet guys who wanted to be around a smart female, but then they would marry losers (imho) or go for the girls who wore a lot of makeup, hairspray, and fashion. So maybe there is a selection process. I didn’t marry until I was 31.

        1. Plus I was the despair of my mother. I was always being told that I needed to lose more at games or act dumb to make the guy feel special. Ugh– I was very competitive and ambitious. lol

          1. See, in my opinion, it’s boring to win all the time. But either way, more important to me in that respect is, don’t act like a jerk whether you win or lose (I’ve known some women with chips on their shoulders, who can’t win against a man without rubbing it in, sometimes for months, and if they lose, they make excuses).

            1. Oh– I am not one of those. If you beat me, I tell you that it was a good game. — I lose at all sorts of games like bowling and poker. I do win at darts though especially if a drink is involved. 😉

            2. Why does it even have to be about winning and losing? A discussion should be about looking for the truth, about finding the facts, looking at everything for all angles, and if someone changes their mind, that’s not losing. And anyone who makes it about losing is going to find their partner won’t want to change their mind very often.

              1. Ummm– Laurie– wasn’t talking about discussions– just games. I wasn’t talking about winning in discussions… just that a lot of guys don’t want to talk to a smart girl. 😉 You do have a point– and I agree with that point… but– it wasn’t part of what I was bringing to the discussion.

          2. Your mother gave you really bad advice. Men who are strong, capable and intelligent value those same qualities in women. We actively seek out such women. Only a loser wants someone he can look down on.

              1. I don’t compete with my husband. Nuh-uh. No way. I just… challenge him on every preconception, every metaphor, cultural assumption, quirk of British english to American english translation, food preference, dogma, etiquette, recipe, way of folding shirts and making the bed, etc. And he turns around and does the same to me.

                It’s fun! Man, how boring it would get if we couldn’t debate the best dish between “tuna-mayonnaise” vs “tuna fish salad”, why I should never say “I’m stuffed” after a meal, the proper amount of plot vs. character development for a given series, how hot is too hot for a curry, how to deal with rude people, sola scriptura vs. solo scriptura …

          3. You’d get along just fine with #1 Daughter. In her late teens she took up black powder shooting along with me, and was beating half the guys at meets in fairly short order.

            And just smiled. (Her husband is similarly competitive and smart; they trade off competencies pretty amicably.)

      3. The men of my acquaintance inform me that being a ‘nice guy’ is a sure way for them to be doomed to not having a woman in their life as other than a friend.

        Depends strongly on the woman, and what the guys are doing when they’re being “nice.”
        I notice both that some women don’t want a smart guy, a lot of guys choose women in a pattern that will assure their results don’t change, and a lot of guys when trying to be “nice” instead set a woman’s teeth on edge– unwilling to stand up for ANYTHING, wishy-washy, and sometimes lying, all while trying to get into your pants. Not all that endearing.
        Losers are easy to manipulate without being offensive, while jerks at least have what appears to be confidence. (even though it’s usually just an utter lack of considering others equally human)

        About the only guys I know who don’t talk about how “being a nice guy means you’re stuck as a friend” are the ones who didn’t take that to mean they had to be spineless. It is possible to change– my husband had a long string of “stuck as friends” before he met me, became my friend, and then made it very clear that he was interested enough to risk rejection and possibly harm a valuable friendship. (I think he may have been considering ten foot tall glowing letters as the next step.)

        1. What I found in my 20s was that most women equated “nice” with boring. So I stopped being nice for a while. The turnaround in my fortunes was astounding.

          Oh, I was(and still am) “nice,” but I learned to not be so all the time. A little variety brought the spice of life that made things exciting…and attracted more of the opposite sex. 😉

    2. It is a quite reasonable strategy given the demonstrated fact that male intelligence is suppressed by activation of the libido.

      A male able to engage intelligently with a sexually attractive female is either highly intelligent, gay, both or an Odd.

        1. One characteristic of an Odd is that they get into an engaging conversation that last two hours and, when asked by friends afterward “who’s the cute guy/gal” will blink then murmur “Was he/she cute? I didn’t notice.”

          Extreme Odds will not have noticed the person with whom they just spent two hours discussing quantum physics, time travel and the curvature of n-dimensional space was female/male.

    3. I find myself putting on a rather fluttery mask to deal with folks that I get the impression would be discomforted by my preferred behavior. I hate trying to guess what other folks are thinking, especially women, but you might have the kind of body language that communicates that you won’t be upset if, say, the little hobbit woman next to you starts chattering about science news.

    4. I know quite a few men who like stupid women, but actually more that are like myself and irritated by them. (although some of those are married to idiots, so they’re hypocrites) Personally I while I can be friends with somebody stupid, that is mainly because I can get away from them when their stupidity starts to irritate me, I certianly wouldn’t want to live with them.

  3. Silicon Graybeard is posting on this right now -http://thesilicongraybeard.blogspot.com/
    The gungrabbers are really on a roll and seem totally unaware of the consequences, unintended or otherwise. Or maybe they realize that their intention to “fundamentally change America” cannot happen as long as the majority have weapons.

      1. A *huge* surprise. I lived in Hungary, where everybody follows politics. Not because they LIKE politics, but because thestate is SO in your face that they HAVE to.

        Americans will NOT like finding themselves in that position, and when they pay attention, the Statist are going to find themselves with their pants down, in bed with a corpse (aka, their ideas, dead-on-discovery).,

        1. Have you seen the reports on the application for Obamacare (16 some pages) and financial aid for Obamacare (sixty-plus pages)?

          This is what comes of letting children vote.

          The problem is not in our electorate, as they trusted the MSM to reliably report what the politicians were up to. Apparently those layers and layers of fact-checkers and editors don’t actually amount to much.

          1. By definition anybody applying for Obamacare is “little people.” Journalists and MSM people do NOT work for the little people, and often forget to even PRETEND that they do.

            1. They are in for the shock of their lives.

              They are mostly peasants, and not particularly bright peasants. They work for corporations, and as soon as it becomes economically unviable for the corporations to pay health care, they’re on the same system as the rest.

          2. Don’t insult children. Most of the members of Congress middle-age or older.

            And our current President was re-elected by people who died years ago. Or are so senile they forgot they’d already voted once. Or twice.

            1. Oh, that’s not true– the liberal Nun being charged with voter fraud filled out the ballot for someone who hadn’t been dead more than a few months!

              And many of the Seattlittes are perfectly able to remember they voted already at their home address, but voting from their vacation home(s) is so easy and they’re voting for the right guy…..

    1. Have you seen the text of the bill Schuster submitted to the Senate for “universal background checks”? Here are two situations that could get you a five-year prison term on a felony conviction:

      o Loaning a parent a firearm for more than 7 days. I’ve done this; my father borrowed by Mark III .22 pistol for a couple months.

      o Having friends over to shoot at a range on your own property and letting one of them use your firearm. There is section of the law about that a casual read would take as protecting this, but the word choice restricts it to your home and the area immediately around it. A range on the “back 40” wouldn’t qualify!

