Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Molly Ivins is Dead

It would be hypocritical of me to say anything kind about Molly Ivins now that she has passed away, and I would probably follow my Momma's advice ("If you can't say anything nice...") like I usually do, except for two things
1. I never read anything Molly Ivins wrote that wasn't mean, stupid, or deceptive (usually two of three and often all three of three) and delivered in a folksy wrapper of smarm .

2. She was cranking out the crap almost until the day she died
If you want to read something nice about her you can read the article linked in this post's title. All her 'newsy' friends loved her from the sound of things, and Travis County will probably put up a freakin' monument (Please - not near Stevie Ray!).

For the record, I'm NOT saying I'm elated or even 'sort of pleased' that she's gone: the feeling is more like having your chronic coccydynia suddenly get better.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

John Boehner Likes to Sidestep

John Boehner, on Hugh Hewitt last night, tried to tell us “he did not have sex with that woma…“-- Oops!...I mean he tried to explain how his ‘benchmarks’ aren’t the first step in slow-leaking leverage to the Left to "cut-and-run".

BizzyBlog (Hat tip Instapundit, of course) nails Boehner’s ‘approach’ to the wall. Go there and read it all, including the comments!

Listening to Boehner try to explain how 'benchmarks' were a good thing was like listening to Charles Durning sing.
"Ooh I love to dance a little sidestep, now they see me now they don't-I've come and gone and, ooh I love to sweep around the wide step,cut a little swathe and lead the people on."
Here’s a little something that maybe they didn't teach you in school Congressman Boehner:

Benchmarks can be tough enough to meet in a relatively predictable and stable business environment. But they are totally useless in a chaotic environment like, oh I don’t know, say maybe A FREAKIN’ WAR ! ?

We Win - They Lose. That is the ONLY benchmark we need because it is the only benchmark that works.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Darth Biden

"Failed Policy' Emboldens Enemy"….

"You don’t need to see his identification….. "

"These aren’t the droids you are looking for…. "

Running Biden’s big quote from the linked article through my handy de-BS’er to peel away the static we find:
"It's not the American people or the U.S. Congress who are emboldening the enemy," said Joe Biden, a White House hopeful in 2008. "It's the failed policy of this president — going to war without a strategy to stop us (Democrats) from subverting the war effort, going to war prematurely before making sure we couldn’t twist it to our political advantage , going to war without enough public relations troops to overcome our allies in the mainstream press."
Biden made his mark as a foot soldier in the Cowardly Congress that abandoned South Vietnam. He leads the effort this time.

The disdain with which I hold men such as Biden is beyond written or verbal expression. Oh, I suppose I could try and just paraphrase Curly by simply stating “I crap bigger than Joe Biden” but then... doesn’t everyone?

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Spanking the Leftist Psyche Boys

Hat Tip: Dr. Helen

The Iron Shrink tears apart the methodology used in the now-famous (or ‘infamous’ as I prefer) 2003 ‘study’: Political Conservatism as Motivated Social Cognition.

One wonders if the Iron Shrink’s critique will leave any scars on the egos of the authors (John T. Jost, Jack Glaser, Arie Kruglanski, and Frank Sulloway ). Well, actually... one only wishes it would: then perhaps they would think longer and deeper before they spew their pseudoscience on the rest of us in the future. But I wouldn’t bet on it (.pdf). (yes, I do get to reference that link a lot these days don’t I?)

Dr Helen actually brought this paper up as a topic a couple of years ago. (see here and here ). In her first post, she provided a telling excerpt from the paper:

Analyzing political conservatism as motivated social cognition integrates theories of personality (authoritarianism, dogmatism–intolerance of ambiguity), epistemic and existential needs (for closure,regulatory focus, terror management), and ideological rationalization (social dominance, system justification). A meta-analysis (88 samples, 12 countries, 22,818 cases) confirms that several psychologicalvariables predict political conservatism: death anxiety (weighted mean r .50); system instability (.47); dogmatism–intolerance of ambiguity (.34); openness to experience (–.32); uncertainty tolerance (–.27); needs for order, structure, and closure (.26); integrative complexity (–.20); fear of threat and loss (.18); and self-esteem (–.09). The core ideology of conservatism stresses resistance to change and justification of inequality and is motivated by needs that vary situationally and dispositionally to manage uncertainty and threat.

