Snappy Answers To Casual Gaslighting, Part IV

“Check your privilege”

OK. Let’s check my privilege.

I grew up descended from people from an inhospitable place that nobody wanted to conquer and that nobody managed to enslave (or who managed to kill everyone that tried). My dominant culture has no experience of being enslaved – indeed, it abolished slavery hundreds of years before the rest of the world. It’s a “privilege” that every human in the world should have, and that I’m more than happy to share.

I grew up in a family where the parents stayed together (until we were all adults, anyway), and worked their butts off to give us a stable, loving upbringing where we were expected to grow up into productive, self-sufficient adults. My parents themselves were “privileged” with the same basic family structure, notwithstanding the Depression and World War 2.

Those are privileges I’m more than happy to spread to the whole world, and have nothing to do with my skin color.

I went to a public school system that was more concerned with teaching me to read, write, calculate, present myself, and reason than indoctrinating me in a view of society. It’s a “privilege” afford to very few these days.

I got a post-secondary education (thanks to my Mom working at the local college, with the commensurate tuition break) that focused on reason, logic and critical thought, rather than post-structural twaddle – not merely a “privilege”, but a decisive advantage in so many areas of my life.

Somewhere, I got a work ethic. I was blessed with ways to exercise it – for which I’m thankful. I’m more than happy to do my bit, and more, to make sure you get the same privilege.

I am a free person, with all the rights God endowed me, and all the responsibilities that position gives me. Freedom and responsibility are “privileges” I’ll fight to provide anyone who wants them, and against anyone who’ll deprive either of us of them.

In no case are those “privileges” zero-sum. My freedom takes nothing away from your freedom (that you’re not willing to give up, or at least pretend you’ve given up). And taking freedom away from others gives you no more; Germans, the Klan and Red Guards gained no freedom, no prosperity, no happiness from oppressing Jews, Afro-Americans or “counterrevolutionaries”; quite the opposite, in fact.

Freedom is the ultimate “privilege”. And it’s contagious, if you let it be. Try it, Sparky.

You are, of course, not referring to any of those. You are referring to the stretchy, sketchy concept of racial privilege which is in fact almost entirely a matter of class, not race, and is almost entirely an attempt to expiate White Progressive Guilt.

All Shook Up

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Modern airplanes are equipped with a “stick-shaker” that vibrates the
control stick with increasing harshness as the airplane approaches a
stalled configuration.  The hope is the pilot will feel the shaking and
correct the airplane’s attitude before the stall occurs.

My work computer has a time-out safety feature.  If I don’t touch the
mouse every so often, it logs me out.  Which would make sense if I only
worked on-line, but I have lots of other stuff to do off-line as well. 
I’m forever logging back in.  I’m stalled.

I need a stick-shaker for my mouse.

Joe Doakes

It’d also be a great feature on credit cards.

Human Nature

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

In college poli-sci classes, you learn there are two schools of thought about what humans would be like in the absence of government.

Some think humans are Basically Good and government corrupts us, so if we could get rid of government, everything would be wonderful.

Others think humans are Basically Rotten and only government protects us from ourselves. If we got rid of government, our lives would be solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.

Recent events don’t answer the question. Did people riot because government pulled back and let them, or because government was so corrupt they had to?
Ask yourself this: if we get rid of the police, and the Basically Rotten people are correct, what will take the place of the police? Individual citizens maintaining Eternal Vigilance, dispensing Street Justice? Are we certain that’s a better solution than a municipal police force? Are we willing to bet our lives on it?

Joe Doakes

The “better solution” our social justice-y betters are splaining to us is Camden – whose new, woke, exquisitely expensive law enforcement organization has improved it from the worst murder rate of any city of any size in the United States to tied with #6 (Kansas City), were it over 200,000 people, which it’s not; it may be the most dangerous small city in the US.

Diversity Falls Short

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

I am attending continuing education classes, required for Minnesota lawyers. The legal profession has a serious diversity problem. 
There are too many old white men at this conference,  too few young hot chicks.  
Nothing pleasant to look at, when the Power Point is boring.  
Joe Doakes

Pretty sure its true most everywhere these days. 

