Friday, November 23, 2007

Debunking more canards

In the controversy swirling around the US Supreme Court's electing to take on the Heller v. DC gun-rights appeal case, one of the best things that may come of it all is the bringing into the sunlight a lot of very important concepts- and, one would hope, the dismantlement of a number of misconceptions on the subjects of not only guns, but the US Constitution and human rights.
As one who has been involved in shooting sports and gun rights, I get to hear an impressive amount of sheer wrongness on the subject. Without really going into commentary on how American society has become so separated from its heritage since the end of World War II and the consequent rise of "media", television most especially, in the education of Americans about what a narrow coterie of fiction writers in California thinks it knows about history, law, and guns, debunking is the first order of business for persons concerned about the importance of both arms and the law.
One of the first things I will hear when in the company of liberals/lefties/progressives when the topic is raised is the familiar old bromide that "handguns are only for killing". In any technical or literal sense, that statement is false, and very much so.
In fact, few handguns are either designed or intended for killing anything. The small fraction that is are hunting guns, such as the well-known TC Contender, a large single-shot device normally equipped with a telescopic sight. Hardly the stuff of gangbanger fantasies.
A certain number of handguns are designed for target work. Many are of the .22 rimfire caliber, nearly the smallest commonly available one. What target handguns share is large size and features that work against both stealth and rapidity. Even a USPSA Open Division pistol is huge and heavy chunk, and not very useful for anything outside of its narrow realm of operation.
In fact, nearly all handguns are designed for personal protection. When one hears the statement that "Glock 9mms are only for killing", well, you're hearing something so far from the reality that it bears no relation to real life.
Personal protection handguns are designed and intended to stop. To stop a living thing, human or not, from doing what it’s doing, as quickly as possible. That is exactly, and only, why a law enforcement officer carries one, why a soldier carries one, and why a law-abiding citizen carries one.
In fact, killing is a problem for that purpose and all users of handguns for personal protection dread that potential side-effect. The use of a firearm may well constitute deadly force, but death is absolutely not the primary intent- stopping an anti-social activity is.
This is not a trivial or semantical issue- grasping this elemental truth is essential to the understanding of arms at all. Until a participant in the discussion on the right of humans to keep and bear arms can get past this critical thought-step, nothing that follows will be grounded in reality. In a non-military situation, to use a gun to kill a human being- for that express purpose- is a crime. It's homicide.
The police officer in the dark, stinking apartment hallway watching a gun pointed at his partner has no intent of killing the gun-pointer, no intent of committing a homicide. He wants to stop the miscreant, stop him from bringing harm to someone undeserving.
There is no difference in the use by civilians of handguns for personal protection- when the shopkeeper sees a savage, drugged-out robber pointing a shotgun at his spouse, he will use his gun to stop the robber, and killing would be a secondary, if awful, consequence.
I will add that I have two friends who both were faced with exactly these scenarios, and I can testify to their state of mind as regards whether they were stopping or killing. I hope the reader never finds him- or herself faced with the same sort of decision, and I am sure that the death of the attacker, should it be a consequence, will not be found anywhere as intentional.
Handguns are not for killing at all. They're for stopping. It's not a moral quandary about a law-abiding and righteous person taking a life- it's that person preventing harm to an innocent. With that foundational concept cemented into place, the issue of citizens bearing arms, including carrying in ordinary life, can be made clearer and more sensible.
Another question I will hear, then, is why carry? "I've never had a need for a gun" will follow soon. One widely-mentioned view holds that a "conservative is a liberal who was mugged", and that does have a certain amount of truth to it.
Another illustrative answer is that in fact, I've never needed a seatbelt in the million miles I've ridden in and driven automobiles... but I won't go past the foot of my driveway without wearing one. Same goes for riding in airplanes. Same goes for helmets on motorcycles. Same goes for business liability insurance.
Bond cards. Fire extinguishers. Criminal lawyers' telephone numbers.
The fact is, life has things go wrong, and some element of preparation for those things is just common sense. Never needed a gun? I did, and it served to help protect the safety of an innocent person, a neighbor. I didn't have to even touch the trigger in that case, and I am eternally grateful that was so, but not as grateful as the neighbor whose home was not invaded as a direct result of the presence of my gun, as she waited nineteen long minutes for the police to arrive.
