Archive for January, 2010

Communism and smiles

Wintery Knight has posted a couple stories lately documenting a recent media crackdown in communist Venezuela.

Police and supporters of President Hugo Chavez clashed with students in cities across the country Monday during protests over the government forcing an opposition channel off cable TV. Two youths were reported killed and 16 people suffered injuries.

[…]The biggest confrontation occured in Caracas, where police fired tear gas and plastic bullets to scatter thousands of students who tried to march on the headquarters of Venezuela’s state-run telecommunications agency. At least six demonstrators and a journalist were treated for injuries.

President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela is a tyrant. It’s sad to think Pat Robertson once actually took criticism for suggesting a government assassination of Hugo Chavez. Heck, I think I agree with him: SOMEONE KILL THIS BASTARD CHAVEZ. Sic semper tyrannus. There, I said it! Judge me, why don’t you.

But what really interested me about these posts was a picture that Wintery keeps posting. Every time he has posted about Hugo Chavez lately, Wintery has posted the following photo featuring Obama:

 

Recently I have taken a little time to study the genuineness of smiles. There are a few factors that tend to indicate a genuine smile:  Raised cheeks, lowered eyelids and creases below the eyes, Crow’s feet, symmetrical mouth movement. There’s a test you can take that will judge your ability to decipher whether smiles are genuine or fake. Since I really hate fake people,  I figure that studying this matter will help me recognize them better.

In my opinion, Obama is probably smiling for real — although admittedly I only got a 70% on the test so I’m not really an expert yet. For example, the shadows seem to indicate that both cheeks are raised. In any case, at least Chavez definitely seems to be having a good time.

Nonetheless, I think real slimey and fake people tend to get extremely good at faking their smiles. Even researcher Paul Ekman, who designed the test above, has written statements to that effect. So with people like Obama it can be very difficult to tell (compare, e.g., with this one).

Of course, even assuming the smile is genuine, it’s impossible to tell precisely what Obama is happy about in this picture. The communist dictator might’ve just gotten done telling a really funny joke, I guess.

Snow!

We had a good bit of climate change in Knoxville today. My roommate Peter was camped out in the law school all day long, and when he came back home around midnight he got ambushed by a drunken mob of about one hundred students throwing snowballs at his car. I guess that’s what you get for studying too much.

Supposedly, he was going to fight them, but then he got scared because there were one hundred of them and one of him. Also, he decided that the snowballs had not actually damaged his car like he initially worried.

I tried fashioning a sled out of a laundry basket, but it didn’t work. So sad. 😦 I guess I should have been better prepared, with a real sled.

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Update 01-31-2010

My other roommate Yonicio and I did get some pretty decent sledding in the next night. Using my amazing intellectual expertise, I managed to fashion a marvelous sled out of an auto drip pan from Wal-Mart.

We also ran across some people who had some other pretty rockin’ sleds they were willing to share, including a sweet table-sled that seemed to be the fastest of all.

The end of “Racism”

Today we got off from school due to Martin Luther King Day. Well, I didn’t really get off — because I don’t go to school on Mondays anway — but everyone else got off. Anyway, on the topic of Martin Luther King,  one positive development I’ve noticed about race relations over my lifespan is that accusations of “Racism” have lost their destructive power.

I remember when I was young and I often felt like I had to tiptoe around black people because if I said or did something upsetting, I might get accused of racism. Back then, the word “Racism” actually seemed to mean something, i.e. someone who hated black people or at least held irrational prejudices against them. If you got accused of racism back then, you instantly got all defensive and had to go out of your way to show how much you loved black people. Careers and businesses could suffer from such accusations. (Jesse Jackson used to make a killing off such blackmail of businesses until Bill O’Reilly went on a crusade to expose his corruption.)

But nowadays, I have absolutely no fear whatsoever of leftist criticisms. I don’t really tiptoe anymore in the slightest.