Stymied

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Gloomy, rainy day.  I have things I should do, but don’t want to.  I have things I want to do, but shouldn’t.  So I’m sitting here, on-line, complaining about it. 
OMG I’m becoming a Millennial.
Joe Doakes

The email’s from last week. But the sentiment – and millennial kvetching – is eternal.

Suggestions Sought?

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

A co-worker is leaving the office to take a new job. We’re all supposed to sign the card. I have trouble with them. I overthink the message to make sure it’s politically correct and inoffensive, yet sincere and heartfelt.
First I tried “I’m happy you’re leaving,” but maybe that should be re-written as “I’m happy you’re leaving the office to start a new career.” Maybe not.
I thought about “Good luck in your new job,” but that sounds like the implication is “you’re going to need it.”
The problem is, I’m a poor liar. I hate to say “I’m going to miss you,” when I’m not. I hate to say “you deserve it,” when you don’t.
Is there a training class for this? How to be more sincere liar? Where do the politicians get their lessons?
Joe doakes

Have at it, mind hive.

Conversion

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

When I was a kid, cars didn’t have seat belts.  My Dad installed some and we thought they were a nuisance but I don’t have to listen to flight attendants, I know how to operate the buckle on a 1960-style seat belt. 
I remember when George Bush the Elder was running for President, Doonesbury made fun of his support for air bags, calling them over-regulation (Google the cartoon for May 9, 1980). 
I never used to think airbags and seat belts made much difference, I figured it was all a bunch of Ralph Nader hype. No longer.  I’m a believer.  My car is totaled but I walked away without a scratch (bruises, but no scratches).
Friday night about 9:45 pm, dark but clear skies and dry road, coming home from Wisconsin on Hwy 36, stopped for a red light at Century Avenue (the at-grade crossing just East of the snowman, the intersection with the Dairy Queen).  I was in the right lane, last in a line of cars, sitting behind a Chevy Trailblazer.  Wham!  I got hit from behind. Never saw it coming.  I don’t think I blacked out, but one moment I was looking at the truck ahead of me, the next moment there was no truck ahead of me and my car was slowly rolling toward the ditch, the windshield wiper was flapping, I could hear a car alarm behind me and smell smoke inside my car.  I got my car stopped in the right turn lane before it rolled into the ditch, shut off the wiper, turned on the flashers, and sat there for a few seconds to gather my wits.
A passer-by pulled his car over in front of me, ran back to my car, and helped me get out because we didn’t know if the smoke meant my car was on fire.  He helped me walk around the back of my car where I had to lay down on the edge of the road, my back hurt too much to stand.  The ambulance came, cops came, I went to Regions Hospital for X-rays, the car went to the tow company’s storage lot, my wife rescued me from the hospital.
I have a sore back, sore rib, bruises on my knees where they must have hit the dash, and a big rash on my left bicep where it must have scraped the airbag.  Oh yes, my airbags deployed (two of them, one in the steering wheel and one under the dash).  That’s the smoke I smelled – they use a powder charge to propel the bag.  No car fire.
The state trooper who gave me the PBT on the side of the road (I passed!) visited me at the hospital.  He said the kids in the car that struck me were 19 years old and did not pass the test (passenger was .08 and driver was .01).  They claimed the light was green, they were changing lanes, I was sitting in the road for no reason.  The trooper took one look at my car and laughed at them.  He said they never touched their brakes, no skid marks at all, they hit me at highway speed 55-60, and that’s why my trunk is all smashed in.  They hit me so hard, the garage door opener hanging on the visor came loose but by the time it started to fall, my car had already moved forward so far that the garage door opener ended up in the back seat.  The impact shoved my car into the back end of the Trailblazer hard enough to push my engine back a foot.
I asked the trooper if anybody else got hurt and he said no, the kids were fine and the guy in the Chevy ahead of me fled the scene.  Another passer-by followed him and got a license plate.  The trooper suspects that driver was drunk too, or uninsured, or had no license – some reason he didn’t want to talk to the cops.
There is no doubt in my mind the safety improvements built into my car saved me from serious injury.  I was searing my seat belt with shoulder harness which stopped me from hitting the windshield.  The driver’s headrest was properly adjusted to avoid whiplash.  The airbags kept me from hitting the steering wheel. The crumple zones designed into the car’s frame soaked up the impact on both front and back.
KIDS!  Wear your damned seat belts!
I’m stiff and sore but I’m going to be okay.  Going to get ready for church now.  Got a lot to be thankful for today.  Take good care, everybody.
Joe Doakes

I’m a believer.

