Persuasive

I’m kind of out of it.  For various reasons, we slept really badly every night here, which is why I got absolutely nothing done beyond attend the lectures.

There will be posts about that (and interviews) for PJMedia and here, but since I’m in Huntsville — bear with me — this led to my reading about the original rocketry work and the “stealing” of German scientists after the war.

The book I’m reading is of suspect moral standing, since it likes to rail against “the madness of the cold war paranoia.” Apparently the author is unable to understand that when a form of government — international socialism, soviet brand — sets out to conquer the Earth, (and needs to, because its non-functional economy can’t really feed its citizens for any amount of time without tribute from conquered (or afraid to be conquered) lands) to suspect that you might be on the menu soon is not paranoia, it’s survival.

Because of this, the hand wringing over importing “convinced Nazis” induces a lot of eye rolling on this side of the screen.  The more so for two other reasons:

1- it seems to me that the Nazi philosophy being based on the idea of inherent racial superiority kind of collapsed and fell apart for MOST PEOPLE the minute they were defeated.

2- because the ideas of racial superiority the Nazis espoused were widespread and “everybody knows” on both sides of the war at the time.

One of the giggle lines of this book was when they said that “Hygiene” appeared to be a code word for the extermination of “inferior” races.  Well, yes and no.  Hygiene was one of the touchstones of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century and got applied in ways that can’t help but puzzle us now.  Call it the ‘quantum’ of its age.  But you can’t really read any primary source documents without coming across the idea of “hygiene” meaning you don’t let “inferior” people breed.

Among the people supporting that sort of hygiene was none other than H. G. Wells, a socialist of the internationalist variety.

Now am I saying everyone that the US recruited was a kind of angel who only went along with the Nazi program out of a love for science.  Pfui.  No, I’d bet most of them were a shade of rather dark dingy grey, who took advantage of things like slave labor or worse.  Why?  Because under totalitarian regimes, the pure angels get killed (Or run.)  Everyone who lives any time, even under a much milder regime than Nazi Germany, ends up at least paying lip service, and often — if they want to survive as most people do — doing morally reprehensible things.  Depending on how long it goes on, and how bad the regime is, those things can be outright evil, even if the people started out no worse than most of us.

What we did when the Soviet Union fell was arguably far worse than what we did when the Nazis fell, as we held no trials, drew no line, didn’t say “you are dingy grey and we don’t approve, but we’ll let you live if you behave and serve a decent cause.” or even “You went beyond the pale, and must die for your crimes.”  No, we pretended that communism had descended upon an unwary people, and all were happy to see it lifted, and all deserved to go about their normal lives.

But communism instills evil patterns of thought (its cardinal virtue is envy, after all) that practically guaranteed its return under “this time we’ll do it right.”

At any rate, I’m not going to pronounce on the moral value of the men who started the American rocket program.  I don’t know enough.  which is part of the reason I bought three books yesterday and have been reading them (even with the rolling of eyes.)

But thinking about how widespread the inherently evil idea of “lives not worthy of living” (a trap we seem to be falling into once again) and how widespread it was, I thought of how the left is banning and silencing people who espouse this idea.

And I’m troubled.

I disapprove of the idea of “superior races” mostly because race in humans really is fluid, (as opposed to sex, which really isn’t) and at least partly what we think of as “races” are cultures.  So the idea is utterly poisonous.

It was also an idea of its time, the early twentieth century when our knowledge of biology was…. not that advanced, and the idea of treating people as something between machines and farm animals seemed perfectly logical.

The site that was banned by no one carrying its IP?  No person with a modicum of understanding of history or genetics could take it seriously.  I once happened onto it by accident, chasing a detail of Portuguese history, read three paragraphs and started laughing so hard I could barely breathe.

One of the claims was that the Portuguese used to be tall and blond until the import and interbreeding with slaves made Portuguese one of the “inferior races.’

As proof of this they used the…. Portraits of kings of Portugal.  Apparently, they’d missed on the memo that royal families are mostly related to other royal families.  Yeah, for a while in the eighteenth and nineteenth century, a lot of German blood sneaked into the Portuguese royal line, in the same way that it sneaked into every royal line.  The Portuguese monarch that got deposed by the republic was, of course, a close relation of Queen Victoria, probably several times over.

This does not mean, as the dingbats assumed that all Portuguese were tall, blond and blue eyed.  Sure there were distinctly Celtic-looking villages in the mountains, but mostly Portuguese looked like their ancestry: Roman, Greek, Phoenician with a leavening of what fell in the pot.  The rise and fall of the Portuguese empire has much to do with the inherent strengths and weaknesses of Portuguese culture and bloody nothing to do with whether the hand holding the sextant or the whip happened to be able to tan.

It is the inherent sad silliness of the remnant of Live Action Reich Players that makes me worry that the left finds them worthy of going after and suppressing.

Even if I felt like washing with turpentine after even a few seconds on their page, it never even occurred to me to warn my kids about the site, much less to want it suppressed so other people’s children don’t see it.

At the time I stumbled on it, my kids were ten and six, and I trusted possessed of functioning minds and a sense of history so they wouldn’t fall for that nonsense.  And if they came to me and asked questions, that type of lie is not all difficult to debunk.

How much less danger would it be to adults?  If crazy, rather sad people who failed to internalize the fact that if the Germans could not conquer the world, they self-evidently weren’t the “Master Race” want to write rants about it?  Let them. (Actually Germans buying their way into the financier of Europe’s folly might indicate they’re the “crazy race” if one believed that race not culture is the determinant of how nations behave.)   They’ll get the inevitable percentage of misfits, but the idea itself has long been defanged.

So, and this is what worries me — why is the left worried about these ideas being out there?  Do they find them so persuasive that they must be silenced?

Note that I don’t even care if the left’s crazy ideas are out there, and they’re far more dangerous because not only haven’t they been defanged, as the continuous push from our educational establishment makes them seem more plausible, or at least preps people for them.

But the truth is, the more they talk, the less plausible they sound.  So, I understand — or flatter myself — their shadow-banning sites like instapundit, because we make sense and are “normal/credible” but the fact that they also feel the need to ban Live Action Reich Players makes me believe these people just have no filter at all for crazy ideas.  They are incapable of reasoning their way our of a paper bag and going “Oh, that can’t be true, because this this and this contradicts it.”  Instead they’ll believe whatever they’re exposed to that is loud enough.  And so they must ban everything that is “bad think” because it might drown out what they’ve been told is “good think” and which they ALSO can’t evaluate at all.

What a sad way of existing, above and beyond the danger that they banning will take a slippery slope, or that by becoming mysterious these ideas will become more attractive.

I don’t suppose we could convince them to use a modicum of reason, instead?

And if now, what can we do with them, in the end.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

212 responses to “Persuasive

  1. Portraits of royalty to define what the common people looked like?

    Cocks head. I’m not sure you can use their portraits as what they even looked like.

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

      Chuckle Chuckle

      One of Chris Nuttall’s characters comments on portraits said to be of her “I don’t look like that” and she’s correct. 😉

      • One of Lois McMaster Bujold’s characters (royalty, as it happens to be) demanded an accurate portrait of those she was considering as potential husbands, declaring “I will not be lied to in paint”. Not an uncommon hazard of long-distance courtship, one may presume…

        • See: Henry VIII and Anne of Cleves.

          • Actually, her portrait was probably pretty accurate. Witness that he continued to give commissions to the painter, when he had a long history of being vindictive toward those who did him minor injury, which deluding him into marrying an ugly woman was not.

            Also, no one ever complained of her ugly looks until Henry started it. It was probably his excuse.