Obviously, part of this development derives solely from my own personal growth, but I don’t think this change has only taken place with me. Rather, thanks to decades of overblown accusations and blackmail against everyone making even the least politically incorrect statements, the term “Racism” has lost most of its meaning. For example, people called Rush Limbaugh “Racist” because he criticized Obama’s politicization of the Haiti relief effort. Throughout this past year, leftists have routinely accused Obama’s opponents as racists in the socialized health care debate. And if I felt like putting in some effort, I could surely list a dozen  other recognizeable examples of frivolous “Racism” accusations.

Over the past decade, I think the leftists have just gotten too bold and overused their rhetoric. The situation has gotten to the point where humor-based talk show hosts like Glenn Beck routinely joke about themselves by having a sidekick accuse them of heartless racism every time they express their opinion. The word now means almost nothing.

When words are overused they frequently lose their power. For better or worse (and I suspect BETTER), “Racism” has become an obsolete word. Does that mean true racism is 100% gone from America? Of course not. But when society gets to the point where truly racist entities become so closeted and rare that accusations of “Racism” must be thrust wantonly and stupidly, I suspect that means race relations are doing reasonably well. It’s probably something to celebrate — so anyway, happy holiday everyone!

The twilight’s last gleaming

I’m finally back in Knoxville again and have re-started classes. This semester I only have classes Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays! Man am I a brilliant scheduler!

This is my last semester of school ever so I guess things are mostly downhill from here.

By the way, over the break I saw both the Twilight movies. In my humble opinion, both films were absolutely outstanding. I’m not sure exactly why people make fun of that series, but I highly recommend those films. They didn’t even seem to be particularly girly at all. After all, vampires and fighting seem to be rather manly plot elements.

I guess people just assume that any story revolving around a romance must be girly. If that’s the case, then the only manly movies would involve either little-to-no sexuality whatsoever (e.g., many of the Star Trek movies), or else only random hookups without any emotional commitment (e.g., James Bond).

But asexuality and whorishness seem like a stupid definition of manliness. The ultimate form of committed relationship — marriage — is actually a patriarchal institution. Prior to DNA testing, marriage was the only way for a man to have reasonable confidence that he was actually raising his own children. Men definitely suffer when romance is downplayed and whorishness is glorified.

Granted, if a movie is just about romance and doesn’t have any vampires or other redeeming qualities, then I suppose you can call it a chick flick in that case. But the Twilight movies were some of the best movies I’ve seen lately. And they didn’t even have any wicked themes running through them like the hippie-movie Avatar (which was also good, but was definitely pagan and hippieish).

The government and competition

Right now the Congress is negotiating how best to reconcile their different socialized medicine bills. I personally am somewhat optimistic because some Democrats are supposedly planning to vote it down if they insert a public option into the Senate version, and others are planning to vote it down if they insert abortion funding into the House version. If worse comes to worse, maybe the Supreme Court can strike down some of the unconstitutional parts of the bill. I wouldn’t really count on that, though, because the Supreme Court is worthless.

Some ignorant people believe that creating a “public option” for health insurance would “increase competition” and lower costs for Americans. How could the government ever increase competition in an industry? In reality, all the government ever does is destroy jobs that would otherwise exist, and then re-establish an inferior substitute in place of whatever business it displaced. Just consider NPR as one example.

The government built the Postal Service, and now look at all the dozens of shipping companies we have competing against each other. Oh wait…

(video H/T Stacey Campfield)

Brit Hume was right

Brit Hume argued that Tiger Woods could obtain forgiveness if he accepted Christ as his savior, and Brit has apparently taken some heat for these comments.

Brit Hume made the seemingly unpardonable “error” of gently suggesting that Tiger Woods would be better off as a Christian than a Buddhist.  In Ireland, that may or may not be a legal crime, but here in America it is at least being made socially unacceptable by postmodern leftists who screech like a goth in the sun if they hear a simple declarative statement that Christianity is superior to other religions.

This is a free country, first of all. Real men say what they feel like saying. They don’t worry about what the spineless fools of the world think.