      1. I know enough about the bill to be REALLY upset. I suspect it would make our shoots in TN illegal — because those of us who fly rarely bring guns. Eric Scheie (Classical Values) also posted on FB about how if you have someone house sit for more than a week (we do, someone HAS to feed the cats — okay, it’s been a while since we’ve been away that long. I THINK Liberty Con four years ago?) and own guns, you are also liable to be put away for five years.

      2. The background check bill that recently passed the Colorado House was largely the same language as Schumer’s Senate bill but for the violation being a misdemeanor instead of a Federal felony as Schumer’s (5 year prison). The Colorado Senate passed it with amendments and sent it down again but it could pass in hours/days in Colorado.

      3. Local news was reporting that it would ban simiautomatic weapons.

        Depending on what definition they used, that would include my .38 special revolver. (The “fires without being loaded or cocked between trigger pulls” definition; I know some definitions don’t include revolvers.)

        1. Yeah, double-actions are often a gray area in such laws. I sometimes wonder how often that is intentional, and how often it is because the people writing the laws no nothing about what they are trying to ban.

    2. It is not possible to turn millions of people into slaves without first disarming them. Political power comes from the barrel of a gun.

  4. If you stop me in the street to pose a question I consider stoo-pid (e.g., one whose premise I totally reject, such as semi-automatic weapons that fire thousands of rounds a minute (um, how many times can you pull a trigger in a minute?)) it is probable you will get an answer either

    a) flippant and stupid because I am reflecting your question’s stupidity back upon you, although, as you don’t understand your own ignorance you will not understand my mockery of it

    b) an explanation unpacking all of the unconscious premises embedded in your question and why they are ignorant, bigoted and fillintheblankphobic

    c) a curt “sorry, haven’t time” which has now become my default reaction to most Facebook discussions, for reasons explained by Larry Correia at his blog today, invoking Sarah, Mad Mike and Col. K

        1. I did it once to my aunt on FB. MMike and Larry chimed in on a gun-control post. I think we made her cry… Sadly, she wasn’t interested in logic and data, only her feelings.

          1. It’s even more fun if you can get Larry going in person. He tends to suck the air out of rooms that way. My secret hope (one of many) is to see somebody ask a truly stupid question of a panel upon which sit Larry, Oh, John Ringo No, the good (for a given value thereof) Colonel, and Mad Mike and our Lady (again: given value) Hostess. I fully expect said unfortunate to fall to ash on the spot.

      1. D*mn it, I missed it. I think I was dealing with guest blogs and exhausted and put it on back brain to “check later.” By the time I checked, it had been deleted.

          1. And it’s hilarious. I especially like his later-added commentary in the middle of the facebook postings.

              1. The day before yesterday I was expressing my opinion to the owner of the loca gas station and my ex-landlord about local politics…and I caught myself saying, “well, I can say this to you, it’s not like _you_ will spit in my Coke”. They both laughed, but it is getting kind of nasty out there, and nasty behavior is starting to be common.

                1. I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I don’t have any conservative stickers on my van– it’s new, and I’d like to keep it unvandalized.

                  1. That doesn’t seem to be as much of an issue in the Dallas area; of course, I also have a Texas State Rifle Association sticker on the truck……

                    1. The cowardly little activists that would key the van would know that 1) I wasn’t there to see it, and 2) American gunowners are very unlikely to shoot someone for a dumb reason anyplace but in their rhetoric. It’s like how Marines are “Babykillers” and cops are “pigs,” and both can be spit on– because there’s actually no danger of being killed, because both have discipline.

                  2. I don’t have anything on my pickup. It’s bad enough that I drive a pickup (until someone wants to move something heavy.)

                    1. Someone stole the magnets I had on the tailgate. *shrugs* I still wish I had my sibling’s “FREE TIBET! With any purchase of automatic weapons. See store for details” sticker. Sib got a lot of thumbs’ up from neo-hippies who couldn’t read the find print.

                      Yeah, it runs in the family.

                    2. I don’t have anything on my pickups either, but I might be willing to put that Free Tibet sticker on one. I used to have some anti-wolf bumper stickers, but apparently the glue was low quality and they eventually all fell off.

                    3. There used to be a sticker out there, “Yes this is my truck, no I won’t help you move. ”
                      I had thought once of a sticker, “Stop the genocide in Darfur. Send Rifles”, but as Draven said, I live in L.A.

                2. Nothing new there. When my mother’s next-door neighbor, in a small over-age-65-only community, dared compose a letter to the editor of their community newspaper defending the prosecution and impeachment of Bill Clinton, some member of the mob that responded in print escalated to throwing a rock through his front window.

            1. Tom Kratman pretty much dropped the Troll Hammer with his left and right “20 rules of racism” posts. Not much said after that.

    1. I’m rather taken with this gem:

      Cenate Pruitt (p.s. anyone who nonironically uses the phrase “political correctness” needs to be sent to a reeducation camp.)

      Don’t they even listen to themselves?

      1. I think he was being ironic about reeducation camps. Whenever forced to engage such idiots in discussion I find that I habitually end up being ironically ironical, although I sometimes go ironically ironically ironic.

        Waste of time, of course. I am convinced that Gary Larson captured the essence of “what we say/what progressives hear” with this cartoon:

        1. Maybe, maybe not. There were multiple sneering comments there regarding “nonironically” mentioning Political Correctness, as if there were no such thing.

          1. Clarification: I think he thought he was being ironic. The ironic pose is suitable for sophomores but in faculty it merely comes across as jejune, juvenile and puerile.

            By ridiculing the non-ironic usage of “political correctness” he was able to engage in it without getting it on his hands.

    2. Well, that’s 2 hours I’ll never get back. Thanks for the link though, it was hilarious 🙂

  5. It doesn’t take that many people who are knowledgeable about something to get other people moving (or persuade them not to move). From what I’ve been reading, the vast majority of the patriots during the American Revolution did not really worry about the arguments over the balance of power between George III, parliament, and the nobility. Nor were they interested in Blackstone’s commentary on the history of the law. Instead, people worried about capricious officials, perceived injustices and new limitations on their rights, and regulations that put limits on their earning potential. When it came down to fighting, roughly 1/3 of the colonists supported the patriots, 1/3 supported the crown, and 1/3 just wanted to be left alone (or to get on with the feud that had been going on already for years [see the Carolinas and Hudson Valley]). And supporting the patriots did not always mean fighting. It often meant just not helping the British military and officials, or shunning open Tories.

    For more along these lines, see T.H. Breen and Bernard Bailyn.