            • The weird thing is that she managed to be his friend after he divorced her. She must have been some kind of freaking social genius and had awesome bodyguards. (Well, okay, she was really well-connected to the crowned heads of Europe. But usually that just means somebody gets “sick” and “dies an untimely death.”)

              Anyway, Henry asked her for advice all the time, after he divorced her and had no reason to listen to her; but he ignored her advice when she was his queen and wife. Very strange situation all around.

              • While it is very odd to hear someone “guyzoning” a gal he’s actually had relations with, it’s not unusual to see guys who can’t deal with women they recognize as women– but have no issues with women they mentally classify as off-limits.

                The guys (on consideration, a general guys, not a sex specific guys) I’ve seen do it do generally have some serious maturity issues, but that’s related to them objectifying those they see as possible sexual partners.

                • At a guess, Henry had no problem finding willing partners and so was easily able to “guyzone” a former lover. Most guys do not perceive themselves as having “partners” to spare and do not think of “guyzoning” as an option.

                  Having control of the transactions makes a big difference in how a person handles the options.

                  • That would make sense– most of the guys with that issue I know are…well, very lonely. I feel sorry for them in that respect. (note, not why I was hanging out with them, I have to actually like someone to hang out with them, even in a group)

              • Prior to the annulment, he had the shadow of the marriage hanging over them; with it, her presence didn’t every time bring up his need to act.

        • Maybe this has been done, but it suggests an interesting idea for an alt-history or fantasy story of a freelance artist/spy who’s hired by eligible royal bachelors and bachelorettes to infiltrate foreign courts with an accurate eye and a smuggled sketchbook to get honest portraits of potential suitors in an age before photography.

    • I dunno. Consider how closely many Americans resemble George Washington, Abe Lincoln, Alex Hamilton, Andy Jackson, Ulysses Grant and Ben Franklin.

      • BobtheRegisterredFool

        I’m a Jacksonian with a slight hint of Hamiltonian. I’m a staunch Lincolinist-Shermanist, but also have a soft spot for Grant. Depending on the light I could be mistaken for any of them. I’m rather normal tall thin short fatty.

        • Christopher M. Chupik

          I, alas, will never have the hair of Glorious Leader-by-Birth Justin of House Trudeau.

          • Justin Trudeau’s hair is courtesy of Fidel Castro, or so rumours say, because Pierre was going bald with a comb over while both his sons have nice hair.

            • Kids DO have two parents, you know.

              • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                Somewhere I remember reading that “baldness” comes from the mother’s side.

                Of course, I am my father’s son in appearance except for the fact that I had a full head of hair at an age when Dad was already balding.

                Mind you, I do have some baldness now.

                • There are certain autosomal genes that cause — or don’t cause — baldness.

                  • only a few of my maternal male relatives were/are bald, but almost all my paternal male relates are, My dad and uncles all have more hair than I do if I let it grow. My “pattern”, is more like those few on Mom’s side, starting at the front whereas Dad et al started with the spot at the rear and all still have some left in the bangs area of the forehead. My Dad’s oldest living brother has more hair than either of us, having almost a monks style going on. My forehead ain’t seen hair of its own since my late 20’s.

                • It’s as true as kids needing to have two blue-eyed parents to have blue eyes.

                  (Four of ours have blue eyes, and the fifth are a gorgeous blue-green hazel; Elf has blue-gray eyes. I have dirty hazel.)

                  It has an element of truth, in that the most common route is similar to the story, but…well, my dad’s twin brother has a full head of silver hair. My dad has a fringe.

                  • THAT is not what people believe. What people believe is that kids of two blue eyed parents can’t have brown eyes. It’s ALMOST true. It’s VERY HIGHLY UNLIKELY. It does happen, though.

                    • Oh, it is what people believe– the second one is what EDUCATED people believe, and it’s slightly more true than kids not having darker skin than their parents.

                      *considers sharing picture of daughter born darker than herself and husband, even if it was olive*

                    • Marsh is darker than both of us.

                    • but you’re muddled. Dark skin is dominant, so if one of you has a recessive, there’s a good chance.

                    • Yep.

                      The issue is the folks who were observing fairly consistent groups crossing….

                      I wish I had the quote on hand, but one of Vathara’s footnotes in Embers is a basic primer in cross-breeding. (…in the context of cross-massively-different-species. Anyways)

                      Someting like:

                      An AA crossing with a ZZ is going to be AZ the whole way down.

                      Someone who is AZ crossing with another AZ, though, can be ANYTHING from AA to ZZ.

                      So a lot of our “knowledge” is based on normal travel patterns for the 1900s, where you’ll get oddballs but most folks don’t move that much.
                      The 2000s, it just isn’t STRANGE to move across the country, and most people have a foreign ancestor in a generation or three.

                    • Just remembered where I first ran into it– some rather good scifi, can’t really remember much except that it was part of a mini-lecture about how the population would all be medium brown with hazel eyes eventually, because you had to have two blue-eyes to have a blue-eye kid and (implied) skin was always halfway between the parents.

                      Excusable, given scientific blinders.

                    • Dan and I had a good chance of having a blue eyed kid and if we’d managed the eleven we wanted, we’d probably have a couple. His dad has blue eyes and my mom has green eyes. Mathematically, it was in the mix.

                    • Yeah– simplified genetics is simplified.

                      Still really glad that we didn’t end up in the “holy illistration of genetics is freaky” gallery as the folks who have twins where one is blond(e) with blue eyes and the other is “african”.

                • Patrick Chester

                  My uncles on my father’s side seem to have balded as they got older. My dad really hasn’t, it’s just gone gray.

                  Me, OTOH, my hairline’s been receding for a decade or so. *sigh*

      • *pats below her ribs* What do you know, there is a resemblance to Franklin!

        And my dad even copies his hairline…..

    • Grave goods in royal (or at least wealthy) burials frequently are taken as representative of what everyone had or routinely wore. Sometimes they are all archaeologists have to go by, even though the wealthy had better stuff than the hoi polloi, wore better-quality clothes that were frequently of a different style than those of a lower status would routinely wear (and they were usually buried in their Sunday best), and were frequently physically different (taller due to better nutrition, with different bone structure due to the stresses put on the skeleton by constant training for warfare as opposed to backbreaking unmechanized dirt farming).

      • I think archaeologists have determined that upper-class Egyptians at the time of the pharaohs had health issues consistent with a diet high in sugar and fat—and that their slaves (many of whom were interred with their rulers) did not. That may be the only case where we have a decent amount of evidence of more than one class of folk, though.

  2. Sorry you’ve not been sleeping well. As you get along in years upward of fifty that isn’t so easy to shrug off. Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.

    Oops. I meant:
    Get some rest. If you haven’t got your health, then you haven’t got anything.

  3. Germany was conquered, so we could deal with the worst of the monsters. The Soviet Union fell apart on it’s own, but not so total a collapse as to allow outsiders to come in and haul people off to be judged and if necessary, executed.

    The importation of German scientists? Yes it was practical and needed. We’ll be in trouble the next time something like this comes up. Or are we already? We can actively recruit the brightest and most ambitious, but we’ve also got to let in whole groups of people barely able to step onto the bottom rungs of the American ladder, and then we must coddle them and “accept” their cultures as equal.

    • We could have if we withheld the wheat. We lacked the will.

      • We also lacked control over their territory. If we tried to tighten the screws down, they could very simply had sold some of their nukes. We could have also have ended up with something worse than Putin. Maybe someone like a certain Austrian with an affinity for Charlie Chaplin mustaches.

        The whole Nuremberg and Tokyo thing … well, I’m cynical. Yeah, they were held, and yeah, this is mostly blank space in my personal knowledge, but there’s rumbles that some Japanese atrocities were ignored out of pragmatism.

