A Little Ignorance And Malevolence, Comin’ Right Up

Earlier today, I wrote about a difficult conversation I had with a friend regarding American bicycle manufacturing. One of the commenters offered up this link to counter my “bullshit”.

Here at Riverside Green, we take our readers seriously, at least until they are unmasked as shibari addicts or serial fantasists. So I promptly went over and read the suggested article, which contains the following paragraph:

Given the abundance of facts about manufacturing’s strong position the US economy, why would anyone argue that it is even struggling, much less in decline? Other than ignorance or malevolence, I don’t have a good answer to that question.

Ah, but the writer does have a good answer to that question, and I’m happy to show you why.

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Whatever Happens, You Cannot Say That You Were Not Warned

This blog’s been around for a while now, hasn’t it? During that time, I’ve made all sorts of prognostications regarding the future. Many of them have been proven wrong. One of them has been proven right. In August of 2014, I told you not to install Facebook Messenger on your phone. I made all sorts of paranoid predictions about what Facebook would do with the data. All of those predictions were correct.

Of course, it took Donald Trump to make that obvious.

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“…Because That Is According To My Principles”

I don’t think there was a single year in my academic experience where I was not significantly disciplined for some reason. Sometimes it was for playing elaborate pranks on people, sometimes it was for mocking the administration, and once it was for snap-kicking a fellow shop-class student in the chin after said fellow student tried to hit me with a home-made “bo staff”. (No, smart-asses of the Internet, I didn’t assume the “crane position” first. I wish I had, though!) Time after time, I was told that I would amount to nothing in this world unless I stopped being combative, argumentative, offensive, you name it. Maybe all those nuns, vice principals, and Residence Life administrators were right — but let the record show that they faded into obscurity while I rose to become the second most popular writer on my own website. (The first, of course, is Thomas Klockau.)

After fifteen and a half years of school (skipped two grades, took a leisurely 4.5 years to get my bachelor’s) I learned to sense in advance when I was about to be suspended or expelled, which is why my stomach churned in sympathetic anxiety when I read the above document. It tells a student that he will be subject to an uninterrupted harangue from his peers. In what world is that a reasonable way to treat a university student? And where would someone learn that kind of disciplinary tactic?

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The Uneasy Romance Between “Black Lives Matter” And Gun Control

Way before “check your privilege”, we had “check your premises.” The phrase is commonly attributed to Ayn Rand and her novel Atlas Shrugged, which tells us that “Contradictions do not exist. Whenever you think you are facing a contradiction, check your premises. You will find that one of them is wrong.”

It was useful advice sixty years ago, but it is essential advice in an age where the Seven Deadly Sins have been replaced with the Two Deadly-To-Your-Career Sins of “ism” and hypocrisy. We are absolutely obsessed with hypocrisy nowadays. Neal Stephenson offers a thought-provoking reason for that obsession in his novel The Diamond Age: “It was all because of moral relativism. You see, in that sort of a climate, you are not allowed to criticize others–after all, if there is no absolute right and wrong, then what grounds is there for criticism?” I would also suggest that modern Americans find hypocrisy comforting, because it relieves our consciences. Why shouldn’t we indulge in the worst perversions possible and permit ourselves every selfish excess? Those priests and pastors and politicians are even worse! Newt Gingrich divorced his wife, so why should we listen to his opinions about abortion? You get the idea.

Today’s political pundits just adore finding hypocrisy in the actions of their opponents. Mark Zuckerberg says we should have open borders, but he has a ten foot wall around his mansion! Donald Trump says we need to restrict immigration, but his wife was admitted under a special program! While there are plenty of actual cases where people are absolute filthy hypocrites, in many cases we can resolve or dissolve the so-called hypocrisy by checking our premises. Here’s an example: It’s often noted that “pro-life” people are often in favor of capital punishment, while “pro-choice” people are often against it. Aren’t they both hypocrites? Probably not. Pro-life people believe that a fetus is a child, and a child is innocent. On the other hand, a murderer is not innocent, and therefore he can be put to death. On the other side of the matter, pro-choice people often believe that a fetus is “just tissue”, while a murderer on Death Row is a fully-formed human being who deserves humane treatment. There is no contradiction in either of those stances. The perceived hypocrisy is a product of deliberately misunderstanding the other side’s ideas.

There’s quite a bit of discussion among the alt-right about the perceived hypocrisy or stupidity of the Black Lives Matter movement. This meme sums it up: BLM supposedly thinks all police are racist and evil — but they also think that only police should be allowed to have guns! Now that is some serious hypocrisy — enough that I decided to take a closer look at what the BLM position on gun control really is. Turns out that things are not nearly that simple.