    1. Thanks for pointing up a basic tenet of social science: the local expert or opinion leader.

      This phenomenon derives from a basic human inclination: laziness. I don’t need to know much about cars, stereos, computers, neuroscience, history, politics — you name it. All I need to know is somebody who’s got a bee in their bonnet on the topic and ask them. The effort required for me to learn enough to fully evaluate a car repair shop, for example, exceeds the probable benefit of owning that knowledge. But if I have a neighbor whose hobby is cars and their repair and maintenance all I need do is ask him who he trusts to service his vehicles. Minimal effort proportionate to the reward.

      Similarly, I don’t need to know much about music if I have friends who are “into” music and whose taste in music generally pleases me when I visit them. Same with movies — I am not interested in “good” movies, I am interested in movies I will like. I am secondarily interested in not being publicly humiliated when I state that I thought Terminator was a good movie, so I will soak up sufficient cine-lingo to BS a defense of my preference.

      Which brings us to politics. All of us (I assume) have by now learned that a bill for “The Kind And Gentle Treatment Of Puppies and Kittens” may actually hide a law enabling the vivisection of small animals, their ritual sacrifice and disposal of the remains in jars of Gerbers’ Vienna Sausages..We have acquired as sources of informed evaluation people who are actually willing to read those acts of the legislature, analyse them, parse them and provide us with executive summaries because, really, about one short paragraph is all we want to know about it. Because we have, y’know, lives.

      Extend the argument to publishing, film, television, etc. Few people care that The China Syndrome was a pile of steaming illogocal anti-scientific dog poop. All they wanted was two hours of story-telling that left them having to run to the pisser as son as the credits rolled.

      1. Dude. The Terminator was a social commentary on the loss of jobs to automation. It’s message is that that we must resist the Futurists, who have seen a sane and fair future and are determined to change it. So we who are living in the ‘past’ of the movie must resist these Terminator Futurists, and fight to build a sane future, living with nature, making things with our hands and . . . destroy all automated factories.

        Bwahahahaha! Thank you RES, always enjoy a challenge.

  6. Frankly, what makes America special is how many people showed up at Tea Parties: how many normal, everyday, work-a-day people got that concerned about runaway spending.

    This. This is what puts paid to the notion that the people who are concerned about the current state of affairs are in the minority. You won’t see it in the mainstream media, but look at the difference in size between the OWS crowd and TEA Party events. You have to go to alternate news sources to find the photos that aren’t crafted to minimize the TEA Party event sizes and maximize OWS gatherings (or any Democrat gathering), but when you do, you see that the numbers are heavily on the TEA Party side.

    1. And it happened in an off year election. When was the last time you saw a Tea Party event? I admit to possibly being sheltered on this, but the “movement” seemed to just stop. I haven’t seen any events in a long time…and they sure didn’t show up as a majority on election day.

      I say this as a proud supporter of the Tea Party. The momentum of 2010 turned into the “gimme gimme gimme” from most folks in 2012.

      1. I’ve heard of them, but there was an article out, I believe it was last year, declaiming the “death of the TEA Party”, but then there was a response indicating that the focus had changed from rallies to doing more work under the radar of the media, like voter registration, attending public meetings of politicians, etc.

        Also, the Left vehemently denies this, and the Right doesn’t want to believe it, but all the indications are that the last election was STOLEN. It wasn’t poor turnout. It was things like people voting multiple times (one woman in Cincinnati bragged about voting for Obama FIVE times). There are currently 19 investigations into voter fraud in Cincinnati alone, and uncounted people were told at the polls that they had already voted, which means that their provisional vote at the polls won’t be counted. I read statements before the election by unbelievable numbers of people who said they had always voted for the Democrat, and were going to vote for Romney this time. The list goes on and on.

        1. I was a poll watcher. My precinct was “good.” We only had 1/4 of the people show up and be told they’d already voted by mail. “Only” 1/4. I hear some places in Denver was close to 3/4.

          MASSIVE levels of STAGGERING vote fraud.

          You don’t have to know what happened — you have to see how they’re acting. Hilary shut up and knuckled under because she was promised 2016 and they had to have shown her convincing proof they could pull this off. Think about it.

          1. Applications for absentee ballots are public record. You can contact people prior to election to verify that they actually requested the ballot and start the postal inspectors and the AG when it can still do some good, prior to Election Day. Ideally you would fold that into door to door campaigning so it would be a no cost item, just a conversation starter.

      2. CPAC has TEA partiers, there’s local ops going on, etc.

        They just don’t hit the news very much.

        Mittens deciding to ignore the base to work on expanding the tent is probably what caused the drop in turnout– not TEApartiers staying home. (May be some overlap, but unlikely.)

  7. Agreed. Frankly, I can’t recite the Constitution or the Bill of Rights, and I can never remember which amendment is which, other than the 1st. But I know what’s in there.

    To paraphrase (well, okay, modify) Terry Pratchett – when people like the Occupy movement start a revolution, it doesn’t mean much. When people like the Tea Party start a revolution, that’s when it gets serious.

  8. If my granny’s to be believed, my family’s been knocking around Virginia and North Carolina for 350 years. My ancestors MIGHT have cared who their governor and congressman was leading up to the Civil War and during Prohibition, but I doubt anything short of that got their attention. They had enough to do keeping corn in the field, squirrel in the pot, and sheriff’s deputies away from the still. Prior to radio, I’m not sure how much attention they could have paid to national events. It’s hard to imagine just how isolated rural areas in this region were before about 1930. Nowadays my relatives and I are paying very close attention.

  9. A microcosm: my little neighborhood in Houston some years back had a mostly inactive civic club with low fees and an extremely modest mission. Sometime in the 90s it became fashionable for voluntary civic associations to become mandatory homeowners associations with elaborate covenants. Suddenly serving on a civic association board meant being able to charge large annual fees, engage in building projects, and order one’s neighbors around. So the first step in consciousness-raising was these officious intermeddlers getting involved in the power-wielding side of the political process.

    There followed a predictable series of scandals over boards going wild, hiking up the annual fees, imposing penalties for infractions of silly rules, running up legal fees over the resulting disputes with outraged homeowners, and foreclosing homes over the unpaid legal fees. At a certain point, this finally got ordinary neighbors riled up. So the second step in consciousness-raising was awakening the sleeping giant: a lot of regular people showed up en masse to annual meetings and (sometimes, as in the case of my neighborhood) voted the bums out of office.

    Early in the process, it’s incredibly hard to get the ordinary residents to believe the board could be up to something so dumb, or that they really have the legal power to do what they’re doing. My more aware neighbors had to drag me in kicking and screaming; I just ignored the first few flyers on my doorknob. One by one, you get people involved in an insurrection, which (if you’re lucky) reaches a tipping point. Eventually I was going door-to-door myself and running for office.

    1. And you have just stated the entire premise and projected outcome of a book called “The Law” by Frederic Bastiat.
      If you are interested, there is a website called Bastiat.org that has the full translated text.
      It is on Gutenberg too.

      1. I think it’s also on “the Federalist Papers” website, as well, along with the Constitution, the Federalist/Anti-Federalist papers, and a couple of dozen other works. I’m not sure, but I think that de Toqueville’s books are also there.

