This I Know: Racist Or Racialist

This is an interesting video. It contextualizes the clips that first aired last week starting the whole hullabaloo and getting Ms. Sherrod fired. And yet the first part of the whole cut (it begins about halfway through this particular video) shows what a friend of mine calls a “racialist” perspective. Not that she is hatefully prejudiced against or for blacks, but that a large part of her perspective is defined and driven by a racial interpretation.

Being a classic WASP I very readily admit I don’t understand that the black American must encounter as a significant part of their existence. However, I’m sure the truth lies somewhere in the middle of the two extreme camps that tend to frame the issue.

I believe two things particularly relevant to this subject: One, that the right of people to peaceably assemble is a sacred right that shall not be infringed in any way, no matter if they assemble in groups based on religion, interest, status, race, or color. And two, while there ought to be no law in any way infringing the aforementioned sacred right, groups that exist for any particular group to the detriment of any other group, if any or either of those groups are defined by race or color, are racialist and do not, generally speaking, contribute to the bringing about of the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Government Epic Fail: USPS

Chicago has enjoyed the dubious distinction of having one of the worst United States Postal Service systems. And you wanna know what the Postmaster General had to say about it?

US Postmaster General Jack Potter, responding in 2007 to findings that Chicago’s USPS had the worst reliability records said…

…that some managers created the problem by cutting costs.

“They obviously had expectations that were beyond what they were able to achieve and as a result we saw a decline in service performance,” Potter said.

Union leaders representing mail clerks and carriers said the cuts have created an environment in which managers put a lot of pressure on them.

This may well be an out of context quote taken by CBS2 to show their preferred view on the story. But I don’t think that is too likely.

The lack of business sense is appalling, though coming from someone who has worked in the money hole that is the USPS since the ’70’s, it’s not that surprising.

The two main points of the article are that cutting costs necessarily hurts efficiency and effectiveness and that unions and unionized employees don’t like an environment where they’re pressured to work.

Successful businesses require profitability. Profit is achieved by cutting costs, raising productivity, and otherwise adjusting the variants you have control of to maximize the return for any investment.

To dismiss, out of hand, one of the primary methods of improving profitability is to have bought into the idea that any problem can be surmounted if you simply throw enough money, real or imagined, at it. An idea all to prevalent in government.

Regarding workers experiencing a pressure to work, yes, there can be inordinate expectation to go beyond what is reasonable. Many businesses have environments that encourage, rather strongly, overtime and weekends and hours beyond the normal and already codified restrictions. But laws already exist that protect workers’ 8-hr day and 5-day work week. Reasonably safe work environments are already required and discrimination is illegal as well. So what’s this kvetching over feeling pressure to work?

Government-union collusion is one of many things that must end in order to starve and shrink the government back to reasonable and helpful levels. Unions know they’ve already extended their requests beyond the reasonable and admirable into the insane and obscene, and they know the best way to ensure their own survival is to give loads of money to people who can legislate their life-support.

Be careful, those who can legislate can also legislate. And what is given can be taken away.

Jack Potter ought to be required to work in the real world, starting with flipping burgers at McDonalds, and then being a middle manager who is required to actually show something for all his effort. Then, and only then, should he be welcome back at the head of the USPS.

And the unions? They should innovate somewhere besides DC.

Merely Human: Science Vs. Religion

Elena Kagan in concert with the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists fudges the facts regarding partial birth abortion to support her employer, then President Clinton.

Climatologists fear those with differing viewpoints so much they nudge numbers and massage facts, not substantially, but just enough, and very carefully control who gets access to their data.

A study finds children raised by adults living in homosexual relationships turn out OK, and then it turns out the study was run by a militant lesbian and contained unrepresentative samples that could not be construed in any way to represent a reasonable portrait of the general population.

I think it’s about time we set the 19th century idea of scientific infallibility to rest. It’s been dead a long time and the corpse is starting to stink.

Fourteen years ago, to protect President Clinton’s position on partial-birth abortions, Elena Kagan doctored a statement by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Conservatives think this should disqualify her from the Supreme Court. They understate the scandal. It isn’t Kagan we should worry about. It’s the whole judiciary.Kagan, who was then an associate White House counsel, was doing her job: advancing the president’s interests. The real culprit was ACOG, which adopted Kagan’s spin without acknowledgment. But the larger problem is the credence subsequently given to ACOG’s statement by courts, including the Supreme Court. Judges have put too much faith in statements from scientific organizations. This credulity must stop.

