Liberals exaggerate "much" more, says the study -- meaning that many don't really believe at all.
“I think there’s absolutely a level among liberals of not wanting to be defined by their lack of belief,” says Wear. “But there’s also an element of wanting to hold on to the spiritual benefits or comfort of theological beliefs that come with religion, while not wanting to be associated with a lot of the public implications of faith, including social issues.”
One wonders why, in this society, more tolerant of unbelief than ever before, and more tolerant than of any ancient.

Nor are we intolerant of questioning. Does not The Ballad of the White Horse say:

But Mark was come of the glittering towns
Where hot white details show,
Where men can number and expound,
And his faith grew in a hard ground
Of doubt and reason and falsehood found,
Where no faith else could grow.

Belief that grew of all beliefs
One moment back was blown
And belief that stood on unbelief
Stood up iron and alone.

Why lie about something so intimate, in an age when you will confess your most intimate transgressions to the crowd?

Stop calling them rolling coffins

For reasons I cannot fathom, GM included a PowerPoint presentation in its recall agreement with federal safety regulators that included instructions on how to speak like a weaselly lawyer when discussing the stuff we used to call safety defects, n/k/a items that do not perform to design.  For reasons I cannot fathom even more, someone seems to have combed through actual employee emails to make a list of particularly unhelpful expressions, and quoted them in this soon-to-be-made-public document.  Terms to avoid include:
“Kevorkianesque,” apparently a reference to Jack Kevorkian, the doctor who claimed to have helped more than 130 patients commit euthanasia, was one of the presentation’s “judgment words” to be avoided. Others included: “apocalyptic,” “Band-Aid,” “Challenger,” “Cobain,” “Corvair-like,” “death trap,” “decapitating,” “disemboweling,” “genocide,” “grenadelike,” “Hindenberg,” “impaling,” “rolling sacrophagus (tomb or coffin),” “spontaneous combustion,” “Titanic,” “widow-maker” or “words or phrases with biblical connotation."
I am not making this up.


Did you ever get the feeling that Sherlock Holmes leaps to a conclusion or two?

All fixed at the V.A.

What's the count up to, now, seven different V.A. caught falsifying records to hide delays in treatment? But the powers that be are all over it, having demanded the resignation of a top official, Robert Petzel.  The administration is so all over it, in fact, that it announced Petzel's replacement several weeks ago, in light of Petzel's planned retirement later this year.

Friday night AMV

Kurosawa was never like this. Make sure you stay for the end.

Correlation vs. causation

Good graphs.

The bare and the clothed

Apropos of the dignified "Golden Buns" discussion taking place over at Cassandra's, a rueful ballad:

I went to see my doctor for my annual exam
Standing there in the buff, till suddenly he said, "Man!"
"What is it, doc? Some dread disease?  I have to know the score."
"No," he said, "You just don't look good naked any more."

"Darling, are you all right?"

. . . You seem a little confused.

Self-cooling electronics

The NPH, a heat-transfer engineer by training, directed me to this article about some surprising qualities of graphene.  Most matter follows a well-recognized law requiring that its heat-transfering properties remain constant regardless of its volume.  Graphene, in arrogant disregard of this law, gets better at transferring heat the bigger your sample is.  I have no idea why; the answer seems to have something to do with the rigid molecular structure, which transmits the heat "signal" without dissipating it very fast, and something to do with what the journalist is pleased to call "reduced dimensionality" (close-packing of molecules?).  It's like a reverse case of the "telephone game."

Anyway, apparently it's a big deal for the electrical engineers, who are always on the lookout for tiny bits of things that can do their work without overheating themselves and everyone around them.   Many of the amazing gadgets we take for granted these days are possible only because engineers found a way to perform tasks with tiny moving parts that didn't generate more heat than could be quickly and safely dissipated.

The NPH used to spend a lot of time, too, worrying about how hot some things could get in zero-gravity on the Space Station, where the "hot air rises" rule doesn't apply, which means air doesn't circulate the way we take for granted down here:  convection cooling doesn't happen without a lot of fans.  They say the fan noise got to be quite a problem on the Station, and of course the fan motors contribute to the heat problem themselves. On the Station's exterior, the problem was even more acute.  In vacuum, all you get is radiative transfer to dissipate the heat with, which isn't always easy if you're in sunlight or even reflected Earthlight.

Idaho Leads The Way

These are men of the people!