      2. I second that endorsement of Bastiat’s work. Essential reading for all claiming the mantle of conservative.

      3. Yeah, that piker, he stole the idea from me. :0)

        That experience got me involved in the law of HOAs. I found, to my great distress, that it was difficult to get most neighborhoods to protect themselves. People assumed that an HOA board could be sued for constitutional violations if they got too out of line, which was not at all the case, as they are not a government, and Texas does not regulate contractual arrangements of that sort as quasi-governments. But I like to take every opportunity to warn people to be very, very cautious about HOAs, which can take your house away from you quicker than you probably thought possible.

        The bottom line is that there’s no substitute for running for, and serving in, office. We can’t assume that good candidates will become available for us, just because we very reasonably would prefer not to have to get involved.

        1. Of course there’s an alternative to running for office. Eliminate the office, and no one need run for it.

          1. Which is why, when we moved to Plano, the only deal breaker I stipulated to my realtor (and hell yes I hired my own; the seller’s is under NO obligations to YOU) was that there be absolutely no sign of an HOA.

            Of course, a neighbor with a desire to mind your business can start going through various regulations until he finds a suitable one….

            1. But watch out. In Texas in some metro areas (Houston definitely, but I can’t remember about Dallas/Plano), the state law was changed sometime in the 90s to allow less than a unanimous vote of homeowners to create a mandatory HOA where there was none before. That’s what was afoot in my neighborhood, and since I left there’s been an attempt every five years or so to start the business up again. Luckily the neighbors are still sensitized and continue to fight it off.

              If you live in an area covered by deed restrictions, it’s a good idea to know your neighbors and make sure they’ve heard of the HOA problems.

              1. This is why when I was looking for a place to buy prerequisite to the deal was no deed restrictions, no covenants, and no HOA’s. Granted HOA’s weren’t really a problem since I was looking rural, but you would be amazed how many rural properties have covenant’s or restrictions put on the deed by the seller. Many of them for no fathomable reason, I mean one place I looked at the seller lived in another state, with no adjacent property, in fact the property was bordered by timbercompany ground on two sides, a wheatfield on the third, and the highway on the fourth. There were covenants saying that you could not put a mobile home, any outbuildings without a foundation, and some type of garage was forbidden (I can’t remember if attached or detached, but one was forbidden). I mean, why, what does it matter to the seller?

  10. @Texan99: This. I’ve been watching events very carefully for the last 8 years or so (I think falling in with Bill Whittle had something to do with that…). Most of my family couldn’t care less. But like my Granddaddy used to say about having to get a mule’s attention to get him to do what you wanted, sometimes by “going upside his head with a 2×4”, when something finally registers on their radar it ain’t going to be pretty.

  11. My family arrived in the Colonies in 1735-36, from the Scottish highlands and the Hebrides. There were four brothers and their families. One was a member of the Scottish Highlanders regiment, one was a Methodist minister, one was a trader, and one was very young (14 or 15). The Highlander lived with the rest of the company, the minister and his family moved to Savannah, the trader and the younger son began trading with the Creeks, and eventually married into the tribe.

    When the Revolutionary war broke out, the families were much larger than when they’d first arrived. About a third supported the revolution, a very tiny minority were Tories, and the rest just wanted to be left alone. After the war, at least one Tory family moved to the Bahamas, and one moved back to England. The rest more or less accepted the new country and went on with their lives.

    It wasn’t until the War of 1812 that the family gave anybody any trouble. Unfortunately, the one particular incident, the Fort Mimms Massacre, involved one of my direct ancestors AGAINST the United States.

    1. My (non-native) ancestors came over in 1661, his grandson signed the Declaration of Independence, another was one of Lee’s aide’s… yeah we got some history…

  12. Real Jay-Walking episode: Jay asks the tween-aged kids the usual civic questions; they stammer stupidly. In walk the parents, who also stammer stupidly.

    Then in comes gramps and rattles off the precise answers in quick time, impressing all and sundry.

    Don’t tell me it was always like this: Our parents and grandparents knew civics COLD, and they could do both the rote answers and their justifications, often citing chapter and verse.

    We HAVE been dumbed down. My American History classes were all about a Teapot Dome and TARIFFS. That’s it. No Woodrow Wilson segregating the armed forces, no discussion of eugenics or how Progressive America cheered on Mussolini and Hitler until the the Holocaust soured the PR.

    1. I’m not saying we weren’t dumbed down — I’m saying that MOST people forget this stuff — ie kids and parents. SOME know it — the grandfather did. If the ages were reversed, would that prove that we’d been smarted-up? If you’d chanced on my extended family I can guarantee reverse-age stacking up of knowledge.

      Data is not the plural of anecdote. Do you know what was discarded on the cutting room floor? These days if it’s the media, you can be sure you’re being spun.

      1. And besides, Jaywalking is entertainment. Of course they’re going to pick out the most extreme examples.

        On the other hand, the live “Man on the Street Thursdays” with Sean Hannity make me worry about places like New York. It wasn’t merely questions like how many Supreme Court Justices, it was things like who are the main Presidential candidates.

        1. What alarms me most is the Jimmy Kimmels routines where the man on the street is asked what he thinks about something nonsensical, and responds in complete seriousness, like the recent joke about pardoning the sequester and sending it to Portugal. He’ll even justify his position with made-up facts, like “We need the jobs here and shouldn’t be sending them to Portugal.” I’d have liked to think that people weren’t quite that suggestible.

  13. Just to further reinforce my jerk credentials, technically speaking, true global warming, encompassing an actual change in the interior of the Earth, might be able to influence Earthquakes. That said, the AGW folks, for the most part, do not seem to be even pretending to have an idea about the interior of the Earth.

    A significant change in the temperature of the interior might change the pressure loading on the tectonic plates, which might do something about earthquakes. I don’t know, I have an okay background in thermodynamics, but I’m very weak on seismology.

    1. Well, I agree with the last four letters of your handle.
      First, there is no global warming. It’s the biggest scientific fraud in history. Think about it: a photon of sunshine reaches the atmosphere. It can be absorbed by an air molecule or continue onward to strike the surface (land or water). If the photon is absorbed by an air molecule, then the temperature nearby rises. But, that absorbed photon is not available to warm the surface was deprived of that warmth. Thermal equilibrium being what it is, the slightly warmer air and the slightly cooler surface interact to equalize the temperature. The planet as a whole does not get warmer just because a slightly increased percentage of air molecules absorb solar photons (and prevent them photons from reaching the surface).

      The “greenhouse effect” anthropogenic global warming crowd (including the pseudoscientific climatologists) all pretend that photons absorbed by atmospheric CO2 are somehow “extra”, and they conveniently forget that those CO2-absorbed photons cannot (directly) warm the surface.