In those discussions, what follows will be the insistence upon regulation of the right to arms- gun control. That is another issue where little knowledge is very often present, underpinning some pretty non-factual arguments.
I might as well dispense immediately with one more faulty "known fact", that gun-rights advocates demand a complete absence of regulation of the use and possession of firearms. I know and read thousands of gun-rights advocates. I have never heard one say such a thing, that no restrictions on the possession of firearms are permissible.
The bizarre and wrongful demonization of the National Rifle Association, an organization that is more concerned with the safe and lawful use of firearms than any other, and has been such a repository of expertise on firearms law that it formerly was frequently consulted by legislators to author and proof firearms legislation goes along with this.
Just like other basic rights, the right of the keeping of arms is related to upholding one's citizenship. The law provides the reduction of citizen's rights in the event of bad behavior. A violent felon may not own a gun, or vote, or get certain kinds of jobs, and so on and so forth. One may reasonably suggest restrictions on other, specific types of arms. Frequently we hear that rocket-propelled grenades are a good example of arms that ought to be prohibited. In fact, they are heavily restricted in the US and there's no problem in reality. Automatic firearms, machine guns as they are more commonly called, are sometimes cited as another type to be banned. But, the real-life fact is that there are hundreds of thousands of machine guns in private hands in the US and virtually none- as small a number as can be thought of- are used in violent crimes. There's no problem there, and imagining one where none exists probably serves more to illuminate the mind of the imaginer than any sort of solution to violent crime.
That same reality also pertains to personal carry by civilians. The real-life fact, again, is that ordinary citizens carrying personal protection guns are just about never- as close to never as a human activity could be- involved in committing violent crimes. 46 states issue permits for concealed carry (two have no restrictions on carry such as permits or licenses) and among those carriers, such a tiny percentage are ever charged, much less convicted, of a violent crime so as to be negligible.
While perhaps not a legitimate debating device, I can always point out to someone arguing against lawful concealed carry that I, as a permit-holder (non-resident permits) am far less likely, statistically, to commit a violent crime with a gun than my rhetorical opponent.
That does point to one of the odder things a gun owner is exposed to- the modern, "liberal" person who, upon discovering the presence of a gun, immediately insists that the bearer is about to shoot someone. I would like to write this off as more of the sort of view into the mind of the gun-ignorant, but it still is a cause for concern. Why would someone even think such a ridiculous thing?
Well, Hollywood, of course. There lies the primary fountain of firearms nonsense in this country and many others. I can recall a calm, thoughtful relative once asking me if it really was hard to shoot things, instead of how it looks on television.
Here's a simple, foolproof law of certainty for persons who don't know much, or anything about firearms: if you saw it on TV or a movie screen, there’s a better than 90 percent chance it's false. Whether the chilling totalitarianism of Dick Wolf's "Law and Order" television series or the latest Big Hollywood Star's anti-gun movie (Jodie Foster comes to mind), it's so full of nonsense that when an actual fact appears, it's a surprise.
Very much the same thing appears in the news business. I'm not here to explain what sort of person gravitates into journalism, but it does not require a statistician to discover that 80-90 percent of mainstream journalists vote straight Democrat, and spend their advocacy time on causes almost invariably well left of center.
Then, check out their editorials calling for the banning of guns of one type, another, or altogether. Those will have been preceded by news articles reading exactly like Brady Group press releases about how bad it is guns aren't outlawed. Then ask them one and all how many voted for G.W. Bush. Expect to hear some serious silence.
Thanks to the Internet, gun owners get their laughs at the ridiculous misrepresentations of guns, gun law, and gun owners almost instantly, now. And there are plenty of those laughs to be had. There are a lot of news organizations that couldn't put together a fully-factual, even-handed article on these topics even if they suddenly wanted to. I can refer you to my hometown Chicago Tribune again, where the journalists believe that the Brady Campaign, the current name for the largest (but not very large) anti-gun group out there at the moment feeds them solid and accurate information for publication, but the NRA, the Illinois State Rifle Association, and the other gun-rights groups present an extremist and minority distortion of reality.
Think about that- the Brady people know more about guns that the NRA people? How does that even make it through the smell test?