        As to “stolen” scientists, I think the Soviets wound up with more than we did, and I dimly recall a preference among Germans to surrender to American and British forces instead of Soviet. Interesting thing, that.

        Mental fluff: Wernher von Braun was once tried or had a hearing in a Nazi court, where a German government agency produced all sorts of personal information against him. He supposedly cooled on the Nazis after that. True? Don’t know. Do remember von Braun claimed this.

  4. Long ago, a wise man once said of a rather similar group; “Let them alone. They be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch”.

    • I like it, but if it were only their own followers they seek to lead diddlybopping off the cliff, blind, willfully blind, those who gouged out their metaphorical eyes. They don’t do just that though, but want to force everyone else to join them, even the sighted ones…

  5. I think you need to look at the matter tactically. First you cry out to ban the expression of ideas that (a) are clearly wrong and foolish, (b) have done great harm, and (c) were on the losing side in a great geopolitical struggle, and that therefore hardly anyone supports and most people find repugnant. And then you have established the principle that banning the expression of ideas is acceptable. So now you can go after a much wider range of ideas. And also, you have made it necessary for people who support freedom of expression to stand up for the expression of ideas that they too probably find repugnant, but that let you label them as advocates of Evil Idea X, and in doing so to discredit them.

    This isn’t necessarily a consciously adopted method. But it’s effective enough that it’s little wonder it catches on. Crazy like a hedgehog (as in “The fox knows many tricks; the hedgehog knows one good one”).

    Earlier this year I copy edited a book in this area. And it made a point of saying that all Western countries had constitutional protection for freedom of expression; but then it noted that they also did not apply that to people who said negative things about protected groups, or denied the Holocaust, or said negative things about religious beliefs and their adherents. (To the author’s credit, they pointed out that the United States is an exception . . . but they didn’t take this as meaning “the US got freedom of expression right, and those other countries don’t really mean it.”) Note that all those countries deny freedom of expression to people who say things that most people find offensive—for example, a man in Turkey who wrote a muckraking book about Muhammad; the European Court of Human Rights approved of his getting a prison sentence.

    • YellowShapedBox

      I think it is conscious, but not terribly coherent. I think that the progressive rank and file have legitimately conflated Donald Trump, the Brexiteers, Ron Paul, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Benedict XVI and Winston Churchill in their minds to form a single malevolent entity, and labeled it “Richard Spencer.”

      (“Counterrevolutionary” would of course be nearer the real meaning.)

  6. Christopher M. Chupik

    The best argument against the “master race” nonsense is this: if they’re so superior, how come they lost?

    • Which is actually my favorite argument against the left’s almost unbelievable arrogance in regards to their own intelligence and how it compares to their opponents on the right: How come you keep getting the crap kicked out of you in a contest of intelligence (which is what an election boils down to since fists aren’t allowed… much) if you’re so much smarter than those idiots on the other side?

      Oh. You’re too smart to communicate with the plebes? Your ideas are too complex to be understood by those of less brilliance? (The nuance of take from those who earn and give to those what don’t is, I admit, lost on the big, blue-collar dummy what is me).

      I met a college kid a while back who clearly thought he was superior to all he was talking to in the bar and began to subtly (in his own mind, but not in reality) insult those whose intelligence he had deemed inferior to his own. Including people who’d graduated University and thus were more educated than himself, and also me who had not. But who was half a head taller, a hundred pounds heavier, and half-Irish (with the resultant heart on the sleeve and temper). Five years earlier I might have explained the problem to him via demonstration of the physical disparity, but having gained (against my will, I swear) a modicum of maturity I just mocked him for the next hour or so. My insults flew over his head but others around the table would laugh as he’d frown in confusion. That might have been more fun, however the physical demonstration might have been more effective since he wasn’t bright enough to notice he was losing.

      That said, I swear if he talked about that night he’d say he spent an hour mocking a big blond dummy and got away with it since the big blond dummy was a big dummy who was unable to understand his genius with insults. While what everyone else at the table saw was him getting his ass handed to him by someone less-educated, but more intelligent (probably, he could have just been young and unable to harness his intelligence, but I doubt it).

      Steve

      • Christopher M. Chupik

        I love making fools look like fools without having to expend much effort.

      • Oh. You’re too smart to communicate with the plebes? Your ideas are too complex to be understood by those of less brilliance?

        The conceit that it is too complicated to boil down into a basic something that a complete newb to a topic could understand is one of the excuses of someone who doesn’t actually truly understand what it is they’re talking about.

        A person who really does understand what they’re talking about/studying about should be able to get the gist across (which, pretty much, is the basics of an essay. Which, to my deep annoyance, they don’t teach) to someone who isn’t a student of such. You don’t need to have the other person know the deep details, you just need them to have, even a basic understanding of what it is they do.

        • Eh, sometimes it’s so engrained that it’s automatic. That’s why the students often do well studying together; none of them take it for granted.

        • I recall an idea that there are two stages to learning, the second one being the greater. The first phase is to learn it well enough to explain it to the teacher, the second involves learning it well enough to explain it to the student. Until you have passed that second stage you don’t really know what you’re talking about.

          • Back in the day the military used something similar: “If you can’t teach it, you don’t know it.” And the reciprocal, “If you really know it, you can teach it to anybody.”

            • I’ve heard of that in medical school: Watch one, Do one, Teach one. Personally, I’d rather it be more than “one”.

            • “Anybody” does have its limits. I’ve run up against a couple, including someone who was the dumbest person I’ve ever worked with. INT maybe average (probably below) but WIS somewhere down in the depths. The sort of Dunning-Krueger person that even the Dunning-Krueger types look at and say, “That’s dumb.”

        • A person who really does understand what they’re talking about/studying about should be able to get the gist across (which, pretty much, is the basics of an essay. Which, to my deep annoyance, they don’t teach) to someone who isn’t a student of such.

          *IF* they are both willing.

          No amount of explaining will get it across to someone who isn’t willing to try.

      • I met a college kid a while back who clearly thought he was superior to all he was talking to in the bar and began to subtly (in his own mind, but not in reality) insult those whose intelligence he had deemed inferior to his own.

        Sometimes I think they just have no clue what is really insulting– I’ve been accused of being “insulting” a lot, usually when I’m so deep in the weeds trying to find the right words to express an idea that the very notion that I’ve got brains to be proud of is laughable.

      • That’s kinda the downside of the Dunning-Kruger effect. They need to be smart enough to know when they’ve been put in their place and this kid probably wasn’t. It’s like kicking a flat tire, as good as it makes you feel the tire ain’t gonna improve it’s behavior… :-\

        Ah well, at least the audience got it, which is more important.

    • Their foes cheated?

      I do not doubt it would be possible to come up with a dozen or more excuses — lack of resources, numerical disparities too great to overcome, the Brits & Americans are basically Aryan peoples, premature ejaculation — in short order, especially if someone else is paying the bar tab, but whassa point?

      • Patrick Chester

        …and yet the “superior” ones could not deal with that sort of thing?

        • Well, … superiority only gets you so far. Assemble enough monkeys and they can bring down an elephant.

          People of superior intelligence often loss arguments with fools, after all. It happens daily on the internetz.

          • After all, they were stabbed in the back in WWI, why not in WWII?

          • Smart elephants know when there are too many donkeys/monkeys to take on by themselves.
            First Rule of Competition: Don’t get into a competition unless you think you have a good chance of winning it.
            Second Rule of Competition: If you don’t think you have a good chance of winning it, go for a draw.
            Third Rule of Competition: If you don’t think you can force a draw, try to escape, and make your opponent pay for it in blood.
            Fourth Rule of Competition: When all else fails, cheat. (Unless this is a friendly competition between honorable gentlefolk.)