54 years ago this coming Monday, my mom was driving me around Jamestown in my dad’s old Mercury. It was a two-door – and folding front seats didn’t have seat locks. The dashboard was all metal, except where it was even more metal. Seatbelts? Forget about ’em.

This was also long before car seats. And I was a squirmy toddler who was standing up on the passenger-side back seat…

…when Mom slammed on the brakes when someone ran a stop light.

I still fairly clearly remember sailing over the folding back seat and face-planting into the all-metal glove box. I’m less clear on remembering the stitches that followed – six, I think – but the scar is there over my right eye to remind me.

What Joe said. Wear your seat belts. And stay sober when you drive.

Guilty

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

US currency is legal tender for all debts, public and private.

80% of all currency contains trace amounts of cocaine

Possession of a trace amount of cocaine on currency in your pocket is a felony, regardless of how the cocaine got on the currency.

You are required to use our money, but you are prohibited from using our money.  Catch 22.  Look, people, that book was satire, not a guide to public policy.  Fix the law.

Joe Doakes

To much of our administrative class, “everyone is an inadvertent felon” is a feature, not a bug.

Story

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

You know how you see a person and based on appearance and a few words, make up a story about that person in your mind?  Maybe you don’t.  I do.
I was at Cub, just walking up to the checkout (with actual cashier because I had more than 20 items).  A woman came quickly from an aisle and almost beat me but my cart was ahead of her so she stopped short, holding her basket.
I said “You only have a few items, why don’t you go ahead” and she said “Thank you” and did.  No problem, I’ve got time and she’s obviously in a hurry.  I noticed she’s not wearing a wedding ring but lots of women don’t.  40-ish, very tanned, curly haired, could have been mixed race or could have recently returned from vacation or maybe she hits the tanning booth, none of my business.
So she checks out and starts bagging, I’m moving my cart to the end so I can bag when my stuff is done scanning, she’s talking to the casher.  “Can I get the belt turned on?”  I notice her stuff is only half-way down the conveyor to her. The clerk tells her to push the button but she says “I want it to move constantly.”  It’s one of those padded black squares that you can push with your hip to make it move constantly. She wearing Spandex, not a silk dress.  I’m thinking to myself: lean on it, lady, it’s not that hard.
So right away, I have this story in my mind.  Pushy and not too bright.  Teacher.  Divorced.  Spring break tan. Big hurry because her life matters.  If I were to tell her “Hey, lady, we’ve all got somewhere to be, lighten up,” it’d be a giant insult and possibly a hate crime. I know it’s a complete fiction, a story that I made up in my head about someone I don’t know at all, but I’d be willing to bet I’m right about a lot of it.
Which goes to show why stereotypes are a good thing. They’re efficient.  They allow us to skip all the tedious fact-gathering and elimination of possibilities so we can go straight to avoidance.  It’s why Jesse Jackson is relieved to hear footsteps following him and find it’s an older White guy instead of a young Black guy.
I suppose it would be considerate of me to help other people write their own head-stories so they can more quickly begin avoidance and leave me alone.  Where can I get a MAGA cap?
Joe Doakes

This is more common than people thi…

…OK – it’s more common than people think, as I personally imagine them thinking.

Miserably Woke

One of the reasons I’m such a yuge fan of Dennis Prager is his weekly “Happiness Hour” – in which he talks not only about the practice and moral imperative of being happy (hint:  it’s not just for you), but about the struggle to become happy.

One of his sayings, and his advice, on the subject comes close to an old Hungarian saying I’ve been fond of most of my adult life; “the best way to become wealthy is to appear as if you already are”.   Prager notes that this basic philosophy applies to so very much in life – about getting in shape, about falling or staying in love with one’s partner, and of course happiness.