I'd vote for either of the guys with beards for a state-level office. I know exactly what they stand for, and just what they hope to accomplish if elected. There's no doubt that they want to hold the office for those purposes only, and not for self-enrichment.

Are they crazy? Well, most people are. They aren't lying to you, though. Besides, any elected office that's too scary to turn over to an ordinary crazy person is too powerful anyway.

Hashtag Diplomacy Works!

But as always, you can't have truly effective diplomacy without a robust military option.
In response to the new demands, Marine Corps Cyberspace Command unveiled a new Twitter task force of Marine Expeditionary Hashtaggers (MEH). “This is a whole new theater of warfare,” said MARFORCYBER spokesman Lt. Col. Brock Ruggedsson. “The Marines of the MEH will significantly impact world events 140 outraged characters at a time."
More on the subject here.

Pleading for Sodom

"Suppose there were fifty righteous people in the city; would you really sweep away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people within it? Far be it from you to do such a thing, to kill the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous and the wicked are treated alike! Far be it from you! Should not the judge of all the world do what is just?”

The LORD replied: If I find fifty righteous people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake.

Abraham spoke up again: “See how I am presuming to speak to my Lord, though I am only dust and ashes! What if there are five less than fifty righteous people? Will you destroy the whole city because of those five?” I will not destroy it, he answered, if I find forty-five there.

But Abraham persisted, saying, “What if only forty are found there?” He replied: I will refrain from doing it for the sake of the forty.

Then he said, “Do not let my Lord be angry if I go on. What if only thirty are found there?” He replied: I will refrain from doing it if I can find thirty there.

Abraham went on, “Since I have thus presumed to speak to my Lord, what if there are no more than twenty?” I will not destroy it, he answered, for the sake of the twenty.

But he persisted: “Please, do not let my Lord be angry if I speak up this last time. What if ten are found there?” For the sake of the ten, he replied, I will not destroy it.

-Genesis 18:24-32
I was thinking of this passage while reading Dan Henninger's piece on the closing of minds at some of America's elite academies. Ayaan Hirsi Ali was told not to speak, though she is an atheist and a feminist, for she had slandered Islam. Christine Lagarde was told not to speak, though she is one of the world's most successful women and a leader of the International Monetary Fund, for the IMF has gone from being a leftist darling to falling under suspicion of "imperialist" leanings. Robert J. Birgeneau, who as Chancellor of Berkeley was one of the guiding stars of political correctness and a long-time advocate of gay marriage, he was told not to speak. Why? Because Berkeley's police used force to expel Occupy protesters.

Just as Sodom turned away from the righteousness of the Lord, these academies have turned away from the moral laws on which they were founded. Established as places of free speech and respectful inquiry, they have become dens of anger and oppression. Henninger explains how it began as a purge against conservatives in the academy, but now has come to consume even those who ought to be darlings of the left -- who have, indeed, been men and women of the left all their lives.

It will not take God to destroy an institution that leaves behind the good it was founded to achieve, and out of which its power grew. Their power depends upon their doing that good, for the sake of which good people donate money or pay taxes to support them, and send their children to be educated there. For a while these institutions may linger, while a few righteous remain to do the work that justified these institutions' economic and social support.

When the day comes that you 'can no longer find ten righteous people among them,' though, they will cease to be.

UPDATE: Via Lars Walker, apparently Science Fiction is now undergoing the same process.

Racist Sexist Fascist

[T]olerance, no, is not – it should not be a two-way street. It's a one-way street. You cannot say to someone that who you are is wrong, an abomination, is horrible, get a room, and all of those other things that people said about Michael Sam, and not be forced -- not forced, but not be made to understand that what you're saying and what you're doing is wrong.
But what you think is who you are. Doesn't that follow from your own ideology? You aren't your sex, or we're sexist. You aren't your race or the color of your skin, or we're racist. You're not your religion, because we are all free to criticize the tenets of our religion and take them as metaphorically as we want. You're not your upbringing for the same reason. You're certainly not bound by your physical 'gender.'

To be free, on the left-liberal reading, is to be free to self-determine. You are what you decide to be. That means you are what you think. You are what you choose to believe in.

Thus if one cannot say to someone that what they are is wrong, one cannot criticize thoughts or ideas once the thinker of those thoughts has identified with them. That follows logically from what has been said before.

