Damn the Economy! Full Speed Ahead!

Or:  A 3/4-Life Crisis Ought to be Good for Something.

I now have a car payment again.  Having lusted after one since they hit the market, I am now the proud owner of a 2011 GT Mustang.  It looks very much like this one:

(click to embiggen)

Kona Blue metallic, it has the 5.0 liter 412Hp engine, six-speed manual transmission, 3.55:1 rear-end ratio, Brembo brake package with front shock tower brace, and it’ll flatten your eyeballs when you mash the GO pedal.

I averaged 22.9 mpg on the way home from Scottsdale.

I bought it used, with 1850 miles on the odometer.

I am really looking forward to the drive up to Reno this year.

The Toolmaker Koan, or Furby’s Paradox

Long ago I read a novel based on an intriguing idea, entitled “Toolmaker Koan.”  A kōan is, according to Wikipedia:

a fundamental part of the history and lore of Zen Buddhism. It consists of a story, dialogue, question, or statement, the meaning of which cannot be understood by rational thinking but may be accessible through intuition.

The kōan, or question of the novel was “Why don’t we see evidence of advanced civilizations throughout the galaxy?” The site Ad Astra explains:

Typically technological development begins slowly, but at some point (perhaps hundreds of thousands or even millions of years) after the beginning of a culture it explodes, leading rapidly to high technology. Unfortunately behaviour patterns associated with non-technological cultures persist, leading to a rapidly increasing population and ever higher competition for resources. This leads to massive environmental damage caused by industrialisation and usually to self-inflicted destruction by fusion fire, nanotech plague, asteroidal bombardment, or more general environmental collapse. This then is the Toolmaker Koan: travelling to the stars requires a highly developed industrial infrastructure, but development of technology leads to nuclear war and extinction.

However, I think Vexxarr may be on to a simpler explanation:

Quote of the Day – Smoke-‘n-Mirrors Edition

“On the one hand, this is the single largest year-to-year cut in the federal budget, frankly in the history of America in absolute terms… probably for that we all deserve medals, the entire Congress,” the Texas congressman (Jeb Hensarling) said on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday. “Relative to the size of the problem, it is not even a rounding error. In that case we probably all deserve to be tarred and feathered.”

(My emphasis.)

Which goes along with this:

“Once politics was about only a few things; today, it is about nearly everything,” writes the eminent political scientist James Q. Wilson in a recent collection of essays (“American Politics, Then and Now”). The concept of “vital national interest” is stretched. We deploy government casually to satisfy any mass desire, correct any perceived social shortcoming or remedy any market deficiency. What has abetted this political sprawl, notes Wilson, is the rising influence of “action intellectuals” — professors, pundits, “experts” — who provide respectable rationales for various political agendas.

The consequence is political overload: The system can no longer make choices, especially unpleasant choices, for the good of the nation as a whole.

Government is suicidal because it breeds expectations that cannot be met.

Knoxville or Bust

It’s on.  The Luckygunner.com Memorial Day Weekend Blogger Shoot.

(No bloggers will actually be shot.  I hope.)  I’ve got my airline reservations (thanks, U.S. Citizen!) and I’ve made my hotel (Lenoire City Holiday Inn Express) and car rental reservations.  I fly in Friday evening, and leave Tuesday morning.  The shoot is Saturday and Sunday, leaving me Monday to visit.

I’m really looking forward to it.  Now I just have to decide whether I want to risk transporting firearms through Chicago on the way home. And what to bring if I do.

Quote of the Day – Church of the New Media Edition

From Victor Davis Hanson’s latest, Kingdom of Lies:

The media is our ministry of truth of the Oceania brand: one day Guantanamo, renditions, tribunals, preventive detention, Predators, the Patriot Act, and Iraq were bad; then one day in January 2009 I woke up and heard of them not all. I then recognized that they were now either good or at least necessary — or perhaps sinister IEDs of a sort left behind by the nefarious Emmanuel Goldstein administration, now too dangerous to even touch.

I now refer you to my January, 2008 überpost, The Church of the MSM and the New Reformation. Read all of Dr. Hanson’s piece, too.

GBR-VI is Coming

Now for more original-content-free blogging, a reminder that the sixth annual Gun Blogger Rendezvous is coming up April SEPTEMBER 8-11, 2011 in Reno, Nevada.  Registration is now open.  Sponsors will again include:

  • The National Shooting Sports Foundation
  • Brownell’s
  • Hi Point Firearms
  • Ruger
  • Glock
  • Others, to be announced

If you want to go, but can’t afford the air fare, I may be able to help. I’ve got $400 worth of air travel coupons from Delta that I otherwise cannot use. Unfortunately, Delta makes actually using these as difficult as possible. I can use them to book a flight for someone else, but I have to make the reservation by phone with a Delta ticket agent, and pick up the tickets myself at the Delta counter. And, of course, I don’t get the cheap travel rates you can get off the internet when I do this. But if you want to go, drop me an email (my address is on the left sidebar) and we’ll see what we can work out. You don’t have to be a blogger, you can be a reader who just wants to meet us and our special guest, get to shoot some guns, eat some pizza, have some great conversation, and take home some terrific swag, and maybe get a new gun out of the deal.  Last year included a Hi Point carbine, a certificate for any standard Glock, and an air rifle, not to mention a Leupold scope, a set of LaRue Tactical rings, a set of Crimson Trace lasergrips and a bunch of other great stuff.  This year we will have a Ruger Blackhawk convertible in .45LC/.45ACP at a minimum.  I’m expecting at least three other guns.