The problem with science is the problem with religion is the problem with corporations is the problem with the poor: we’re all merely human. We’re incapable of unbiased action or thought, no matter how carefully we try.

As conservative talk show host Michael Medved says, he admits he’s biased and is up front about it. No one can talk with him and not be aware of where he is coming from. And it is precisely this honesty, this up-frontness about his perspective that means you can learn the truth from him. It’s not that conservatives always tell the truth and liberals always don’t, it’s that when you know someone’s perspective and know they are not trying to obfuscate, you can see how their story fits into the bigger picture of Truth.

Compare the unabashedly conservative hosts on the Fox News channel. No one expects them not to be conservative (and even the liberals there trumpet the fact) and therefore, because there is no guise of infallibility or ruse of absolute even-handedness, they are the most watched news network, and the fastest growing too.

CNN pretends to be totally unbiased, and thus tip their hand. MSNBC proves everything.

I don’t care where you come from nearly as much as I care that you’re up front about it.

Being up front about your opinion shows that you respect others to be capable of informed decisions, and it shows you’re not so conceitedly ignorant you’ve convinced yourself you’re the only one right.

Science is made of human observation.The existence of biases in each and every human being means all observations and perceptions are biased as well. To deny the bias it to enhance the bias and the resulting skew in all your resulting data. You may be able to claim the scale cannot lie but you’re still going to interpret the data the way you want.

Science is not the holy pursuit of the epitome of truth, it is the headlong search for rationalization, for proving we’re not wrong.

The sooner we accept that science is just another human endeavor and therefore subject to all the faults and failures and stunning triumphs of all other human endeavors, the sooner we can get on with this crazy little thing called life.

Today’s Interesting Stuff

Speecy Spiicy, Hotsy Totsy

American parents tend to feed their children bland foods to avoid potential allergies or just because that’s what Dr Spock or the latest parenting magazine told them. Easy on the stomach, and the poop ain’t so bad.

Parents in other countries tend to feed their infants whatever they are having, and their children experience the full gamut of cultural flavors from very early ages.

And yes, I’m advocating for American parents to be more like foreign parents. Look out the windows, there be pigs in the air!

First, bland doesn’t necessary mean easier for the stomach. Take ginger, for instance. A very sharp and strong flavor, nobody would call it bland. But is the natural and effective remedy for upset stomachs? Ginger. No citations here, just try this: Purchase a bottle of Reed’s Ginger Brew. If you can handle the Extra Strength, get that. Then fast, and when your stomach is most uncomfortable, usually just after the normal time for the next meal, drink the Reed’s. Instant stomach relief.

Second, you’re limiting your child’s future ability to eat and enjoy wide varieties of food, including many foods you and I take for granted.

This article chronicles the embarrassment, the worries, the challenges of being an adult picky eater. One telling comment?

Amber Scott, of Enon, Ohio, has eaten only about 10 different foods since she was 3 years old.

Not that exposing your children, when young, to significant varieties of food will totally preclude such problems, but they would take a significant bite out of them.

The Office

Empty office space keeps rising. This is not a good sign for the economy that is on the mend, according to certain people whose grand plans are fully in swing here. Corporations are using less and less office space, which means they aren’t hiring.

The really scary part?

Job growth and office-space use are closely intertwined. While some major users of offices, such as federal regulatory agencies, have been expanding, big banks and corporations have lagged behind in increasing their real-estate footprint, according to some analysts. That is a sign that these larger companies have been slow to return to their pre-recession staffing levels, a contributing factor to the persistently high U.S. unemployment rate.

Yea, that’s a sure sign of a growing and recovering economy. Regulators are gearing up for more business. Only one problem, regulators business is to keep real businesses out of business.

My Buddy Hugo

The ones really benefiting from the drilling moratorium? National oil companies. That means President Obama’s marxist buddy Hugo Chavez is loving us right now. Was this a quid pro quo? Or was it yet another unintended consequence of a short sighted and dishonestly supported policy? I’d say the latter, but wouldn’t be too surprised at the former.

Oh, and this would be the same Venezuela that just stole oil rigs from US corporations and we heard nary a peep in protest for this thuggish thievery from the government that is supposed to be supporting US interests abroad.

Muhammed In Space

Perhaps a new round of “Let’s Draw Muhammed” is in order. It would probably improve our chances of NASA actually being less irrelevant than it already is going forward.

NASA has apparently been ordered to reach out to Muslim nations in an effort to improve goodwill. And NASA is the right agency for this why?

Former NASA director Michael Griffin says sympathetic nations will be drawn to us when NASA succeeds at great things, not when they’re given an inflatable space shuttle and commemorative plaque.

