James's blog

War on Stupidity

When things get slow in blogland, I often find my mind drifting from here to there and back again, settling on the meta-issues, thinking big thoughts (or so they seem). My thoughts lately have gotten stuck on the idea of stupidity, which I take to mean an amalgam of ignorance, bad judgment and self-defeating decisions.

My wife hates the word. Using it, she argues, implies a kind of intellectual elitism and arrogance that is off-putting. That is to say, stupid people don't like being considered stupid.

Point taken.

One real cost of stupidity is the largely free reign it gives to those who profit from exploiting others . . . others who may be less able, less informed, less comfortable with complexity, or just flat out more gullible.

Extremism

I've been around market research for 25 years and often think in terms of scales.

How often do you think in terms of scales?

Rate yourself on a scale of 1 to 7 where 1 means you never think in terms of scales and and 7 means you always do.

See what I mean.

Extremism

My scale of interest today is extremism . . . because I've been wondering lately whether I am one (an extremist) or not.

There's no doubt I'm an extremist to somebody.

This question got raised when I snarked at Targator about being so reasonable. And just to be clear, I adore reasonableness . . . and Targator is as good as reasonable gets.

Media-ocrity

As a J-school grad, I have a special interest and growing disdain for the so-called mainstream media. Under self-imposed pressures for higher profits, most media outlets have become parodies of real news organizations . . . especially local television news.

According to an N&O story today, nearly 20% of Triangle residents actually watch local tv news each week, and 42% of everyone watching television at ll pm are spending their time with the local news shows.

This is really sad.

I confess to watching local television news only once or twice a month, mostly to remind myself how pathetic and trivial local news has become. I can only hope people aren't really watching this trash for the real news, but rather to find out whether they'll need an umbrella the next morning.

John the Hood must be smokin' crack

I stop by the Carolina Urinal regularly to see what our local wingnuts are up to . . . and as usual, they're out of their frigging minds. This little paragraph was especially amusing:

So, if you haven’t attended a John Locke Foundation event lately, or at all, now is the time to seize the opportunity. Whatever your tastes and location, it’s likely you’ll find something to your liking – just check the online event calendar regularly for upcoming dates.

Whatever your tastes you'll find something to your liking? My tastes are for intellectual honesty, integrity, personal freedom, reverence for the common good.

Lying liars and the lies they lie about

If you haven't read Al Franken's book about the tsunami of lies coming from the so called mainstream media, don't bother. It's certainly on point, but it's woefully outdated. Because in the brief period since its publication, the miasma of lies spread by wingers, media monopolies, the Republican congressional leadership and little King George has completely eclipsed anything examined and reported in Al's book.

Free speech flare up

Wonder of wonders. The Pope-a-Dope Center has sponsored a new poll that finds free speech restricted on UNC campuses. These wingnuts are so predictable it's like deja vu over and over and over again.

Aren't these the same jerks who plant students in classes to snitch on faculty that may be contaminating virgin minds with the horrors of progressive thought? Aren't these the same people who single out faculty members they disagree with for ridicule and harrassment?

The center goes on to say:

“UNC should treat this report the same way it would treat a report saying that there were hazardous conditions at many campuses,” Leef said. “It should act now, rather than waiting for trouble to develop.”

Competition cure-all?

I never expect much thoughtfulness from North Carolina's business publications, and the Triad Business Journal is no exception. But this lame analysis about the role of competition in driving down healthcare costs is laughable. Like much shallow thinking, it starts with self-serving generalizations, which it then stretches to ludicrous proportions.

Employers and insurers are increasingly pushing "consumerism" as a possible solution to high health care costs. They argue that consumer-driven health plans will lead individuals to be more cost conscious when seeing a doctor or going to a hospital.

Good for bidness

Jack Betts does a nice job today in his Charlotte Observer column on the 1898 Wilmington Race riots . . . highlighting the business-led conspiracy campaign for white supremacy in North Carolina.

In December, the Wilmington Race Riot Commission -- created by the 2000 legislature -- produced a 600-page draft report that documents how white business leaders and Democratic Party officials launched a duplicitous campaign to throw blacks out of office in Wilmington and replace them with whites.

When it was over, the federal government had done nothing to stop the violent overthrow of a legally elected Republican municipal government. Nor did it bring to justice those responsible for the deaths of an unknown number of black citizens, wounding of many others, burning of a black newspaper, firing of black workers or the running out of town of a number of black leaders. Barely a year later, the state adopted a new voting law that effectively disenfranchised most black voters and many poor whites as well, depriving a major portion of the state's population of the right to vote for much of the 20th century.

A target-rich environment

If you dare to enter the treasure trove of North Carolina Wingnuts you’ll find – as we say in the military – a target-rich environment. Especially at the Pope-a-dope Center, where ideology trumps intellect at every juncture . . . and liberal thinking is the source of all evil. Take George Leaf, for example (please!) and his dazzling insights on public education.

First the breathtaking generalization to obscure reality and truth:

Today, your typical high school graduate believes that school is just a rather boring, obligatory use of his time that is tolerable only because it leads to the paper credentials necessary to unlock the door to high-paying employment. Put a lot of young people with that attitude in a classroom and a professor has little choice but to water down the material and make sure he keeps the kids entertained.

John Hood's Poor Mouthing

Why is it that when wingnut pundits try to appear reasonable, they always manage to come across as arrogant assholes? Case in point: John Hood’s daily drivel reflecting on the real needs of the poor in America.

In a breathtaking flight of fantasy and pseudo-analysis, Hood determines to his own glib satisfaction that the poor are doing just fine, thank you. Here's the kind of evidence he provides:

And just since 1992 . . . the share of households containing stereos rose to 73 percent from 57 percent. VCRs are as commonplace now as color TVs at 87 percent, up from 68 percent. And only 19 percent had computers in 1992, compared with nearly 60 percent in 2002.

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