      The issue of climate affecting earthquakes: Well, perhaps in an ice age when glaciers cover most of the continents, the extra weight might affect earthquakes. But that will hardly matter, since we won’t be living on the glaciers.

      1. You might want to go back and re-read Bob’s comment. He didn’t say there was Global Warming. He said that IF there were warming of the entire Earth’s crust, not merely the atmosphere and a few inches of the surface, then it might affect Earthquakes.

        It was obviously in reference to this from the original article:

        Some might even think it’s caused by Global Warming or some other thing they heard a lot about but have no idea how it works (this is how we get the idea that Global Warming causes earthquakes.)

                  1. Insert mandatory quote:
                    “Smoke me a kipper I’ll be back for breakfast”.

                    T-shirts and mugs available online.

                1. Credit where it is due: AGW is responsible for much panicking and running around doing pointless things.

                  It is also responsible for much surrender of liberty and freedom, so we can credit it for an increase in slavery in the world.

                  All that is true regardless of whether AGW is valid.

        1. Global implicitly refers to the whole volume of the earth. The first fallacy of the AGW types is that they treat Global as referring to only certain parts of that volume.

          I can bury a thermocouple in my back yard, and keep records for 40, 60, a hundred years, money and life permitting, and have half decent data for a single point over about the minimum time frames we probably. Thing is, this is only measuring enough places if we assume that the earth is a homogenous sphere of constant temperature. This is probably incompatible with finding any sort of effects that could be caused by humanity.

          I’ll neglect the issue of sufficient measurements to get an idea of surface temperature, for some definition of surface, if human influence is possible.

          Any and all surface measurements are jack and squat as far as the average temperature of the earth is concerned. By geometry, most of it is on the inside. My understanding is that measurements of the inside are such that we have huge error bars.

          Strictly speaking, I didn’t think I was talking about the crust. Or at least not about the crust alone. I don’t exactly have tables of coefficients of thermal expansion for all forms of magma and other such material down to the center of the earth. However, I expect that a small increase in temperature would increase the pressure between the insides (mantle?) and the crust, which might do earthquakes in addition to the volcanoes.

          A large enough increase, of course, will liquify the crust, in addition to everything else. This probably wouldn’t count as an earthquake.

          Both of these are probably in magic energy out of nowhere land.

      2. Oh, and the greenhouse effect is when CO2 or Methane, or some others, absorb infrared photons that have been re-radiated by the ground, after converting the sunlight to heat, thus trapping the photon and preventing it from exiting to space, causing heating of the atmosphere in the same way that the glass in the greenhouse roof does. It doesn’t have anything to do with photons being absorbed on their way in.

            1. I have a tendency to think that Thermodynamics is always Very Serious Business.

              As you are probably already bored to death of hearing, the case has been made that as water vapor is a more powerful greenhouse gas than CO2 and others, then human fiddling with the weaker stuff probably can’t be strong enough to overcome the whole ‘fourth power of absolute temperature thing’.

              I dunno.

              Also, for me, the word vapor mostly has a strong connection to thermodynamics. The vast majority of times I have ever heard the word was strictly in that context. (a] I don’t hang out enough in chemistry labs b] I don’t hang out enough around people writing stuff in the 19th century, IRL)

              1. Most people ’round here long ago figured the only serious danger posed by AGW is from political opportunists and Progressives (but I repeat myself) using fear of the “threat” to panic the public into letting those clowns “manage” the economy. We know it is a scam and aren’t getting the vapors over AGW, just the watermelons demanding we act to prevent it.

                But you’ve probably noticed that.

                1. But when I got in my truck this morning there was some show on the radio (always interesting shows, for a certian value of interesting, on AM radio at 4:00 AM) where some guy was explaining that that it was aliens that were causing global warming, and at the same time depleting the Earths oxygen supply. Of course the CIA, the Pentagon, and the Secret Service (I’m kind of fuzzy on why the Secret Service was involved) know about this but are for some unclear reason colluding to cover it up. He went on to point out that if the Earth’s oxygen supply is depleted to 0% the Earth will be unable to support life, at which time I had hit the end of my driveway and changed the station.

      3. Greenhouse effect refers to thermal energy transfer by radiation.

        I will be writing the fourth power of absolute temperature here as T4. I’m also making vast simplifications when talking about the temperature of a body.

        Radiation in (on net) depends on, among others, the T4 of the heat source, mostly the sun for earth, the coefficient of adsorption, and the T4 of earth’s surface.

        Radiation out (on net) depends on T4 of earth surface, the coefficient of emission (IIRC), and the T4 of the environment, among others. (Last is essentially the average of all space around earth, IIRC.)

        Greenhouse is the idea that by counting parts of the atmosphere as part of the surface, the coefficient of emission can be assumed to vary with the composition of the atmosphere.

        One issue here is this means that you will probably also need to measure those parts of the atmosphere when calculating the average temperatures of your system volume.

        While it was probably possible to get some useful measurements of temperature for points in the atmosphere starting back in the, say, 1950s, I do not know that this was done to a significant degree.

        Another is the whole ‘energy out increases as the fourth power of the absolute temperature of the system volume’ thing.

        Blah, blah, blah, radiation only one form of several types of transfer that needs to be tracked across the boundaries of system volume, blah blah work, blah blah correctly defining the system volume.

        I know I do not have enough data about temperature of the earth over time to say that it is only ever cooling. As such, I am not prepared to say that it is impossible for it to become warmer.

        I will say that in the past, I have had ‘ten to twenty hours of upper division engineering courses on the subject of heat transfer and thermodynamics’ on my list of things that everyone should know as we are doomed otherwise. This was mainly for the purpose of knowing why ‘AGW ergo rape the economy’ was bullshit.

        I think between the two of us we may have gathered more evidence for Sarah’s argument. Thanks.

      4. The area where I live has small tremors, now and then, since the crust is still in its post-glacial rebound. But they are very small, the ones humans can actually notice are similar to what you notice if you live next to a railway and a big train goes past – windows and tableware may rattle a bit. On the other hand this is a very stable area, I think the rebound effects are supposed to be able to trigger actual earthquakes if they happened in an area close to big faults or near plate boundaries. Or did that, but most of the rebound is done in those areas now. So, since the risk comes with the crustal rebound, unless we get a new glaciation first, and _then_ the ice melts away, again, nope.

  14. You may want to take a look at data analytics and business intelligence. While people generally don’t care to know the details of politics, they do care about bridges not falling down when they’re on them, that the water comes out of the tap and at a reasonable price, that the house stays warm, that the electricity stays on, and that they’re not taken for suckers. If you can create drill down reports that can provide that information and the ability to improve things with a small time commitment per week, the number of people who will meaningfully care about politics gets very large.

    The major problem is that the amount of data entry and brain deadening work to start getting the very first reports out on a national basis is pretty big and nobody’s done the work. I know this because I *am* doing the work and hope to start having reports out this year. I wish somebody had done this ten years ago. We’d have been better off.