Secondly, Buddhism is a crummy religion. I am tired of this New Agey creeping in society toward the worship of ideals as opposed to worship of a divine person.  Star Wars was a good fiction movie, but in reality God is not a pantheistic “force.” God is a person. (Or more accurately he’s three persons, but if you think he’s one person you’re at least on the right track.)

Forgiveness does not come from a force. Forgiveness can only come from personal entities, such an individual or group of individuals.

Certainly Christians sin, including sexual sin, but biblical Christianity – which Hume said he is ardently pursuing – provides for forgiveness and redemption while those concepts are not part of Buddhism.  Hume believes that Christianity’s forgiveness and redemption is superior to what Buddhism offers; not a suprising, shocking, or even offensive belief for a Christian to hold.  The response from the “tolerant left” to Hume’s gentle, respectful suggestion is completely over the top.

Moreover, why anyone would glorify impersonality is completely beyond me. Just ask yourself which is superior — a computer program, or a human being. If you had to go into court, would you trust a computer program to analyze your guilt or innocence and apply the correct sentence? A computer program resembles the “force” of pantheistic religions, whereas a human being resembles a personal God. Even the most perfectly-written computer program could never account for every variation in life and respond accordingly. Only persons can adapt in such an appropriate manner. And if theoretically a computer could do so, it would constitute an artificial person and not merely a program. Personhood is the height of existence. Therefore, any non-theistic religion makes no sense.

This country was founded on Christian principles, not pantheism. If we abandon the Christian God, we will not last long.

Harvard brilliance on economics

This week, Havard Professor of “applied economics” David Cutler gave The New Yorker an interview in which he expressed his support for socialized medicine. The overall gist of his argument went like this:  The medical industry is imperfect, and therefore the government should rule it. He never gave much explanation for how the government could fix the supposed problems, much less how the government could solve matters more efficiently than the free market. He just assumed that every problem in nature would be resolved once the Omniscient and Omnipotent Uncle Sam took over.

When asked how buying insurance for thirty million extra people could possibly bring down costs, Cutler simply stated that the American healthcare industry is “bloated” (a response which basically failed to answer the question). He then listed a few examples of “bloated” business practices, meaning procedures he disagreed with. He mentioned administrative salaries, for example, and how nurses spend a great deal of time documenting the progression of illnesses. Apparently, every American doctor is foolishly throwing away a great deal of money each year on these “bloated” practices, whereas Cutler knows best.

Strangely, even though Cutler is clearly smarter than every other human being — or at least smarter than everyone in the health industry — he has  so far made no effort to control his own hospital. That is, he has made no attempt whatsoever to capitalize on his own absolute brilliance.

Cutler also argued that doctors do not wash their hands enough. Presumably, socialized medicine will solve this problem.

He suggested that government-coerced information-sharing would improve hospitals. One proposal involved testing to measure hospital quality. After these tests,  the government could subsidize hospitals who performed well on these examinations (“No Child Left Behind”-style, I suppose). These tests and subsidies would enable the government to manipulate the industry in various, supposedly productive ways. For example, the government could coerce hospitals into creating electronic information systems — even when the market did not naturally yield those “innovations.”

Overall, this would-be economist made it his goal to poke as many rhetorical holes as possible in the free market. Evidently, he believes that showing imperfection in the natural world will itself prove that communism is the solution. Of course, leftists frequently utilize this tactic. They stir up dissatisfaction. After all, unhappiness with the present tends to make an illusory promise seem like a better bet. If you are already miserable, then even if the leftist plans fail and you wind up worse off, it will only make you slightly more miserable. Surprisingly often, leftists therefore make almost zero attempt to explain logically how their innovations can actually improve on nature. They are content simply to denigrate.

This tendency partially explains why leftists tend to poll as less happy than conservatives, regardless of who is in office. Their ideology causes them to hate life itself — rather than make the most of what they have.

Overall, though, this interview did make me happier than I was previously. Specifically, it made me extremely proud to have avoided Harvard University.


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