This is a contradiction of the will. Willing this understanding of 'who we are' means that you can't say that "You can't say that who you are is wrong." It's madness. It's irrational. It doesn't make any sense at all.

Or are you a racist? A sexist? You've confessed to being a fascist.

The monkey on our backs

American healthcare consumers have a bad habit:  they want to have a choice of doctors and hospitals.  It's an impulse that needs to be crushed if the new day in cheap, universal healthcare is ever to dawn, according to experts interviewed by the New York Times:
“We have to break people away from the choice habit that everyone has,” said Marcus Merz, the chief executive of PreferredOne, an insurer in Golden Valley, Minn., that is owned by two health systems and a physician group.  “We’re all trying to break away from this fixation on open access and broad networks.”
The Times coverage is interesting:  they seem to be getting just the least little bit skeptical of the brave new world. They even quote Monica Wehby, the doctor running for the Senate in Oregon on the slogan "Keep your doctor, fire your Senator," and Lamar Alexander, who warns, “Too often, Obamacare cancels the policy you wanted to keep and tells you what policy to buy.”  Not too long ago, if the Times bothered to acknowledge such positions at all, they'd immediately follow up with some nasty snark.  Instead, this article mentions a Medicare policy of allowing people to change plans in mid-year if their network is abruptly eviscerated, as well as controversy in state legislatures or insurance commissions over whether to force insurers to provide some form of out-of-network coverage.

The Pentagon Loses Its Grip

In the old days we would just have shot him.
Pentagon OKs Manning transfer to civilian prison for gender treatment


Some officials have said privately that keeping the soldier in a military prison and unable to have treatment could amount to cruel and unusual punishment....

"No decision to transfer Pvt. Manning to a civilian detention facility has been made, and any such decision will, of course, properly balance the soldier's medical needs with our obligation to ensure she remains behind bars," Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby said.
You know, in general I don't care what people do. If you decide that you are really a woman, and you want to go through surgery and whatnot on your own dime, it's a free country. Maybe you really are a woman, if "being a woman" means having a female soul rather than having physical chromosomes of the XX type, and somehow your female soul got trapped in a male body. That's a metaphysical question, and it could even be the truth for all I know. Certainly I'm inclined to believe in souls, and manifestly bodies are not always perfected for us, as we often encounter disabilities in the physical body.

So, if you catch me at my most sympathetic, I can be quite sympathetic to this idea. However, if you've already betrayed your country and stabbed your fellow soldiers in the back, it takes guts to then turn around and demand in the next breath that they start calling you "Chelsea" and pay your way to your new, feminine way of life.

As far as I'm concerned, Mister Manning had better get used to his cell at Leavenworth. I can't believe the military is going along with this, to the point that this Rear Admiral has already adopted the pronoun change for official military statements.

Stands to reason

More from Bookworm Room:  a chart she received from Caped Crusader:

                                                A Tale of Two Cities
                                         Chicago                    Houston
Population                         2.7MM                     2.15MM
Median HH Income          $38,600                    $37,000
% African-American           38.90%                     24%
% Hispanic                         29.90%                     44%
% Asian                               5.50%                       6%
% Non-Hispanic White       28.70%                     26% 
     Pretty similar until you compare the following: 
Concealed carry gun law       No                       Yes
# of Gun Stores                      0                     184 dedicated gun
                                                                      stores plus
                                                                      1500 legal places
                                                                      to buy guns
                                                                      (Walmart, etc.)
Homicides, 2012                 1,806                         207
Homicides per 100K             28.4                         9.6
Avg. January high
temperature (F)                       31                           63 
     Democrat Conclusion:  Cold weather from global warming causes murder.

A Congressman who can communicate

Tired of watching your public representatives stumble all over themselves and put people to sleep trying to explain why it's important not to let the White House get away with Benghazi?  It looks like somebody screwed up and put a guy in charge who knows how to talk to juries.  His opening salvo to the media:  if you'd done your job, I wouldn't have to be asking these questions.

H/t Bookworm Room.