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The Lovers, Of Dreamers, And E(lon Musk)

“Two movies on a single screen.” That’s how Scott Adams described the American reality right now. We are all watching the same events unfold, but we are seeing those events from two perspectives. Consider the very popular book and play Wicked; that’s a re-telling of “The Wizard Of Oz” from the perspective of a Wicked Witch. If you’ve read the book, then you now have two perspectives on that story — but you likely prefer one of the two, and consider it to be the “real” perspective.

When it comes to the “Dreamers”, the between 1.8 and 3.6 million illegal/undocumented immigrants who were brought here by their parents, the “red” and “blue” movies are, as you’d expect, quite different. Rather than get caught up in the numbers of how many “Dreamers” are in the US military (about 900, considerably less by percentage than native African-Americans) or how many are in prison (about 1,500 — which is also considerably less by percentage than native African-Americans), I just want you to look at the two people above. Try to get a sense of who they are, what their story might be, and which side of the Narrative they serve. Then we can talk about them.

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More Pertinently, When Will They Love Their Kids More Than They Love Getting Raw-Dogged By A Stranger?

Crisis actors. It’s not a phrase I’d heard prior to this week, but after the school shooting in Parkland, FL it’s become a part of the conversation. Some people say that these tragedies are “false flags”, bolstered by a passage in a rather infamous conspiracy-nut buff book in which the author details methods by which the government encourages school shooters. Others are troubled by the idea of an FBI agent’s son giving talking points to victims as he supposedly interviews them right in the middle of the shooting. There’s also something just a bit squicky about the rapidity with which the media rolls out coordinated talking points on gun control even as people are still dying in their classrooms — to say nothing about the insanity of CNN promoting voting rights for 16-year-olds.

(The conspiracy theorist in me says that this “16-year-olds should vote” crap is part of a general campaign to normalize pedophilia, but that’s a discussion for another time.)

For the moment, however, let’s use Occam’s Razor and let the simplest explanation suffice: these school shootings are real, they are not the product of hypnotism or even violence-inducing anti-depressants, and they are happening in more or less the reported fashion — in other words, there are no mystery shooters or deep-state agents getting involved. The question any sane person would ask is simple: why are they happening?

As it turns out, there are some simple statistical correlations that lead to some extremely unpleasant conclusions.

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If You Have Powerful Enemies, Watch Out For The “Head Shot”

I’m in the process of watching The Wire all the way through again, mostly because I’m doing a lot of air travel and I’m too lazy to read all the books I should be reading during that time. One of the more interesting aspects of the show is how often its creator, David Simon, used real people from the Baltimore streets instead of trained actors. The most commonly-cited example was Snoop, who actually killed someone on the streets prior to acting on the show, but there are at least six Baltimore cops, including two former commissioners, who are on the show in one role or another.

During the first season, a fellow named Ed Norris plays a wisecracking cop who keeps saying that someone needs to fix the department. It’s an inside joke; Norris was actually the police commissioner at the time. After his time on “The Wire”, Norris did six months in jail thanks to a prosecutorial technique known as the “headshot”.

I didn’t know what the headshot was until this morning. I kind of wish I still didn’t know. If you’re ever owned a home or a rental property, you’ll want to, as they say, read all about it.

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Turns Out That W Is Just Alright With Us Now

You knew it was just a matter of time, right? That good ol’ boy, George W. Bush, is now seen favorably by nearly two-thirds of the nation’s populace. According to the latest CNN poll, W has a 61% approval rating, as opposed to just a 33% disapproval rating. If you’re playing along at home, this is almost a complete flip from where he was on Barack Obama’s Inauguration Day, when he had just a 34% approval rating. Freaking democrats approve of W, 54-41.

Even more mind-boggling is the fact that W had the highest disapproval rating of any president in history during his final year in office. 71% of Americans disapproved of Bush’s job performance in May of 2008. So what gives?

In your humble author’s opinion, it has a lot more to do with the current president than W, himself. In order to understand a little more, let’s take a look at how we viewed another president of the recent past—William Jefferson Clinton.

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The Next American Civil War, Like The Last One, Is Blue Vs. Grey

Last week, one of our readers suggested that I read “I Can Tolerate Anything Except The Outgroup”, a long and detailed post by psychiatrist Scott Alexannder on his Slate Star Codex site. You’re encouraged to read the whole thing if you have time — it’s about 10,000 words — but if you don’t I’ll boil out the three critical parts for you in bite-sized portions. They are:

0. Tribal America
1. Never A Coward Where The Muezzin Calls
2. Just A Touch Of Grey

I will also do something that Mr. Alexander does not do, and that is: attempt to pinpoint the reason for our transition from communities to tribes.

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