There’s some science to the premise as well.  There’s a reason that disciplines from music to the military drill one endlessly on things they want to impress into the human brain – because almost nobody plays a piano scale or a guitar chord or clears a rifle jam automatically or intuitively.  But if you drill on them often enough, they become what people call “second nature”, because your brain develops space – neural pathways – for them.

Happiness works a little like that.  Not entirely – being happy isn’t quite as easy as playing a first-position “F” chord – but the idea of wiring the brain to be something isn’t all that conceptually different.

I believe you can push yourself toward happiness.  There’s some science, not to mention thousands of years of human experience, to support the premise.   It’s basic cognitive psychology.

And since one can wire one’s brain to be many good things via practice – a musician, a soldier, a happy person, whatever – it stands to reason you can do the same with unhappy, useless, miserable, depressing things.

Having raised, and working with roomful of, millennials, I’ve observed that the generation seems to collect psychological and psychiatric maladies in young adulthood the same way they used to collect Pokemon cards in childhood.  “I’ve got mild self-diagosed bipolar, which beats your dysthymia and separation anxiety!”.

Modern academia and media preach some miserable stuff to the kids; a common refrain among the young ‘uns is what a miserable world the “boomers” “left” them, with the misery being expressed in terms of climate change, the changing economy and, er, Trump.

And the few times I engage on the subject I mention that I can kind of relate – when I was a kid, the worries were nuclear war and overpopulation.  Of course, there actually were nuclear weapons all about the place, including 25 miles from my hometown, and there were still famines happening.   The nukes are mostly gone, and the obesity is a bigger problem among the poor than famine for the first time in human history.

And our presidents – Nixon and Carter – actually were corrupt and incompetent (respecively).   So compared with the world I grew up in, my kids have it pretty decent.

But I digress.

I thought about the way the world – academia, entertainment, the media – seem to be wiring the younger generation to be a bunch of dysfunctional, whiny mopes when I read this sad, pathetic story about a guy of color who dumped his perfectly good white girlfriend because, well, read the story.

Or don’t.  Maybe you’ll be happier if your brain doesn’t rewire itself just a little bit wrong with that little bit of dysfunction.

Or make yourself a little happier by considering that if this is all the younger generation has to fret about, we’ve done a good job.

Doakes Potpourri

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

We need universal background checks to keep guns out of the hands of criminals, like these.

 

***

 

When politicians are spending taxpayer dollars, they have a moral obligation to get the most value for their money.  In olden days, that meant “cheapest price” but nowadays, it means “promotes social justice” which is why they have quotas for minority-owned and female-owned businesses that can’t compete on price.  Oddly, the school district is short of money, which couldn’t possibly have anything to do with intentionally overpaying for goods and services, could it?

 

***

 

I’m confused by this protest at the police station.  What, specifically, is the solution they demand?

 

  1. Police should prove the shooting was justified?  They will, in good time.  So why march today?
  2. It doesn’t matter whether the police say the shooting was justified, shooting members of specific racial or tribal groups is never justified, ever, at any time for any reason, not even in self-defense!  Okay, so why march at the police station today, why not lobby the legislature for new law exempting certain groups from being arrested when they shoot up apartment buildings?
  3. Police shouldn’t shoot anybody, ever, at any time for any reason, not even in self-defense!   Okay, so why march at the police station, why not lobby the Mayor and City Council to disarm all cops.  Take guns out of officer’s hands, no more officer-involved shootings.  Simple.

I’d love to get on board with the protest but I can’t figure out what we’re protesting for.  Shouldn’t I know that before I hit the bricks?

Pfft.  All that matters is that you show up when told.

Edge Of Our Seats

On the one hand, few stories have cranked my claustrophobia to 11 quite like the story of the Thai boys trapped in a cave for…

…gulp…

…two weeks.

But as this is written, the staggeringly tricky rescue is finally underway:

Senior officials told Reuters and AFP that six boys had been rescued, but this could not be confirmed.

Rescuers will now need another 10 to 12 hours to get ready for the next stage of the remarkable operation, Narongsak said..

The plan is to take the rest of the group out in batches of four within two days according to the Journal.