Her first post was actually what moved her blog into my ‘favorites’ category. Posting anonymously, I wrote in the comments that the authors could have just as easily written their opening as follows (changes in italics – additional comments in brackets):

Analyzing political conservatism as motivated social cognition integrates theories of personality (a desire for structure and order, principled thought–intolerance of amorality and ambivalence), epistemic and existential needs (for solutions, harmony focus, uncertainty management), and ideological justification (social success, system rationalization). A meta-analysis [how was data normalized across studies?] (88 samples [real number of interest], 12 countries [distribution?, and if there were only 88 samples, how useful is this number?] , 22,818 cases [Trojan Number!] ) confirms that several psychological variables predict political conservatism: Awareness of one’s own mortality (weighted mean r .50); living in a non-stratified, casteless society (.47); Responsible Lifestyle –intolerance of the irresponsible (.34); easily manipulated (–.32); willingness to leave questions unanswered (–.27); needs for order, structure, and closure [Gee-in the original text this almost comes off as a bad thing] (.26); inability to discern sophistry from sophistication (–.20); innate desire to preserve and advance one's status(.18); and desire for unearned recognition (–.09). The core ideology of conservatism stresses resistance to change and justification of meritocracy and is motivated by needs that vary as required to manage uncertainty and threat.

The Iron Shrink answers a lot of the questions I had two years ago about the ‘study’ methods. The use of ‘meta-studies’ always causes me to be on the lookout for ‘data dredging’—and although the Iron Shrink doesn’t use the term in his expose, it appears that among other things, my suspicions were proved correct.

Just goes to show you: "It's Always Something"

Battle Cry: "Where the *&^@# did I put the installation disc ?!"

(AKA: Backups only take you so far)

I was going to mark my 1st Anniversary blogging with the final post on the Air Force's 'Reshaping' misadventures, but I may not make it now. (Still Shooting for it though!)

IF I make it, I will be limping across the finish line, having reconstructing A LOT of material. I am still reinstalling programs.

Seems my computer caught a nasty worm that reacted to the surgery to remove it by taking a lot of my files with it. Since I take some fairly stringent security and firewall precautions, I (only) suspect (can't say for certain) my #2 Daughter's computer brought something nasty with it when she brought it home from college over the Christmas break. Thus, I believe some nasty things were brought directly onto my LAN at home: effectively bypassing two real firewalls I have in place between my PC and the internet, and leaving only one Windows (ahem)'firewall' to fight off the horde. I didn't mess with her computer while she was here, because I didn't want to hose up her settings for connecting to the University network when she returned.

The University IT system, it appears, is real good about keeping the student PCs from infecting the school servers, but apparently awful about letting garbage in from the great big world.

When I visit Daughter #2 (whom I do NOT blame for this BTW) in a couple of weeks, she's gettin' a security upgrade!

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

The 'Man' is Keepin' Us Down - NOT!

Help! Help! I'm Being Repressed!

M.Simon at "Power and Control" has an excellent account of a visit to a Netscape Blog and online thread in which he participated. His exchanges with the economics-challenged are a hoot, and he completely roasts the victim-class within. If you visit the thread (Link above: 'Netscape Blog) you will notice he shows remarkable restraint in keeping his criticism to ideas, unlike the members of the 'pity party' who lash out from the get-go.

Reading the thread I was immediately reminded of listening to 'Dr Laura' on one of my 'mega-commutes' that I used to have to take from time to time between work facilities in L.A. (She was on KFI which provided the best traffic updates). Aside from the fact I thought she too often gave really bad advice, I couldn't stand to listen to her callers after the first few times I tuned in because they all had one of the same 4-5 basic problems but somehow they all thought their problem was different and couldn't be solved by fixing it themselves. These were usually pretty obvious problems with painful but otherwise simple solutions, but the callers insisted their problems were 'different' and required 'different' answers because "Bobby REALLY loves me" or "I CAN'T stop (fill in the blank)" or blah, blah, blah.

The 'blame others for my problems' and 'He's better off therefore I'm a victim' crowd in the thread M. Simon visited seem to have that same inability to recognize real problems and solutions.

It is just a lot easier to just envy and blame others I guess.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Force Reshaping: Mid-Career Gutting Behind Schedule

Just got the word yesterday on how it goes with the AF's 'reshaping' scheme relative to the 'mid career' folks. I'll save my comments for my Part 5, but here is 'The Word' almost verbatim:

1. Force Shaping. On 26 Jul 06, the Force Shaping program was initiated with the release of Force Shaping Message #1.

This message announced the implementation of VSP for officers with between 6 and 12 years of service. Since the window opened, we have received more than 2,400 applications leading to just over 1,800 approved separations (only 57% of our 3,200 goal).

These results aren't entirely surprising since there haven't been any previous involuntary programs for the VSP eligible population. That has now changed with the recently approved NDAA that gives the services the authority to conduct a Reduction in Force (RIF) board.