Possibly the most pervasive canard pushed by these groups is that of a huge, mysterious "gun lobby". With the current craze for casting corporations as entities with nefarious intent, shading the gun owners as part of this corporate-tainted political force is an easy sell for uninformed advocates trying to influence uninformed voters.
Gun owners constitute approximately half of the adult population of the United States. Suggesting that a group such as that comprises a "lobby" should be comical. Unfortunately, to many growing up and living in environments without experience of the realities of guns and gun ownership, most especially large urban centers like Chicago, hating corporate lobby-thingies is a facile thing. That doesn’t make it accurate.
There are several anti-gun organizations. At the moment, the Brady group, an amalgam and recasting of a couple of older and less-attractively named ones, is holding sway on mainstream media storylines about firearms. Others, broader advocacy groups of the progressive/leftist/liberal bent are strongly anti-gun as well- the inaptly-named American Civil Liberties Union is an especially loud one.
None come close to the dreaded NRA when it comes to being a grass-roots-up organization with an involved, informed, and participatory membership. Even at four million, the NRA represents a small fraction of gun owners, but compared to the anti-gun groups, it’s huge, active, and connected.
Yet, turn on CNN or open the LA Times and you’d think the NRA was a corporate-based bunch of mercenaries at the beck and call of firearms manufacturers. It would be hard to find a more inaccurate picture of a not-for-profit, but the deep and wide ignorance of mainstream media is so complete that I suspect that the journalists producing the anti-gun news articles are not even aware of the falsity of the assumptions underpinning their storylines.
The next time you see a Brady-type like Paul Helmke speaking through the media mouth that anti-gun laws bring safety and pro-gun laws endanger innocents, you’re getting nonsense that can’t be supported by fact or science. In the tidal wave of media demonization of the NRA, you’ll never hear the reality.
So here’s a set of questions you can answer for yourself and go around the mouthpieces: Where is the strongest, worst gun control in effect? Places like Chicago, and Washington, D.C. Where is the violent crime the worst? Where is the murder rate the highest? Those very same places.Try a different variation. What about the celebrated gun bans imposed on other parts of the Anglosphere, such as the U.K.? England now has some of the most onerous gun control in a democracy anywhere, put into place a decade or so ago. What’s happening to the violent crime rate? It’s skyrocketing, to the point where England has passed the U.S. for risk of violence. And it includes gun-involved crime, too. What’s worse is that it’s not confined to the deep-urban setting as it is in the US; it’s everywhere across the countryside. No place is safe.
How about the rapid spread of right-to-carry laws that swept the U.S. starting in the Reagan years? Did those states see increased gun-involved violence? Nope, far from it. Almost every place legal conceal-carry was liberalized, violent crime rates went down, and in some places, a lot.
How could a suggestion that gun-control laws prevent violent crime even be floated?
On a sea of canards.

Monday, October 22, 2007


Over the last twenty-five years or so, a sort of a movement-within-a-movement has steadily gained strength, to the point where's it's become almost mainstream. It goes by the name of "recasting".
As the Seventies drew to a close and the possible end of Modern Liberalism loomed on the horizon, its adherents faced with dread the coming of any sort of return to traditional American values. By the non-coincidence of the near-total possession of the arts and information media, the Left harked back to their forebears to relearn about the power of making the message and owning the (as it's now called) narrative.
From the start of the Soviet empire, the functional beginning of the Liberal/Leftist/Socialist/Statist movement, taking over the information delivery has been a key element of an ideology that would never, if brought into the light of day, have been saleable to Americans and other free-thinking peoples. There was no effort to conceal the concept of owning the narrative, not in the early years. Socialist propagandists blithely chatted on about how they were going to demolish capitalism (one of the early buzzwords of the Left, which may be loosely translated as "America").
Of course, as repulsive as Socialism is to a people who believe that individuals can, should, and must run their own lives in order to have a workable and free society, it was only a couple of decades before the need to be a bit stealthier with the takeover message became evident.
During an era of rapid advancement in the standard of living, the 1920s, Socialism's lack of progress in gathering in the actual intended benefactors of its beneficence, the unwashed non-elite, non-intellectual grubby masses, may have looked to be a march to oblivion.