Maybe this year, I’ll win one.

Each year has been bigger than the one before.  (I know, I’ve been to all five.)  Sign up and come on out.  It’s a great way to spend a long weekend.

Anybody Seen This?

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PblVo9y735k?rel=0]

I’d like to know more about it.  I can’t remember hearing anything about it in the media or on the blogs back in 2009. It certainly didn’t come up during the 2010 election.  Lots of mentions of “social justice.” Make sure you check today’s QotD.

Accuracy in Media had something on it.  Here’s Howard Dean’s full speech on Vimeo. Lots of other related video as well.

I wrote a post back in 2005, True Believers, where I quoted from another blogger, Glenn Wishard of Canis Iratus in his post A Thumbnail History of the Twentieth Century. I’ll quote it here again:

The rise and fall of the Marxist ideal is rather neatly contained in the Twentieth Century, and comprises its central political phenomenon. Fascism and democratic defeatism are its sun-dogs. The common theme is politics as a theology of salvation, with a heroic transformation of the human condition (nothing less) promised to those who will agitate for it. Political activity becomes the highest human vocation. The various socialisms are only the most prominent manifestation of this delusion, which our future historian calls “politicism”. In all its forms, it defines human beings as exclusively political animals, based on characteristics which are largely or entirely beyond human control: ethnicity, nationality, gender, and social class. It claims universal relevance, and so divides the entire human race into heroes and enemies. To be on the correct side of this equation is considered full moral justification in and of itself, while no courtesy or concession can be afforded to those on the other. Therefore, politicism has no conscience whatsoever, no charity, and no mercy.

(Emphasis in original.) I commented:

I think Glenn’s declaration that the 20th Century “neatly contains” the rise and fall of “the Marxist ideal” is a bit premature, but I fully concur with his conclusion that “politicism” has neatly divided societies in the manner described….

True Believers still holds up five years on.

Howard Dean blames the current state of the global economy on “the free market,” but as others have noted, we have not experienced free markets — that is, the invisible hand — for decades. No, the Progressive love for “social justice” (the New Deal, the Great Society, etc. etc. etc.) has shoved a stick into the spokes of free trade repeatedly. But it can’t be their fault, they meant well.

Time to do it again, ONLY HARDER!

Mr. Wishard appended to his “History” post this observation:

I really do think that history will look back on the 20th century as the absolute low point of human history – as bad as anything the Dark Ages offered, without any of the excuses.

I think, once again, that he was premature.  And optimistic.

I found an interesting quote this evening from a Google search that led to this site.  Someone searched on the phrase “I’m a pessimist,” and found this post from last year, but when I did the same search, what I found was more interesting, and more applicable to this topic:

I’m a pessimist because of intelligence, but an optimist because of will. — Antonio Gramsci

Yeah, that Gramsci.

We’re getting not what Gramsci wanted, but we are getting what he worked for.

A couple of days ago, I ran across another reference to Jane Jacobs. I first saw mention of her in an Orson Scott Card column from 2004, Who Was On Watch As the Dark Age Approached? I cited that piece and his mention of Ms. Jacobs in my 2009 essay Restoring the Lost Constitution. Card said this:

Jacobs sees us as being well down the road to a self-inflicted Dark Age, in which we will have thrown away many of the very things that made our civilization so dominant, so prosperous, so successful. We are not immune to the natural laws that govern the formation and dissolution of human communities: When the civilization no longer provides the benefits that lead to success, then, unsurprisingly, the civilization is likely to fail.

As she says in her introduction, “People living in vigorous cultures typically treasure those cultures and resist any threat to them. How and why can a people so totally discard a formerly vital culture that it becomes literally lost?” 
Dark Age Ahead gives us a series of concrete examples of exactly that process. 
“Every culture,” she says, “takes pains to educate its young so that they, in their turn, can practice and transmit it completely.” Our civilization, however, is failing to do that. On the contrary, we are systematically training our young not to embrace the culture that brought us greatness.

A civilization is truly dead, she says, when “even the memory of what has been lost is lost.”

Just a few days ago, Jerry Pournell repeated the warning:

Readers should be aware of Jane Jacobs, Dark Age Ahead. Civilization is more fragile than most believe. Note that a true dark age comes not when we lose the ability to do something, but forget that we ever had that ability: as for instance no university Department of Education seems aware that in the 1930’s to the end of World War II, essentially the only adult illiterates in the United States were people who had never been to school to begin with (see the Army’s tests of conscripts). My mother had a 2-year Normal School degree and taught first grade in rural Florida, not considered a high intelligence population. I once asked her if any of her students left first grade without learning to read. She said, “Well, there were a few, but they didn’t learn anything else, either.” The notion that a child could get out of elementary school unable to read was simply shocking up to about 1950 when new University Education Department theories of reading emerged. Now a majority of students read “below grade level” and actual functional illiteracy approaches 15%.

Anyway, that’s what we mean by a Dark Age. As with the 5th Century peasant in France who gets a yield of perhaps 3 bushels a year on land that under Roman civilization yielded 12 — and has not only forgotten how to get such yields, but has no idea that such yields have ever been possible. Or a civilization that spends more and more on schools that cannot accomplish what was once standard in country schools like Capleville (where I went 4 – 8th grade), or even remember what was accomplished.

Billy Beck calls what’s coming The Endarkenment.

I’m beginning to believe that Billy’s an optimist, too.

I’m going to take a few days off.  Please talk amongst yourselves.