    1. You seem to be under the mistaken impression that these people care.

      Look, I’m a data analyst, too. I guarantee that what you are talking about has been done before, and been flushed down the (metaphorical) drain. The man on the street has no idea what you even just said, and won’t believe it, anyway.

      Besides, while it is undoubtedly good for doing it in a more efficient manner, this type of data is not really that necessary to get a start on it. Any competent engineer can look at the reports on the state of various parts of the infrastructure and tell you the majority of what needs to be done in what order. But politicians simply don’t care. All the majority of them really care about is getting elected, usually by promising more people more stuff than the other guy, and then staying in his cushy new job while he milks the system and gets rich.

      What you’re saying might have mattered 30 years ago, when there was more of a stigma attached to being out of work, or having to rely on Daddy Government for support, but not today.

      1. To claim that politicians simply don’t care.is improper. Politicians very much care. The issue is what do they care about, and why? To use your example about needed infrastructure repair, politicians very much care.

        Politicians care about which neighborhoods voted for them and which road grading and paving contractors have (or can be induced to) donated money to the politician’s “election” campaign.

        “If it weren’t for graft, you’d get a very low type of people in politics.”

        1. The current formula for politicians caring depends heavily on being able to fool significant numbers of people into thinking that they care about them without actually spending money or time on their real problems. Simply identifying and quantifying the fraud in caring is a major step up for our political system and would disproportionately hit the socialist left.

      2. Look up Web 3.0 and the internet of things for the reason why, no, nobody has done this before. When your smart phone’s accelerometer (or your car’s computer) can provide pothole locations for every one of the potholes you hit to the right reporting address and pass it through a clearinghouse that will track pothole repair time, that’s an analytics report that gets people’s attention, even low information voters.

        The city of Los Angeles instead of telling its city workers to maintain a sidewalk inventory over the past 20 years, just paid off the lawsuits from broken sidewalks (about 2500 a year at this point) now they want to spend $10M to do an inventory because the lawsuits are getting expensive. Setting up a system that routinely asks for all the infrastructure inventories is boring until you get the list of bad jurisdictions who just don’t keep one. It also helps you answer things like when is *your* water service going to be disrupted because of scheduled major pipe repairs. And is there a lot of deferred maintenance that is going to mean a big tax hike in the near future for that community you were thinking about moving into.

        That the system will also lead to tagging legislation so that you can quickly identify economy hurting regulation is going to be boring for a lot of people but will highly improve the effectiveness of small government advocacy.

        I’m thinking drill down dashboards, traffic lights, thought leaders that you trust making public their preferences so that it’s easy for you to adopt them on your dashboard, creating communities of interest. The details, like the technical details of the iPod are going to be boring. The extra jobs, money, and better communities will be anything but.

        The goal is to be able to identify and then meaningfully monitor your governments in 1 hour per week. The project is called Citizen Intelligence ( http://www.citizenintelligence.org )

        1. If you get the attention of low information voters with something like that, all you’re going to do is invite them to game the system, and cause repair crews to be sent to vacant lots, or office buildings, or perhaps the home of someone they don’t like. Or, if you build the system intelligent enough to ignore these, they will just make crews be sent out where there are no potholes, about 50 times as often as real ones.

          Other than that, again, they don’t care. You’re talking about people who walk up to a blocked sidewalk where they have been walking past a sign saying it’s going to be closed on a certain date for a week, and get pissed because someone should have told them.

          Regarding your, “Here’s why no one has done it before”: Ok, so you’re doing it with more granular data. That doesn’t mean it hasn’t been done before. It just means more specifics are available now.

          In your comment, you keep talking about making information available, then talk about low information voters. They’re low information voters because they won’t look for the information. Making it available isn’t going to change things. For these people, you have to get in front of them and show them things that will affect them. Currently, they get this from TV, and sometimes radio, where the MSM are giving them massively slanted information. They’re not going to make the effort to find it elsewhere.

          1. By the way, don’t get me wrong – I think this kind of information is good. I just don’t think it will really be used in the ways you think it will be.

            1. I think it will be used in a number of ways that I can’t even conceive of right now. I’ve seen it happen. Right now I’m in the “why the heck would anybody use that” phase. Once a certain completeness enters the system and I can start auto-generating reports it will graduate to “well, that’s a neat trick” phase. A year or two later I expect to lose track of all the ways the data is being used and we’ll be in “how did we ever live without this” which is where I plan on things staying.

          2. I understand the childish mirth involved in sending government workers out on false calls (which wastes tax dollars), which is why there are no anonymous complaints that are going to go through this system. You want to play publius, you’ll have to work it a different way because anonymous attacking is not what this system is about and I will create a culture to enforce that.

            Frankly, I plan on creating otaku (fanboys), co-opting influence leaders into the system, and mercilessly mocking people who are suckers and let themselves be raped by the system. I plan to be a cheap source of content for the MSM who will often steal my stuff but can’t replicate the business model so they’re going to do it badly. Hackers will be able to replicate the business model but they won’t because I’m going to satisfy their desires so contributing to my ecosystem is the easy way out.

            I plan on counting coup, sending people to jail, and making a blood sport out of data mining to find the crooks in government and their corporate crony partners. I will treat the government sector like Rudolph Giuliani treated New York’s high crime neighborhoods. In short, I plan on hosting a reality show that is not only coming to their neighborhood but is always there, and everywhere else.

            A funny fact in technology, the mouse was invented in 1963 but a decade later, nobody was using it the way we do now because the processing cycles necessary to run a mouse driven OS and application ecosystem were just too expensive. And then one day, they weren’t and we started getting things like Alto and eventually Mac OS and Windows. Incremental changes in processing cost turned the mouse from an interesting oddity to the center of an OS revolution. The same forces are at work here but add cheap data storage to the mix as well and cheap data communications.

            Right now our urban environment is too complex for anybody to live there and feel they understand the systems that are keeping them alive. This feeling of helplessness makes for rich vote hauls for leftists. By making it possible to track cheaply, the disaster that is Democrat urban governance is going to be exposed. A bunch of Republican incompetents will be uncovered too but it will be the Democrats who are hurt worse by it and the end result will be a general upgrade in governance and a trend towards more traditional american attitudes and solutions.

              1. It is what I do for at least 12 hours a day. I do, however, need sanity breaks. This thread is my current one.

            1. I’ll admit I first misunderstood where you were going with this, as I originally thought you were trying to build it for governmental use (I didn’t get a chance to check out the website yet). As a tool used to bludgeon the government with, it has more of a chance to be useful.

              I still say, don’t bother trying to get low information voters involved, because too many of them, even if they can’t play childish pranks with it, will instead use it either for evidence of minority victimization, or else to push for more money spent on (fill in the blank here).

                1. David Brin’s concept of sousveillance has a lot going for it. I’m hoping Google Glass and similar tech becomes ubiquitous in the next few years. I deplore the lack of privacy inherent in that kind of technology, but do we really have it now as things stand?