Underground Goes Public

"Underground Atlanta" was a vibrant social district about the turn of the 20th century, when the oldest buildings built since Sherman began to get covered up by viaducts, but died when the cover-up was complete. It became important again in the 1960s, and flowered for a few years because of Georgia's blue laws:
At the time, Fulton County was the only county in the state of Georgia that permitted mixed alcoholic beverages to be served, provided that men wore coats and ties in places that served them. As a result, Underground Atlanta quickly became the center of downtown Atlanta nightlife. Among the more popular spots in Underground Atlanta were Dante's Down the Hatch, Scarlet O'Hara, The Blarney Stone, The Rustler's Den, The Pumphouse, The Front Page, The Bank Note, and Mulenbrink's Saloon, where Atlanta's Piano Red, under the name Dr. Feelgood and the Interns, played from 1969 to 1979. Other attractions included a souvenir shop owned by governor Lester Maddox and a wax museum. With the old-style architecture lending considerable charm to the district, Underground Atlanta was compared to Bourbon Street in New Orleans.
...but died as alcohol laws became more sensible across the state, and crime rates in downtown Atlanta exploded in the wake of desegregation and the resulting White Flight.

It re-opened as a shopping mall in the 1990s, and had one of those Warner Brothers stores that featured big Bugs Bunny statues. The Groundhog Tavern, which was a regular stop for yours truly during the days when I was at Georgia State, was eventually shut down due I gather to drug sales on the premises; otherwise, the core of downtown Atlanta just wasn't a great place for a shopping mall, and shopping malls were dying anyway.

Additionally, the whole surrounding area is just not a friendly place to be. Atlanta has desperately wanted a successful 'fun' district downtown for a long time, but the truth is that it's not a fun place. It's a sterile industrial park masquerading as a city. There are fun towns around the downtown core -- try Decatur! -- but the core itself is the least fun place on earth excepting prisons and other areas explicitly purposed for anti-fun.

Nevertheless, the city has decided that the reason the private sector can't have any fun there is that it was being run by the private sector, and a public-sector solution will do better.

I'm sure it will work out this time.

That Wonderful Public Broadcasting

So now that we're going to enjoy the brilliance of NPR instead of Album 88 on our radio, what do we have to look forward to? How about this meditation on how Ice Cream Trucks are associated with deep-seated American racism?
I came across this gem while researching racial stereotypes. I was a bit conflicted on whether the song warranted a listen. Admittedly, though, beneath my righteous indignation, I was rather curious about how century-old, overt racism sounded and slightly amused by the farcical title. When I started the song, the music that tumbled from the speakers was that of the ever-recognizable jingle of the ice cream truck. (For the record, not all ice cream trucks play this same song, but a great many of them do.)
Well, not only is the song not the same one played by all ice cream trucks, it's just one version of a much older traditional tune better known as "Turkey in the Straw." The article makes that point, but insists that we really need to focus on the racist version because ice cream became popular in association with traveling blackface minstrel shows.

The final part of the article asks whether we should tell our children about the racism embedded in the truck that they -- the children -- care about only because it represents a source of ice cream in the hot summer weather. Should we? "The answer is intellectually complex, but parental intuition provides clarity." This 'complex' answer proves to be, 'Yes, when they are old enough to understand about Santa Claus.'

Can we get a ruling on this nonsense answer? Either this is an ongoing affront to justice, in which case we need to do something about it; or, when our kids ask what the name of the song is, we can just say, "Turkey in the Straw." I'd have never known about the racist minstrel version of the song if NPR hadn't mentioned it, and I'm pretty sure it would not have made America either better or worse if that were the case.

Where there are continuing violations of natural rights, or continuing actual harms due to racism, that's one thing. There remain some places where we really need to carefully investigate the historic injustices in order to make some positive change in accord with true justice.

Picking at scabs is another thing all together.

Georgia Elections

The primaries are upon us. I'd like to offer a few thoughts for those of you in Georgia who are committed to doing your civic duty and voting.

I'm only going to speak to the two statewide races, Governor and Senator. Since most of you are Republicans, I'll cover the Republican as well as the Democratic primaries.

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal is running for re-election. He was my congressman for many years, and I was generally happy with him there. However, he has been a serious disappointment as governor, and I urge you to vote for someone else. He was in Washington too long, and has come to care what DC thinks more than he cares what Georgia thinks.

While I think Common Core's math education is more interesting than it is often credited as being, I don't like its social education at all. We would be much better off with local control of school issues in any case. Likewise in terms of 2nd Amendment issues, Deal has focused his attention on Washington, supporting the national NRA over Georgia's local 2nd Amendment groups in every case. Finally, in the snow emergency, his mismanagement came from an assumption about how snow and cities work that derives from having lived up north for a very long time.