The messiness and unevenness of actual freedom converged in a train-wreck that gave the movement new life- the Great Depression. A series of events not well understood in the rapidly-evolving process of capitalism led to a widespread calamity, made many times more calamitous by opening the door for Socialism and the nanny staters to get a foothold that continues to bedevil free enterprise to this day.
Socialism was ready to strike. It had put together a codified plan of considerable breadth and went about implementing it with what must have been glee.
The depredations of the Stalin regime could well mark the very worst point in human history. But ensconced in the isolation of its biggest and most fearsome adversary, the United States, a large number of people remained ignorant of the evil emanating from Moscow and its fellow travelers. Indeed, the New York Times, the most self-satisfied media organization of all, cheerfully dove headlong into enabling and assisting the rearrangement of the the narrative. Journalist Walter Duranty led the way with dispatches from the information battlefront extolling the virtues of the hoped-for world-engulfing wave of Communism that both deliberately concealed the ghastliness of real-life, practical Socialism and continuously sought to denigrate Americanism.
But the Soviet machine was far more peripatetic than just buying and operating a crew of mainstream media reporters and editors. Early on, it determined that crushing Americanism would require the use of marketing in the form of entertainment and so formed operations devoted to injecting Socialism into the American bloodstream painlessly, with the use of the popular arts. Few Americans today are even aware that famous folk signer Pete Seeger has been a member of the Communist Party for decades, and that his music, and the music he has helped to propagate, is that of undoing Americanism in favor of Socialism. Even today, Seeger, once public about his membership in the Party, will not renounce or deny it when pressed. Nor will he say that he has removed himself from it.
It must be mentioned that an aged and possibly slightly repentant Seeger, just recently in 2007, took a baby step or two back from his admiration of Stalin by stating publicly that perhaps a bit of rethinking of the processes of the Soviet machine might be needed.
And forty million hideously-departed innocents thank you, Mr. Seeger, for your consideration.
Meanwhile, try this test sometime, maybe in Chicago somewhere: walk up to someone and say: "Pete Seeger, the folksinger, is an avowed Communist and has worked his whole adult life towards his stated goal of bringing down the American way of life and installing Socialism." See what happens.
That's the power of the narrative working.
So now, when the narrative machine gets into gear and starts an information campaign like, say, the (most recent) attack on radio talker Rush Limbaugh over the "phony soldiers" comment, in which Limbaugh did indeed sneer at persons attacking American policy on Iraq while claiming falsely to be US military combat veterans, and then the Machine recast it into a national story on nearly every Mainstream Media front page saying that Limbaugh was calling any veteran who disagreed with the Iraq invasion to be a "phony soldier" (look it up- it's not what he said), there's no stopping the story.
For goodness sake, even the ancient and wobbling "Doonesbury" comic strip worked the canard today with a casual falsehood right there, on the narrative's mark.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Agenda journalism at the Chicago Tribune

Residing in the Chicago area means being subjected to the Chicago Tribune and its various subsidiaries as the major media voice in the region.
Harkening back to the glory days of Woodstock and Watergate, the crew in the Trib's news shop has gotten ever-less apprehensive about using the force of their position to advocate on behalf of their chosen causes, all of which, surprise-surprise, fall into the Modern Liberal Orthodoxy.
Here's an analysis of a recent faux-news item, in the format of a letter to the editor:

On Wednesday, October 17th, the Tribune ran an unusual article on page two of the front section.
The headline was "Gun range in school is targeted as health, safety issue" and the byline read "By Robert Gutsche, Jr. Special to the Tribune."
The article concerned a school shooting range in east central Wisconsin, in the small city of Sheboygan.
No apparent reason for the appearance of this article as a "news" item was discernable. The events actually cited in the article are almost less than routine, bordering on completely unimportant.
The first thing a reader in Chicago would wonder is "why is this being printed in the news section of the Chicago Tribune, a hundred miles away from Sheboygan?"
A more careful inspection of the article seems to present some clues. From the first sentence, this article is posited as from the viewpoint of one specific person, the mother of a student at this middle school. It also immediately sets a tone of incredulity, based on a supposition of an extraordinary, and bad, occurrence. A tone of wonder is then presented ("I never would have suspected something like that...") to make clearer the point of view of the author, that of the existence of a bad condition or situation.