                  1. Sousveillance’s implementing technology is currently under development (internet of things, Web 3.0). Google Glass is merely a physical sensor of the effort and even that is a secondary for what the tech is supposed to be for. The tough part is publishing the data so that it is usefully picked up and distributed where it needs to go cheaply enough to actually get implemented as SOP.

                    Take a look at how the Chinanet sidesteps Web 2.0 and note how it utterly fails against a tiny smidgen of Web 3.0 (US embassy air pollution sensor).

                    There is a great bit of analysis (unfortunately behind paywall) on that talk over at Wikistrat ( http://www.wikistrat.com ) where I am a contributing analyst.

              1. This is an effort that has high network effects. The more people involved of any kind, the more effective it will be. I will be filtering for trolls and the malevolent. Filtering out low information voters? Too much trouble for a benefit that is mixed at best. Ideally, this effort would graduate at least 0.25% per annum out of that state.

                One of the early tasks is to fill in Sunshine Review’s transparency ratings grid and give insurgent parties a bludgeon for the next election. I am especially hoping for government checkbooks to get online. I expect them to squeal like stuck pigs at the thought and the spectacle to draw a healthy dose of attention.

                SAS has a citizen intelligence effort along the lines that you were thinking. They’re supposed to get back to me on their offerings to reverse the gaze of the software from the people and to the government. I do not expect a reply soon. Their business model argues against it.

  15. I don’t believe people should HAVE to pay attention to political matters.

    My baby sister (a state senator in Idaho) tells me that the world is run by the people who show up. To which I reply that the fallacy there is that the world NEEDS to be run. I am firmly convinced that, in any situation of conflict, the aggressor — the person who started it (and that includes passive aggressors) — is in the wrong. Period. End of discussion. And, in the case of government oxygen thieves, well… that’s every busybody.

    I also believe, in a corollary to Heinlein’s dictum that waking someone unnecessarily should not be a capital crime — the first time — interfering with the life choices of another human being should not be a capital crime — the first time. But MYOB should be the national motto and “Oh,HELL no!” a dispositive response to importunate public servants.


    1. Oh, and “He needed killin’, Judge,” an affirmative defense to a charge of homicide.


            1. It has been many years, but as I recall my early instruction, “He needed killing” was recognized as one of the three defenses against the charge of murder back in Roman times.

              Because somebody surely will ask:
              1. Weren’t murder (e.g., self defense)
              2. Weren’t me
              3. He needed killing

          1. I have my issues with John Scalzi, but I can not condone killin’ of authors no matter how bad the book.

            Making them eat their words, a page at a time, should suffice.

            1. If the author is Robert Jordan, the human body isn’t equipped to digest that much cellulose…. 😉

    2. I am firmly convinced that, in any situation of conflict, the aggressor — the person who started it (and that includes passive aggressors) — is in the wrong.

      Um… since there are groups who consider me being female, Catholic, conservative, a housewife, ect to be a threat or even active aggression against The Right Way Of Things, I gotta point out the question of “who started it” isn’t very objective…..

    3. “My baby sister (a state senator in Idaho) tells me that the world is run by the people who show up. To which I reply that the fallacy there is that the world NEEDS to be run. I am firmly convinced that, in any situation of conflict, the aggressor — the person who started it (and that includes passive aggressors) — is in the wrong.”

      That sounds good, in theory I would even agree with it. The only problem is it doesn’t WORK. The world is going to be run. PERIOD. DOT. If you don’t show up, somebody else will. While I may not want the world to be run, I face reality and realize it is going to be, so I would rather have somebody running it who thinks that it shouldn’t be run, than somebody who thinks they know HOW it should be run.

  16. I have no problem with people who know nothing about history or politics or their local, state, and national governments. However, I get really pissed that such people can vote.

  17. And I bet you since then the rates of engagement, wrong headedness and “get your politics off my face, I’m getting on with life” is about the same.

    I agree with this completely.

    The problem is that so many of those people have been convinced that voting for President is something they should do, just because. They have no idea what’s going on, don’t WANT to know what’s going on, but hey, let’s vote anyway, because, YAY VOTE!

    Everyone starts ignorant, and most people remain ignorant on most topics – that’s just life.

    But for goodness bloody sake, don’t be ignorant AND VOTE. Pick one or the other.

    That’s why it’s worse now. And yes, those people all tilt the same direction (for the media reasons you mentioned above).

  18. “However, women view “not being too bright” as a mating strategy. ”

    These are the same women who wonder how it is that they ended up with a chauvinistic asshole for a husband.

    Intelligent men value intelligent women. Why would we choose to breed with someone likely to produce sub-par offspring? I have to deal with enough idiots and losers in day to day life. I sure as hell don’t want to be sleeping with one and trying to raise another one.

    Dumb men, on the other hand, want someone they can look down on. They feel inferior, and so they value someone they can feel superior to.

    I knew a very bright girl back in high school who was afraid of “being too smart” around guys. She was cute as well as smart and feared that the guys she was trying to attract would be offended if she didn’t act like a ditz.

    As a result, she never attracted any guy worth having, at least when I knew her.

  19. OT, but I got the draft of the WIP done and the editing and cover art work has begun on the next Cat Among Dragons book. But I won’t make the deadline for finishing the story I thought I could get done. Life happens, and my wrists and elbows are screaming at me for typing too long without a break.

    We now return you to your previously coherent and on-topic thread.

  20. And the fallacy of the original thought – During the Revolution you COULD sit on your farm and say leave me alone. Now not so much. It is visibly getting worse. Start a business – even Democrats who have tried admit it is difficult to impossible. Homeschool your kids – heaven forbid, you might be molesting them. The state is everywhere, telling you who you can associate with, who you have to hire. And as for the mechanisms of civic society, don’t make me laugh. I was giving lessons on the phone about things I learned in the fifth grade. Now its tribal. Just had a municipal election, about 3% of the folks eligible voted, tossed an experienced honest man out in favor of a barely educated woman who never made it to a commission meeting, wholly based on skin color. Want to bet they’ll complain when their property taxes go up?

    I think that a large part of the growth of the Tea Party is simply more people realizing that the state will NEVER let you alone and is proceeding to enslave each person more thoroughly as time goes on.

    1. “During the Revolution you COULD sit on your farm and say leave me alone. ”

      A couple of years ago I stumbled on an article recounting a woman’s experience hosting a “field to table” dinner for clients. Somehow, the local Stasi, er, “Health Department”, found out about it and inspected the kitchen. It was a public event, right?

      From memory: There was no lot number on the salad greens, so they were unacceptable. There was food “sitting out” — at safe temperatures — so it had to go. And on and on — a mindless drone applying standards suitable for industrial, anonymous food service to carefully selected, hand-prepared food for invited guests whose health and happiness the hostess depended upon.