            • Sure now, and who could anticipate the Brits would drop the sensible and pragmatic Chamberlain in favour of that lunatic Churchill? And after they’d persist in fighting after being permitted to extract their troops from Dunkirk with no more than token objection?

              Demmed ungrateful, ‘as what it were!

              As for the slavs, it was just like those Reds to use troops too ignorant to know when they’d lost. Apparently they were determined to prove Patton wrong, to show that you can win a war by dying for your country.

              • For over five years this man [Churchill] has been chasing around Europe like a madman in search of something he could set on fire. Unfortunately he again and again finds hirelings who open the gates of their country to this international incendiary.
                —Adolf Hitler

  7. [I] believe these people just have no filter at all for crazy ideas.

    Of course they haven’t. Look at what they’re willing to believe and how they fashion themselves the smart ones, the sciency ones and everyone else dumb and gullible, so ready to heed voices not authentically theirs.

    If they will swallow Progressivism without cavil, why wouldn’t they believe their intellectual inferiors will imbibe from fonts of more credible ideas? They’ve no intellectual anchor beyond their self-esteem.

    • Maybe they DO have a filter, it’s just become hopelessly clogged after years of not being changed.

    • YellowShapedBox

      Science dictates that truth and right lies in the Democratic Party’s agenda! You know, like the distinction between man and woman being essentially cultural, or the difference between a human fetus and a person, or moral imperatives being demonstrable by science in the first place.

  8. > no filter at all for crazy ideas.

    They were programmed with Truth in school. Anything else is badthink; their filter isn’t capable of distinguishing between “idea I haven’t seen before” and “crazy.”

    • YellowShapedBox

      Not least of which, of course, being that all proper education comes from school. Parents, you know – chances are good they can barely button their own overalls, never mind prepare their children for the real world.

      An argument which itself defeats the case for institutional schooling when you consider that the overwhelming majority of those parents attended school for twelve years, but it’s surprising how easy it is to ignore that.

      • … all proper education comes from school.

        *cough*

        Fresh proof of charter-school miracles
        Yet another study is out showing New York City charters outperforming the regular public schools — even as Mayor de Blasio keeps on working to stifle charters’ growth.

        The study, by Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes, used test scores to compare the gains of 75,000 third- through eighth-graders in 197 city charters to those of their traditional-school peers between 2011-12 and 2015-16.

        It found an average charter kid displays growth in reading “equivalent” to 23 extra school days; for math, it’s 63 extra days. Every. Single. Year.

        Some results were positively stunning: Kids at KIPP NYC, for example, “grew” academically by 80 more days in reading, and 137 in math. At a Success Academy in Harlem, it was 137 more days in reading, 239 in math.

        Notably, the study found the gains particularly “strong” among poor black and Hispanic charter vs. regular-school kids.

        Nor can critics claim that charter kids just come from more privileged backgrounds: The researchers controlled for variables like poverty, race, special-ed status and English proficiency.

        • I think it may be related to motivated parents. My wife and I noticed that the same parents always attended the meetings and after school events such as math and science night, and who always took advantage of discarded reading books for their kids to use in the summer. Guess who’s kids always made the best grades?

          • The best studies I’ve seen of charter schools effectiveness compare the charter school kids with the charter school rejects–the ones who entered the lottery to get into the school but weren’t selected. That strikes me as just about as close to a perfect controlled study as you can get with human subjects; same pool of people, and if different numbers had been drawn, the kids in each group could easily have switched places.

            Now, it doesn’t seem like the study referenced above did that, so there’s a little suspicion there. However, the controlled studies also showed a serious win for charter schools, even if not quite as dramatic.

            • There is also the question of which schools do best at motivating parents, as well as encouraging and rewarding that motivation. I don’t get the impression that many charters take the attitude of “Leave the learning to us, we’re experts!”

              Demotivation of the parents is a factor.

              • These days, it may be more a matter of what schools are actively trying to smash parent involvement, while whining about a lack of parental footsoldiers.

                Not really a school problem, more of an all-around-volinteer issue.

                • Schools that think of parents only as a sales force for band candy, gift wrap and flavored popcorn, as providers of healthy snacks and drivers for outings forfeit any right to be dismayed when parents tire of being exploited grow uninvolved.

        • I think Twain had that one right.
          And thank goodness for “improper” education!

      • Parents, you know – chances are good they can barely button their own overalls, never mind prepare their children for the real world.

        Far too many cannot. You cannot pass on what you never learned yourself.

        What is universal for all but the most depraved or culturally backward groups is that they will be more invested in their children than any random government employee.

      • Heck, I’ve seen that at the workplace. Someone sitting there staring at the manuals with their job on the line, insisting they can’t do a thing unless they’re sent to a training course somewhere.

        I used to think they were just angling for a company-paid jaunt, but after a while I realized that many people aren’t capable of learning for themselves. Not necessarily because they are stupid, but becuase one of the first things they were taught was that only teachers could teach, and all knowledge came from school.

        Which when you think about it seems perfectly reasonable; the first thing schools would teach would be to dependent on schools, which secures their funding and further existence…

        • I’ve noticed that some people find it difficult to learn on their own, and not just from obtuse manuals. I don’t know why, but I don’t think it’s necessarily school related. Maybe it’s a difference in how people learn, or maybe they never really had to learn something on their own and don’t know how. While I’ve been to some company paid training, it’s usually has been mixed. One took great exception when I gave the material a bad review. Then I told them what I really thought of the class.

          The odd thing is, even with classes most of what we get out of things are from the manuals. A good index often trumps these classes, hands down.

          • Far too many kids are now almost always “in school” from the age of 2 or 3, and close to school before that with daycare. So they never get even basic stuff at home where it tends to be more the learn somewhat on your own watching Mommy and Daddy, and Mommy and Daddy trying to teach you things about life etc. Then when they hit “real” school (for values of real), they are poorly taught and mostly indoctrinated. Add in all of the rest of life’s distractions and too many people can’t seem to learn anything outside a new video game.
            They have the ability, but it is almost actively suppressed from the get go.

            • Suppressed implies hammered down. It’s more of a case of not developed. And just because a child is in school doesn’t mean the parents no longer have to teach. I know some don’t, but school should be seen as a supplement to learning at home.

              Yesterday I heard one of mine do a half rant about how boring it was to cover latitude and longitude as they had learned it in early elementary school. I suppressed a grin, because how they told me they were taught the difference was precisely how I had explained it to them when they were in early elementary school.

              • in many cases, yes, hammered down. I bet many if not most ADHD diagnosed and drugged up kids are actually odds in someway and in need of actual discipline, not drugged into line. There is a reason the left especially hates home-schooling, and even a kid who spends all his non=schooling time in inter-mural activities with kids their age is claimed to be “unadjusted to society” by the left and school boards (redundancy alert), and if your kids suffer the public system, especially in certain schools, one really must untrain them and correct “teachings” to reflect reality.

                • “But what about socialization?!”
                  “Yeah, I used to worry about the lack of socialization, too – back when we started homeschooling.”
                  “What did you do about it?”
                  “Well, I started beating my kid up and taking his lunch money once a week before school started. Socialization complete!”

            • I think you’re right.