After throwing in one more indicator of a "problem" ("raised eyebrows") mention is then made of a not-similar air rifle range in Pennsylvania. The article then segues into a broad set of statements by Paul Helmke of the Brady anti-gun group. Interestingly, the writer chooses to use a Helmke quote that is very far from Helmke's normal public pronouncements on the topic of guns, one that appears to be intended to placate those who ordinarily would take exception to Mr. Helmke's public positions. It comes across as a hedging maneuver to defuse the expected derision from those who are all-too-well aware of Helmke’s usual misstatements and deceptions.
We are then brought back to the mother, who, we later learn, is a transplant from Chicago. Some discussion about "cleaning up the range" is brought forth, before the disclosure that the mother in primarily interested in closing the range and ending the programs that its use supports. "Guns and school don't mix" she proclaims, a point of view normally only heard in the most concentrated urban areas, like, say, Chicago. A little more information about the range as a public resource along with a passing mention of some minor, even irrelevant, operational issues is presented, and then the author launches a point of view of his own, barely connected in any meaningful way to the Sheboygan range. We are treated to the standard agenda-journalism cues such as "questions about the range..." and then a laughably strained effort to tie this facility to a school shooting halfway across the state, in a set of circumstances that bears absolutely no connection to the Sheboygan activities beyond the presence of smokeless powder. Then, going all the way to ludicrous, the author invokes the tragedy at Crandon wherein a police officer used a rifle to kill several persons, not in a school, and with no evident tie whatsoever to any public firearms-training program whether in a school or not. This portion of the article is then padded with yet another unrelated school shooting incident hundreds of miles away, again, with no connection to a firearms training setting, course, or range.
Finally, we are hectored by the agenda-journalist's favorite Greek chorus, the well-known but anonymous "critics". These experts insist that guns should not be "entering school doors at all", an absurd point, considering that the presence of firearms in schools has been going on completely uneventfully for hundreds of years in this country (and many others), and it is only very recently, since the beginning of the modern gun-banning movement exemplified by Helmke's tiny splinter group, that there has been any problem whatsoever.
Without even bothering to engage the flaws in that perspective, the reader is finally forced to ask: What is the Tribune doing here? Why are we being handed a thinly-disguised piece of agenda journalism draped around a trivial event a hundred miles away? Is there some connection between the mother and the author of the article? Or someone else, a writer, editor, or supervisor at the Tribune?
The real suspicion is that once again, the Tribune's news shop is using its position as a deliverer of news to advocate, and in this case, in the method being seen ever more frequently in the Tribune and like-minded papers: preparing a battlespace.
There just is no other good reason for an article like this to be placed in the newspaper except to engage in a campaign of advocacy, placing another piece of agenda marketing in a faux-news format to build up a crescendo of noise in support of a specific program. In this case, it's the Tribune's oft-and-clearly stated intention to get firearms banned in Illinois and the United States.
The more sophisticated among media people call it the "narrative", and so this trifle of a polemic appears to be, another piece in a wall of perspective-conforming bits of advocacy, and as is so often the case, advocacy for an unpopular and unpleasant cause.
One has to wonder why the people at the Tribune are willing to trade in the remnants of their journalistic credibility for advocacy. We hear that modern journalists believe that they are there "to make a difference", but the way things have slid off the edge, making a difference would be just plain reporting the news and keeping the agenda to ones' self.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Narrating the News

On Thursday, October 11th, 2007, the Chicago Tribune responded to news reports based on the Pentagon's announcement that all US military services had exceeded their recruitment goals for the recently ended fiscal year. The government did note that there had been a reduction in the percentage of Army recruits with a high school education, from the previously very high 90% to a national-average-equivalent 79%.
It also noted that there was an increase in the issuance of "character waivers", usually used to allow a recruit in who had had minor criminal problems in their past.
However, this excellent news about the robustness of the US military was too much for the Tribune staff, who somehow managed to absorb the preceding facts, throw them into a high-temperature stew of semi- and unrelated facts, plus some factoids and carefully selected expert opinion, and then inverted the whole thing to arrive at the conclusion trumpeted by the headline and subhead:
"U.S. Army lowers its recruiting standards
More enlistees have criminal records, no high school diploma."