Griffin said Tuesday that collaboration with other countries, including Muslim nations, is welcome and should be encouraged — but that it would be a mistake to prioritize that over NASA’s “fundamental mission” of space exploration.

“If by doing great things, people are inspired, well then that’s wonderful,” Griffin said. “If you get it in the wrong order … it becomes an empty shell.”

Griffin added: “That is exactly what is in danger of happening.”

And the coup de’ etat?

He also said that while welcome, Muslim-nation cooperation is not vital for U.S. advancements in space exploration.

“There is no technology they have that we need,” Griffin said.

Once again, why is it NASA’s job to reach out to any nation?

I’d draw Muhammed in space alongside the Muppets.

Just A Reminder

Some people still claim that Liberals are the bigger and better givers, both of time and money. They’re wrong. Badly wrong.

People who said they were “very conservative” gave 4.5% of their income to charity, on average; “conservatives” gave 3.6%; “moderates” gave 3%; “liberals” gave 1.5%; and “very liberal” folks gave 1.2%.

And this cannot be explained by religious versus secular giving:

The 2008 data tell us that secular conservatives are now outperforming their secular liberal counterparts. Compare two people who attend religious services less than once per year (or never) and who are also identical in terms of income, education, sex, age and family status — but one is on the political right while the other is on the left. The secular liberal will give, on average, $1,100 less to charity per year than the secular conservative. The conservative charity edge cannot be explained away by gifts to churches.

Or by giving of time versus giving of money:

Q. Monetary giving doesn’t tell us much about total charity, does it? People who don’t give money probably tend to give in other ways instead, right?
A. Wrong. First of all, there is a bright line between people who give and people who don’t give. People who do give time and money tend to give a lot of it. According to the Center on Philanthropy, the percentage of givers donating less than $50 to charity in 2000 was the same as the percentage giving more than $5,000. Similarly, the same percentage of people who only volunteered once volunteered on 36 or more occasions in 2000.

Second, people who give away their time and money to established charities are far more likely than non-givers to act generously in informal ways as well. For example, one nationwide survey from 2002 tells us that monetary donors are nearly three times as likely as non-donors to give money informally to friends and strangers. People who give to charity at least once per year are twice as likely to donate blood as people who don’t give money. They are also significantly more likely to give food or money to a homeless person, or to give up their seat to someone on a bus.

And it is not offset by political giving either:

Perhaps you suspect that the vast political contributions given to the Obama campaign — $742 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, versus $367 million for the McCain campaign — were crowding out charitable giving by the left. But political donations, impressive as they were this year by historical standards, were still miniscule compared to the approximately $300 billion Americans gave charitably in 2008. Adding political and charitable gifts together would not change the overall giving patterns.

Conservatives continue giving more in economically difficult times, decreasing their giving by less than their liberal counterparts:

Economists measure the “income elasticity of giving” to predict how much people change their giving in response to a particular percentage change in their income. It turns out the response in 2008 was dramatically different for left and right. For instance, a 10% decrease in family income for a conservative was associated with a 10% decrease in giving. The same income decrease for a liberal family led to a 16% giving drop. In other words, if this relationship continues to hold, the recession will almost certainly exacerbate the giving differences between left and right.

The proof, as they say, is in the pudding: Modern liberal ideas are selfish ideas.

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Thoughts On Taste Of Chicago

The wife and son and I attended the Taste of Chicago on Saturday. Beautiful hot day with crowds of people and crappy food.

Yes. The Chicago, for all the great food you serve from the myriad restaurants lining your streets, your Taste was garbage.

Note to the Vendors: The purpose of the Taste-size portions is to attract people to your restaurant. You want people to want more.

I didn’t want any more of anything I tried.

The most interesting thing about the cheeseburger was the bun, it was substantial and could’ve supported quite the filling. Too bad all I got for my trouble was a pitifully thin patty and some american “cheese”. Oh, the pickles were OK too.

The Japanese dumpling’s flavors were bland, thankfully the sauce wasn’t. But it was poorly cooked and the filling was an uninteresting lump of some unrecognizable sludge.

The jerk chick with red beans and rice was watery and the flavor had been lost long ago.

I like rubbing shoulder with hot and sweaty and frustrated and happy and all the other people thronging the streets. And it’s highly unlikely anything will change because you’re making some real money at the Taste. But, if you want me to come back every year and not just the years I have someone new to show the Chicago way of doing things (poorly), I suggest you act like you care about the food you put out.