              We homeschool, yeah, but a lot of it is attitude– yesterday we hit Tombstone (it’s closer than it was in Washington! Daytrip!) for a day, and even my husband’s “normal” sister is jealous because that’s pretty cool, today one of the big girls wanted to know about the famous picture of the skyscraper guys eating lunch (we related it to the cartoons where characters wander out on i-beams, and the buckets-of-red-hot-rivets she’s seen in cartoons) and the other squinted at a lovely collection of Marilyn Monroe pictures and asked why she recognized that lady. Ended up being a discussion on suicide, scaled down to 8 year old level, ie that it was wrong and sad because everybody loved her but she felt so sad and like she couldn’t get help. With a mild digression to “all medicines are poison.”

              This is normal to me– my mom did it, my dad did it, but form the looks we get…a lot of other folks didn’t.

              • Marilyn Monroe pictures … discussion on suicide,

                So you left the whole murdered by the Kennedys for when child’s older? Good thinking.

              • There are two sculptures of that famous picture, and one resides across the river on the façade of the old Odd Fellows building in Marinette, WI. It’s now a bar and grill called Iron Works. The photo was staged, yes, and our orientation at work uses it in the safety culture portion.

              • ‘With a mild digression to “all medicines are poison.”’

                Is this “the dose makes the poison”?

                • Yep.

                  If something is powerful enough to help you, it can also hurt you– with a side helping of “so don’t eat any pills or strange candy without bringing them to mommy.”

          • “Why do you flip to the back of the book first? Isn’t the table of contents of some use?”

            “Some, but not enough. The index tells me exactly where to look for what, if it’s any good, that is.”

            “But that’s out of context! How can you get things right if you just do that?”

            “What makes you think I haven’t read this? That’s how I knew to look in this particular book, rather than another.

            And there’s the thing about going to older books, for while they might well have some mistakes (as we now know) too many newer ones have outright omissions.

          • I need to patch a Python program to fix a case that the author didn’t check. I know C and Perl, but not C++ or Python. The tutorial is crazy-making; too much like Dick and Jane. I found the language reference, and I hope I can learn enough for the 2 to 10 lines of code that should do the trick.

        • I can’t learn languages or art by myself. The rest I learn BETTER by myself.

        • I know of a tech organization that specifically does not do outreach to universities because the students are useless. Or perhaps “high maintenance” if you want to put it nicely.

          They can’t search for information. They can’t do “self-directed learning”. They can’t work without hand-holding. They show up and expect the training to be thrown on their lap.

          Of course personally I have to admit that I derive a number of advantages from their incompetence. So long as I never have to encounter their code (suuuuuure).

    • As an obverse example to the charter schools, consider the decline in Edina clearly attributable to substituting goodthink for education.
      http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2017/10/how-leftism-can-ruin-a-once-proud-school-district.php

  9. It’s somethng that often gets forgotten, for a wide assortment of reasons, but the large scale Planners have run to bugf*ck nuts for most of human history. What I’m saying is, Socialism is in most ways just a new label for an old mix of smegma, arsenic, and toe cheese. The Planners ALWAYS try to run roughshod over everybody else, they ALWAYS accuse those who don’t want their neighborhood destroyed of being against Progress, and they very nearly always crash and burn when reality intrudes.

    I say ‘very nearly because I understand that one far sighted Planner arranged that major streets in Paris have good sight lines for grapeshot. Forget who, and it’s a pity the French government doesn’t have that kind of guts anymore.

    • Baron Haussmann, and the story is somewhat apocryphal.

      • My understanding is that while “get rid of narrow cobbled streets to reduce the likelihood of barricades” was part of the idea, “clean and modern and really impressive” was more important.

        • No narrow, cobbled streets with barricades makes it so much easier to drive the tanks straight into the city.

          • Not so much that as “harder for the revolting masses to throw cobblestones on the heads of the troops you send to suppress the revolt.” Haussmann was pre-tank.

    • Is it the fault of the Planners that idlers, wreckers, kulaks and ne’er-do-wells refuse to follow the plans?

      • When every time the Plan gets even partway implemented, the result is a disaster? Yes. Bauhaus Worker Housing that you can’t get workers to live in unless they have no choice? Public transportation systems that nobody wants to use? Public housing so bad that, when the residents are asked what should be done to fix it they start chanting, “Blow it up! Blow it up!”

        (it was blown up, BTW)

        I lived in Columbia Maryland for a few years; one of the hallmark Planned Communities. Setting aside such idiosyncrasies as a street called “Barrow Downs” (out of Tolkien. Who the hell would want to live there?), the town worked largely because all the services and amenities (like takeout) that the Planners hadn’t accounted for moved into the Industrial Parks. Which the Planners were gobsmacked over.

  10. c4c

  11. As a side note, it does seem a little rough to treat people born into or raised under nasty system the same way as the people who deliberately set up a nasty system. The former, at least, can claim not to have known better, while the latter lack that excuse.

  12. I don’t suppose we could convince them to use a modicum of reason, instead?

    Unfortunately, the progs seem to have abandoned reason in lieu of emotions.

  13. It probably *was* necessary to put some German scientists & engineers to work on the US missile program, but questionable whether it was necessary to put von Braun in such a high-level and visible leadership position.

    As an aside, the USAF missile program, run by General Bernard Schriever, seems to have been less German-dependent than the Army missile program.

    There is an interesting biography of Schriever, which I reviewed here:

    http://chicagoboyz.net/archives/24503.html

    • von Braun seems to have been a shrewd individual; the magazine articles and books he wrote put his name out in front of the public, who otherwise would never have heard of him, and he was always available for an interview or a quote.

      Also, von Braun had the consultant thing going; the outsider with the Special Knowledge. That gave him status and credibility above the rank-and-file managers and engineers.

  14. One of the students at Day Job is reading _Mein Kampf_. I looked at it, shrugged, and said, “Most boring, incoherent infamous book ever,” and went on. The student was a little disappointed, I think. That’s my take on the NSDAP cos-players, too. Don’t take down their sites, just ignore them, or point, point out all their errors, and laugh. Like we try to do with other easy-to-refute bad ideas.

    William Stoddard makes a good point up-thread. If you ban the really bad ideas that everyone (outside the Middle East and the lunatic fringe) agrees are bad, then there is nothing to compare “mildly bad” or “just ideas I don’t like” to. So you can make a bogey-man out of “idea I disagree with” and people won’t be as likely to realize that it’s not EEEEEEEVil, just something VileProgs disagree with.

  15. Rockport Conservative

    One of those scientists son was a grad student of my husband. I can say in this case, he was very proudly Teutonic. A product of the master race. Just ask him. Of course, that might have just been his personality, not a political belief. He was arrogant, but I think as he matured he mellowed. He was a product of his school system, one for the scientists children. He was very intelligent, but not too street smart.

  16. Apropos of this “whiteness” subject, Ta Nehisi Coats is featured (or pilloried, depending how you look at it) in the NY Slimes, seen and commented upon at Small Dead Animals: http://www.smalldeadanimals.com/2017/10/pray-for-an-ast.html

    Kate has an ongoing series of posts that begin with: “When the communists show up to protest the fascists, you don’t pick a side. You pray for an asteroid.” Or as Kathy Shaidle is fond of saying, “can’t they both lose?”

    Mr. Coates, notable of late for writing one of the worst selling Marvel comics in history, also wrote a book lately. The author in the NY Times piece said:

    “In the most memorable sentence in “The First White President,” Mr. Coates declares, “Whereas his forebears carried whiteness like an ancestral talisman, Trump cracked the glowing amulet open, releasing its eldritch energies.”

    I have spent the past six months poring over the literature of European and American white nationalism, in the process interviewing noxious identitarians like the alt-right founder Richard Spencer. The most shocking aspect of Mr. Coates’s wording here is the extent to which it mirrors ideas of race — specifically the specialness of whiteness — that white supremacist thinkers cherish.”