2. Message #3. The attached message extends the application window for VSP until 31 Mar 07. It was originally scheduled to end on 31 Jan 07. It also expands eligibility to officers whose TFCSD is between 30 Sep 95 and 31 Dec 01. Most notably, the message announces a RIF board scheduled for 11-29 Jun 07.

The RIF board will convene to evaluate officers in overage career fields (as defined by the matrix located on AFPC's Force Shaping website) with between 6 and 12 years of active commissioned service for continued retention in the Air Force. Specifically, the board will consider year groups 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2000, and 2001.

The 1999 year group will be excluded as they will be in-the-promotion zone during this timeframe and historically, the Air Force hasn't considered officers for competitive promotion and involuntary separation during the same year. The RIF process is expected to achieve a reduction of approximately 1,000 officers. Additional VSP losses are also expected after announcement of the RIF.

This release is certain to cause many questions and consternation since this is the first use of RIF since the early 1990's. Hopefully we'll see an increase in VSP which reduce the numbers needed for the RIF board. Our goal remains voluntary over nonvoluntary actions.
"Our goal remains voluntary over nonvoluntary actions"? -- I do not think 'voluntary' means what whoever wrote this thinks it means.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Status on AF Reshaping: Part 5

I haven't dropped the ball: I'm taking some time here to wrap up my summary on the Air Force's 'Reshaping' B.S. effort.

Coming up through the NCO ranks, you learn that it is never enough to just have a criticism -- and sniping from the sidelines is nothing special IF you don't also have some constructive ideas as to how to make the problem go away, make things better, or sometimes just survive a bad situation with everybody's ass and career intact.

So I will be closing my 'Fisking' of the AF's plans with some clear (not neccesarily what anyone at the top will want to hear however - sometimes asses and careers don't get to stay intact) actions to take to get clear of the mess the AF is in, and asking for suggestions from the field.

So Long Hippies (Just Not Soon Enough)

The Hippie Effect: We're On the Cusp

A couple of weeks ago Dan Riehl had an excellent post highlighting the AP’s blatant misrepresentation of a long-time lefty as an ‘unlikely activist’. The post and comments with commensurate links fully exposed Rosemarie Jackowski as a fairly run-of-the-mill ‘Proto-hippie’ and no amount of Shinola from the AP will be able to hide it from this point forward. In the comments, I mentioned I was considering blogging an analysis of when we might expect the influence of all the 60’s retreads to start fading away, and when what I have come to call the ‘Hippie Effect’ will also diminish.

In subsequent comments to the post, “Fellow Peacekeeper” at Rearguard, suggested that I go ahead and blog it, and provided a ‘back-of-the-envelope’ analysis that was very close to my detailed analysis.

My take on the (in America anyway) Hippie Effect and when we can expect it to diminish significantly (as mentioned in the comments to the post at Reihl World View) is as follows:

1. Peak leftist cohorts are baby boomers born 1946-53,
2. College age years 1966-75 with peak radicalism in 1968-1972 timeframe,
3. Age now of the worst of them is 56-63,
4. Peak of influence IS about now,
5. Marked decline should be really felt around 2015 when they are 66-73: I just hope we don't have a lot of them using their retirement years clogging up the highways driving to the next protest.
6. I think the average age of the House/Senate will decrease soon on its own (heck, when Byrd leaves it will drop the average significantly), but the hippie effect might linger due to acute academentia in the universities
I came to these conclusions based upon the following:

1. That left-wing activism was fomented (and has since been nurtured) in America’s colleges and universities, and that radicalism spilled out over into the general population to a certain degree.

2. The Vietnam War and advances (as well as follies) in civil rights were tremendous stressors on American civilization that Proto-Hippies successfully exploited for a time, and

3. The targeted/affected cohorts who were particularly susceptible to the Hippie Effect due to their coming of age in a pampered life without (relative to their parents) ‘struggle or want’ were made even more susceptible
due to the rise and spread of the drug sub-culture.

If we chart the year 1961 (pre-Vietnam) through 1980, and overlay historical events (some of which are shown on the first chart below) and highlight the degree of campus radicalism by year for each cohort, we can fairly closely identify those cohorts exposed to radicalism and approximate to what degree each cohort was exposed.

Weighting the depth of exposure to varying severities of radical environments, we can identify cohorts who were most at risk for radicalization, and to what degree they might have been exposed. (BTW: I did a few parametric excursions as to the assumed degrees and timing of radicalism and it didn’t make much difference in the relative cohort scores).