There followed a perfect recreation of a Bill Maher monologue carrying on about criminals being inducted and concluded the opening segment of the screed with the ever-mysterious but terribly serious "The startling figures come at a time when the Army is trying to grow amid persistent questions about how the armed forces can increase force size during a time of war without significantly lowering the quality of the recruits."
There is little surprise in a Tribune writer and editor being unaware that the US military is constantly trying to increase force size, wartime or not. It is indeed a "persistent" question, one that goes back to days of raising the Revolutionary Army.
One thing that is remarkable is the evidence that the Tribune has writers and editors are cognizant of the fact that the US is at war at all. Given the amazing dearth of information about the proceedings and process of the war against Islamofacism, it often appears the news shop in Tribune Tower is unaware of it. Surely, if they were, they would consider it "news" enough to report it, by, for example, carrying stories about what it is that our military is actually doing.
The daily got-blown-up items are pretty much the extent of the coverage, unless there's a newly-manufactured "grim milestone" ready to be trotted across the front page.
MoveOn and Democratic Underground don't produce any more twisted and tortured news items than this one, and while it was often thought in the past that much of the Tribune's front-page content was simply the slightly-worked-over emission of Rahm Emmanuel's fax machine, the increasing frequency of stuff like this thing makes it seem as though the source is getting to be the leavings of a Comedy Central fake news broadcast.
For those who are interested in getting to the actual, factual story behind this news item, we refer you to the excellent Mudville Gazette, absolutely the go-to source for news on the war in Iraq and elsewhere. Many consider it the granddaddy of milblogs and the one that set the information transfer world on its ear by finally opening a channel around the gatekeepers by presenting actual, near-real-time fact.
It's little wonder that so many of the Trib's writers project such hopelessness, anger, and just plain BDS over the subject of the war. Without getting anything but well-cooked shreds of disjointed fact-sausages to read, it would be hard to get a serious picture of the very serious events in the war.
Fortunately, the Internet has given voice to independent reporting able to see, comprehend, and transmit some worthwhile percentage of the large scope of things, people like Michael Yon and Bill Roggio and JD Johannes and dozens of others.
Otherwise, when a Tribune writer, working the DNC’s latest campaign, the Blackwater-is-Bush-evil line, gives forth with nonsense like "Blackwater killed scores of civilians" in an incident that included possibly 11 to 17 deaths in a still-unclear incident, there's no way to tell if it's just made up, or just malinformed.
"Gatekeepers", indeed.
Thousands of military and civilian people have cycled through Iraq and written about what they have seen and heard. The fact that the overwhelming majority of it is so far removed from the narrative we see on the Tribune front pages should trouble someone bragging about being a “journalist”. When a million Americans come back from a place and say in unison that “what’s going on there is nothing like what you see in the news”, that’s a crisis of world-threatening proportions.
Or perhaps cashing paychecks and swimming peacefully in the echo chamber is sufficient for a group of people our former-slacker nephew, freshly returned from a tour in Baghdad, now refers to only as “The Liars”. Capitalized.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Inventions and impatience

Settling upon superlatives is a fascinating exercise. Sifting through all the knowledge in the history of the world (well, that's what you'd have to be doing, wouldn't you?) to arrive at a conclusion of momentousness ought to be a fine mental workout.
It would be hard to both be serious, and certain. But that doesn't take away from the value of the exercise; it just hauls one up a few inches short of the goal line of positiveness.
A favorite topic for this cogitation is The Most Important Invention Of All Time. Sometimes I think I may have moved a bit closer to conclusion, but not often. What I do know is that time and again, my default answer is the telephone.
Most inventions are something more on the order of evolutionary. A progression of thinking and improved mechanical technology allows an advancement to come together.It might be argued that the telephone is like that as well, an evolution of the telegraph. But it seems that there's a break- an enormous one- at the actual real-time transmission of a human voice.
It's not hard to picture a clear division in human history at the point telephony became possible. After that point, instantaeous interactive communication became possible, in the method most comfortable and efficient to humans, the spoken word.