    The whole rhetoric and ideology of the Left regarding race these days is about the Curse of Whiteness. Whites are just plain eeeevile due to genetics or magic or some shit that just makes ’em eeeevile. The more I hear that, the less difference I see between the extra-chromosome Left of Antifa and the extra-chromosome Right of the European fascists. The space is narrowing down the the point you can’t get a knife blade between them. Just as there was no necessity for a follower of Mussolini or General Franco of Spain to debate the ideas of their political opponents, so the followers of Mr. Coates are absolved from pursuing any such exercise. Whiteness = Eeeevile in exactly the same way as Judaism = Eeeevile in 1930’s Europe.

    This is who is writing for Hollywood right now, my friends. You dig a tiny bit, and this is what you’ll find like a seam of coal through “award winning” science fiction and fantasy these days.

    • You’ve noticed that too- that the Left holds white men as the Ubermenchen, the only ones holding the power to build up or tear down the rest of mankind, or even the earth itself.

    • BobtheRegisterredFool

      My rear end I’m going to leave the job of refuting the dumbass NSDAP wannabes to the likes of Coates.

      My rear end I’m going to leave the job of refuting the likes of Coates to the dumbass NSDAP wannabes.

      To the Coates of the world: Your ideas weren’t very convincing when you swiped them from the white nationalists.

      To those wannabes: The NSDAP at least had chemists capable of inventing the meth you all are strung out on.

    • this is what you’ll find like a seam of coal through “award winning” science fiction and fantasy these days

      “Award winning” — not to be confused with “best-selling” or “popular” with readers.

    • While I appreciate the cleverness, and don’t disagree with the left, no need to insult folks with Downs’– I don’t have a broad enough sample to say, but a side-effect of the damage seems to be a basic niceness.

      A family by marriage isn’t genetically different, but did have a brain tumor at a very young age– same thing, she is just nice. Can’t manage the nasty.

  17. I have an idea of what the superior human would be like.
    Unfortunately, no such creature exists, or has ever existed, on this planet.
    I’m sure the Aryan supremacists would disagree with my version of the superior human; because the ability to protect the epidermis from high energy electromagnetic radiation would definitely be one of the requirements, and pallid skin types don’t cut it.

    • But. . .but. . .what about Reagan? I kind of want to start an attempt to get him canonized by the Catholics. The reaction I imagine the Left having at that is usually enough to leave me sitting here giggling like a madman.

      We’ll need a new pope though. The new evil troll looking one probably won’t go for it. (Is it just me or does anyone else think he’d look comfortable in the black SS uniform?)

      • Estimable as our brother Reagan was, he was raised by a bitter ex-Catholic and a very non-Catholic evangelical lady. He married a Catholic lady in his first marriage, but he didn’t convert before the two divorced; he didn’t try to get his first marriage annulled; and he did not wish to convert after that, as far as I know. (Or the his loyalty to his second wife proved a bar.) Nor was he in any position for a deathbed conversion, given his Alzheimers. So, although none of this bears directly on his final destination, it does matter administratively. If you don’t join up/reconcile with the Catholic Church during life, you’re not going to be canonized.

        Now, Anglicans and Episcopalians… their saint calendar is like Mormon baptism of the dead. They just do whoever they think appropriate. So there could very well be a very conservative Episcopalian group somewhere, who are celebrating the Feast of Ss. Ronald and Margaret, politicians. It wouldn’t be a bad choice, per se.

        Still, there’s nothing wrong with not canonizing every decent person in the world. Canonized saints are examples of heroic virtue and particular graces, whereas Ronald Reagan was an example of civic virtue.

        • Thanks for the information! I don’t actually think Reagan is or was a saint. He has been my favorite president and the only one I respect.

          It’s more ‘confuse and confound the enemy’. The Left is really starting to irritate me so the more of that I can return the better.

          I’m a pagan so the only church that I knew of off the top of my head that had saints was the Catholics.

          Oh! Ronald and Margaret. . .We just need one more and we have a Trinity!

          To much sleep last night so I’ve got horrible ‘random brain’ today.

          • Pope Saint John Paul II is the individual who’s most commonly linked with Reagan and Thatcher.

            And incidentally, note that extra title in front of his name.

          • Being a saint is easier than being a great political leader. A saint only has one boss and doesn’t really have to move much of anybody to action.

    • “because the ability to protect the epidermis from high energy electromagnetic radiation would definitely be one of the requirements, and pallid skin types don’t cut it”

      We will point our fingers at you and laugh when you come down with rickets. Superior humans ought to be above that.

      • Ah, but even dark skinned types don’t need a lot of sunshine to benefit from it. Although the ability to digest milk as a source of vitamin D isn’t very wide spread in people of African ancestry. Don’t know how well distributed that is in people from the Iberian peninsula and the Mediterranean basin.

        But rapidly adaptive skin coloration, wouldn’t that be the cat’s meow?

        • *licks paw* I’ll get back to you on that.

          IRL, I prefer just adding sun-proof layers.

        • Eh, the studies of it are kinda politicized and a mess– partly because nobody wants to be accused of encouraging anybody to get skin cancer.
          So I’m supposed to hide my babies away from sunlight, and try to drip nasty-tasting D drops down their throat instead.

          The only study I heard of that tried to do an objective job was…I think Norway or something… and they figured that someone in normal, short-sleeved clothes was OK if they got sunlight during lunch hour.

          I didn’t play around with the slider beyond trying for my kids’, as “olive skinned,” which mean they needed about an extra hour.

        • Yet, many people have suffered from rickets.

  18. I think the cries of ‘Nazi’ are because they cried ‘racism’ to many times and everybody stopped listening to them. This was their attempt to try and re-gain the high ground and it has pretty much failed.

    (Really? A bunch of masked and black clad psychos running around and attempting to shutdown benign free speech events with violence? That seems pretty Nazi like to me! Add to that their rabid desire to disarm those same people that they’ve been accusing of being ‘Nazis’?)

    • YellowShapedBox

      I think a few people were sufficiently brainwashed that they no longer believe two and two make four, but not sufficiently brainwashed to forget who their enemy is. Result: oh, so your opponents are racists? Cool, better be racist, then.

  19. one kickass video.

  20. The sad thing is that there were a lot of the Peenemunde crowd who, at least in later life, were pretty good neighbors and citizens. People watched them, and they made sure they remained above suspicion. In many cases, I think they were people caught in the wrong place at the wrong time who made the wrong choices, and who then used their second chance in the US to try and make amends.

    I’ve never heard anything bad about Hans von Ohain, for example, and he lived in Dayton for years and years, working out at the Base. Courteous, kind, generous, hardworking. If somebody like that tries to turn over a new leaf, and essentially spends the rest of his life working off his crimes under a high security microscope, I’m not sure he is being let off easy.

    Meanwhile, there are a lot of folks in, say, Berkeley, who were born American, have never done anything for anybody, and are just panting to murder and enslave their neighbors (under the appropriate buzzwords, of course). You might be safer living next door to a repentant ex-Nazi.

    • With the rate of firearm ownership here and the rather strong Antifa sentiment I’ve gotten from talking to people they’d be much safer living next to a current or even ex-Nazi than coming here.

      I think I’ve seen people literally itching their index fingers.

    • Point to remember is that those were people who lived through some bad times in Germany prior to WWII. It took a certain level of nationalism to drag them up out of the impoverishment they were forced into by the Treaty of Versailles. Most people aren’t going to hate their home nation even when they do some bad things. Although Americans have a rather unique level of distain for our government, most of us still support our country as a whole.