      Oh, and when the hostess suggested that the “unsafe” food would be given to the pigs for slop, the Stasi… dang, there I go again… Health Inspector poured bleach over it.

      Did I mention this event was on her private property?

      1. Apropos of nothing in particular, I am reminded of this quote from Alexander Solzhenitsyn:
        “And how we burned in the camps later, thinking: What would things have been like if every Security operative, when he went out at night to make an arrest, had been uncertain whether he would return alive and had to say good-bye to his family? Or if, during periods of mass arrests, as for example in Leningrad, when they arrested a quarter of the entire city, people had not simply sat there in their lairs, paling in terror at every bang of the downstairs door and at every step on the staircase, but had understood they had nothing left to lose and had boldly set up in the downstairs hall an ambush of half a dozen people with axes, hammers, pokers, or whatever else was at hand? […] The Organs would very quickly have suffered a shortage of officers and transport and, notwithstanding all of Stalin’s thirst, the cursed machine would have ground to a halt!” —Alexander Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago
        Or to put it more bluntly, the people will always outnumber the Stasi, and at least for now we’re just as well armed and in most cases far better trained.

      2. I find many libertarian activists annoying or unhelpfully extreme, but the “treat police and other officials like vampires” tactic is very important.

        Highly suggest folks read the first half of “The Gift of Fear” and apply it with Officials. (I’ve been called a few names because, while I’m usually a doormat, I do not allow actual threats– which means when you set up so you can mess with me, I resist to the full extent of the law. I’ve been told it’s like suddenly having a mouse turn into a large predator.)

    2. I’m not saying the state isn’t worse, just that most people are oblivious — and have ALWAYS been.

      Arguably we are more awake than they were during the revolution.

  21. Sarah says:
    …”Most people in America – for now – are living their lives, minding their own business, trying to survive, a task made more difficult by run away (if officially invisible) inflation, run away college fees, mounting taxes and stupid regulations “…

    I agree about the difficulties people encounter while trying to live their lives. I disagree about a (somewhat) monolithic American motivation. In my experience, there is a significant subset of the population who are not inherently well-intentioned (and yet may think that they are). I used to get upset with Instapundit for what I perceived as an almost pollyanna-ish perspective on people and their relationships with each other and their government. And then I realized… “He doesn’t live where I do. His frame of reference is different than mine.” I certainly hope that this realization was accurate, for his sake, and for mine.

    For several decades, I lived in a small, blue state ( I now live elsewhere.) I worked as a contractor for numerous local governments and churches, as well as in the private sector. During the course of my work, I was often a “fly on the wall” — privy to goings-on and negotiations that, in retrospect, I often wish that I had never known of. Let’s just say that this acquired knowledge, and the cynicism that it catalyzed, has somewhat diminished my perception of many of our most trusted and cherished institutions (and more than a few of the people who work within them) .

    Where I came from, many people seemed quite willing to resist “knowing things” that might adversely affect (even their perception of) their family’s position or lifestyle. And it WAS resistance –to knowledge, awareness, or just to “the rules”– not simply forgetfulness or shifting priorities (although that was sometimes used for cover.)

    Almost everyone I had known of had a mom, dad, cousin, sister, brother, son, daughter, or even just a friend, who worked directly or indirectly for the government (including me). Many of these folks were A-OK. Too many others were actively engaged in spiking pensions, stealing time/overtime, embezzling funds/equipment, colluding to defraud, bid-rigging, fraudulently collecting disability, committing arson, racketeering, etc., right down to a school business administrator embezzling a surprisingly large amount of milk money (in collusion with a district school principal).

    Some of these people went to prison. Some were acting unethically, but were within the legal confines of their position(s). Some were unsuccessfully prosecuted or plead guilty to lesser charges. Some people’s malfeasance I read about years later, when they were charged and convicted with some of the above mentioned crimes. Most disturbingly to me, some I had known or worked alongside, and never suspected of being capable of the things that they had been found guilty of.

    There were private sector issues as well, but the government seemed to offer the lowest hanging fruit, and plenty of it. In either instance, the bigger the entity (in govt or business), the worse things seemed to get — the more layers, the more players. If you had their best interests in mind (and they were aware of it), Mom and Pop small businesses were typically the best people to work with, and for.

    Along the way, I came to realize a few things:
    — Corrupt actors will sell themselves for surprisingly little gain. Most of the people above sold out for tens of thousands of dollars, or less. I shudder to think of what people might be capable of where millions or billions in “lubrication” are concerned. Just as scary, on the other hand, is that bigger money will buy smarter badder people.
    — Justification #1 – Everybody else does it, why shouldn’t you?
    — Justification #2 – I’m doing it to give my kids the stuff they deserve.
    — Systems favoring or inducing corruption are being institutionalized more and more every day. Doing the right thing is being punished, and doing the wrong thing is being rewarded. People are being conditioned to accept this.
    — The will not to know (where it exists) is stronger than all other wills.

    I hope that states like CO, TN, and TX may be basically different, and will act as a bulwark against the systemic rot that appears to have taken hold in certain sectors (and geographic areas) and is spreading across America. Would I bet my future on it?

  22. Unless we build some system to mine the brain and modify it and have everything accessible RIGHT THEN, people mugged on the street by some idiot talk show host (or worse, a survey) are going to give stupid answers.

    I always wonder if they have to cut out a dozen folks who look at the interviewer like he’s insane and say something like “Why on earth would I want to answer your questions? You’ll only put them on TV if you can make me look like an idiot, or otherwise mock me. Go sit and spin.”

    1. And something else that worries me: I don’t so much mind if someone draws a blank about who his congressman is. But when you ask him, “What do you think about President Obama’s decision to pardon the sequester and send it to Portugal,” why in the world do so many people not just stop and say, “I have no idea what you think you’re asking me. That made no sense at all.” It’s horrifying to listen to them pretend it makes sense and even defend the President’s decision. It’s like hearing an Altzheimer’s victim confabulate, but they don’t have the excuse of degenerative brain disease.

      1. …but they don’t have the excuse of degenerative brain disease

        … Did you set up that unkind political joke perfectly on purpose? *grin*

    2. Of course they do. As I said elsewhere on this thread, it’s entertainment, not a documentary.

      1. About the only thing that worries me is that entertainment is routinely presented as high quality evidence. I mean, beyond the old problem of Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle” being taught as factual. The Koko problem mentioned elsewhere, for example– it’s really freaking important that she couldn’t tell the difference between the order things were in, but either went counter to what they wanted to say or they realized that on such a level that they kinda blanked on everybody else not knowing it.

  23. You certainly don’t have to walk the sidewalk with a camera to get a stupid statement. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-D and it stands for Dumb too) asked a NASA administrator if one of the Mars probes had photographed the flag planted there by Neil Armstrong.

    And Rep. Hank Johnson (GA-D) asked an officer testifying before Congress if the DOD had considered if adding more troops to Guam would cause the island to tip over.

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