If you are a Republican, I would suggest that your best option is David Pennington. If you are a Democrat, there's really only one candidate in the race at all, Jimmy Carter's grandson Jason Carter. At this time we have only his words to rely upon, but he sounds like a very different man from his grandfather. His thoughts on education and the economy at least sound like his heart is in the right place -- especially the focus on small business -- and he refuses to defer to identity politics in favor of freedom of expression, as exemplified by his support for the (purely symbolic) freedom to purchase Sons of Confederate Veterans license plates.

Turning to the Senate, whatever we do let us not send another Senator like the one who is retiring this year. If at all possible, let us elect a Senator who represents the people of the state, rather than the national party to which they belong -- either of those parties.

On the Republican side, the two candidates I tend to favor are Jack Kingston and Paul Broun. Both of these men have been my congressmen at different points. Kingston is the less ideological of the two, and presents himself as the more thoughtful. Broun is probably more reliably attached to conservative interests, but already has a reputation as something of a crackpot. Nevertheless, there are worse things than crackpots who will always vote in line with the common and deeply-held opinions of the people he represents.

On the Democratic side, I think the two candidates who are best are Michelle Nunn and Todd Robinson. Nunn, another heir of the last generation of Southern Democrats, is far more likely to win. Her work with the Bush family's 'Points of Light' group has been the biggest part of her professional life, which indicates a genuine openness not often found at the national level. I think you'll find that she has been devoted to worthy causes throughout. She has a lot of experience building public/private partnerships to effect improvements in Atlanta and elsewhere. In addition to her famous father, the greatly respected Sam Nunn, her current family seems to exemplify the kind of unity and values that suggest a strong moral foundation.

Todd Robinson is a former US Army Ranger. His issues are not the usual ones for a Democratic candidate for Senate: getting people off welfare, improving Veterans' benefits, reducing unemployment. He would likely join the Congressional Black Caucus, and would be a wholesome addition to it in terms of helping to drive it away from its reflexive embrace of hard-left positions.

So that's what I think about the two biggest races this spring. Feel free to tell me what you think in return, especially if you are from the Great State of Georgia yourself.

The lack of outrage

I have found myself in an uncomfortable position.  I find myself getting angry at others for not being angry at what has been going on with the VA.  I mostly believe that my anger is misplaced, but I cannot help it.

There has been a laundry list of malfeasance on the VA's behalf, and every indication that little to nothing will be done to punish the malefactors, nor to hold the leadership of the VA or its hospitals accountable.  Good men and women are dead because of the bureaucratic game playing that may not be explicitly rewarded from the top, but certainly is not punished.  Shinseki has stated unequivocally that he will not resign, and mouths excuses that these problems existed before he took over.  He has been in charge of the VA for a half-decade.  If he is unable to affect change after five years, then it seems to me that he will never be able to.  It is past time for him to go.

Now, that's all well and good, but my specific problem comes in when I point this out to my friends and relatives.  I've been met with all but silence.  I do not feel that I can properly attribute this silence to partisanship or a lack of interest, but it is increasingly hard not to; especially when they get worked up about issues where it is their ox being gored.  I understand that less than 1% of Americans have served, and many of them never retired and will not ever step inside of a VA hospital.  This is true for me as well.  And while my family contains an abnormally high number of veterans (half of my immediate family, half of my aunts and uncles, a quarter of my grandparents, a few of my cousins, etc), only one of them (my father) is eligible for treatment at the VA, and he has better health insurance so he can seek better treatment from better healthcare systems.  So ultimately, it's not even my ox being gored.  And yet I am infuriated at the treatment of our veterans at the hands of the very government they served.  Why is this something that I feel, but no one else seems to care about?

Is it a feeling of "what can I do?"  Is it general apathy?  Is it because they don't really care since it doesn't affect them personally?  I'm especially cognizant of the fact that "raising awareness" is about as meaningful as shouting into your closet because of recent events.  But at a certain point, once I've written my Representatives and Senators, what else can I personally do other than tell everyone I know why they should be outraged?   Is that perhaps what is making me so angry?  That I am helpless beyond what I've done?  I'm not sure.

Even Father Lonergan Had A Mother

For that matter, even the Squire must have had.

Happy Mother's Day, to all of you who have borne the honor. And to the rest of you, who are like Father Lonergan.