All of the rescued were examined and found to be in good health, according to local outlet The Nation.

The governor confirmed this, saying the health of the four boys is “perfect.”

Another local outlet, Kahosod English, said one of the rescued soccer players was being “closely monitored.”

The Thai Navy Seals posted on their Facebook page that four of the boys had been rescued.

Am I the only one who thinks “well, this is the 21st century” on learning the Thai SEALS have a website?

And of course, in a world that venerates vacuous celebrity, it’s elevating to know that the world still has some real heroes 

Sgt. Major Saman Gunan wasn’t abiding by any orders when he joined the effort to rescue a boys soccer team trapped in a cave in northern Thailand. The 38-year-old retired Thai Navy SEAL did so by choice.

Gunan, who was working as a volunteer, passed out underwater during an overnight mission placing extra air tanks inside the cave, along the route divers use to reach the cavern where the 12 boys and their coach remain stranded and the oxygen in the air is depleting. He couldn’t be revived and was confirmed dead early Friday morning, according to Thai officials.

Hopefully this story will be over, with a happy ending, today.

 

They’re Coming For A Lot More Than Your Guns

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

The story of how the court can seize a person’s guns based on one quip alone is bad enough, but I have two more thoughts:
When the cops seize your guns, do they run the serial numbers to see if they’re stolen; or test-fire them and run ballistics to see if they were used in a crime? If not, why not; and if so, what happens to the value of your never-fired-new-in-the-box John Wayne Peacemaker when they fire it and who makes good on that?
Second, assume the Liberal psychological explanation is correct – gun owners are compensating for having a small penis. In that case, taking away my guns would be physiological castration. If I were a gun owner considering seeking mental health treatment but the price I’d have to pay would be castration, you can forget about it.
“But it’s for your own good.” That’s what they told the tomcat. He didn’t like it either, but he had no choice. I do. If you want to reduce the number of men killing themselves with guns, you must find an incentive for them to accept treatment. Loss of manhood is not it.
Joe Doakes

Put it another way:   even back in the seventies, psychologists (in general) knew that telling homosexual children to not act gay was profoundly psychologically damaging; telling someone “don’t be what you are” is an invite for decades of misery.

Fair enough.

“Defend myself, those who depend on me, and my community” is as we discussed the other day a primary evolutionary imperative for men, and firearms are almost always the best way to do that.  Forget about japes about penis size – those are for people who are compensating for lousy comedic chops.  Disarming someone is an attack on what evolution tells them to be.

What could go wrong?

It’s MLK Day…

..and I”m taking a long weekend, myself.

With that in mind, I’ll urge you to listen, as I do this time every year, to Reverend King’s final, and in some ways most iconic, speech, “I’ve Been To The Mountaintop”.

“I Have A Dream”, full of vigor and hope, gets all the headlines; “Mountaintop” is both more sober and more expansive; it focuses on the stump-pulling work of the battle for civil rights. It has lessons for those who fight for all civil rights.

As always, the whole thing is worth a listen.

Travelogue

Manny Laureano – principal trumpeter for the Minnesota Orchestra, and a longtime friend of this blog and me personally – went back to his native Puerto Rico. Nothing new there – he goes back roughly once a year.

It’s a little different this time – it’s his first visit since hurricane Maria.

Manny’s got a blog, now, and yesterday he published the first of many parts of his account of his trip home. Check the whole thing out.

Human Nature

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Liberals insist people are basically good.  If the cops laid down their guns, then the criminals would see there’s no need to be armed so they’d lay down their guns, too.  The world would be a better place if we got rid of the nasty guns.

That’s a lovely vision but it depends on the validity of the underlying assumption: are people basically good?  Can we depend on them to be kind and generous and helpful in a crisis, when normal societal constraints are gone?  Is there any recent empirical evidence to answer the question?

Houston hurricane – looters.  Miami hurricane – looters.   Puerto Rico hurricane – looters.  Wildfires in California – looters.

Joe Doakes

And it’s not just “progressives”.   “Anarchist” libertarianism can only exist with the complete repeal of human nature.

People Addict People

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose.

There is a crisis.  People who are prescribed drugs containing opioids can become addicted to them.