      Part of the problem with pre-WWII Germany, and during the war, dissent of the German people with their government wasn’t tolerated. If you objected, or refused to work for the Nazis, you’d be disappeared with the mentally ill, physically handicapped, homosexuals, gypsies, and the Jews. You do what you have to to survive, and even more to help your family survive. Sometimes those things are deplorable, disgusting, horrifying, or downright monstrous. Go back far enough, and every one of us can find ancestors who did those sort of things. They are the ones who lived and had children. We need to be grateful that we live in an age where we have the luxury of choosing not to do things like that. But we also need to be prepared to go back into the jungle when our survival is on the line.

      • A corrupt and dishonest society tends to produce corrupt and dishonest citizens, for how else can man survive?

        The vast majority of people will accept terrible evils as “they way things are.” What is remarkable is not that they do, but that some don’t.

    • I would not put Hans von Ohain at all in the same category with von Braun, the latter having been well-aware of the slave labor being used for assembly of the V-2s. I don’t think these scientists and engineers (in general) should have been required to wear lifelong sackcloth and ashes; I do think it was unfortunate to put someone with von Braun’s background in such a position of honor and high visibility. But it was probably inevitable, given von Braun’s excellent PR and self-promotion skills, as someone referred to upthread.

      • Sigh. Aware is one thing. Doing something about it is another. Note that he’d have had to tell Himmler “take your slave labor and shove it” — you’ve never had to deal with a repressive regime, did you?

        • The nature of large, complex, and highly-innovative programs, of which the V-2 was surely one, is such that there are thousands of opportunities for the person in charge to drive it more or less successfully. The rather remarkable accomplishments with the V-2 in a pretty short time frame suggest that VB was indeed doing everything possible to get the weapon system completed and deployed as quickly as possible.

          Is there any evidence in the books that you’ve been reading that VB had any serious reservations about the regime, or was he so focused on the technical task that he really didn’t think about it all that much? I’m asking seriously, I haven’t read any biographies of the man.

          • Yes. Among other things, he was arrested by the SS twice. (And let out on his own recognizance twice, but still.)
            He wanted the rockets to work (they never worked that well) but I think mostly he was driving it through sheer fear for his life. Remember what the regime was like.
            OTOH he also had no reservations about fighting for his homeland, even if he hated the regime.

          • BobtheRegisterredFool

            Answering in jest: Don’t you know it is racist to condemn him? After all, German culture of the time…

    • I didn’t say anything when I read up higher about no reason to make it so obvious we’d recruited folks…but…

      Trying to make sure we didn’t become them is a reason.

      Find folks who will be useful. Who can probably be salvaged. And bring them home.

      Hard to dehumanize George next door.

    • From what I can tell Von Braun and the other German rocket scientists seemed to be well regarded in Huntsville, and I’m sure there was a similar deliberate effort to remain above suspicion and act like upstanding members of the community. Von Braun shopped occasionally in my grandfather’s grocery.

  21. it seems to me that the Nazi philosophy being based on the idea of inherent racial superiority kind of collapsed and fell apart for MOST PEOPLE the minute they were defeated.

    There was a VE Day (or very shortly after) broadcast about it and the remaining work (fighting) to be done. One of the early lines was something like: “The ‘super’man is now at the feet of the everyman.”

  22. >No filter for crazy Truths

    The “Dictatorship of Relativism” is more than just a nice turn of phrase. I’ve been meeting a lot of young people, particularly of the under-30 crowd, who literally don’t accept the principle of non-contradiction. Ideas aren’t something to take apart and test and see if they’re TRUE, they’re all equally valid simultaneously, even when they contradict each other.

    They literally have no concept of ‘True v. Not True”, so bad ideas are EVIL, because they can’t be dismissed as simply false.

    It’s odd. And I don’t know where the sudden cultural change came from, but it scares me. Because how will they be able to keep out country humming along if they can’t handle the idea of Truth? Can you fix a machine without reference to an objective reality? How can you live a moral life when all morality is just a matter of taste?

    • “Can you fix a machine without reference to an objective reality?”

      I actually think the fact that fewer people have experience working with machines has contributed to the decline in respect for objective truth. See this post at Ricochet, in which the author credits her unreliable car (and her lack of money to get it fixed professionally) with considerable learning value:
      “As a result, I figured out how to solve problems, figured out how things functioned, worked with tools, performed cost-benefit analyses, and perhaps, most importantly, knew when to call a professional.”

      https://ricochet.com/458709/cars-an-homage-to-unreliability/

      Yeah, I know that a lot of people ‘work with computers’, but most of those people don’t actually program them, and tapping icons and keys does not generate the kind of cause-and-effect thinking ability that repairing or building machines does.

      • Computers, especially the ultra high-tech ones that most people get today, may actually make it worse. The behavior may be deterministic, but it’s determined by variables that are so far hidden from the user that it might as well be random. For example, I have no idea what causes my computer to go to sleep. With my old computer, if I didn’t press any keys or move the mouse for 15 minutes, it would turn on the screen saver; if it went another 15 minutes, it would go to sleep. Simple, logical, predictable. With this one, some times I’ll leave it alone for a few minutes to feed the baby and it will essentially turn itself off, other times I’ll leave it overnight and the screen will still be on. I’m sure there must be some program running in the background, maybe on a webpage that I have open, that’s keeping it awake, but it certainly doesn’t seem objective from my point of view.

        Or to take another example, I used to have an iPod and a car stereo whose behavior could only be explained by assuming they were a couple of teenage girl frenemies. Sometimes, they just get into a snit with each other and won’t speak for a couple of months. I plug my iPod into the stereo in the morning, it works fine; I put it in my purse and don’t touch it for the rest of the day, and then when I plug it in at the end of the day to go home, it won’t play. Again, I’m sure there must be some logical explanation, but damn if I can figure out what it is.

        • “Computers, especially the ultra high-tech ones that most people get today, may actually make it worse. The behavior may be deterministic, but it’s determined by variables that are so far hidden from the user that it might as well be random.”

          Someone in an aviation publication remarked that the question “what’s it doing now?”, where “it” is the airplane’s automation and the person asking the question is a flight crew member, is often the beginning of a chain of events that will not end well.

          I discussed some examples of automation behaving in unexpected ways in my post When Humans and Robots Communicate:

          http://chicagoboyz.net/archives/39039.html

        • There used to be a poem about the computer:
          I hate this machine.
          I wish that they would sell it.
          It never does what I want.
          Only what I tell it.

          There have been many times with modern software and operating systems that I have wished to go back to the state of it only doing what I tell it.

      • Some years ago I read an article about a fellow who had a job as truck driver, but also was a bit of a historical detective. By piecing various bits together and even talking with a few folks who “were there” he’d managed to find out some interesting things about Little Boy – like that the ‘gun’ fired the out bit onto the center piece and not vice versa as had been long been the belief. What struck me was not that this fellow managed that, impressive work as it was, but that author of the article was taken aback that he treated a nuclear weapon as if it were “an ordinary, clocklike mechanism.” Well, the bits all have to fit together, the thing has to work. It’s NOT magic. It’s some advance applied physics and technology, but… yeah, it felt outright alien to me that this writer didn’t grasp such things.

    • Yes, you can fix a machine without objective reality– frame it as the thing that works, sort of a version of “his truth” for a machine.

      Now, figuring out how to fix it? Harder. Adds a lot of extra steps.

  23. If you want to understand the obsession with hygiene, think about a hospital that cares for people infected with multiply antibiotic resistant bacteria. Because from everything I’ve read and heard from family, that was the state of the post-discovery-of-bacteria-and-pre-discovery-of-antibiotics world. So this obsession saved lives. Especially women’s lives in childbirth, and who had the job of taking care of the house? Women. Lots of cause for that obsession, not surprising it spilled over on everything.
    (I wish Mom would write down some of her stories.)