At this later remove, it's becoming harder to solidly imagine the lack of the possiblity.Long distance travel is a good illustrator. A person traversing the Atlantic in the 15th century had no grasp of being able to communicate with another person back at home, at least, not beyond simple imagination. It could hardly have occurred to our sailor to be able to discuss something that way, with an active exchange and vocal inflection and instant absorption. The world view that would result from that would certainly have to be far different from ours. A person alive today has every expectation of a capability to converse with practically anyone else on the planet (so it seems), and in very short order.
If nothing else, conciseness would be expected to be an early casualty, eh?
It's hard not to take this a bit further and suggest that the instantaneousness of it all would necessarily breed impatience. I don't know if Joe Average 2007 is more quantifiably impatient that Joe Average 1807, but I can't escape the conclusion that he is.
The next communications step, television (can there be a word for that- say, "televisional"?) is a whole different concept, with a whole different reordering of world-view, and maybe not one that really would increase the impatience quotient.
But then follow along to the Internet...

Tuesday, October 2, 2007


From time to time, Your Correspondent will take it upon himself to advocate for good causes. At this very moment, one very good one indeed is in a fundraising process and may well deserve the Esteemed Reader's attention.
WDCB, the radio station of the College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn, Illinois is doing their semi-annual fundraising drive. I dare anyone of almost any musical taste to spend a week listening to it and not come away downright grateful such a resource exists.
At their website, there's a "Listen Live" link so that their programming is available around the planet.


It seems it's hard for people who aren't very familiar with Chicago to understand the real essence of it. One might argue that the Second City complex is the most important thing, but I can't agree.
It's the fixed-ness, to coin a term, pronounced "fix-edd-ness".
Most folks in the western world think they understand corruption. And so they may. But unless it's Chicago corruption they've experienced, I respectfully suggest they don't get the full load.
The corruption here is so deep, so foundational, so inbred and ingrained that it's hardly recognizable to the denizens of northeastern Illinois. There's no assumption that corruption is not present in the public business, not ever. I don't mean the simple, pass-a-few-bucks or hire-a-friend's-spouse kind. Those exist but are almost superflous to the real, structural stuff.
When the government, say, of the large city, goes about building a football stadium for a private, for-profit corporation, in likely violation of the law, and at the taxpayer's very unwilling expense, there's not really any suspense about the outcome. It's going to happen, and a select group of vendors and suppliers is going to get highly lucrative contracts to make it happen.
If a buddy of the Man's wife needs a nice boutique business to rake in a few extra mil, then there's always the O'Hare Cash Cow. A quick couple of words and a giant non-competitive contract appears, ink dry.
Another guy needs some land to make a nice little development happen and so hires a fixer, sometimes called a rainmaker in fancier places. Suddenly, an old piece of taxpayer-owned real estate worth a million or two gets sold for one dollar. Yes, one dollar.
If there's a popular, even beloved, transportation asset that happens to be despised and (yes,) feared by the Man on the Fifth Floor, it's not a big deal for it to disappear.
Just wait for dark and send in the bulldozers.
The only surprise was that of the Man himself, that the subjects objected. He was truly miffed that they talked back.
For a long time, it was expected that a couple of aldermen every five years or so would be making the trip to the lovely Federal country club in Oxford, Wisconsin. Expected.
Hillary Clinton is a Chicagoan, despite having grown up in the adjacent bedroom suburb of Park Ridge. That Arkansas image is just a shawl that served for a few years on the way to the Big House.
She thinks like a Chicagoan, and acts like one. The casual corruption that has surrounded her since first getting near the power handles is something another Chicagoan perfectly well expects. Make a million on a shady commodities deal? Of course. Sell some prez-pardons for cash for the starving brother? It's a good thing.
But what seems to mystify so many onlookers is the statist thing.
That's my polite term for the love of control, the Utopian fantasy of an all-controlling State always doing the Right Thing.
Coming from a region where the goverment has a firm grip on the doings, comings, and goings of practically everything worthwhile, there's no evolving necessary to turn out to be a full-fledged statist. But of course the Man builds awful stadia and wrecks good airports. It's the natural order of things.
We'll be getting a chance soon enough to find out what this really means. The cause of the nanny state is about to get a huge boost.