There is a problem.  People who receive medical treatment have privacy rights.  We don’t know who’s doing the prescribing, who’s doctor-shopping, who’s obtaining prescriptions only to sell them.

There are proposed solutions, but they’re mostly paperwork regulations that have no more effect on real-world issues than putting up a Drug Free Zone sign on a schoolhouse door.  More warning labels won’t help: people take the medicine doctors prescribe because we trust doctors.  Restricting prescriptions won’t solve the end problem: no doctor prescribes heroin and people who self-medicate their personal problems with drugs will obtain them illegally, as they always have.  Adding a new federal registry of sensitive information on individuals – does the word “Equifax” ring any bells?

“Opioid” is simply the new word for “narcotic” which has been a staple in the War on Drugs since Coke took cocaine out of its soft-drink 100 years ago.  The problem isn’t the tool, the problem is the tool user.

Joe Doakes

As with any plan, philosophy, worldview or kind of government – the problem is people.

Disagreement

Being able to disagree is a dying art – and a vital one:

To say the words, “I agree” — whether it’s agreeing to join an organization, or submit to a political authority, or subscribe to a religious faith — may be the basis of every community. But to say, I disagree; I refuse; you’re wrong; etiam si omnes — ego non — these are the words that define our individuality, give us our freedom, enjoin our tolerance, enlarge our perspectives, seize our attention, energize our progress, make our democracies real, and give hope and courage to oppressed people everywhere. G

Diagreeing civilly and productively is what makes representative government possible.  We’re losing that ability.

Boomed

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

I’m considered a “Boomer” because my birth date is before the arbitrary cut-off in 1964; but by the time I reached each new stage in life, the older Boomers already had been there and ravaged it, like locusts.  I was about 5 years too late for everything, which makes me feel less like a Boomer and more like one of the next generation.

Like this kid feels.

What’s it do to a nation when you believe your generation has no future, that the people before you squandered it?

Joe Doakes

I’m probably in the same boat as Joe.  The arbitrary date cutoff is wrong, of course; “Baby Boomers” are the children of people who came home from the war and started having kids.  As my parents were 9 and 5 on VJ day, that just wasn’t the case.  And if I were a Baby Boomer, perhaps I’d remember more about the Beatles than hearing they’d broken up on the radio.

Anyway – what does it do for a nation, believing that the previous generation squandered your future?  Good question.  I’m looking at Millennials – say, at Evergreen State – and wondering if they’re going to squander my legacy.

Call For Mr. Hobbs

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

If IQ exists (which SJWs debate but serious researchers do not), then the Theory of Evolution through Survival of the Fittest would suggest that average IQ was higher in the past.  It must have been – only the people clever enough to survive, lived long enough to reproduce.

Nowadays, with endless help groups and support networks and government programs, people who would have starved to death in the past are now surviving and breeding, as are their children.  The inevitable result must be a general lowering of IQ.  It’s not your imagination – people really are getting dumber every year.

Imagine that a new Black Death or Spanish Flu kills off 70% of the world’s population.  Would the survivors be smart enough to rebuild?  Or would our civilization disappear, to be discovered centuries from now as stone ruins deep in some jungle where St. Paul used to be?

Joe Doakes

In a semi-related matter, I’ve had a piece in my “drafts” folder for a few months now about how The Walking Dead is the most conservative thing Hollywood has produced in a generation.

I may have to finish it.

Alas, Babylon

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

There’s a reason the United States considers cyber warfare to be a weapon of mass destruction, same as nuclear weapons: because of the massive damage it can cause to modern civilization.

Mitch wrote recently about a grid-down scenario from EMP attack.  How about grid-down event caused by ramsomware?  How secure are the computers that serve the national electrical grid?

If the Twin Cities were without power to scan groceries, to accept debit cards, to pump gas, to run air conditioners and elevators, to listen to the news or surf the web or communicate on cell phones . . . how long would it be before hooligans started breaking windows and homeowners started loading shotguns to protect their families?

You do have a shotgun, don’t you?  And several weeks of food and water?  A medical kit.  Propane or charcoal for the grill.

Joe Doakes

My plan is to become a warlord.