    • Holly, that wasn’t it. I understand that part. Remember antibiotics were new in Portugal when I was little.
      It was the obsession with extending hygiene to places it had no business. “Reproductive hygiene” meant mating with “superior” people for ex.

      • Back in the Peanuts comic strip’s first decade, Charles Schultz had a recurring gag playing off the current buzz phrase “hi-fi.” Typically, one of the girls in the neighborhood would proudly announce to Charlie Brown that she had a new “hi-fi jump rope” which she was using, with Charlie facing the reader in the last panel to say “Hi-fi jump rope?”


        Societies have a tendency to latch on to phrases like hi-fi, wireless, and hygiene and apply them promiscuously in places where they make little sense.

    • I get what you’re saying– the all-encompassing, everything must bow to it sort of obsession….yeah.

      My husband is annoyed that I can’t “just relax” when there is a major mess. (small kids, there’s always a biohazard type mess, be it pre or post digestive system)

      Add that to a “Scientific” angle…..? Oy!

  24. I hope you at least got to eat some good German or Southern food while there.

  25. My $0.02 about ‘stealing’ the German rocket scientist. Von Braun is sometimes accused these days of being a Nazi because he was an officer in the SS. He didn’t exactly join the SS like most people did. The Peenemunde research was being carried out by the German Army, but it’s successes made it a political prize. The SS coveted credit for the work, and so they pulled strings to get the SS label attached to it. Von Braun didn’t join out of any political decision and did not work for the SS (except the work he was already doing but now the SS was going around Berlin taking some credit for his organization’s successes), he was informed one day that he was being given the rank of Lt. by the SS and if he wanted to keep working with rockets he’d take it and get back to work. In fact, he was actually under investigation by the SS as a security risk because of his lack of political loyalty to the Nazi party after he was supposedly overheard in a pub after the 1st successful V-2 that the rocket worked perfectly except for one thing: it had landed on the wrong planet.

    • Tom Lehrer’s “Wernher von Braun” song comes to mind:

      “Call him a Nazi, he won’t even frown,
      ‘Nazi, Schmazi’, says Werner von Braun.

      Don’t say he’s hypocritical, just say he’s apolitical
      ‘Once the rockets go up, who cares where they come down.
      That’s not my department.’ says Werner von Braun.”

      • Tom Lehrer, like A LOT of the von Braun haters tend to be communists. Um….
        This book was cute. She blamed him for the cold war (I sh*t you not) and at this late a date said those who feared the USSR were “paranoid.” Her trusted sources or the trusted sources of her sources started with… the nation.
        Also while mentioning Von Braun SEVERAL times, she mostly went into detail on the doctors which is another ball of wax and one we’re courting with our current “must perform an abortion and euthanasia to graduate,” btw.
        Having read a couple of bios now, I don’t think the man was a nazi. His father was very much not one, and families do tend to fall one side or another.
        Yeah, he didn’t apologize for bombing London. This is what I mean by “I don’t think our generation gets it” — it was a fargin war.
        Yes, I think he made compromises. As someone who lived in a state of fear for much smaller stakes (publication) you’d be amazed how people will compromise…

        • “It was a fargen war” also explains the majority of Dr Dr. Seuss’s “racist” comics (which were mostly of the editorial pages).

        • I’m not sure Lehrer was a communist; dunno about Braun-hating. I saw him as an equal-opportunity smartass, skewering Hubert Humphrey along with Alma Mahler/Gropius/Werfel. Liberal, but no Pete Seeger, I think..

          It’s been a long time since I read much on von Braun, but I got a sense of the rocket geek–getting it to work right mattered more than anything else.

          Agreed on ‘fargen war’. My father was ground support in the 8th Air Force in Okinawa just before the war ended. He wasn’t looking forward to the invasion that would have been necessary without the A bombs. He wasn’t flight crew, but it would have been interesting if the war continued. Dad was originally trained in chemical warfare before an injury that forced a switch to draftsman. I think he would have been reverted if necessary.

          • Well! In Europe it was “known” he was a communist, and I believe I’ve read something to that intent here, in the states. Don’t know if he carried a card, but he was communist-adjacent.

            • I’d say not carded; a mid-50’s job at Los Alamos labs implies he would have had to be medium quiet about such. (Greenglass, Rosenberg et al notwithstanding) I’ll take your last point. Not many shots to the left in his songs.

              • I think it was more like “something in the water” where he was. his wiki page says “He taught classes at MIT, Harvard, Wellesley, and the University of California, Santa Cruz” — hardly hotbeds of radical conservatism. “From 1962, he taught in the political science department at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)” which strongly suggests he would have been affected by the NE Zeitgeist of that era, in which people were not so much communists as they were anti-anti-communists. Swimming with the bien pensant tends to leave people believing that water naturally tastes that way, and any other flavor is looked down upon.

                Given that his work was originally performed for Boston nightclub audiences, is it any wonder it reflected the biases of the smart set? Performers are naturally inclined to ingratiate themselves with their audiences and it is rare that they challenge the prejudices of such audiences rather than mocking those the audience despises. Had Lehrer been performing in 1935 Berlin we can all guess what his songs’ content would have been.

            • Generically “liberal” with a slightly libertarian tinge… by the time I met him in the ‘90s. Can’t guess about any time earlier than that, as I didn’t know him *that* well.

              And he was very definitely an equal-opportunity satirist; not above cheap shots at anyone as long as they were FUNNY.

              • A communist-leaning (for whatever reason) comedian who takes “cheap” shots at all is much to be preferred to any sort of comedian who only takes shots at the other side. Especially if the former is funny, and the latter cannot be.

        • Apologizing for bombing London would suggest he had some say in the targeting. Any say he might have had was probably of the “London or Liverpool?” variety.

        • Also while mentioning Von Braun SEVERAL times, she mostly went into detail on the doctors which is another ball of wax and one we’re courting with our current “must perform an abortion and euthanasia to graduate,” btw.

          And this is why the “Godwins law I win shut up” card is so dangerous.

          It tries to silence those who speak out against ACTUAL NAZI LIKE THREATS

    • Yep, that’s my take after reading four bios, two pro and two against.

  26. The biggest sin to which science is prone is shown, in two forms, in the Nazi theories and the Soviet theories– they were utilitarian. Everything was about “Input A and input B make input C,” in various forms– morality wasn’t useful, so it was at best something to be worked around.

    Of COURSE the scientists would be vulnerable to that temptation. ESPECIALLY when there’s all the appeal to vanity with a dose of truth.

  27. So, and this is what worries me — why is the left worried about these ideas being out there? Do they find them so persuasive that they must be silenced?

    I think I finally figured it out, at least in part; they’re not going on ideas.

    I mean, the ideas can push the right buttons, but they’re “persuaded” by something else– the passion involved is a thing to push an idea, not to eyeball it closer.

    If given a gift horse, they won’t be looking at the teeth because hey, pony!
    On our side, OTOH, if given a silver lining we’ll poke around like crazy trying to find the dark cloud, if it exists or not.

    They’re different shortcuts, or defaults, I guess might be better to put it.

    There are folks seriously going “yeah, Hitler was horrible and was promoting evil stuff, but his publicity tactics were awesome!”

    • There’s probably also a dose of massive self-doubt– it’s not that they believe stuff, it’s that they don’t have the confidence to try to counter stuff that sounds wrong, because some of the “right” stuff sounds wrong, and they have their faith in the “right” thing being right, so they cannot trust themselves to say “there are four lights.”

      It’s like a dark mirror of Picard seeing five lights, and still keeping his faith and saying “four lights.”

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