Assuming constant rates of changes in maturity and attitudes between age cohorts, the most radical age cohorts in the 60’s and 70’s should still be (relatively speaking) among the most radical cohorts today. This allows us to identify probable age distributions of those most radicalized groups driving today’s Hippie Effect:

[Note: the 1953 birth year cohort score only appears to be worse than the 1952 cohort due to line smoothing. They are actualy equal]

What the Hippie Future looks like...

The 2005 population distribution compared to projected distributions (Census .xls link here) in the U.S. looks like this:

The bulge in curve that shifts right over time represents the Baby Boomers. The portion of the bulge in living general population that represents the most pronounced Hippie Effect will decline by more than 32% between now and 2020. The chart below represents a slightly different group than the core represented in chart 2 above due to how the census ‘sliced’ the age groups in their data provided, but illustrates the sizable (and quite normal and expected) drop between now and 2020.

Hippie Retirement

Keep in mind that most of these people will really start retiring in large numbers around 2015. While trends in retirement age are under debate, this will still be most important in factoring the disappearing effects of those Hippies who exercise their influence through their workplace, particularly in the government and academic bureaucracies. In these arenas, Hippie government doyens and tenured superstars may linger much longer than 2015 (after all, MIT is still stuck with the last of the Proto-Proto-Hippies: Noam Chomsky). But to what degree will they maintain influence without their legions of Joe-average functionaries that now keep the gears of the Hippie infrastructure grinding?

The Hippies net influence in the workplace will also be slightly mitigated further by the fact that everyone after them also has to stay in the workforce a little longer, if post-Hippie cohorts must work until they can draw Social Security.

Buh-Bye Hippies! (AKA Demographics IS Destiny!)

If you remember all the hand wringing by the current crop of campus activist-wannabes and aging Hippies over the dearth of protests during the run-up and prosecution of the war on terror in Iraq, or perhaps are aware of more current reportage on the subject, then you know there appears to be no real impetus for a broad and popular protest movement on campus or anywhere else for that matter. Protests and ‘actions’ that have occurred are products of a hodgepodge of loony loners and fringe elements such as Islamofascist apologists, pseudo-anarchists and mere boutique commies: as evident to anyone who has ever seen one of these to-dos in person or has visited Zombietime.

Hey! Hey! Ho! Ho! ...Um, what are we mad about again-o?

There are significant differences between now and ‘then’ that seem to me to be obvious mitigating factors and it could be there is no activist groundswell for any and/or all of them. A short list (in no particular order) of the differences to be found:

1. Vietnam didn’t attack us within our borders
2. On campus, now the Left IS “The Man”-who-is-to-now-be-rebelled-against.
3. Psychedelic Drug use generally isn’t ‘cool’, ‘hip’ or whatever anymore. Most people now know it just messes you up.
4. STD’s and Womyns Studies both kind’a kill the 'Free Love' concept: Can’t use sex to lure young guys into the radical fold anymore. Dang.
5. Just not a lot of big-time social injustice in the U.S. (unless you are a ‘previously privledged’ majority, equate animal rights with human rights, or really feel for killers in Gitmo) anymore. Sorry.
6. No Draft = No threat to anyone’s plans to tour the world by micro-bus or become an otherwise unemployed liberal arts grad.
7. Reference the Zombietime link above. Do YOU want to be seen with these kinds of people?

And it goes on……

[Note: I am not too worried about the aging Hippies picking up on these reasons and adjusting their game plan, as since they are STILL Hippies, they almost certainly fall into a particular category (pdf file) that places certain concepts safely beyond their reach.(Updated 01/04/07 to correct the overuse of 'certain' and it's various derivitives.)]

As I wrote earlier, I still just hope we don't have a lot of Hippies spending their retirements clogging up the highways driving to the next protest. I can see them now through the bumper stickers, driving in the left lane going 5 mph under the speed limit, with the turn indicator on.

Update 1/6/07: Friend and Co-worker 'Dave' sent me an e-mail yesterday pointing out several things could happen to change the climate into one that would create a new generation of Hippies, and he also pointed out that I shouldn't underestimate the Nostalgia effect of people who like to remember the good old days who weren't even around in the good old days:

I have run into too many people that just want to keep the 60's alive. Music, good times, no responsibilities, …
Also the whole environmental/save the this-or-that can usually snag a number of people that will keep the movement alive. I've seen it. As an example look at the war re-enacters. This is a big draw for a large number of people, comraderie, history, heritage, fun, getting out of the house.

Since a lot of Enviros are 'watermelons' - updated Hippies with socialist and commie cores - it would only make sense that there will be some next-generation outcome of the current movements (Like Rearguard posted at Reihl World: Once a hippy, always a commie).
But without the right environment, next generation Hippies just won't have that 'oomph' that made '68-'72 the years that they were.